25 most popular open source software in education

Sara Ana Cemazar
February 3, 2022
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5
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We are seeing more open source software being applied in the education industry. This is no surprise since its specific advantages make it extremely attractive for educational institutions such as schools and universities.


The widespread imperative is that more investments need to be made to facilitate digital education. After the pandemic, this became apparent more than ever.

This article brings you the list of the most popular open source software in education. Read on to find out what software can be applied at your school or university - and why OSS is especially applicable for education as a whole.

What is open source software and why it’s used in education

Open source software is a type of software whose code is publicly available. The source code transparency brings very specific advantages to the table. From flexibility to the power of community behind every open source project, open source software has been applied across industries.

Research has shown that education is one of the most laggard industries when it comes to digitization. Less than 4% of overall expenditure is allocated to digital spending. Moreover, education as a whole is not drawing on enough private capital to fund the digital transformation.

open source software in education

It’s no secret that educational institutions find it harder to acquire resources for new initiatives. That’s why open source software - which is usually cheaper than proprietary software - has found its way to schools and universities.

Here are the main reasons why open source software is so well suited to educational institutions.

Cost-effectiveness

Although not all open source software is free, most of it is cheaper than proprietary software. What’s more important is that educational institutions, as well as other users, can try out the open source software for free to test it and see how it fits in their system. 

After, they can scale and implement the software institution-wide. By doing that, they are making sure that the solution at hand will work for them in the long run.

Also, there is less fear of vendor lock-in with open source software. 

Flexibility

Educational institutions, especially universities, have complex IT infrastructure that requires flexible solutions. While proprietary software is rarely made to be easily customizable without extra charges, open source software is highly flexible and allows its users to adapt the code to suit their needs.

Security

One of the main advantages of open source software is security. The open source community that keeps proposing improvements to the code makes sure of that. Moreover, the security of open source software stems from frequent updates.

This is a vital aspect of why universities choose open source software. Namely, with more digitalization in education come increased worries about maintaining data privacy and security. Cyberattacks on universities are increasing, and they are becoming more costly. For example, in 2020, the average cost of a ransomware attack aimed at higher education institutions was almost $500,000.

open source software in education

25 most popular open source software in education

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best open source software in education. You can find it categorized according to the overall purpose of particular software.

Open source software for collaboration

We all know the power of collaboration. In education, collaboration leads to better learning outcomes.

However, collaboration is different in an online environment than in person. Universities need user-friendly yet feature-rich software to provide the best collaboration experience to their students.

1. Rocket.Chat

Rocket.Chat entered the world of EdTech with the mission to support universities in applying best team collaboration practices. Therefore, students, teachers, and collaborators that are not university-based can easily engage in instant messaging without ever compromising data security.

2. ONLYOFFICE

ONLYOFFICE is a great alternative to MS Office package in education. It includes spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and forms.

It can easily integrate with other EdTech tools to provide a seamless collaboration experience.

3. Nextcloud

To make collaboration even more secure, educational institutions can use open source software Nextcloud. This self-hosted solution allows students and teachers to share documents, send and receive emails, and collaborate via Kanban boards without any security risks.

open source software in education


LMS open source software

Learning management systems are the cornerstone of every university’s tech stack. They provide a central repository for materials used in education.

Since they are so vital to educational institutions, it’s useful to have a flexible, secure, open-source LMS.

4. Moodle

Moodle is a course management system written in PHP. It’s probably the most widely applied LMS in the world, with around 3000 universities currently using it.

5. Dokeos

Dokeos provides e-Learning solutions to educational institutions as well as to businesses. Some of their features include double-blind evaluation and easy progress tracking. Of course, this open source software also includes advanced security features.

6. Claroline

Claroline is a collaborative eLearning and eWorking program that’s available in more than 100 countries and in over 35 languages. It’s been in use since the late 1990s so we can safely say that they were one of the pioneers in developing open source software for educational purposes.

7. OLAT

Online Learning And Training (OLAT) is a free learning management system that operates under Apache license 2.0. It also features eTesting, and is widely used across German-speaking countries.

8. Chamilo

Chamilo open source software is backed by Chamilo Association whose goal is to promote the accessibility of learning through the platform. It is also used in NGOs and public administration. In total, over 2000 organizations worldwide use it.

Administration

9. OpenSIS

OpenSIS brands itself as the world’s most popular student information system, school management system, and education management information system. They support integrations with Moodle and Blackboard, thus enabling schools and universities to cover all their needs with open source solutions.

10. Open Admin

Open Admin is web.based school administration software that offers features such as demographics, discipline, report card system, online gradebook, and attendance. It is primarily meant for elementary, K-12, and high schools.

11. Gibbon

In addition to being an open-source, Gibbon is also a free software. This flexible and web-based school management system allows seamless planning, teaching, and assessment.

It allows teachers, school administrators and students to perform a variety of functions and have all the administrative work done in one central place.

Virtual classroom

Virtual classrooms are another type of open source software in education that both students and teachers use very often. It allows the class to come together even when they’re physically apart, and is one of the best examples of synchronous communication.

12. BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton is an open source virtual classroom available in 65 languages. It was designed by teachers for teachers, meaning that teachers all over the world contributed to its design.

Its open source technology allows numerous customization options and integrations with other open source software for education.

13. Congrea

This virtual classroom open source software has unique features such as polls, private and public chat, whiteboard, collaborative editor, quizzes with real time results.. It seems like Congrea is a great solution to make distance education more interactive and engaging!

14. Open Broadcast Studio

Open Broadcast Studio is not primarily designed for the education sector. However, teachers use this cross-platform screencasting and streaming app to combine a variety of sources on their screen without the need to share, unshare, and reshare their screens in meetings. It makes video meetings - and lectures - easier if you have more than one resource to share. OBS is also free open source software.

Electronic blackboards

Electronic blackboards are a different type of open source software used in education because they are not meant to be used in distance education. They are instead used in classrooms, instead of traditional blackboards, to enhance teaching and learning.

15. OpenBoard

This electronic whiteboard for schools and universities is free and easy to install. It is developed and maintained by the Education Department in Geneva, Switzerland. Open Board is a great choice for schools and universities that want a simple interactive whiteboard in their classrooms.

16. Excalidraw

Excalidraw is a free open source whiteboard that is especially suitable for drawing diagrams. There are libraries of different shapes and sizes to import to Excalidraw. This makes it easy to use for creative assignments.

open source software in education

Classroom management

17. Edmodo

Edmodo is a classroom management tool that helps teachers, parents, and students stay on track with their progress, grades, tasks, and everything in between. Beautifully designed and feature-rich, this open source solution is one of the favorites in many schools.

18. Veyon

Veyon is a free open source tool that allows teachers to share their or student’s screens, as well as to monitor and control the classroom. With add-ons such as chat and screen recorder, it is a handy solution to use in educational setting.

19. TeacherEase

TeacherEase is an end-to-end school management system that encompasses features such as learning management, financial management, report cards, data analytics... It is meant to use in private schools and supports standards-based learning.

Exam software

20. Edbase

In their own words, Edbase is “the easiest way to make exams”. It is an open source tool that allows teachers to create visually interesting exams and provide a secure and cheat-free exam experience. 

21. Mettl

Mettl is an online examination solution that can be used in education as well as in corporations. More than 500 universities and educational institutes in the world use virtual exams from Mettl

22. Kaldin

With their database of questions, it’s easy for teachers to create new, custom exams. Moreover, Kaldin allows teachers to analyze the test results and export reports with passing marks. This well-rounded exam software is very dominant in the Indian education system.

open source software in education

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Authoring tools

Authoring tools are apps that enable users to create learning content, lessons, and courses. The materials can then be uploaded to LMS or other software used in education. 

23. Adapt Learning

This free e-learning authoring tool for creating responsive learning content. The responsive learning that’s at the core of Adapt Learning tool is meant to bring fluidity to the learning process so it creates more flexible learning.

24. CourseLab

CourseLab is an easy-to-use, yet powerful authoring tool that allows teachers to create course content using text, pictures, video, audio, and other types of files. The course template library makes it even faster to create new course material.

25. Open eLearning

The Open eLearning project is free and open source software for easy editing of educational games and courses. It is easy to use and requires no coding knowledge. It supports teachers in creating engaging and interactive courses.

How Rocket.Chat utilizes open source software advantages to aid customers in education industry

The unique advantages of open source software - security, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness - make it easy for Rocket.Chat to adapt to universities’ infrastructure.

Rocket.Chat enables internal and external collaboration at more than 700 universities across the world, all while making sure the highest data protection standards are applied.

Get in touch with our team to see how you can drive exceptional student experience with Rocket.Chat at your university.


Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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