Follow-up on NPSTAC Meeting

Martin Owens doctormo at
Wed Feb 27 20:05:56 GMT 2008

Dear Mr Britt-Webb,

It was very interesting being in one of your meetings and seeing what
kinds of considerations and organisational challenges your facing.

I do have a couple of observations from my perspective:

The view on Free and Open Source software isn't really solidified in
members; in the portal project people considered it like is was a
magic vendor who gives no support for products but doesn't charge any
money. This view can be quite disingenuous to what FOSS really is
about, a mode of production though sharing of information and work
isn't really a vendor. Any organisation could make good use of any
software available in the FOSS world by either in house expertise,
private out sourcing or building and working with a community (more on
It may be worth Ubuntu-MA offering to do a short presentation
explaining what Free Software is, what Open Source is, what the
benifits of being free are and why organisations should be demanding
these freedoms from their traditional suppliers. We think using
examples in the FOSS world would be useful too.

I didn't see any thought in the portal group of looking into setting
up a community project, what you have in one instance is a package
'Moodle' or 'DrupleEd' which does interesting things but because of
it's none vendor status may require setting up and further
maintenance. If the initial set up and ongoing maintenance tasks are
difficult enough then looking towards including a large group of
school districts just for this one project would be more efficient.
Each has technical teams which would work towards getting their own
setup packaged in a useful way for deployment and sustainable
management, but all code and information would be in a central place
that other teams would use and collaborate. I find it hard to believe
that other schools have such different needs to make this infeasible.

I was also interested since my wife works for Harvard Divinity in
their tech department looking after their internal portal project and
dealing with teacher training, conflicting portal products,
conflicting schools using different systems and different back ends
and other complex organisational problems. Even though HDS is a
different level the problems seemed to be the same.

Thanks again for letting us join your group last night. And do let us
know if you have questions or would like us to do events and things.

Best Regards, Martin Owens

2008/2/27 Britt-Webb, Erik <ebrittwebb at>:
> Danny and Martin,
> Thanks so much for coming out to the NPS TAC meeting last night.  Did you
> find your participation in either the 1-1 Learning or the School Portal
> projects useful?  While they both have technical aspects to them, I'm
> curious to hear if you think there are any useful connections at this point
> to what we're doing.
> Do you want to continue your participation in any way?
> Thanks again for making the effort to come out.  It was nice to meet both of
> you.
> Erik Britt-Webb
> 617-916-5320 home office
> 617-899-6023 mobile
> erik at
> ebrittwebb (Skype, AIM, Y!IM)

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