Presentation by Revolution Linux. The presenter’s name was Benoit des Ligneris (who is @bligneri on Twitter). Below are some notes on what he talked about during the presentation.
#10 – Technical interests superceding user interests
Value of the technical set-up can be limited to the end users, the students, teachers and administrators. Need to make sure that the focus is on the end capabilities to the users, especially if there is an associated cost.
#9 – Lack of User Input
Some great open source projects where the user can easily contribute to the projects. These projects are more successful because it is easy for the user to contribute. Some open source projects don’t seek input or feedback or provide help to the users, which ends up limiting their success. Get your users involved in the implementation, don’t wait fo the project to be complete before getting feedback from the users.
#8 – Training issues
Open souce software isn’t free like free beer it is free like freedom. People think free like beer, they forget they will need to pay for training, or for support. The software allows freedom to use it and modify it, but one shouldn’t forget that it will still have associated costs and that training should be ongoing.
#7 – Individual needs vs organization needs
An individual might make a choice on what they want to use, and then try and move these choices to the organization. There may be a disconnect between what the individuals want to use and what the organization needs. Sometimes a user may have an idea of what they want to use, but forget that other users may want to use their computers differently.
#6 – Changing software and versions too often
Most open source projects ship new versions very quickly, but they may update faster than the users can handle. Users need an opportunity to digest and get used to the software, and not have it change while they are using it. As well, new versions may have bugs that the older versions do not, so you have to be careful during upgrades and ensure that each upgrade is tested carefully. It can also be really hard to keep up witht he changes as an IT coordinator and you may end up with users on different versions of the software because of the time it can take to update a large number of computers. Perhaps version updates should happen at most once or twice a year?
#5 – Interoperability between systems
It is important to use software which allows for interoperability between all of the systems which are deployed in your organization. This way users can potentially move between different systems more easily, and allows for greater communication between users in your organization who are on different devices. Each different platform should have the same user name and password for each system so that the users don’t have to remember many different logins.
#4 – Lack of local support
Users need a base to work on, and have a chance to ask questions from an expert in the software. Need to train some power users at every building, especially in large school districts. Make sure there is someone around who can answer questions about how to use the open source software. Think about how you can transfer the expertise from the "super hero" user to the users in the other areas. Having someone around locally will also make the general user feel a lot more comfortable about using the open software.
#3 – Buying a product, without giving the same kind of support as you usually do
Ensure that you provide as much support for your open source software as you would have done for your propietary software. "Just because the software is free doesn’t mean that it isn’t critical for your organization." The more critical the use of the software, the more important the support that is provided.
Putting too much focus on the hardware in the wrong moments.
Sometimes the problem is the user, not the hardware.
#2 – Neglecting user interface
Make sure you spend the effort to improve the user interface so that users can use it properly. For example, the default interface for Drupal, which is a widely used and successful content management system, is not very user friendly. Make sure that the software is convenient for the majority of users, rather than just the administrators.
#1 – Going for Open Source because it is free (costs no money)
The only part of using open source which is free is the licensing. There are a lot of associated costs with using open source. For example one university chose to Moodle as their learning management software, but then had to spend $500, 000 in costs to upgrade and change the software to suit their needs.