Virtual Classroom Programs

Open Source or Commercial Vendors?

What is the difference between open source and commercial vendor programs?

Commercial vendor programs are distributed by a vendor organization and it's use could be a software that is installed on one's computer, an Internet source that is rented on a monthly or yearly basis, or may cost nothing to use. A few examples include, Google+Handouts, AdobeConnect, GoToMeeting, and Blackboard Collaborate.

Open source programs are developed and shared within an organized community. Open source means the program is available to be modified or downloaded by any person. Further. Open source resources are always free.

However, commercial and open source programs are not necessarily opposite of each other. Many commercial programs are released under an open source license and many commercial programs are made to support open source programs.

Pro's of Commercial Vendor Programs

  • Ease of getting started
  • Documentation- up to date and easy to use documents for each release
  • Accountability- such as warranty for bugs or issues
  • Ease of Use- such as live support

Pro's of Open Source Programs

  • Free to buy and update
  • Customize (for the technically adept)
  • Community driven solutions

Questions to Consider

  • How large is the community?
  • How frequently are new releases put out?
  • How advanced is the community of users?
  • What type of support is provided for the users?
  • What access do users have?
  • What is the budget?
  • Is there a time limit on implementation?