Perhaps illustrating that silly names are the way to go in the digital biz, Moodle won this category by a nose, with the more seriously named Audacity coming in a close second. But what the many "don't know" responses seem to indicate is that the term "open source" causes a considerable amount of confusion. So, here's a capsule definition drawn from Wikipedia: Open source software refers to any computer software available under a license (or free, because it's in the public domain) that permits users to alter and improve the software and to redistribute it in modified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner. In other words, kind of like Wikipedia.
Since the onset of the open source revolution in 1998, much democratized software has been developed, but our savviest readers rightly homed in on Moodle, a free course-management system expressly designed for educators. Downloadable to just about any computer, the software facilitates the building of what Moodle calls "online learning communities." The company claims 150,000 registered users in 160 countries, so the chances for such communities, like the software itself, seem wide open. Still confused? Moodle counters the muddle with demonstration courses to get you started. And the price is right.
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2007 Readers' Survey Index