The National Educational Computing Conference is one of the best examples that demonstrates a positive relationship between the commercial and classroom sides of education. Hundreds of vendors are there, setting up booths, displaying their wares, and promoting their products with demos, shows, giveaways, and so on, and thousands of educators mingle and buzz about the conference.
But, this year, something was a little different, in that many of the educators were talking about products that aren't necessarily vendor specific. Lots were talking about open source software, free software in which the actual source code is open to public viewing, editing, modifying, and sharing. An entire section of the pavilion was set up for an Open Source lab, in which participants could have hands-on experience with all sorts of open source applications and operating systems. I heard lots of conversations about Moodle, OpenSource, Mozilla, and other companies.
I'd love to hear thoughts from folks in the field who are using open source software. I'm using Mozilla's Firefox browser, and its Thunderbird email. I love them both, and it's fun to visit their sites and view the edits, extensions, and plug-ins the open source community is continually adding, allowing users to tweak their software to be as customized as possible.