Open Source Success
How to ensure a winning implementation on your campus.
Nate Angell co-directs a
collaborative team that offers
services and technologies
across a range of teaching,
learning, research, and communication
most diverse, and
only urban public
current focus is
Portland State’s academic and
web communication technologies
on an open source platform.
He is an active member
of open source communities
including Sakai, Open Source Portfolio, and
the web content management
platform Drupal. Angell and members of
Portland State’s team regularly
help other campuses and
institutions implement enterprise
open source technologies.
Here, Angell offers a
number of intelligent ways to
help open source implementations
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Engage deeply with the community surrounding open source technology.
- Take control of your destiny and help shape technology roadmaps.
- Share early and often: Active participation raises your stature.
- It’s not only for coders: The community needs a range of skills.
Remember, any IT environment can take advantage of open source.
- Literally any campus—regardless of its IT resources—can succeed.
- If you need help, vendors offer various levels of support and hosting.
Understand how change happens at your institution.
- History repeats: Look at past attempts at change on your campus.
- Take heed where your plan d'es not match institutional culture.
Build the right implementation team.
- Who can speak effectively with decision-makers and those who influence them?
- Who can translate technical issues for non-technical audiences?
- Bring potential conflict inside: Engage critical voices directly.
Leverage drivers of open source adoption on your campus.
- Prioritize and amplify factors that engage existing passions.
- Consider a Trojan horse: a smaller, more innocuous goal to start.
Communicate effectively—it’s crucial to your implementation’s success.
- Plan how to communicate with everyone affected by your implementation.
- Speak about the larger vision the implementation will enable.
- Stay on message: Every activity is an opportunity to communicate your vision.
Think outside the box for training and support.
- Cell phones are a global phenomenon.
- Integrate training and support: Support calls are training opportunities.
- Mix it up: Offer resources in a variety of formats, levels, and schedules.
Plan for assessment in every stage and activity of your implementation.
- Good assessment is not an afterthought; start early.
- Measure progress toward your goals; don’t merely evaluate tools.
- Surveys are two-way communications: Use them to support your message.
Stage your success.
- Pilot everything—from technologies to communications—with increasingly
- Think of pilots as dress rehearsals (implementation practice), not as bake-offs
- Champions are made, not born: Use pilots to transform users.
Keep telling the story.
- Don’t miss a chance to help people understand your vision.
- Everyone, from front-line user support to your CIO, should speak about the
change new tools will enable—the tools are means to other ends.
- People will buy in to visions of change—not just changing technology.