Open Menu Close Menu

Open Source Success

How to ensure a winning implementation on your campus.

Nate AngellNate Angell co-directs a collaborative team that offers services and technologies across a range of teaching, learning, research, and communication needs at Portland State University, Oregon’s largest, most diverse, and only urban public university. Angell’s current focus is on integrating 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 succeed.

Want to be considered for Campus Technology’s Top 10? Send your countdown and a brief background/bio summary to [email protected]


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 larger groups.
  • Think of pilots as dress rehearsals (implementation practice), not as bake-offs (technology selection).
  • 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.
comments powered by Disqus