A study by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness finds open source products, which enable programmers to modify code and customize programs, have yet to reach the masses of academia.
Open source is not quite ready for prime time say experts in the academic circles. Kenneth Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project, calls the mindset regarding open source “affirmative ambivalence.”
As he sees it, CIOs are confident the software will be a part of the future but are still taking a wait-and-see approach. Moves such as leading LMS players coming together, Blackboard acquiring WebCT, and many mergers in the learning market that have taken place in the past twelve months (Oracle's acquisition of Peoplesoft, SumTotal's acquisition of Pathlore, Saba's acquisition of Thinq, and KnowledgePlanet's acquisition of KnowledgeImpact) all create a surging interest in looking for open source alternatives. These sentiments are reactive at best and clearly not sustainable forever. I know of a few good proprietary LMS that are available within academic institutions, but nobody is even talking of open sourcing (to the extent I know of).
Along with a lack of initiative, other problematic issues are the way these are designed, the code discipline employed, and the use of outdated technologies.
A few institutions may find that until open source came along, institutions had a “buy or build” decision. Open source, by its nature, contains the advantages that institutions of higher learning can start off with a good base, avoid paying high fees, and then customize it.
The danger of an informal collaboration like open source centers rests with the longevity of the solution and that it banks on an invisible momentum to support and extend the application — a situation that projects like Sakai are trying to avoid. I know from direct experience what it means in terms of resources and pressures to switch from one e-learning platform to another; simply put --"it ain’t easy".