I had one of my not-so-unusual conversations with a faculty person the other day, about Banner, software so many schools use as their course enrollment and registration software.
And then they have their outreach or distance learning solutions. There're the open source versions, say Moodle, which Lewis & Clark (private college) is going with, and then there're the bigger commercial / proprietary solutions. Some have cobbled together admixtures.
My opening question is classically journalistic: "Why don't a consortium of colleges and universities collaboratively develop their own shared in-house solutions to these problems, as open source projects they'll freely share and use to show off the student- faculty acumen?"
The shorter version is "why don't universities eat their own dog food?"
I think you already know the pat answers from those that don't, but I'll recite them anyway: the university is not a business and it makes more sense to outsource these core functions to a business you can then yell at and complain about.
When a feature isn't implemented, it isn't directly your problem. Having the stack be mostly open source, perhaps with proprietary (unshared) plug-ins, would put the U in direct competition with the private sector, and that might be a problem (for tax reasons even?).
My guess is that incoming students who've had the privilege to hack on shared source in their high schools, those developing a spirited school archives (on-line, but some parts requiring passwords / authentication of course), are going to bringa DIY open source ethic to their computer science departments and chafe at the idea that their school isn't actually self sufficient in this respect, and that a substantial percentage of their tuition is forwarded to license holders. If you're gonna pay someone to work on your internal machinery, why not a student intern?
That use of school funds will run contrary to their high school and home school experience. They'll be paying for software vicariously, plus attending an institution that can't walk it's own talk, i.e. it teaches programming, but since when could it even do its own web site / enrollment system?
There's a lack of school pride when that happens.
My guess is many schools will want to develop ways to self administer their own communities, as social networks with everything integrated, including earned credits i.e. transcripts, office hour visits, catalogs, discussion groups, taped lectures, live streaming.
This will be especially true at first of the purely "on line" schools, but the solutions developed there will trickle out to some charters (public schools of a new kind) and some colleges / universities. I'm presuming the inertia will be too high for the majority at first i.e. we'll have the classic pattern of early adopters, with a later bandwagon, then the laggards.
Off course in the old days the job of registering and tracking students, filling courses, was considered clerical, not computational, and not a matter of GUI and web site design. There was no SQL involved, no boolean filtering.
All that has changed now of course, and software engineers are expected to computerize all that bookkeeping, meaning they need to learn it, meaning they need opportunities to see the real deal in action, including under the hood. Imagine a van repair shop that wouldn't let mechanics who work there work on the company van. What would that say about "level of competence"?
The discipline it takes to administer one's own computer network is reflected throughout a school. Having a core IT department that's strong enough to write at least some of its own code vis-a-vis enterprise-critical components is a benchmark in the corporate / private sector.
Parallel logic implies a business, computer science and mathematics faculty that's at least up to serving on planning committees, with students expected, in their various roles, to learn by doing w/r to a shared codebase.
One can always run, hack on a sandbox version. Open source does not mean open data. Operating systems are engineered to protect privacy presuming you know how to take advantage of their file ownership features. We learned that in high school.