Meg Phillips, the Founder of School List It, talks about why open source is the best path way forward for education technology in a post-Covid world.
School List It is a top five global finalist for the internationally-acclaimed Call for Code. This challenge, run by IBM and United Nations Human Rights, invites developers and problem solvers to build solutions that take on societal issues. Together with The Linux Foundation, it supports the deployment of open source solutions around the world.
Meg said: “I approached building this solution to help parents and teachers find where technology and education intersect. I wanted to focus on finding an extendable and adaptable future-proof solution based on the latest technology.
“During Covid we have seen how quickly education technology needs to react to the unexpected. If it can’t respond to meet this kind of challenge, teachers, students and families will be left behind. I wanted to use my skills and the technology to support teachers and communities.”
Driven by this belief, Meg built the homework and learning platform School List It to make a difference to how families, teachers and schools could all work together to improve the education experience of both students and those supporting them in school and outside.
For Meg, from both the development and user experience side, the only answer is to use an open source solution. In open source, the original source code of the application is made freely available and can be redistributed and modified.
Why use open source now?
Oracle’s Larry Ellison famously said, “When open source gets good enough, it would be insane to compete with it”. Meg feels it is now more than good enough for complex and fast and targeted response environments like education.
Three key things exist to justify making open source the right solution now and in a post-Covid world:
- a clear market leader in content management is necessary – this is found in open source solution WordPress, which powers 38 per cent of websites in the world
- libraries for the dominant web languages need to become standardized and filled with reliable packages. NPM, Packagist, Composer and GitHub have all reached maturity. They are used by the majority of developers worldwide
- a clear funding stream for supporting jointly used packages- this exists through the Linux Foundation and GitHub
Meg said: “There is no other answer for education technology. Through open source, we can establish a global system to handle local education challenges. With the changes we have seen due to Covid, the time is right for this. Through open source, we can benefit from the shared resource and rapid iteration that we’ve seen become the norm for technology in other sectors.”
What is on the School List It roadmap?
- document School List It’s API with the OpenAPI specification so that it becomes platform agnostic and so that the React app can pull from any rest source following the outlined authentication and security protocols
- publish standards for a School List It marketplace so that plugins and themes understand the review process and can be admitted to a combined marketplace