Shiksha E-Learning Portal was launched last month. It is done by Shiksha India is a non-profit organization created by the Confederation of Indian Industry to aid in educating underprivileged students.
CII-Shiksha is a non-profit initiative working with schools, colleges and other institutions to enable create a paradigm shift from I.T. (Information Technology) to E.T. (Educational Technology) and further the cause of introducing e-teaching.
What came out of the web portal launch was the support of open source software. Narinder Bhatia, project manager for CII-Shiksha India, has provided good reasons why open source can be a key to success of the project. I think one more reason is to be free from depending on the vendor for the software. Education is a field where having total control over the software being used can make a lot of difference. The institutions can also escape forced actions, like upgrade, that need to be taken because of business decisions. This can probably extend actions taken by a couple of states to embrace open source.
Vendor lock-in can harm education the most and open source can help avoid that. I have recently experienced this. I realized that the C++ compiler being used in the college where I teach was of an older version. The suggestion to update it was met with licensing cost. Which is when I suggested using gcc, which has one of the best and strictest C++ compiler around. Here is a case where using open source software can improve quality of education that the students can receive. The same thing can be said about the operating systems and certain other tools used. It would greatly help if the college can accept open source on multiple fronts. I am not sure when it will happen, but I am convinced more that education institutions should use open source whenever possible.