A case study in open source school management

Schools are the pillars of the modern education system. They are many children’s first point of contact with the outside world. And, it may not be wrong to say that school plays a major role in shaping a child’s personality, so it is important that schools have a good infrastructure in place to monitor and manage closely interests, passions and, of course, their academics.

Open source can play a huge role here, so I reached out to Ross Parker, the creator of Gibbon, to learn how this management tool improves schools. The result of our discussion was a case study of how Gibbon helped Hong Kong International College solve the problem of data management of multi-site recordings.

You might also want to read Ross’ article on Gibbon.

A case study for Gibbon

International College Hong Kong (ICHK) is made up of two campuses and accommodates 800 students from kindergarten to grade 13. Classes are taught in English and there is an emphasis on building vibrant and caring student communities of learning through innovation and practice to realize student potential.

Ross Parker is the school’s Director of Technology and is focused on helping all members of the community (students, staff and parents) learn how to best use available technology to facilitate learning and the growth. With the students, the main focus is on building exciting new technologies. Students and educators talk about the technology we use, including Gibbon in this video:

Solve a school management problem with open source

“When I started working at ICHK in 2010, I was based on the secondary campus where we had a management system that really did not meet the needs of students and staff. One of my needs was something open source so we could adapt it and contribute back to the wider community.We also wanted something that combined school management with virtual learning, giving us a single system to meet for the majority of our needs (except for productivity, which we use Google Apps for),” says Ross.

“After researching the options available, we came to the conclusion that Moodle did not meet our school management needs, and that the other options were not mature or feature-rich enough. options, at that time there weren’t many choices. Specifically, I was looking for a system to help teachers plan, provide and evaluate learning opportunities, with the ability for students and parents interact with certain aspects of the same data and functionality.

“In the end, we decided to take a risk and try to open an older and somewhat limited school system (Muse) for which I was the copyright holder. After removing the system and fixed some issues in its architecture, we added a GNU GPL v3 license, and started adding the data structures and functionality needed to define a school.Once we had the necessary infrastructure in place, we started One of the first challenges was to ensure that all the features of the system could be flexibly enabled or disabled for users, while ensuring that the system was ready to integrate into a planned ecosystem of modules and additional themes. With this now in place, Gibbon is what we call a flexible and open school platform, capable of being adapted to the needs of a wide range of schools.”

Gibbon’s Evolution

In 2011, we started adapting the system to work on our primary school campus, Hong Lok Yuen, where it is now actively used as the primary school management platform. Gibbon provides the following features, with more on the way:

(thanks to Dicky Widhyatmoko for creating the Gibbon Functionality Mind Map)


open-source in
Education

A collection of articles from educators, students, advocates, parents, and others who are implementing open source in education and working towards a more open knowledge base for everyone.

Jeremy S. McLain