Turning the Monolith Inside Out: Open-Source and Higher Education Systems

Today, we build applications by assembling together pieces: pulling together various open-source frameworks, tools, libraries, and APIs to construct solutions that meet our user’s needs: a UI framework for your website’s look-and-feel, a mapping library to display travel routes. The bevy of open-source resources allow us to build applications with a liberating efficiency.

However, when it comes to building higher education systems, the open-source landscape is sparse: where are the libraries for parsing government file formats? Where is the code for financial aid formulas? In the world of higher education, the options feel limited: write it yourself or find a vendor.

What if, instead, we explored a third possibility? Instead of thinking about our systems as monolithic tangles of institutional logic, what if we started splitting our applications into pieces? Pieces that we could share with each other, improving them and letting them grow under our collective care? And what if we pressured our government and our vendors to do the same?


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