Below are some frequently asked questions about LAMS Foundation. Please send feedback/questions to email@example.com
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There are three main entities involved in the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS). All are based in Sydney, Australia in affiliation with Macquarie University.
The LAMS Foundation Ltd is a not for profit company limited by guarantee. LAMS Foundation owns the LAMS software and related intellectual property. A Board of Directors, including James Dalziel and representatives of Macquarie University, currently manages the LAMS Foundation. In the future, it is anticipated that additional Board members will be added, particularly from non-commercial organisations that would like to be involved in the strategic direction of the Foundation and contribute significant funding towards its goals. The LAMS Foundation is a "virtual organisation", in that it has a Board of Directors and enters into various development and licensing agreements, but has no employees in its own right.
LAMS International Pty Ltd is a commercial services company set up to assist with implementation and technical support for LAMS, working in conjunction with the LAMS Foundation. It has the right to offer commercial (ie, non GPL) licenses for LAMS on behalf of the LAMS Foundation. In exchange, development of the core LAMS software by LAMS International Pty Ltd is owned by LAMS Foundation. LAMS International follows open source business models similar to those of companies like Red Hat Linux and MySQL.
The Macquarie E-learning Centre of Excellence (MELCOE) is a dedicated research centre focussed on e-learning technology and standards development within Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Professor James Dalziel (the inventor of LAMS) is the Director of MELCOE. MELCOE provides core R&D for the ongoing development of LAMS.
For historical completeness, it is worth noting a fourth entity — WebMCQ Pty Ltd — an Australian commercial e-learning company. WebMCQ collaborated with Macquarie University on the initial development of LAMS (based on the original conceptual work of James Dalziel and Donna Gibbs). In late 2003, WebMCQ agreed to transfer all intellectual property in LAMS to the LAMS Foundation, and the LAMS team at WebMCQ moved to MELCOE. Since this transfer, WebMCQ has had no further role in LAMS, and none of the staff that moved from WebMCQ to MELCOE have any ongoing role with WebMCQ.
Yes. The LAMS software was released as "open source software" (using the GPL) in late February 2005. From this time onwards, anyone who wishes to take the publicly available software source code, and then compile it, install it, configure it and maintain it can use LAMS without incurring any fees. For many users, it may be more cost effective to have LAMS International (the LAMS services and support company) provide support services to handle all of this for a modest fee, but this decision is up to each potential user — there is no compulsion to pay anything for using LAMS if you abide by the requirements of the GPL (the LAMS open source software license).
Open source software is a term used to describe software where the source code (the fundamental instructions that make the software work) is publicly available to view, modify and use without charge. It is part of a widespread movement in software development that has proved successful at producing significant, robust and secure software. Two of the best-known examples of open source software are the Linux operating system, and the Apache web server, both of which are widely used globally today. Open source software is also known as "free software", and although open source software is usually provided without charge, the meaning of "free" here is as in "freedom", not as in without charge ("free as in freedom, not free as in beer").
Open source software is provided to users on the terms specified in the license that accompanies the software code. While there are now many different open source licenses available, there are two major categories, the "BSD" style license, and the "GPL" style license (eg, the GNU General Public License or "GPL"). In addition to the general concept of publicly viewable software code, both types of licenses are based on requirements that use of the software must be acknowledged in some form, and a disclaimer of any kind of liability for using the software.
The key difference between these licenses is that the GPL (but not the BSD) requires that any additions to the software made by third parties must also be released as open source software under the same terms as the original license (ie, the GPL) if the additions are distributed. This requirement normally helps to encourage a viable, growing community of developers contributing to the growth of the software from a common basis. This community development can also occur with BSD style licenses, although there is no license requirement on developers to "require" them to make their additions available to the community under the same license as the original system if they distribute their additions. The GPL requirement described above is sometimes called "share alike", on the basis that the others who wish to benefit from the initial open source software release are required to share their additions on the same basis as the initial release.
The Open Source Institute is recognised as the leading authority on open source licensing. It has a certification program for open source licenses to ensure that these licenses meet the principles of the Open Source Definition — a fundamental statement of open source principles. The GPL and BSD licenses are "OSI Certified" licenses, and hence when LAMS was released under the GPL in February 2005, it was released using an OSI Certified license.