Apereo’s Premiere at OW2Con ‘24: The first of many…

Jenn Cummings (Apereo), Tom Reijnders (Xerte), Patrick Masson (Apereo), Inge, Zuzana Mullerova (Unitime), Tomas Muller (Unitime). Missing: Chris Knapp (Sakai)
June 24, 2024

The annual OW2 Conference is a premier event in the European open source calendar, and this year, the Apereo Foundation made its premiere in a role highlighting the value and impact of open source in education for society, government, and business. From insightful keynote presentations to engaging breakout sessions, Apereo showcased the power and potential of open source solutions in education, science, and research.


Lead Photo: Apereo community members at OW2Con'24 left to right: Jenn Cummings (Apereo), Tom Reijnders (Xerte), Patrick Masson (Apereo), Inge Donkervoort (Apereo Board and Xerte), Zuzana Mullerova (Unitime), Tomas Muller (Unitime). Missing: Chris Knapp (Sakai)

Keynote Presentation by Patrick Masson

Screenshot of Patrick Masson's keynote from OW2 Con from social media post by Gael Blondelle

The conference started with Apereo's keynote presentation by Executive Director Patrick Masson titled "Heading Back to School: Open Source Success for Communities, Campuses, and Companies." Masson emphasized open source software's historical and critical role in fostering cooperative communities of innovation that benefit academic and research institutions, businesses, and open source projects. 


Masson highlighted success stories where open source solutions led to significant educational technology and infrastructure advancements and the external pressures and internal drivers impacting institutions today. He underscored partnership opportunities between campuses, communities, and companies to support and sustain innovative open source projects. You can view Patrick Masson’s presentation here; other keynotes included:

Spotlight on Apereo Projects

Several Apereo projects were prominently featured at the conference, demonstrating the Foundation's broad impact and the collaborative spirit of its community.

Bernardo García and Daniel Merrino presented "The S2U Unidigital Project

The Spanish Sakai Users' Unidigital Project

Bernardo García and Daniel Merrino presented "The S2U Unidigital Project: A Great Example of Cooperation Between Universities." This project exemplifies how universities can collaborate to create powerful, shared digital resources using Sakai. Participating Universities included the University of Lleida (UdL), University of Murcia (UM), Public University of Navarra (UPNA) and Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Together, the development team extended core LMS functionality through other open source and even proprietary software applications/services, e.g., Microsoft Office365, the Safe Exam Browser, and H5P LTI. A shared design philosophy across institutions, branded "Features over tools," led to extending Sakai's functionality in the LMS' Announcements, Assignments, Groups, Rubrics, Tests and Quizzes, and Wiki. The Unidigital Project successfully brought together multiple institutions to develop a robust, unified platform that enhances the educational experience for students across Spain.

Inge Donkervoort, Xerte Presentation at OW2Con24

Huh Xerte? What's That?

Inge Donkervoort, Apereo Board Director, captivated the audience with her presentation, "Huh Xerte? What's That?" She delved into the capabilities of Xerte, an open source tool for creating interactive learning content. Donkervoort's talk highlighted how Xerte empowers educators to develop engaging, multimedia-rich learning materials--from single learning activities to complete webpages--that enhance the educational experience and cater to diverse learning styles.

Tomáš Müller introduced "UniTime: Comprehensive Academic Scheduling Solution"

UniTime: Comprehensive Academic Scheduling Solution

Tomáš Müller introduced "UniTime: Comprehensive Academic Scheduling Solution," showcasing a versatile tool designed to address the complex scheduling needs of academic institutions. UniTime offers a research-driven, comprehensive solution that integrates course timetabling, examination scheduling, and student sectioning, making it an invaluable resource for universities looking to streamline their operations and improve efficiency.


Sakai LMS Accessibility Community Successes

Sakai's activities were featured in an Open Source Accessibility breakout session at the conference, coordinated by the Open Source Accessibility Initiative. Team Lead Chris Knapp detailed Sakai's multi-year journey to develop and implement a community-sourced approach to accessibility. This long-term strategy led to Sakai's ability to produce its own VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) utilizing internal partners and resources.

Jenn Cummings at OW2Con24

Apereo Community Engagement

Jenn Cummings, Apereo Community & Membership Manager, also attended the conference, further strengthening Apereo's community ties and fostering new connections. Her presence underscored the Foundation's commitment to building a vibrant, supportive community around its projects and initiatives.

Breakout Session: Open Source in Education, Science, and Research

The "Open Source in Education, Science, and Research" breakout session, a cornerstone of the conference, was hosted by Apereo and featured presentations, discussions, and demonstrations from multiple open source projects across Europe. Highlights included:

  • A New Kind of Forge in Design and Education by Milovann Yanatchkov, Associate Professor, MAP MAACC, explored innovative approaches to integrating open source tools in architectural design and development. The forge is up and running at gitaec.com.
  • FOSSbot: An Open-Source and Open-Design Educational Robot by Iraklis Varlamis, Professor and Member of GFOSS Boards of Directors, showcased an educational robot, “FOSSBot,” supported by a coding platform and emulator, demonstrating the practical applications of open source robotics in learning environments.

Networking and Collaboration Opportunities

Beyond the formal presentations, the OW2 Conference provided an excellent opportunity for the Apereo community to network with peers from various European academic and research institutions and open source software projects. Participants engaged with other open source software projects, EU government officials, and corporate stakeholders, fostering collaboration and exploring new avenues for investment and development in the open-source ecosystem.


OW2Con'24 Open Source Community Annual Conference

The Apereo Foundation's participation in OW2Con 2024 highlighted its pivotal role in advancing open source solutions in education and beyond. Through inspiring keynotes, informative presentations, and active community engagement, Apereo demonstrated its commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration in the global open source community. 


As the Apereo Foundation looks to the future, events like the OW2 conference will continue to drive Apereo’s mission forward, build authentic communities of practice, and strengthen its impact worldwide.


Contact Apereo to learn more: info@apereo.org

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