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Welcome to the Higher Ed Open Source Software Community!

By July 11, 2017

By: Jace Bryan and Corey Snow

The Importance of Open Source in Higher Education – Controlling Your Own Destiny

Open SourceAt Salesforce, we believe that our technology, our people, and our resources should be used to help improve the state of the world. does this by delivering the world’s best nonprofit and educational technology solutions at affordable rates. Through our open source initiatives, our goal is to put innovation in the hands of Higher Ed institutions so they can focus their time on achieving their mission and making an impact on education.

Our Higher Ed customers have demonstrated the importance of what it means to have access to technology that not only grasps what it means to support the Higher Ed experience but actively reflects what is both common and core to Higher Ed business practices. meets its customers where they are in order to support, encourage, and highlight their vision, goals, and efforts through innovative and collaborative open source Higher Education technology solutions and community events. By actively engaging with our Higher Ed community helps customers control and shape their destiny.

The Benefits of Open Source are Endless in Higher Education

Educational Institutions rely heavily on both federal and/or state funding, donor contributions, and tuition in order to make education more accessible, affordable, and sustainable. They use a portion of those funds to secure dependable technology solutions that allow them to focus on what they do best while allowing them a voice in the evolution of that technology. They also depend on having access to knowledgeable resources that know how to implement that technology as well as understand how to continually reinvest in that technology. This is where Open Source initiatives becomes a game changing delivery method for Higher Education institutions looking for a competitive advantage as well as a way to shape their destiny in a world that can feel, at times, very limited.

There are several benefits of using Open Source solutions in Higher Education. Let’s consider a few:

    1. You get to interact with technology through direct access to code
    2. You get to solve problems directly through code contributions
    3. You have a voice at the table in shaping the direction of the technology
    4. You have access to a community who wants to keep the solution workable and accessible
    5. No more reinventing the wheel

Let’s take a moment to reflect on these 5 benefits and understand what they mean.

You Get to Interact with Technology Through Direct Access to Code
Direct access to code means you have the option to review what is happening behind the scenes.

Direct access to code also means you have the option to copy the code to your own repository (otherwise known as a FORK) for further analysis and/or development.

You Get to Solve Problems Directly Through Code Contributions
Code contribution is what allows you to submit fixes (otherwise knows as a PULL REQUEST) directly to the Main branch of the Open Source code repository. This is where your contributions with the Open Source community are largely felt and seen. This is where you give back! has a Github repository setup for the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA). This Github repository is where customers can go to Fork the HEDA code, submit Issues they’ve identified or encountered in the HEDA code, and submit Pull Requests to address those Issues.


You Have a Voice at the Table in Shaping the Direction of the Technology
Having a voice at the table is what happens when you actively engage with the Open Source community through the submission of Issues and Pull Requests.

Having a voice at the table also means attending events like Sprints (we’ll get to this in a moment!) as well as engaging with the community and in the Power of US.

Your contributions and feedback are what helps shape technology for Higher Ed!

You have Access to a Community who wants to Keep the Solution Workable and Accessible
The Higher Education Open Source Community is a passionate, informed, and dedicated group of Educational Institutions whose goal is to see everyone in the community succeed.

This community contributes to the betterment of the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) through direct engagement with developers, community managers, and product managers in an effort to help define technology roadmaps and better help walk alongside Higher Education Institutes on their technology journey.

No More Reinventing the Wheel
Educational Institutions are notoriously famous for reinventing the wheel. Don’t get me wrong! Reinventing the wheel is a systemic problem that many Educational Institutions, including large for-profit companies, face. Take comfort in knowing that others can relate to this same situation and are actively looking for ways to overcoming this.

The need to reinvent the wheel is due to direct lack of access to knowledgeable resources outside of those Institutions or companies.

What is the solution? Access to an Open Source Community of individuals who have the direct experience, knowledge, and understanding in order to help each other avoid reinventing the wheel through shared code.

Having access to the Higher Education Open Source Community will help. In this community you have access to several Educational Institutions that are utilizing the same architecture (HEDA) and working to promote awareness through innovative code contributions that not only help others solve their biggest riddles but also help others to continually reinvest in the technology they are invested in. This community shares knowledge.

Introducing the Higher Education Open Source Software (OSS) Community Sprint! is partnering, once again, with Harvard University to launch the very first Higher Ed Open Source Software (OSS) Community Sprint! And it’s completely FREE! Building off the first HEDA Community Workshop back in January of this year the Higher Ed OSS Community Sprint was created to facilitate innovative, community-driven, open-source initiatives while instilling a fun atmosphere and shared sense of trust, transparency, ownership, and inclusion.

Support transparency and trust

Sounds awesome! But What is a Sprint? Who will attend? Will there be Presentations and Panels?

The Higher Ed OSS Community Sprint is an opportunity for disruptive, passionate, trailblazing, and engaged Higher Ed community members to come together for two days of fun, laughter, and inspiration (not to mention a whole lot of caffeine and water for you water drinkers!) in order to identify, discuss, and take action on areas that are most important to‘s Open Source Higher Education Data Architecture (or HEDA for short). After all, they don’t call us HEDANISTS for nothing!


You don’t need to be a Developer to attend the Sprint (although developers are indeed welcome!). We are looking for admins, business users and consulting partners with hands-on HEDA experience, and app partners interested in integrating with HEDA.

There are no panels. There are no keynotes. There are no Powerpoint presentations. You aren’t going to learn something from your quiet corner of the room and go home. Instead, we’ll have time for sharing and goal setting and then we’ll break up into small groups and get to work. At the end of the second day, you’ll leave feeling a sense of accomplishment that you contributed something that will make HEDA better for others who aren’t there.

What does a Sprint look like?

Let’s ask the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) Community!

Orchestrated by the amazing Judi Sohn (NGO Open Source Community Manager for – the Ying to my Yang!) and lead by NPSP Community Member and NPSP Advisory Board Member, Ryan Ozimek (aka: NPSP MC/Cruise Captain extraordinaire), the NPSP Open Source community has been moving and shaking the nonprofit world for over 5 years. Through their amazing passion and dedication to the NPSP community they’ve helped to identify and deliver some truly amazing features and improvements to the NPSP product.

We’ve learned a lot from our NPSP Ohana and we want to take what we’ve learned from them and share that with the Higher Ed OSS community.

These NPSP Sprinters sure know how to keep a Sprint fun! Here is a picture to prove it!

NPSP Sprint '16

To drive the point home a bit more let us introduce you to Mary Pustejovsky. Mary is the Product Manger for NPSP and is shown below working to identify what’s working, what’s unknown, and what’s not working during the 2016 NPSP Community Sprint in Baltimore. NPSP Sprinters call this little exercise “sticky-palooza” so of course we had to adopt it for the Higher Ed OSS Community Sprint!

Just imagine the Higher Ed OSS community coming together in the same fashion to identify what’s working, what’s unknown, and what’s not working in HEDA in order to make it better for the community.


Who is organizing this Sprint?

While this sprint has been organized by in cooperation with Harvard University, the content and direction of the days is 100% community driven. But if you must, reach out to Higher Education Open Source Community Manager, Jace Bryan ([email protected]) for private complaints, @JaceBryan_ for public praise).

Corey SnowOur MC/Cruise Captain for our first Sprint will be Harvard HEDANIST Corey Snow! Corey has been an active voice in the HEDA and higher ed community, and he promises us an adventure we are sure not to forget! Be sure to follow @corey_snow on Twitter!

What will I get out of attending this Sprint?

That’s simple: You will gain access to a network of disruptive, passionate, trailblazing, and engaged Higher Ed community members who want to make HEDA better for the community because changing the World through disruptive technology aimed at Education and Communication is their number 1 priority.

How awesome is that for ROI?

Where can I Register?
Register today at Higher Ed Open Source Software (OSS) Community Sprint – Summer 2017

Additional information: Overview & FAQ: Higher Ed Open Source Software (OSS) Community Sprint – Summer 2017

Follow the Sprint on Twitter!
Keep in the loop with all the goodness happening around the the sprint by sharing your thoughts on social media. We’ll be using the hashtag #HEOSSSprint.