A whole day on teaching open source

October 24, 2008 § 2 Comments

Before jumping into MozCamp here in Barcelona, I wanted to hammer out a few reflections on the Teaching Open Source track at Seneca’s FSOSS conference. So, here it is:

What happened: Humph and Chris carved out a whole day of FSOSS to talk about open source education. We had panels with students, professors, college admins and open source community reps. All were talking about their experience with open source in the classroom and how to make it better. I am pretty sure there has ever been a gathering like this before.

Big personal learning: Riffing on a comment Shaver made on yesterday’s post, Humph and I got into a discussion about what’s made him successful, which then rolled into the discussion with the whole group. The nugget of truth: “I wanted to play developer. And Shaver wanted to play professor. It took both of us to make this happen.” Most of my past conversations about replicating Seneca have been about finding the ‘right professor’. The last two days have made be think we also need to be looking for the right Mozilla contributors to help out on the education front.

A little success story: While we have yet to see more Mozilla courses, Seneca has replicated the open source course model locally by adding courses with Fedora, Eclipse and Open Office. People from all these projects were there yesterday. And, like Mozilla, all would be happy to see open source courses at more colleges and universities around the world. I already knew this was the case through Dave and Chris, but it was a different thing to meet all these folks. Nice.

Some follow up stuff: There was general consensus amongst the 40 people in the teaching open source sessions that we need to see more cooperation in this space. As a starting point, people agreed that we should do a survey of who’s teaching open source well and write up some simple case studies. Zak‘s already working on something like this. We could use it as the foundaiton of a broader community effort. There is also a loose interest amongst people like Red Hat and SFU of working on spreading the open source course model. Seneca is hosting a wiki for people who want to collaborate further and possibly build a coalition of folks working on open source education.

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