How do we grow the Seneca teaching model?
October 23, 2008 § 7 Comments
Frank, Humph and I had a good brainstorm yesterday growing the Seneca open source education model. For those who don’t know: Humph teaches a course where students learn software development by actively working on projects and bugs in the Mozilla community. Many people would like to see this model spread to more colleges and more students, but doing this is easier said than done.
Up to now, the assumption has been that we ‘need more profs like Hump’ if we want more Mozilla courses in colleges and universities. The breakthrough yesterday was that there may be other ways to grow the model:
- Find More Profs Like Humph. Humph is an experienced Firefox contributor AND a full time computer studies prof at Seneca. The most straightforward way to grow the Mozilla@Seneca effort is to find other profs with both of these attributes. This is straightforward, but finding these people who is hard.
- Lend Seneca’s (and Humph’s) Brain to Others. Professors at other colleges have expressed interest in teaching Mozilla, but they don’t have the Mozilla community experience or skills to do so. These profs could have their students participate in Seneca’s Mozilla course or could even attend themselves as a way to build up skills. Similarly, Seneca students who want to study things like Open Office could do so remotely with profs experienced in that community who teach at other universities (Eric Bachard is a prof in France already doing this).
- Embed Mozilla Contributors in the Classroom. A Mozilla contributor with an interest in education could teach a course on the Seneca model alongside an existing computer studies prof. This hasn’t been tried yet, but it seems like a way that we might be able to build the combination of skills and connections that Humph has.
- Find Mozilla Contributors Who Can Teach. It might also be worth looking for colleges that want to do open source courses, and then find Mozilla contributors who would be willing to work as a sessional prof (teaching just one course). This course could be run on the Seneca model.
This is very much fresh, unbaked thinking. Today’s Teaching Open Source track at the FSOSS conference in Toronto will help us poke at whether there is any there there. I just wanted to get them down quickly while there were on the tip of my tongue. David, Frank and I will likely be back soon with more reflections.