From Google Summer of Code to Google Code-in, the Open Source Programs Office does a lot to get students involved with open source. In order to learn more about supporting open source in academia, I attended the NSF funded Professors' Open Source Software Experience (POSSE) in Philadelphia. It was a great opportunity for us to better understand the challenges instructors face in weaving open source into their curriculum and hear solutions on how to bridge the gap.
Almost 30 university professors and community college lecturers attended the 3-day workshop. During the workshop, attendees worked in small groups getting hands on experience incorporating humanitarian free and open source software (HFOSS) into their teaching. Professors were able to talk, mingle and share best practices throughout the event.
The POSSE workshop is led by Heidi Ellis, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology at Western New England University, and Greg Hislop, Professor of Software Engineering and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Drexel University. Heidi and Greg took over running POSSE five years after Red Hat began the program as an outreach effort to the higher education community. Red Hat continues as a collaborator in the effort. Around 40 university and community college professors participate in the program every year with over 100 individuals attending the workshop in the last four years.
Here are some of the challenges professors shared:
- Very little guidance on how to bring FOSS into the classroom. No standard curriculum / syllabus available to reference.
- Time investment required to change the curriculum.
- Will not be rewarded for teaching FOSS courses.
- Will not get funds to travel for workshops/conferences unless it’s to present a paper at a conference.
- Many administrations aren’t aware that adding open source is beneficial for students since more and more companies use open source and expect their new hires to be familiar with it.
The next POSSE will be Nov 17-19. Faculty who are interested in attending POSSE, please click here to apply.
We also discussed a number of open source programs that are currently working to engage students with open source software development:
- Rochester Institute of Technology: Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture Minor Program
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Rensselaer Center for Open Source
- Oregon State University: Open Source Lab
- University of California at Santa Cruz: Center for Research on Open Source Software
Thanks to Heidi, Greg and the FOSS2Serve team for organizing POSSE 2016! We look forward to taking what we’ve learned and using it to better support FOSS education in academia.
By Feiran Helen Hu, Open Source Programs Office