Sunday, January 18, 2009

White paper: Open Source + Education

This is going to be my last semester and I have to write a 25 pages white paper; the topic that I have chosen is open source and education since I am a "child" of it and I believe that the educational model that I have been part of is not standard nor conventional in normal education and it is quite different from what open source companies have been trying to do to bring their technologies to post-secondary institutions.

For me it has never been about Mozilla trying to get more adopters of their technologies but a partnership for students to participate with real code, real projects and an opportunity to discover themselves as developers.

I am really happy to have been able to discover that my abilities as a developer grew as I participated more and more in the different projects that I took part of and I loved the challenge of working on projects which I had not been taught in any of my courses and I had to teach myself.

What I want to do is to contribute back by writing this paper, to promote this model that has been develop between Seneca and Mozilla and to help it to be understood in other places since I believe the biggest problem to implement it (not to copy it the same way it is in here) is that the model has not been completely understood.

As part of doing the required research to write this paper, I will be able to understand this model and try to help in anyway to others who might read it.

My biggest problem to write this is that I have not been involved for long enough to understand all aspects of my topic, that it is really difficult to define a thesis, that English is harder than any programming language I know :P and that I might be aiming to high for the little I know.

My thesis is around the belief that the biggest investment in a fruitful partnership is not the amount of money that the educational institution or the company behind the open source project invest but the motivation and the clear understanding of the motifs behind the partnership that only some involved individuals inside of the sub-community have and their desire for the students to grow in anything they put their efforts into.

To finish this post, I would like to leave you with a quote from a taxonomy in "Open Source in Education" (rather than "Education in Open Source") which helps me define which section of Open Source + Education I am trying to write about. I am not trying to focus on the "teach open source" side of it but in the side that teaches students how to get involved with an Open Source community that offers them to work on real projects that benefits real people.

Level 3: Working Within an Open Source Community

Teaching students how to contribute to and work within an Open Source project, collaborating with other community members on development, support, testing, documentation, bugfixing, and other collective tasks. This is teaching the "Open" in Open Source, and is the intended meaning of the phrase "Teaching Open Source".