Sunday, February 01, 2009

White Paper - Patterson's loved course to take: "Join the Open Source Movement"

I am trying to write a white paper (as I posted previously) regarding the educational model followed in Seneca and its upper limit and part of the methodology to write a good one requires you to research in journals.

I tried to find if there were other places were the same way of teaching open source was being done but found myself hopeless. After talking with David Humphrey and Christ Tyler, I refocused towards looking on why was not being taught in other places.

The funny thing is that two years ago, David Paterson, former president of ACM, wrote in an article called Computer science education in the 21st century that to invigorate the CS curriculum, we had to "reflect the exciting opportunities and challenges of IT today versus the 1970s" and part of this article was his desire that there should be a course in "Join[ing] the Open Source Movement".

Some of the things that are mentioned in this article's section (you need an ACM subscription) is that it is inspiring for students to work on real production software, that they are able to contribute immediately to the real world, that they can fix open bugs and are able to add new features to the different projects.

My question, as gregdek mentions in his post "Why Seneca Matters", is what has it happened since then? If somebody like Patterson says that it is important to adapt to the new era by including Open Souce into our curriculums, why is it that it is only happening at Seneca while in other places they are still trying to get started?
As Greg mentions, he has found that in many places the answer is that teaching Open Source is really hard as I have heard it from Dave and Chris in many conversations.


  1. Armen: a few things I'd consider:

    1. A few people other than Seneca are trying to integrate open source into CS curriculum. Examples tend to be like this ->, with the focus on smaller software projects created by the professors or people close to them.

    2. The difference of the Seneca model is that it's about working in *big* open source projects, helping people learn in the context of that scale. No one else is doing that (yet).

    3. Part of the reason is that projects like Mozilla haven't (yet) made it easy for educators and students to get in the door. Dave's had to build a method to do that, but it's really just for his students. The next step is to try to systematically offer a way in for students beyond Seneca, which Dave is working on with Mozilla as we speak.

    4. Google Summer of Code is worth recognizing at the other big effort in this area. While it's not tied to educational institutions, it is built around the idea that open source is a great learning environement.

    and here:

  2. 1. Hopefully they make it happen
    2. True
    3. Once this happens, how can other projects follow?
    4. Blessed Google. I wish I have had a Humphrey to encourage me to take it during one of my summers. The world is a big an intimidating place...

    BTW, did you wanted to paste a link after "and here:"??