Wednesday, March 04, 2009

HFOSS Bruce Perens talks to educators

I don't know what is the best way to pay attention and talk of what is going on but I will try my best. Probably next blog posts won't be as lengthy as this one. Bruce is giving me enough time to write all this and listen at the same time :)

Before I mention what Bruce Perens is talking, I want to mention that I have met again with Greg Dekoenigsberg (Red Hat) and met for the first time with Carlos Jensen (Oregon State University) (who is from Madrid, Spain, yay!!)

Greg mentioned this:
  • How can we replicate the Seneca experience? How can we have more students in other places to contribute?
  • The professor has to be involved with the open source project. They can't just stand on the side and watch their students hack. They have to know who to connect their students with.
  • How can we make cap stone projects to be meaningful. How can they be a module that contributes to projects world wide and really used by others.
  • There is so much that can be learned from contributing to an existing base code rather that writing your own from scratch and in a rushed manner
  • He also mentioned briefly about the Red Hat Academia initiative and their certification idea

Carlos mentioned some reasons of why it is a big barrier for people to get involved
  • "How much time is it going to demand from me?" - people don't have a way to measure how much the time impact will be
  • Mailing lists - people are afraid of being bombarded with mail and being flamed (ask a *silly* question and get a bad response) - their studies show that this flaming ratio is lower than assumed
  • He also asked me about Gregorio in Madrid since he is interested on trying to have programs abroad for students and open-source would be a great course
  • These types of program try to teach courses like ethics and usability since students are distanced from their usual "habitat"
  • He talked about his colleague Timothy Budd who is more involved with the teaching part and Carlos is more involved with the infrastructure for students and faculty
  • He also mentioned about a closed-open-source repository in their school for students before they hit the real communities

Carlos is going to present this position statement:
Building a CS Platform for Learning An Open Source Approach - Carlos Jensen
and talk about the OSWALD project.

They create a really cheap Linux box (less than $200) for students not to be scared of breaking it. Most students are afraid of breaking their personal computer by installing Linux or even having a virtual machine. It also includes gaming capabilities to use for other courses.

Bruce Perens talks:
Asks to the educators: What do you want to get out of this conference?
  • Find things to tell my students
  • A good story
He is explaining the story about how open source came to be for all educators to be in the same page of background.

He mentioned these concepts:
  • computers used to come with source code included
  • share code with friends
  • pay for code
  • business differentiation
  • business side of open source
  • volunteer side of open source
  • Microsoft as a business limiter
  • proprietary software does not allow you to modify anything
  • most open source nowadays is involved with businesses
  • freedom
  • open source is very community oriented
  • computer engineering graduates should have a strong minor since all they know is about computer engineering
  • creative artists learn mostly applications and they should learn about programming as well - he mentions LOGO as an example (Armen says: good all times with the turtle and the 5"1/2 floppy disk!!)
How can we get students involved open-source?
  • open-source enthusiasts work during the day and they spend time out of work hours to contribute to their open-source projects
  • we had students who continued in the project they started working on
  • he talks about students who take an open-source course and don't get the sense of ownership of their project and continued to another semester without continuing involved with that project
  • what happens if you don't contribute back? in every new release you will have to port your patch forward
  • let's not work just with computer studies students since our world is increasingly being controlled with computers. This is happening in every field
What do we get when we do all this?
  • shall we have freedom? shall we have self-control?
  • you have the power with your students to lead them in ways that were not available before
  • open-source has been mainly written for love
  • if you want to write a good software hire a professional, if you want it to be written beautifully get a volunteer
  • you also get the look over the shoulder ability - you can check what the code is really doing
The panel discussion is next to come

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