[TOS] Teaching Open Source at 16 Months: A Forward-Looking Retrospective

Chris Tyler chris at tylers.info
Fri Jul 16 05:46:33 UTC 2010

The current TeachingOpenSource.org initiative started in March 2009, 16
months ago. This pause between academic years is a good time to step
back and take stock of what we've done and where we're going.

The original vision for TeachingOpenSource.org was that it would serve
as "a neutral collaboration point for professors, institutions,
communities, and companies to come together and make the teaching of
Open Source a global success".

It's been a interesting year-and-a-bit:

- We have grown to 226 members on this list! Many others have come and

- A number of projects/initiatives have been started. Several have been
executed well, and others have withered on the vine. In particular, the
textbook and POSSE have been quite successful.

- Overall, I think we have succeeded in a significant way: the teaching
of community-involved open source is growing. There are more profs
teaching open source at more institutions than ever before (though we're
still at an early stage, and we don't have good hard data on this).
We're starting to share ideas, models, and war stories, and we're
building some good resources.

So what's next? How far can we get by next summer, and what do we need
to do to get there?

- TeachingOpenSource.org includes active participants from many
institutions (.edu in shorthand), open source vendors (.com), and
organizations (.org). It's great to see diversity in this group; I take
it as confirmation of the neutral-umbrella concept. One group of
contributors has been particularly active: the Red Hat community
architecture team. The fabulous team of Greg (while at Red Hat),
Karsten, Max, and Mel have been the driving force behind both POSSE and
the textbook project. While we have a growing number of .edu's involved
here, I would like to see a greater number and diversity of .com
and .org participants in TOS.

- The TOS infrastructure needs to grow with the community (see my
separate e-mail on this topic).

- We need some serious wiki gardening :-)

- The textbook needs some beta-testing love, and to move toward 1.0.

- We're still in the early days of the teaching of open source. Many of
the faculty participants here are so heads-down in our teaching and
research that the hard problems of TOS aren't getting the attention and
traction that they deserve; we need to continue to discuss our
experiences, solutions, and best practices in the teaching of open

Let's open this up: What are your reflections on the first year(+) of
TOS, where do we need to go next, and what is your role in helping us
get there?


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