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

Karsten Wade kwade at redhat.com
Wed Jul 28 02:59:23 UTC 2010

Sorry about the delay on replying from myself, and probably same
reason for Mel et al -- we spent a week in meetings then went to
OSCON, CLS, visited Oregon State, and all manner of things still being
written about.  So, I missed reading this, and it's fine because I
have a better idea of answers/comments than I did 11 days ago.

I may repeat content here that I'll write about in other venues,
pardon if you see the same stuff repeated. :)

On Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 01:46:33AM -0400, Chris Tyler wrote:
> 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.

I'll snip your list from here and add two items that caught my eye:

* Four held POSSEs and probably just as many cancelled due to not
  enough, and a few others that died on the vine.  It's an idea that
  immediately grabs people and makes them want to do it, even if their
  environment isn't right for it yet.  When I'm discussing an idea
  with a large number of folks who are a class of domain experts, and
  what I'm talking about really resonates with them so that they want
  to get involved right away, I know we've got a handful of wildfire.

* The presence at OSCON was awesome.  Folks from
  TeachingOpenSource.org (TOS) were evident all over at both OSCON and
  the Community Leadership Summit.  Multiple talks, side-sessions,
  talks and discussions at the Fedora booth, and on and on.  I would
  say that TOS-related discussions were 70% of what I talked with
  folks about wherever I was at OSCON.

> - 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.

From the .org side, I see a number of initiatives and am a bit
confused.  I'm not sure what aligns where and what efforts are being
duplicated.  (Nothing wrong with duplication, just want to make sure
we are learning from each other to minimize duplicating mistakes and
maximize duplicating successes.)

Because there are so many .org-type groups that are more volunteer or
diverse non-profit/non-government driven organizations ... and so many
interpretations of "education" and how it interacts with technology
... and so many ways to look at open collaboration without even
getting open source involved ... I think we have an excellent research
topic here, one that I'm not going to get my hands on any time soon,
but could be part of a greater effort or be part of undergraduate
research or something.

(It's related to the idea of a set of wiki pages listing open
educational resources, organizations, etc.)

Once we know the lay of the land around .orgs we could know who to
approach more directly instead of waiting to be found.  I'm OK with
doing-and-being-found, but I think we're at the point where
proactivity is warranted now that we have programs actively underway

Regarding .com, it's interesting that I had the realization the other
day that as far as I can tell, Red Hat is a rarity in for-profit IT
companies engaging in this type of relationship with academia.  I feel
more like a grad student than an industry partner, and that is
beginning to feel like the more-right way to feel.

So I don't know who exactly is going to engage with TOS in a similar
way, but perhaps this is another place where proactivity is called

Reach out through technical communities, industry relationships,
basically any interface between academia and FOSS to reach the people
already in the FOSS communities *and* working at the .coms who can see
the value in the next step over to TOS.

> - The TOS infrastructure needs to grow with the community (see my
> separate e-mail on this topic).
> - We need some serious wiki gardening :-)

Let's make sure we share the tools for finding and removing the
spambot stuff.  For the rest, we need to start talking on this list
about what we want to do (which is different from the Wikipedia-style
[[Talk:]] pages, but I think we have a mailing list culture here.)

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

I'll report on that separately, along with whatever Mel has.  Short
answer -- we are taking it back to run it through the models and
processes familiar to many of you who have written textbooks, and I'm
going to be reaching out to each of you who have pledged interest in
moving it from an experimental textbook to a prototype you can
actually teach a full course from.

> - 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
> source.
> 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?

One thing we keep reflecting on is how our team at Red Hat has had to
find a way between our FOSS-is-fast and corporate-is-hurry-up-and-wait
experiences to figure out how to build interfaces with

I see how our work with all of you is helping us in defining and
executing on Red Hat's strategy for education.  I think this kind of
open strategic planning is pretty innovative and exciting, and I look
forward to more of it, especially in .edu areas that our team isn't
(yet) focused on - K12, private, charter, alternative, homeschool,
distance, etc.

Cheers - Karsten
name:  Karsten 'quaid' Wade, Sr. Community Gardener
team:                Red Hat Community Architecture 
uri:               http://TheOpenSourceWay.org/wiki
gpg:                                       AD0E0C41
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