[TOS] Textbook Audience

Karsten Wade kwade at redhat.com
Sun Mar 28 10:41:47 UTC 2010

On Sun, Mar 28, 2010 at 07:58:46AM +1030, Peter Ruwoldt wrote:

> Being a secondary teacher, without a degree in Computer Science, the
> development of a book (not a program) like this where you are using FOSS
> methods to produce it seemed like a smart place for me to look to find out
> more about how this FOSS development works and how the collaboration ticks.
>  I've been lurking on this list for some months to try and find out more
> about how you people work, the tools and the nature of the discussions so
> that I am in a better position to perhaps do this. I am really not much
> better off with understanding what tools and how you use them.  I have
> learnt a lot about how you challenge and support each other and I can see
> the consequence of that in your book.  I was also interested in the way that
> you reacted to my simple audience question and how you turned that into
> a improvement opportunity.

There is another book that some of us worked on that is closely
related.  It's not being used by the other authors, but its principles
and practices are familiar to most FOSS collaborators.  It's about
implementing the open source way:

http://theopensourceway.org/book  <= Pretty book version

http://theopensourceway.org/wiki  <= Collaborative wiki for

This other book, "The Open Source Way: Creating and nurturing
communities of contributors", is a meta-book.  It extrapolates a set
of principles and implementation details, pulling them out of their
setting (free and open source software), and showing how they are
applicable to other settings.  It also shows _how_ to apply them to
other settings, in rather generic ways.  (These are not new
principles, per se, but they are nicely bundled and branded under
"open source" and now "the open source way[1]", making it easier to
explain and teach to others.)

When I was writing and editing for the new textbook under discussion
on this list, "Practical Open Source Software Exploration", I was
keenly aware of how different elements applied back to the guidelines
in "The Open Source Way".  In fact, the latter is written to be easily
referenced.  For example, a number of the parts of the textbook teach
how to use the tools that this set of guidelines recommends be
implemented for contributors:


I consider the new textbook to be an example of the types of works
that can be derived from "The Open Source Way".  So, in working on a
new work derived from the "Practical ..." textbook, I recommend a few

* Be familiar with "The Open Source Way" and see how it applies to the
  individual instance of a learning guide you are working on.

* Rework the textbook with that in mind.

* Consider exercises and lessons that focus on teaching the open
  source way without requiring programming skills.  For example,
  imagine if the entire textbook is rewritten to cover contributing
  to a free content project such as Wikipedia.  Class lessons are
  around collaborating as a group on editing, writing, even creating
  sets of pages on Wikipedia (with teachers acting as a proxy in
  making all actual changes to the page.)[2]

* You may want to see what happens when you mash together, in your
  mind, other books + "The Open Source Way" + "Practical OSS
  Exploration".  For example, the textbook "Practical ..." owes a
  large debt to the seminal work "Producing Open Source Software"
  (Karl Fogel); however "Producing OSS" is focused on what it takes to
  start and run an open source project, which is a very different
  focus than teaching students how to be productively lost in open
  source communities.  What would be the book or books, which may not
  even be tech books, that you would mash together with "The Open
  Source Way" to guide you when deriving from "Practical OSS

There was a point made on this list a few months ago about high school
(secondary) students.  It pointed out how crucial success is at
building confidence at that age.  While you can find 14 to 18 year
olds who thrive on learning through failure, many are discouraged when
they run in to a wall too many times.  The "Practical OSS Exploration"
textbook is firmly targeted at the older students who have learned the
value of failure.  A derivative work for secondary students would need
to reconsider everything from the tone to the exercises in that light.

Final note, "The Open Source Way" is written and maintained in a
similar way to "Practial OSS Exploration".  Collaborators work on the
wiki and semi-regularly update the HTML and PDF versions of the work.
The content is freed for you to use, redistribute, make derivative
works, and put all of that out under your own branding.  One of my
hopes for this book is that agencies can make short, agency-branded
handbooks for their staff that teach about implementing the open
source way.

Cheers - Karsten

[1] Example of the open source way in action:


[2] Been meaning to write this down for ages:


    (Note that content is also freed, i.e. under CC BY SA.)

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