[TOS] Leveraging COVID-19 in the Classroom

Joanna Klukowska joannakl at cs.nyu.edu
Mon Jul 13 20:15:23 UTC 2020

Hi Heidi,

Thanks for sharing and starting this thread.

I actually created a new topic in my Open Source Software Development 
class last spring that went really well and students had a lot of 
positive feedback about it. I titled it "Open Efforts regarding COVID 19".

It happened about a month after we went remote and in the midst of NYC 
outbreak. The assignment was very open and intentionally not specific:
- research open efforts in the area of COVID-19 pandemic
- add links to the resources you find to the wiki page in the course 
- be ready to discuss your findings in class on Monday, Apr. 13
I explained that they are not limited to software projects but they 
should look for anything that is open in nature.
The collection of links that students created is attached.

During the next class and a half we went over the list and students 
spent about 2-3 minutes talking about the project/effort that they 
found. Some of these generated further discussion. We kept notes in a 
shared etherpad, but unfortunately, I let it expire before I got the 
copy of the notes ;(
Then we spent some time talking about categories of these efforts: 
hardware vs. data vs. software, large organizations vs. small or 
individuals, existing projects working on a new cause vs. brand new 
efforts that started to deal with a new situation,  projects that are 
specific to the locality vs. more generally applicable ones (at that 
point the students were dispersed all over the world), etc.
There were also some critical comments about why there are so many 
efforts for data visualization and what the value is that they bring to 
the table, or about safety of an open sourced "make your own test at 
home" instructions.

Students were very impressed seeing the range of efforts they found and 
seeing how open source projects can quickly spring up to respond to a 
crisis. I think for a lot of the students who had sick family members 
and who were displaced due to the outbreak in NYC this was a way to see 
relevance of what they were part of  to what was going on. None of my 
students ended up working on COVID-19 related projects during the class 
(for several reasons), but I think this was a valuable lesson and 
definitely the most active class discussion that we had in the course of 
the entire semester.

Here are a few blog posts from that week with comments on the discussion:



In the fall, I am back to teaching my Data Structure class. I usually 
use an open data set for the coding projects. This year it will most 
likely be COVID-19 related, but I do not have any specific one yet.

Hope everybody is staying safe!

Joanna Klukowska, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Science
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU
Warren Weaver Hall, Room 423
joannakl at cs.nyu.edu
Office hours (Spring 2020):
Monday 12:30-2:30pm, Thursday 11:00am-12:00pm

On 7/12/20 3:13 PM, Heidi Ellis wrote:
> Hi Folks,
> I have been thinking about my fall classes and HFOSS and thought I'd 
> share my thoughts. As the summer progresses, I’m finding a new rhythm 
> to preparing my fall classes.  It is clear that even though my 
> institution is hoping to hold the majority of classes in person, I 
> need to be able to take all of my classes online at any moment. And 
> yes, the does mean that class preparation is at least doubled.
> I have been focusing on my Software Engineering course which is a 
> fairly standard coverage of Requirements, Design, Test, etc. In my 
> case, I am setting students up for their Capstone class which meets in 
> the spring term. In Capstone, students will be contributing to the 
> Bear Necessities Market 
> <https://librefoodpantry.org/#/projects/BEAR-Necessities-Market/> 
> which is an HFOSS application to support the food pantry located on 
> Western New England University’s campus.  BNM is one of several food 
> pantry applications being developed by instructors within the Libre 
> Food Pantry <https://librefoodpantry.org/#/education/> community. In 
> my Software Engineering course, we use BNM to investigate real-world 
> requirements, design, test and more. We also learn the environment of 
> a real HFOSS project so that students are able to make code 
> contribution in the Capstone course.
> As I’ve been thinking about how to best support learning, I realized 
> that, due to COVID-19, the BNM will Likely need to implement some form 
> of a visit schedule in order to support social distancing as our 
> pantry has very limited space. I can see lots of ways that I can bring 
> this into my classroom and I’m excited at the possibilities the 
> provides for students to solve problems that are of critical 
> immediacy! What are you all doing? Please share your ideas!
> Heidi
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