Education

Open source events grow at the university

open source university

Catherine Dumas is a PhD student in the College of Computing and Information (CCI) at the University at Albany at the State University of New York (SUNY). She teaches two undergraduate courses, one in the Computer Science department and one in the Informatics Department.

Aside from her PhD work and teaching, Catherine is very involved in encouraging men and women to pursue their dreams in the field. She does this by staying active in the student chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) and in the activites going on at the College of Computing and Information Women in Technology (CCIWiT) group. Open source software is also a topic she's passionate about, and for the past three years she has helped organize the annual Open Source Festival at SUNY.

Read more in this interview.

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A review of the Printrbot 3D printer

3D printer revolution

If you're looking around for 3D printers that are both inexpensive and open source friendly, the Printrbot Simple Kit will probably catch your attention.

This Kit sells for close to $300, and for our team required a full-day of DIY assembly, though skilled makers might be able to put it together in four hours or so. Our team was made up of three PhDs and two R&D engineers, and it took us close to eight hours to complete the assembly, which of course included some philosophical and licensing discussions and a couple of trips to the hardware store. It was indeed a lot of fun! » Read more

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Can open middleware revolutionize education?

developing possibilities in education with open source

"It is a miracle that curiosity escapes formal education." These words by Albert Einstein reflect a lot about the current state of education. It also captures the need for overhauling the fabric of our school system. Society needs technology solutions that extract the best out of all the stakeholders in educationstudents, teachers, and parents. And we need enterprises that revolutionize the learning ecosystem. inBloom is one such company that utilizes and integrates massive amounts of data to change the landscape of the education sector.

I talked to Vincent Mayers, open source community manager at inBloom, to learn how the company is changing school systems and how open source technologies aid in its mission.

Read more in this interview. » Read more

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Coding adventures and contributing to open source with CodeCombat

open source game CodeCombat

When I founded my first startup in 2008, I was a programming newbie. A degree in economics from Oberlin College hadn’t prepared me for a career writing production-ready code. Despite my best efforts at slapping together crude HTML and CSS Django templates, my ability to contribute to our codebase was limited at best. So I started slowly teaching myself to code with online tutorials and lessons. After many disheartening starts and stops, I realized why I was having problems sticking with it: code lessons and videos felt like school to me, and I had no interest in returning to the classroom.

What we built next was CodeCombat, a game that teaches kids and students to code. Players use spells (JavaScript) to control their forces in a battle against Ogre enemies. And, on January 8 this year, we open sourced the entire project: servers, art, and all. You can literally clone our repo and have a working version of the game on your local machine in minutes. » Read more

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Four projects for parents to teach their kids about open hardware and electronics

open hardware and eletronics for kids

Kids are quick learners and have great imaginations. When pursuing an electronic or hardware project with a kid, the most important thing to keep in mind is: keep things playful. As long as their hands are in gunk and they are taking things apart, or there's the possibility of blowing something up, kids will stay interested. As soon as the activity starts to seem like work, they switch off.

Here are four fun and easy projects for teaching kids more about electronics and hardware in a couple hours or an afternoon. Then, they may be on to the Arduino board or Raspberry Pi before you know it! Note: For kids between 4 - 8 years old, more adult supervision may be required.

First, I'll share with you three excellent businesses where you can purchase open hardware tools, kits, and electronics for these projects and more. » Read more

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How computer science teachers can better reach their students

open source learning

Mr. James Allen

Imagine being a high school freshman walking down the halls of your new school on the very first day. You somehow make it to first period without becoming epically lost in the unfamiliar halls. Finally, the bell rings, signaling that you've officially made it through your first high school class. Taking a look at your schedule, you see your next class is Exploring Computer Science. You think: "Wow, computers! This should be fun!"

For me, this idea and feeling of fun didn't end of that first day. It continued throughout the year as a student of Mr. Allen's Exploring Computer Science class.

I first met Mr. James Allen at an Akron Linux User Group meetup this past summer. He had learned that a future student of his (me) was presenting on Scratch and the Raspberry Pi and took the time to see my presentation (about an hour drive!). That's a dedicated teacher. That's Mr. Allen. » Read more

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Trust your students with open source

trust your students with open source

In Zen Buddhism the concept of Shoshin, or "Beginner’s Mind," teaches us to approach learning with openness and a lack of preconceptions. Zen Monk and teacher, Shunryu Suzuki famously wrote: "In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few." When we cast aside that which we think we know, or that which we believe to be true, we can embrace new insights and ideas. As we climb to levels of expertise in our careers and work, we sometimes disconnect from the intense experiences of unknowing and the creative discovery inherent in being a novice.

Children wholly embody a beginner’s mind and naturally exhibit an inquisitiveness and passion to explore the world around them. » Read more

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Four Linux distros for kids

Linux operating systems for kids

I can see the brightness of curiosity in my six year old niece Shuchi's eyes when she explores a mobile phone or manipulates the idiot box with its remote control or becomes creatively destructive with any other electronic device. She, like a lot of kids her age, love experimenting.

This curiosity reaches its peak when she sits in front of my laptop or her father's laptop. A lot of times, however, I observe that she is lost in complicated applications that are suitable only to adults. An operating system that an adult uses and the system running it can look like a beast to a lot of kids. These applications are beyond the comprehension of very young kids and do not provide an ideal (and playful) introduction to computers. Futher, adults' laptops and tablets do not serve as a good learning environment for any kid (younger or older) who is just onboarding into the world of computing. Besides, letting a kid run wild on a computer with an online connection can be daunting for the parents. » Read more

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Open source educational tools for 2014

Open source educational resources

Last year was a big year of open source learning for me. I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of awesome people in the open source field, attending my first OSCon, and being a Community Moderator here on Opensource.com. I learned more than I can say last year, especially in education. Here, I'll share with you some my favorite (and super interesting) open source educational tools for teachers, students, parents, and others to use in 2014. » Read more

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Where to start: Upgrading your school system to open source

open education upgrade

One short article cannot hope to encapsulate the minutea for implementing open source in school districts and schools, however this primer sets the basis for the opportunities and strategies to achieve success.

When I speak about using open source I am not limiting it to replacing commercial office productivity suites with LibreOffice, as one example. This article speaks to the pervasive utilization of operating systems, productivity software, management software to all areas of the curriculum and business of a school district. It considers the relative ease for implementing open source in elementary schools as well as highly complex secondary schools under a diversity of programs and curricular requirements. » Read more

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