Open Faculty Expertise grant helps teachers gain necessary expertise

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Leveraging 21st-century education with open source

A group of colleagues—Stoney Jackson (Western New England University), Sean Goggins (Drexel University), Darci Burdge (Nassau Community College), Lori Postner (Nassau Community College), and Greg Hislop (Drexel University)—and I have recently been awarded an NSF TUES Type 2 grant we’re calling OpenFE for Open Faculty Expertise. The expertise that we’re trying to build here is in the area of supporting student learning via participation in humanitarian FOSS (HFOSS) projects.

One primary way that we’re aiming to build faculty expertise is via workshop experiences, building on Red Hat‘s POSSE curriculum. The aim is to create an exerpience that starts a month or so before the actual POSSE, includes a 2+ day face-to-face POSSE meeting, and continues via online small group activities well after the POSSE meeting. The time before the actual POSSE will involve starting to learn FOSS tools and the time after the POSSE will focus on working in the small groups to use the knowledge gained during POSSE to involve students in HFOSS projects, thereby expanding the TeachingOpenSource community.

So what about that 'H'? We’re focusing our work on humanitarian FOSS projects for several reasons.

  • Humanitarian FOSS projects can motivate students (and faculty) by allowing them to improve the human condition within a class. 
  • HFOSS groups tend to be very welcoming due to their altruistic nature. 
  • HFOSS projects frequently are well aligned with college and university missions which include "doing good."
  • Many (most?) HFOSS projects are international, providing a diverse learning experience for students. 

Currently, we’re working on setting up the infrastructure for the group and getting organized. We have just started to look at the POSSE curriculum and see how to adapt that to the extended 2+ day format. I’m really excited by the idea of expanding the group of faculty, students and FOSS community members who are supporting student learning via participation in HFOSS projects!

Please join us by joining TeachingOpenSource and drop me an email (ellis at wne dot edu) if you are a faculty member interested in attending a workshop. The first workshop will be held in spring 2013.

Originally posted on Heidi Ellis' blog. Reposted using Creative Commons.

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Heidi Ellis is Professor and Chair of the Computer Science and Information Technology department at Western New England University. She has a long-time interest in computing education and has been supporting student participation in open source software since 2006.

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