Pre-conference workshop, IDLELO conference
Saturday 15th of May, 2010 – Accra, Ghana
Biennial meeting of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa
by: Andreas Meiszner, UNU-MERIT
openSE general objective
• To set up an Open Educational Framework for Software Engineering bringing
together academia, formally enrolled students, fellow students, free learners outside of
formal education and open source practitioners and enterprises.
• To systematically combine formal and informal learning within an unfettered
informal learning environment.
• To stimulate participatory learning experiences and foster practical ‘hands-on’
sessions where learning activities and output become a learning resource itself.
• To enable current and future learners to benefit continuously and fully from others'
achievements, regardless where these achievements have been made.
OpenSE: Quick Facts
• Start: October 2009
• Duration: 25 month
• Supported by: LifelongLearningProgramme, European Commission
• Number of project partner: 11 entities from 8 EU countries
• Countries represented: Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, The
Netherlands, United Kingdom
• Scope: €398.135,-
openSE: People behind
Project lead partner:
• Conceptual Framework, Methodology & Structure: Andreas Meiszner, UNU-MERIT – The
• Pilot Lead: Ioannis Stamelos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Greece
• Content Framework Lead: Wouter Tebbens, Free Technology Academy – The Netherlands
• Learner Support Framework Lead: Ross Gardler, University of Oxford / OSSWatch, Research
Technology Service (RTS), Oxford University Computing Services – UK
• Technical Framework Lead: Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona, Universidade Rey Juan Carlos,
Departamento de Sistemas Telemáticos y Computación – Spain
• Evaluation Lead: Ruediger Glott, UNU-MERIT – The Netherlands
• Project Co-ordination: Jose Carvalho, Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação – Portugal
Special expertise partner:
• Elmar Husmann, European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) – Austria
• Imed Hammouda, Tampere University of Technology, Department of Software Systems – Finland
• Patrick McAndrew, The Open University, Institute of Educational Technology (IET) – UK
• Olivier Ricou, EPITA, Ecole pour l'Informatique et les Techniques Avancées – France
• WP 2, 3 and 4 in place for 1st pilot round January 2010
• First pilot start (proof of concept) March 2010
• Review of 1st pilot round, evaluation & as identified July 2010
• Second pilot start October 2010
• Review of 2nd pilot round, evaluation & as identified January 2011
• Third pilot start March 2011
• Review of 3rd pilot round, evaluation & as identified July 2011
2. Ideas Behind
Often formal education - even if about open source - follows the traditional educational
way that is: closed, isolated, disconnected, static, tethered, generic, made for
… isn't there a better way?
Earlier work suggests there is:
• 2008 FLOSSCom project: investigated learning in FLOSS communities and
FLOSS as a learning environment
• 2008 / 2009 AUTH pilot works on an open participatory learning ecosystem
for Computer Science Software Engineering
• Meiszner, A. (2010), ‘The Emergence of Free / Open Courses - Lessons from
the Open Source Movement’, PhD dissertation, The Open University, UK –
Learning in Open Source vs. Traditional education
Some aspects from learning in FLOSS & FLOSS as a learning ecosystem:
• ‘learning processes’ and ‘learning outcomes’ in open source projects are often
visible and become learning resources for many others,
• meanwhile in formal education they are normally ‘invisible',
• or if they are visible they are disconnected from learning materials and often
‘lost for future students',
• with no connection between cohorts of learners amongst semester, courses,
or the students’ contribution within open source projects
• with no continuity, no community, no ‘educational’ knowledge pool being in
=> how can we overcome this?
A suggested hybrid educational framework
Full report available for download at:
openSE framework – should allow for...
• A greater range of inputs – not just from the educator, but from all contributors so the
collective is the source of knowledge, not one individual
• A more personalized learning experience – learners can gather the elements of
knowledge they require – but skip what they know already.
• Greater sharing of knowledge – in higher education much of the previous input is lost,
whereas in FLOSS the dialogue, resources, and outputs remain as learning resources =>
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT & EVOLUTIONARY GROWTH.
• Peer production – active engagement in producing something with a set of peers is a
powerful motivational and educational driving force.
• Real activities – engaging in legitimate activities that are not restricted to an artificial
university setting also provides valuable experience.
• Peer support – a large support network provided voluntarily by peers in a collaborative
manner nearly 24/7.
Open learning environment – The sum is bigger than its parts, thus there is the need of
providing new educational models and scenarios that are not limited to students formally
enrolled at a course.
Provide certification and assessment options alongside, to make such a place financially
sustainable, pilot new revenue models in the line of “learning for free &
certification/assessment against fees”
3. openSE framework – potential benefits
Advantages for (higher) education institutions
A richer learning experience for your students
The opportunity to create a learning community, which is not possible within
closed traditional educational settings
To establish a learning ecosystem that is continuously improving and growing in
a natural evolutionary way
To assure that subjects meet actual demands, curriculum is up to date and
courses are taught in the best way possible (double feedback loops)
To work together with fellow educational institutions and open source
communities and thereby sharing the burden of developing such novel educational
In the long tale: To establish new revenue models, by e.g. providing free learners
outside of formal education with assessment and certification options against fees
(as said, the long tale)
Advantages for students & free learner outside
of formal education (1/2)
Learn together with other students, free learners outside of formal education and
enthusiasts from open source projects!
Learn from reviewing and studying the learning project activities, outcomes and
presentations from others – build upon what others did, this can be much easier
than starting from scratch!
Collaborate and get in touch with peers and practitioners within a real life
Socialize and experience learning within a joyful and interesting environment!
Do something meaningful by contributing to actual open source projects, gain
repute and expertise – add an extra to your CV!
Advantages for students & free learner outside
of formal education (2/2)
Learn how to update your skills and knowledge self-dependently within a lifelong
Learn how to take full advantage of the web to support your own learning, to collaborate
with others and use the tools required to do so
Be capable to find sources at the web and to critically evaluate and analyze them
Be aware about available free online and desktop software solutions that facilitate
learning, knowledge exchange and collaboration
Know how to find online communities, to engage in them for personal support, and to
and understands the way they function
In a nutshell: To gain today's required soft skills; like to communicate, collaborate and
engage in discussions with others, defend your own work and thoughts and present them,
know how to manage a project, or how to resolve conflicts
Advantages for open source projects
Share the burden of newbie integration to the open source world as a joint
venture of higher education institutions and open source projects, and
Therefore build up a synergy of scale
Identify potential contributors early
Students' contribute to the open source project, and might continue doing so
beyond the course duration
Help learners to learn by contributing to a given project at the same time
Advantages for enterprises
Continuous training & certification of own workforce (as those can participate in
the open learning arrangements)
Collaborative curriculum development with educational institutions to assure
that offer meets demand
Opportunity to identify high skilled worker (e.g. students & free learners)
New revenue opportunities through assessment & certification / collaboration
with educational institutions
… and likely many more
4. openSE framework – initial structure
Tools & spaces
Forges, Modularity and Learning Projects – self organized learning projects and spaces
Online student works: The Learning Project Directory
Meet others online: The Forums
Set of “on-board” spaces
5. The Concept of Learning Projects
About Learning Projects (1/2)
• Projects are to be assigned to or selected by the students from the beginning.
• Projects have to be small and must be easily to fulfil within the given time.
• The students should be able to complete the projects with a certain degree of study and
scaffolding from the educational material.
• Students might work in (small) groups to foster collaboration
• Every project has a strict deadline and in the case a project is passed on to a future
student the next project should be (slightly or fair) harder.
• Educational material is proposed to be studied that could consist of books, URLs, CDs,
prior solved paradigms and/or exercises or other resources. But: Less control might lead
to lower quality of learning materials. This needs to be carefully considered.
• Forums and wikis could assist to establish a cooperative and interactive environment to
facilitate the knowledge exchange between the participants.
• Students should produce clear deliverables (e.g. a project report & presentation) on a
know deadline. At this point, a peer-assessment cycle might be initialized, where every
group (or individual) reviews and comment on the work of the others.
About Learning Projects (1/2)
• In the case of collaborative project works a MVC (Most Valuable Contributor) might be
pinpointed. This confronts in a second level the problem of the lurkers.
• The instructor should follow all activities, avoiding to interfere, unless it is necessary,
e.g. in cases of misunderstandings, or great deviation from the educational objectives.
• Interface management is crucial in creating learning objects in an open source way. This
is to say that modularity requires that interfaces are clearly defined.
• There must be clearly formulated objectives, activities, tasks or outcomes of a learning
project, initial ones from the course team & students should explain within their project
reports on how all of those were meet by them and what they have done
The concept of Learning Projects: Example “Amadillo”
The concept of Learning Projects: Example “Amadillo”
The concept of Learning Projects: Example “DWTDI”
The concept of Learning Projects: Example “Copyleft vs. Copyright”
The concept of Learning Projects: Example “Ethics, technology &
free user choice”
6. Initial Experiences & Students' Voices
(the positive ones)
“At the beginning it started really small, but as time went on the website and
course space grew in size.”
“More and more material was added and discussions intensified.”
“At the beginning we didn’t know each other,
but with time, our confidence and trust grew and we were able to talk more freely.
And frequently scheduled chats also helped us to know each other”
“We participated in a learning project named "DWTDI". During our research we have
learned how to collaborate from distance using web technologies, as two of us were in
Sweden, one in England and one in Greece.”
“Furthermore, we have learned how to merge our separate work using open source
technologies like wikis in order to introduce a common result.”
“We strongly believe that this project helped all of us to improve our ability in English and
our knowledge about the tasks that are included in the project.”
“I've learned a lot of things. To be honest I didn't even know what exactly copyleft
was when the project started; but I learned about it along the way and figured out
some details about copyright.”
“We liked the learning experience because it was different from formal education
and because we had the freedom to choose our tasks and project methods.”
“The "find out yourself" aspect the course provided stimulates to search and actually
learn about something, while in higher education students are mostly supposed to
read books and just learn them by heart, rendering the knowledge useless since most
things are forgotten along the way.”
“The learning experience was very different: learning is done - not received; more
flexible, more possibilities to choose the theme and the way how to develop it;
dynamics of the roles with no clear separation of teacher/learner.”
“We believe that the course approach had some unique features. First of all, the
group participants could totally take the responsibility of their project, content and
organisation and could make decisions about the future tasks or chats on their own.”
“We were not obliged to use the official course places to upload our stuff and we
could make decisions all together!”
“It's not about what I learned, but about how I learned it. The same knowledge might
be obtained through open source communities or traditional learning environments
(actually the whole learning process is identical with learning in open source in my
opinion), but in traditional learning environments it is not as interesting.”
“In formal classes you're bombed with information which you have to cope with, at
this course it was easier to do so and I think we have learnt better than in formal
Thanks for your attention!
Andreas Meiszner, UNU-MERIT – The Netherlands
For further research on Free/Open Education see also: