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FLOSS Case Studies


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There is more to Open Source than Software Development. What are schools doing?

There is more to Open Source than Software Development. What are schools doing?

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  • 1. Pilot studies relevant to learning in FLOSS Sulayman K. Sowe < [email_address] > Dept. of Informatics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki FLOSSCom project team & NetGeners.Net participants FKFT Free Knowledge, Free Technology Education for a free information society First International Conference, Barcelona July 15th to 17th 2008                       
  • 2. In this presentation....
    • FLOSS Educational Context
    • FLOSS Educational Model
      • R(E)volution in Teaching & Learning
    • Pilot Studies: Experience from Aristotle Univ.
      • Brief history
      • Framework for Teaching and Learning
      • Some Results & Discussions
      • Lessons Learnt
      • Perspectives from the FLOSScom Project
    Many meanings: Free Software ( FS ) – FSF; Open Source Software ( OSS ) – OSI, Free and Open Source, Open Source ( OS ), Software ( F/OSS ), Libre Software ( LS ), Free/Libre/Open Source Software ( FLOSS ) .
  • 3. FLOSS Educational Context
    • Source code is open and free:
    • Access to large code base and professional programmers.
    • Variety of domains/software/Projects.
    • Large, Vibrant, and diverse Communities:
    • There is more than one bazaar of learning.
    • Geographically distributed individuals with diverse skills & experience
    • Communication, coordination, and public knowledge:
    • More than one means of communication (Lists, Forums, IM, IRC)-24/7.
    • Archives of past and present knowledge (revisit, re-learn, feedback),
    • Knowledge is constructed from multiplicity of viewpoints and experiences.
    • Some Problems:
    • Too many projects and communities. Steep learning curves for some technologies .
    • “ Noise”, Flame-wars, feuds, delays in replies to questions/queries, Lack f2f contact
    • Pedagogical challenge:
    • How to equip students with “information filters”….skills needed to navigate information spaces, find the right/interesting material, etc
  • 4. FLOSS Educational Model
    • FLOSS development is more than a paradigm shift in the way software is being developed, maintained, and supported.
    • FLOSS communities are open and participatory learning ecosystems (OPLE).
    • FLOSS projects are bazaars of learning: a meaningful learning context in which students can be exposed to real-world software development.
    • Viable educational model, characterized as the “Outside Approach” of learning in a FLOSS-like environment by FLOSScom. net
  • 5.  
  • 6. Results and Discussions: Pilot 1
    • 13 students testers in 16 FLOSS projects foudn 78 bugs, reported 68, and got 43 replies.
    • Main activity was to find and report bugs. However,
      • 10 bugs reported by students were fixed by programming community. 5 bugs fixed by students themselves.
      • 3 students participated in localization. Translating documents from English to Greek. First experience with .po files for the first time.
  • 7. Results and Discussion: Pilot 2
    • 24 students in 18 different projects
    • Testing: 22 students
      • 20 bugs fixed by community, 3 by students.
    • Coding: 2 students
      • Initiated and hosted a 2D game .“MarioSource” at
        • Status Pre-Alpha, sourceforge Activity Percentile = 44.42
  • 8. Results and Discussion: Pilot 3
    • 36 students in 51 different projects
      • Testing: 12 students
        • reported 134 bugs, got 190 replies
        • 4 students got above mean replies with student No. 7 recording 72 replies for his 24 bugs in his 3 projects ( inspircd, Freebsd, and Wordpress)
      • Requirements Analysis: 21 students
        • Template provided
        • 3 incomplete
        • 18 completed (12 accepted and published by project, 4 (in Greek) accepted but not published, 2 accepted by project admin but not published)
      • Coding: 3 students
        • 1 active contributor to pulseaudio (Ubuntu 8.04) and other sound output modules. Posts tips on configuration.
        • 2 Initiated and hosted the webtooy project; a desktop client application for many Web 2.0 services with open APIs. Originally hosted at then moved to
  • 9. Lessons Learnt - 1: Students perspectives
    • Students said:
    • - Very interesting experience
    • - Realistic conditions
    • - Found something new, projects, software, etc.
    • - Experiencing dual-boot (Linux-Windows)
    • - Know the people behind their software and 'talk' to them
    • - Freedom, work when and wherever they want
    • - Select their own choice of learning, project
    • - See their contribution appreciated and online in projects
    • - Encouragement from people they don't know
    • For some student:
    • - Finding an interesting project was hard
    • - Software was not running as expected
    • - Community was not responsive.
    • - Anxiety syndrome: “will I get good grades?”
    • - Extra effort needed before starting.
    • For us running the pilots:
    • Discovered and Learnt new software, projects, skills
    • Dealing with large number of emails or queries
    • Spending considerable time online as “Internet-Based Facilitators” or IBFs
  • 10.
        • Perspectives from the FLOSScom Project
    • The NetGeners.Net study is another kind of pilot study championed by the FLOSScom project
  • 11.
    • Information & Resources:
    • FLOSScom Project:
    • NetGeners:
    • Pilot Studies, ELMS:
      • Andreas Meiszner, Rüdiger Glott, Sulayman K. Sowe (2008). Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) Communities as an Example of successful Open Participatory Learning Ecosystems. UPGRADE, The European Journal for the Informatics Professional.
      • Andreas Meiszner, Rüdiger Glott, Sulayman K. Sowe (2008). Preparing the Ne(x)t Generation: Lessons learnt from Free/Libre Open Source Software. In 4th International Barcelona Conference on Higher Education: Vol. 2. Knowledge technologies for social transformation.
      • Sulayman K. Sowe. I. Stamelos (2008). Involving Software Engineering Students in Open Source Software Projects: Experiences from a Pilot Study, Journal of Information Systems Education (JISE), Vol. 18 (4), pp: 425-435.
      • More references available from the authors.
    • Thank you for your kind attention !
    • Questions? Comments? Suggestions?