Educating the Next Generation of FOSS Developers (OSCON 2010)

At the upcoming O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON 2010) we will present the following talk:

“Educating the Next Generation of FOSS Developers”

“The engineers that you will be hiring in 2015 are now sitting in college classrooms all across the country. Many are now being trained in the exclusive use of proprietary products, plagued with restrictive licenses. They often don’t know what a command line is, much less what ssh or netstat are. Most of them will never see a piece of code longer than 500 lines during their entire college education. Most of them have never read a software license. Many of them still wonder if Free and Open Source Software is used in real-life applications. Most of them are puzzled by the idea that a business model may be based on giving away something for free. We have been collectively raising an entire generation of engineers who are ignorant of the essential inner-workings of hardware and software due to the widespread use of proprietary products in college campuses which has prevented them from learning how things really work.”

In this OSCON talk we will be sharing our experiences (successes and failures) from three years of teaching the Open Source Software Practices course:

The topics covered in the course include:

  • Laws and software,
  • Economics and collaborative means of production
  • Social implications, and
  • Software engineering practices

The course covers, in depth, topics on copyright, patents, trademarks, collaboration platforms, business models, social freedom, and community participation. Students get practical experience in practices of test-driven development, agile development, and participation in distributed teams.

As part of the course, students are required to participate in and contribute to an open source project. They have the option of starting a project from scratch or joining an existing project. The guiding principle of the course is to empower students to find their own way in the prolific environment of open source communities, by giving them a background that will allow them to make educated decisions along the way.

This relates to the second talk in which we will participate at OSCON:

“Opportunities for Students to Contribute to FOSS Projects”

and to a topic on which we have blogged recently:

“Opening Open Source”

where we examined the lack of easy entry-level assignments that many open source projects have when it comes to facilitating the involvement of new members from the community.

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Questions or comments are always welcome!