Students in computer science, software engineering, and related disciplines must master a broad range of technical knowledge, skills, tools, and processes. They must also learn to navigate, understand, and contribute to real-world code, documentation, and diverse communities of developers, users, and other stakeholders. One effective way for students to develop such knowledge, skills, and attitudes is to participate in Humanitarian Free & Open Source Software (HFOSS) projects. Research has shown that student participation in HFOSS projects has a positive impact on student motivation to study computing and a strong positive impact on perceived learning related to software engineering [8, 19]. The OpenFE and OpenPath projects seek to help faculty and students participate in HFOSS projects and communities.
The 2012 NSF TUES OpenFE Project developed and expanded faculty expertise supporting student involvement in HFOSS projects, and created and evaluated learning materials to help students in a variety of settings, including community colleges. OpenFE significantly revised and enhanced the Professors Open Source Software Experience (POSSE), a faculty development program originally developed by Red Hat, Inc. OpenFE also helped faculty to develop, pilot, and disseminate a variety of learning materials .
The 2015 NSF IUSE OpenPath Project continues and expands this work with a focus on sequences (pathways) of topics and learning activities that can be integrated across the curriculum to provide faculty and students with a more gradual introduction to FOSS tools and practices. OpenPath also leverages Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) [20, 29] to help students develop skills in communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork, which will make them more successful participants in HFOSS .
Together, the OpenFE and OpenPath projects have supported over 90 faculty from over 65 institutions to participate in POSSE and explore ways to help their students participate in HFOSS projects. A website (http://foss2serve.org) has more information about OpenFE and OpenPath, POSSE and other events, and learning materials.
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