FOSS in Courses 1 (Instructors)

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FOSS In Courses 1


Learners will gain an understanding of the variety of different ways that FOSS can be incorporated into a variety of courses as well as explore different ways to include FOSS into a course of their choosing.


An understanding of the course in which students will be involved in a FOSS project.

Learning Objectives After successfully completing this activity, the learner should be able to:
  1. List a variety of activities and different ways to contribute to FOSS projects beyond code,
  2. Identify activities within a FOSS project you are interested in including in a course,
  3. Identify activities or topics within your course where you think FOSS could fit.
Process Skills Practiced


When many people think about including FOSS in a class, they are typically thinking of one of two things:

  1. Finding an artifact from the FOSS project such as a code segment that provides the base for study within the classroom (e.g., code review), or
  2. Making a code contribution to the project by fixing a bug or making an enhancement.

However, there are myriad different activities based on FOSS as well as ways of contributing to FOSS projects that go beyond coding. The purpose of this activity is to explore some of the other ways to introduce students to and/or involve students in FOSS projects.

Note that the goal of this activity is to get a general idea of appropriate activities and things that you could do in class. It is not expected that you have a complete set of assignments or possibly even one complete assignment by the end of this activity. But by the end you should have an idea of some possibilities of where you could use activities with your course(s).


  1. Let's start by observing some of the different activities and ways to contribute.
    1. Read Andy Lester's 14 Ways to Contribute to Open Source without Being a Programming Genius or a Rock Star. Andy does a great job of identifying and ameliorating roadblocks for newbies.
    2. Read Craig Buchek's great list of ways to contribute other than code.
    3. Read through the list of activities on the 50 Ways to be a FOSSer page.
  2. Rather than reinvent the wheel, lets explore some of the existing materials based on student involvement in FOSS.Read through the following collection of resources.
    1. This wiki has a set of Learning Activities, most of which are introductory. This learning activity itself is part of that set. You'll find it in the POSSE sub-category.
    2. TeachingOpenSource has a Teaching Materials Catalog that contains examples of courses and a few individual assignments. NOTE: This link is not active as the original content from the old site is not currently posted to the new site.
    3. Steve Jacobs at RIT has a Open Source Course.
    4. Seneca College has a Center for Open Source Technology that has links to courses that utilize FOSS.
    5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute also has a Center for Open Source Software.
  3. Lets turn our attention to your HFOSS project of interest:
    1. Identify activities or topics that you are interested in within your HFOSS project of interest. This can be a rough list and can serve as the basis for identifying possible class activities/topics.
  4. Let's turn our attention to your own course.
    1. Now that you have an idea of the possible types of activities or topics, identify one or two that you think would fit in your class. These do not need to be polished. This can be a rough list of ideas.
    2. In your reading, did you find existing materials? If so, describe how would you modify them to fit your class?
    3. If you did not find existing materials, summarize the activity in a sentence or two.
    4. Post the activity to your wiki page. Note that you may end up identifying more activities than you can use in a single class. Think big!


POSSE: On your foss2serve user wiki page, a section describing the course and identifying one or two possible activities that students can complete as part of the course.

Notes for Instructors

The remaining sections of this document are intended for the instructor. They are not part of the learning activity that would be given to students.


  • How will the activity be graded?
  • How will learning will be measured?
  • Include sample assessment questions/rubrics.
Criteria Level 1 (fail) Level 2 (pass) Level 3 (good) Level 4 (exceptional)
The purpose of the project
Why the project is open source


  • What should the instructor know before using this activity?
  • What are some likely difficulties that an instructor may encounter using this activity?
ACM Body of Knowledge
Area & Unit(s)
ACM Topic(s)
Level of Difficulty
Estimated Completion Time

60-90 minutes

Environment / Materials

Access to Internet/Web and web browser.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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Suggestions for Open Source Community

Suggestions for an open source community member who is working in conjunction with the instructor.

Personal tools
Learning Resources
HFOSS Projects