ICCE 2016 Tutorial - HFOSS

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Tutorial: Guiding Faculty and Students to Participate in
Humanitarian Free & Open Source Software

International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE) 2016


Students in CS and other STEM disciplines must master content knowledge and skills as well as process skills including communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving. To help students, teachers can use a variety of evidence-based strategies. In Team Project Based Learning (TPBL), students work together on extended projects. TPBL has a long history in STEM education, but student projects are often relatively small. Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) enables students to work on real software projects with user and developer communities, and Humanitarian FOSS (HFOSS) enables students to help address important social needs. However, the initial learning curve for FOSS is steep, so teachers should support students with structures and scaffolding. For example, in Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), student teams work on classroom activities specifically designed to guide them to develop understanding of key concepts and important process skills.

This tutorial uses POGIL and other active learning approaches to explore how teachers and students can participate in HFOSS projects and develop essential knowledge and skills. This tutorial is adapted from the Professors Open Source Software Experience (POSSE), which uses self-paced work, face-to-face workshop sessions, and collaboration to help teachers engage their students in HFOSS.


This 3 hour tutorial is divided into 6 parts, with a break in the middle.

10 min A. Introduction Introduces participants and provides an overview of the tutorial and FOSS.
30 min B. HFOSS in Education Explores how students could benefit from participating in HFOSS, and some of the courses and activities where this could occur.
45 min C. FOSS Processes & Tools Reviews common elements in FOSS communities, including guiding principles (called FOSSisms), community structures, and communication methods.
10 min (break)
20 min D. Pedagogical Approaches Surveys some of the learning techniques and issues that teachers should consider, including ways to form, manage, and evaluate teams.
45 min E. HFOSS in the Curriculum Considers student activities and assignments in more detail, and how they might be used in various courses.
20 min F. Conclusions & Discussion Concludes the tutorial with pointers to useful materials and open discussion.

Parts A and D primarily use presentation slides. Parts B, C, and E use POGIL, in which teams of 3-5 participants discuss a sequence of questions and then share insights with other participants. Part F is mostly whole group discussion. As noted in the abstract, this tutorial is adapted from longer workshop sessions in the Professors Open Source Software Experience (POSSE). Note that this tutorial does not provide training on specific tools (e.g. wikis, task trackers, version control) or technologies used in FOSS projects.

Proposer(s) / Instructor(s)

Clif Kussmaul is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Muhlenberg College, USA. Formerly he was Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the University of Kerala, CTO at Elegance Technologies, Inc., and Senior Member of Technical Staff at NeST Technologies, Inc.

He is a co-PI for OpenPath, a 2015 US NSF IUSE project to help faculty and students participate in Humanitarian FOSS projects. He is the PI for CS-POGIL, a 2011 US NSF TUES project to help CS faculty develop and use Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). He is also a former member of the POGIL Project Steering Committee. He has led numerous conference tutorials, including at T4E 2012; SIGCSE 2013, 2014, 2016; and SIGITE 2014. He has also led full-day or multi-day workshops at multiple institutions in India and the US, including AITAM, Tekkali; GITAM, Visakhapatnam; VNR-VJIET, Hyderabad; VRS College, Vijayawada; Haverford College, USA; Franklin & Marshall College, USA; and Muhlenberg College, USA.

He received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Davis, USA; an MS and MA from Dartmouth College, USA, and a BS and BA from Swarthmore College, USA. His professional interests include active learning, FOSS, software engineering, collaboration tools, and entrepreneurship.

Sample Materials

For much of the tutorial, participants will work in teams of 3-5 on POGIL-style activities that use a sequence of questions to guide their thinking and understanding.

For more information on involving students in FOSS, see: http://teachingopensource.org and http://foss2serve.org. For more information on POGIL, see http://cspogil.org and http://pogil.org.

Personal tools
Learning Resources
HFOSS Projects