Morgan - FOSS Course (Proposal)

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Becka Morgan



Th focus of my work this summer will be to completely rewrite the OSS course I teach for Winter term. Currently the course focuses on the Ubuntu project and has been fairly unstructured. This is a moderately successful way to teach this course. Reinventing the way the course is taught, using what I learned at POSSE, will allow me to create a course that is less frustrating for students and has more focused goals. This will provide me with the opportunity to do research on using the information from POSSE vs the more unstructured approach.

Target course

IS451/CS551 is a course that is offered at WOU during Winter term as a combined undergrad/graduate level course. It is currently part of a grad level pathway and an undergrad elective. This is a course designed to promote participation by students in OSS within an environment that supports diversity. The intent is to create a framework for a course that creates a Community of Practice among the participants as a way to affect self-efficacy among underrepresented populations.

Target Student Audience

The target for this class are students who have some maturity in tech. They have successfully competed data structures as an undergrad. Graduate students are in an MIS program so the focus is on participation other than coding for many who have a business focus. It is a great combination of students to further the idea that all contributions are valuable.

Learning Activities

This a beginning of the structure of the course. My work this summer is to create, either from current sources or from scratch, the activities that will fill in the rest of a ten week term.

Outline FOSS course
Week Assignment/Activity Homework
1 Intro Intro to Class The Cathedral and the Bazaar
Intro to Wikis ** (Provide a wiki to play with) Free vs. Open
Intro to IRC ** (create an IRC channel and have students "talk")
2 Blog activity/Introduce OSS projects like Ubuntu, Firefox, Moodle, etc. (Projects the students are familiar with) 14 Ways to Contribute to Open Source without Being a Programming Genius or a Rock Star
"Anatomy Activity **

Evaluate projects based on criteria (Similar to Sahana vs SugarLabs) This will help students focus on things to look for when finding a project" || How to Contribute to Open Source Without Coding

Begin exploration of areas of interest/Codes of Conduct BLOG (Ongoing Blog about experiences)
3 Teams and communication FOSS field trip **

Ohloh - find projects of interest

Form teams based on interests/Set up team IRC channels and wikis/Determine group meeting schedule outside of class (via IRC, logs to be turned in) Each group member find a minimum of 2 projects that meet group requirements. Share them in weekly IRC.
Determine group OSS project BLOG

Expected Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to demonstrate skill in the following:

  • Knowledge -
    • Give a definition of FOSS
    • Discuss the history of FOSS/HFOSS
  • Comprehension -
    • Give examples of HFOSS projects
    • Outline the steps to setting up the dev environment in OpenMRS
  • Application
    • Set up a working dev environment using groups to problem solve
    • Map a generic methodology for joining an H/FOSS
    • Make use of FOSS tools
  • Analysis
    • Distinguish between an active, stable project and one that is dying
    • Compare FOSS to Closed source
  • Synthesis
    • Contribute to OpenMRS
    • Take what they learn from OpenMRS and design a simple FOSS project
  • Evaluation
    • Critique H/FOSS as a software development paradigm


Evaluation pieces will include blogs, IRC group meeting logs, and knowledge testing. The future goal of this course will be to develop a self-efficacy instrument to determine if there is a change in self-efficacy using a Communities of Practice model.

Expected Artifacts

  • A complete curriculum using OpenMRS for campuses that use Java as their primary language.
  • Evaluation rubrics for determining a grade without taking away the "productively lost" aspect of exploring FOSS.
  • Research the advantages of the POSSE approach compared to "going it alone" (another level of COP). This will use my previous research where the course was designed with no outside input.

Requested Funding

I request full funding for this project with the deliverables listed in the section above, although the research aspect would be considered beyond the scope of this funding because it is possible that it will be a longitudinal study. I would, however, invite anyone who wishes to create a joint endeavor to jump in :-)

Personal tools
Learning Resources
HFOSS Projects