Professional Development for Instructors Interested in Student Participation in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software
Dr. Stephen Gbenga Fashoto is presently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, Swaziland. He was formerly the Director of ICT in Kampala International University, Kampala, Uganda. He was a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Department of Decision Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa. He was a Lecturer in Department of Computer Science, Redeemer's University, Ede, Nigeria between 2007 and 2014. The Chair of the Computational Intelligence and Health Informatics Research Group, Department of Computer Science, University of Swaziland. I hold a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Ilorin, Nigeria, M.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Port harcourt, Nigeria and B.Sc. [Hons.] in Computer Science and mathematics from University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. My interest in Free Open Source Software (FOSS) stems from the belief that instructors and students cannot survive in software development and programming generally without the support of Open Source Software community especially in developing countries. I confirmed the above statement to be true having lecture programming languages in four different countries in Africa (Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa). The present significant opportunities by Professors of Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE) on the different activities we have been working on for the past three weeks as an instructor has exposed me to so many new things in the area of teaching open source software which will enable me to contribute to academic development in the area of teaching programming languages using open source software. My interest in HFOSS project is in OpenMRS because my key research interest is in Health Informatics and I have applied Computing and mathematical modelling to different areas of human endeavour especially to health related issues in Africa. From 2017/2018 Academic session i will introduce my year one students to LINUX/UNIX operating system instead of the usual windows operating to my course titled "Introduction to Computer Science" and i will introduce my year two students to C++ using open source software on LINUX/Unix OS. And lastly, I will emphasise on the HFOSS project as a case study in our programming courses and in our departmental research group. I will propose to the Royal Science and technology Park( in charge digital innovation in Swaziland) the need for Teaching Open Source Software in High Schools and in Universities all over Swaziland. And finally, I will ensure my Head of Department improve four of our courses curriculum based on the HFOSS project (Introduction to Data Mining, Programming languages, Data structure and Database Management System).
POSSE is the Professor's Open Source Software Experience. POSSEs provide professional development for instructors interested in student participation in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS)
- POSSE 2017-07 - Co-located with ITiCSE, Bologna, Italy
- (tentative) POSSE 2017-11 - in November, east coast U.S.
We anticipate holding 2-3 POSSEs each year.
What is POSSE?
POSSE began as an outreach effort by Red Hat, Inc. to the higher education community. The goal was to help instructors learn about free and open source software (FOSS) so that they could incorporate FOSS into their courses. A description of the first POSSE workshops is contained here
The first workshops were held in summer, so the POSSE acronym was adopted to stand for: Professor's Open Source Summer Experience.
Later workshops have been held in other seasons, so the POSSE acronym has been re-interpreted to stand for: Professor's Open Source Software Experience.
One professor's observations on their POSSE experience from June 2016.
What is HFOSS?
HFOSS stands for Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software. It is an acronym used to refer to the large and growing collection of open source projects that have some social benefit as their primary reason for existence. This includes projects that seek to address aspects of healthcare, disaster management, accessibility assistance, economic development, education, and other areas of social need.
A growing group of faculty are exploring the learning and motivational potential of student participation in HFOSS projects.
POSSE and HFOSS Together
The current version of POSSE workshops combine an expanded version of the initial POSSE work with a focus on HFOSS projects. The effort is a collaboration between Red Hat and faculty interested in HFOSS. The current verion of POSSE also benefits from support provided by the National Science Foundation. The approach to POSSE has been revised and extended to create a more complete path for instructors. It includes technical topics related to FOSS and also pedagogical and curricular consideratoins. The approach to delivery uses online learning to extend participant interactions before and after a face-to-face workshop. Below is a brief outline of the faculty development model which underlies the approach as well as the outline for the three stages.
Faculty Development Model
Experience with POSSEs and with other NSF-funded workshops has highlighted the need for an integrated approach to faculty development that includes both the academic and FOSS perspectives. We propose a two-track, three-stage model for faculty to learn how to support student participation in HFOSS. The two tracks cover the dual HFOSS and academic content needed to support faculty.
The Stage 1 Activities occur during the six weeks prior to the face-to-face meeting. Faculty members (participants) work independently and also interact with the foss2serve team and other participants in an online environment periodically. These activities are intended to prepare a faculty member to get the most out of a face-to-face workshop. The HFOSS track includes a series of activities on FOSS tools with an emphasis on communication tools as these support entance to the HFOSS communities. The goal is to get faculty familiar with the tools so that they can use them efficiently during the actual workshop. For the academic track, faculty members will be asked to identify places in their curriculum where student participation in HFOSS might be incorporated. These activities are intended to take approximately 15-20 hours in total and are divided into three two-week stages. IRC meetings will be held with groups of participants periodically to answer questions and help guide learning. Faculty members will also be introduced to an HFOSS community during stage 1.
Guidelines for the activities:
- Activities completed according to schedule within the six weeks prior to the workshop.
- Each activity takes 30-90 minutes requiring 12-15 hours of work in the four weeks prior to the semester.
- Most activities will involve reporting results on a wiki.
- IRC meetings will be used to periodically talk about the results of activities.
- The activities are broken down into two-week segments. All activities must be completed within a day or two of the end of the deadline.
- More "pre-work" ideas from POSSE may be found here: http://teachingopensource.org/index.php/POSSE_curriculum
- Look at http://teachingopensource.org/index.php/POSSE_curriculum#Monday when creating the activities below as learning objectives and good ideas reside here.
A 2+-day face-to-face workshop comprises Stage 2. Following POSSE precedent, the workshop is lead by a team of representatives from FOSS organizations and academic POSSE alumni. Participants arrive for an evening meal and intro session on day 1, work all of day 2, work all of day 3 and end the afternoon of day 3. During this time, participants will learn how the material that they had been absorbing prior to the face-to-face event is used in actual FOSS projects. Participants will also learn ways to incorporate that material into their classes and to identify and/or create actual assignments.
In order to support faculty after the workshop, stage 3 consists of interactions among small groups so that participants will have support while involving students in an HFOSS project in the classroom. This approach is based on research into small-group learning. These groups will be approximately 6-10 participants and organized around a particular HFOSS project. The idea being that faculty members can work collaboratively on the same project. In addition to these small groups, faculty members will also belong to their chosen HFOSS community.
During Stage 3, POSSE participants will:
- Join a small learning group.
- Incorporate HFOSS into course
- Work with other instructors and HFOSS community members to solve problems
Information about recent POSSEs is available here: