This morning I had a 3:50am wakeup, 6:10am flight from CA to NC, and was really excited when I landed. Why? The start of POSSE. (Recap: weeklong bootcamp at Red Hat teaching professors how to get their classes to contribute to open source for credit.) We're twittering at http://twitter.com/posse2009 for those of you you who want realtime updates and like twitter, and hanging out in #teachingopensource-posse on Freenode if you want extremely realtime updates and like IRC.
Finally met Max in person! Have yet to meet Ian Weller face-to-faceApparently neither Ian nor I sleep; we met at 2am. It was nice to put faces to names for all the POSSE profs - Chris and Dave sound different in person than on the phone. I was quiet most of tonight as I assimilated the way everyone talked - takes a while for me to buid a Markov model of new voices well enough to contribute to a group discussion. Some neat things that came up at dinner:
WPI teaches a HTDP camp to high school teachers every summer and certifies them to teach HTDP classes to their students. The kicker: if a high school student takes a HTDP class from a certified teacher, they get credit at WPI. Smart move, especially now that the AP CS test has been discontinued.
Textbooks cost students inane amounts of money; we've known this for a while, but the economic crunch is helping to turn things towards open textbooks. Matt Jadud presented an interesting economic model for open source textbooks and an explanation of the value-add of good editing/indexing/design. Also discussed: open textbooks as an attractive feature universities can advertise. "Come here, and you'll never have to buy a textbook in 4 years."
Three reasons OSS makes sense in universities (and not just in CS departments, as Cameron Seay was quick to point out):
- it makes economic sense - gratis!
- the Real World uses open source; when you graduate, the chance you'll work on/with OSS projects and products is high and growing
- we need to teach students how to work on large, distributed, international, complex, jump-into-the-middle-of-someone-else's-work projects. (Even Andrew Begel from Microsoft Research acknowledges this.) If you've never worked on a team larger than 3 people, never worked on a project with more than 10 files... how are you supposed to function?
Me, I stuffed myself with peppers, calamari, artichoke dip, ostrich, risotto, red wine, and asparagus, and learned a lot. Always good to spend time surrounded by people smarter than you, and this week will be fantasticaly full of that. My role this week will default to "ethnographer" - I plan on taking notes as copiously as my hands (and other duties) will allow.