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 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):

  1. it makes economic sense - gratis!
  2. the Real World uses open source; when you graduate, the chance you'll work on/with OSS projects and products is high and growing
  3. 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.