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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

SoftHum Workshop on Involving Students in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Projects

An NSF Supported Workshop
June 11-12, 2009
Drexel University, Philadelphia PA

Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software
Open-source software (OSS) has become a significant software and social movement. The uniquely transparent and flexible development environment of OSS has great educational potential. OSS can help students to gain valuable software development experience in an academic setting.

Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) is open source software that has a particular humanitarian purpose such as disaster management, public health, or support of social services. Student involvement in HFOSS projects has the potential to stimulate student interest, provide students with real-world experience, increase professionalism and raise social consciousness. However, involving students in HFOSS projects within a classroom situation poses challenges including student inexperience, limited course duration, sustaining development between course offerings, handling informal development approaches found in OSS projects, and requiring substantial faculty effort.

The goal of this workshop is to prepare faculty members to use HFOSS in their courses. A second goal is to help instructors meet other instructors who are interested in working together on HFOSS education. The workshop will focus on OSS and HFOSS background and issues, suitable software development processes and infrastructure for involving students in HFOSS projects.

Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the basic history, principles, culture and economics of OSS
  • Name additional sources of information to learn about OSS
  • Discuss advantages and disadvantages of HFOSS approaches tried by project team members
  • Analyze pros and cons of using HFOSS for education in their environment
  • Design and implement an HFOSS course for their own environment

Workshop Format
This two-day workshop includes an introduction to OSS, presentations by educators with experience in using HFOSS within courses and small-group activities for participants. Participants will work together to discover opportunities for including HFOSS in the participants’ curriculum, identify benefits and impediments for use of HFOSS in participants’ environment, and create an initial design of materials for an HFOSS course in the participants’ institution. Emphasis will be on extending the community of educators using HFOSS.

Heidi Ellis –
Greg Hislop –

Acknowledgment and Disclaimer: This workshop is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CCLI-0736874. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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