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Open Source Community and Socially Distanced Education

December 29, 2020

My Software Engineering class has come to a close and I’m turning my attention to the Capstone class this spring. The same cohort of 12 students will be transitioning from Software Engineering to Capstone. In Software Engineering, we started by exploring the software to support Western New England University’s Bear Necessities Market. We spent time exploring requirements, design, testing and how the project is structured with the goal of positioning students to be able to make a contribution in the Capstone course this sprint.

As I’ve been preparing, I’ve been considering how teaching a project course in a socially distanced environment is much like creating community in an open source project. Both require forms of asynchronous interactions. Both require good communication skills. Both require good time management and attention to detail. Both require some appropriate technical background and the ability to ask accurate questions. And both depend on the community for success. I was aware of these similarities, but somehow having to teach in an environment where I’m depending more often on electronic forms of communication has made this more clear to me. I will continue to reflect on these similarities and how I can leverage open source principles to improve student learning. Feel free to join me in the TeachingOpenSource community and by starting conversations on the TOS mailing list.

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