[Linux-aus] Grant Application: Promotion of FOSS in undergraduate Computer Science, Information Technology and Software Engineering degrees at the University of Newcastle

Bin Chen pierr.chen at gmail.com
Wed Apr 5 09:57:53 AEST 2017


Thanks for sharing the insights regarding teaching open source in

On 4 April 2017 at 18:19, Kathy Reid <kathy at kathyreid.id.au> wrote:

> Taking my 'Pres' hat off for a moment, I'd like to offer some insights
> from a University perspective, having spent 16 years working in one.
> There are many demands on a lecturer's time; firstly being split between
> teaching and research often means that there is precious little time to
> update course material. If a proprietary company such as Cisco or
> Microsoft makes this easier by providing teaching materials, or indeed,
> entire syllabi, then this save precious time. Add on incentives, or
> bonuses, or 'industry partnerships', and partnering with a proprietary
> company is understandably attractive for a time-poor, resource-thin
> faculty.
> Secondly, it's hard to teach something if you're not fluent in it
> yourself - and again, the proprietary companies have an edge.

I may mis-read this. But open source projects/products actually have an
edge over proprietary software in lots of areas, if not all, such Linux,
Android, Chromium. And lots of proprietary products are actually built upon
open source projects.

> Ensure the
> students know Platform X, rather than (Open Source) Platform Y, and they
> in time become professionals and teachers themselves. But where does one
> find the time to upskill? Particularly if the documentation or training
> that accompanies open source products is not as polished as their
> proprietary counterparts.

This maybe true. But the the most valuable things open source is the
source. It is open and you can read whenever you want. The source is the
most accurate document you can ever get. Or put it another way, you/I will
never really understand what the document is saying until you/I see the

btw: Android's doc is actually quite good nowadays, especially the platform
level doc -  you can't get it anywhere else.

> Thirdly, there is much talk in Universities of 'aligning and partnering
> with industry' - there are of course legitimate reasons underpinning
> this - such as the need to ensure graduates have the skills that future
> employers need, and aligning skills and attributes acquired at
> university to the needs of the workforce. How does one 'align and
> partner' with open source when the landscape is so fragmented?

I don' think we necessarily need a "parnter" to teach a open source.

Once you have a partner, you will need to teach what the partner want to
teach. It may become a training for partner's product/offering (which is
excellent as well).

An alternative is to use open source to teach computer science fundamental.
A case study: everything taught in MIT's computer security class [1] use
open source projects.


Just my 2 cents.

> At a sector level, instead of collaborating, many of the Universities
> are forced to compete in an era of 'student driven demand' - dollars go
> where the students go. IT enrolments are waning across the board, for
> many reasons, making offering IT courses unattractive to Universities -
> because the student-driven demand system means if students don't want to
> study IT, IT is not generating revenue for the University. This is why
> teaching materials are often held under restrictive copyrights; to
> release them is essentially giving them to the competition. It's not
> right - I know - but it's a response to the structure that's in place.
> So, while I haven't advocated a position either for or against this
> grant (it would be inappropriate for me to do so), I hope this is a
> useful backgrounder on some of the issues of open source teaching in
> Universities.
> Kind regards,
> Kathy
> _______________________________________________
> linux-aus mailing list
> linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
> http://lists.linux.org.au/mailman/listinfo/linux-aus

Chen Bin
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