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TOS Holds a Sprint to Develop FOSS Courses

29 June 2018

A team of faculty involved with TeachingOpenSource (TOS) are working on four Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) courses that will be available under a Creative Commons license.

Instructors always struggle to find enough time to develop and revise teaching materials, and often cannot teach new topics unless well-developed materials are already available. The TOS project ( and the associated sites such as have created over 100 learning activities that can be used by faculty interested in teaching open source.  Even so, teaching resources have not been organized into well-packaged modules or full courses, and there are still some open source topics for which there are no teaching resources.

A group of faculty have been working to make four FOSS courses available as complete packages.  For each course, an instructor has committed to completing the following tasks:

  1. Develop full course materials – These materials will include: the course syllabus, presentation slides, assignments and in-class learning activities, tests or quizzes, etc.
  2. Teach the course – These are full-term courses offered to undergraduate students.
  3. Conduct evaluation of learning – This may include a pre-course and post-course survey, and summary of direct learning, e.g, as shown on exams or tests.
  4. Report on results – The instructor will provide a basic description of the result of the work including demographic information about the course section, instructor analysis of the course results and suggested revisions.
  5. Make course materials available – The syllabus and course materials will be linkable from or so that the materials can be downloaded.  All materials will be licensed under a Creative Commons license.

The faculty team recently gathered at Nassau Community College in New York for a course materials sprint.  The instructors for each course presented an overview of their course, and discussed challenges and approaches that had been particularly successful.  The time together provided an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and provide helpful suggestions for each of the courses.

Two of the courses have already been offered to students, a third is being offered over this summer and the final course will be offered in the fall semester.  We expect to have materials from the first courses available by the end of summer, with the others to follow after they have been offered and packaged.

Participating institutions were: Nassau Community College, New York University, Rensselaer  Polytechnic Institute, Dickenson College, Towson University, Western New England University, and Drexel University.

TOS is a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy.

We want to thank Google for the funding for this course sprint provided by the Google Open Source Programs Office.

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