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Re: [school-discuss] my puzzle about OSS in education

wen heping wrote:
Do you think using OSS in schools have any other advantage?

For our part the philosophy behind open source software was far closer to that which underpinned our view of education. I suspect we're not unusual in this, given the historically close links between higher education and open source software development. Others have noted similar parallels between the scientific method and the process through which OSS code develops.

I wrote the following for the schoolforge.org.uk site, but it may be of
interest to a wider audience:

"There is an increasingly broad consensus around what constitutes good
learning, which is perhaps best seen as a guided process of knowledge
construction. This is underpinned by a constructivist epistemological
paradigm, in which knowledge is actively constructed by the learner,
rather than being passively received from the teacher or the
environment: this is of course supported and mirrored by software that
the user can help to construct.

A consensus also exists around effective approaches to education, most
of which are analagous to aspects of open source software development.
Effective approaches to learning are characterized by:

    * participation, as users and a community of developers participate
in the development of FLOSS software
    * reflective thinking, part of coding in general, but particularly
promoted by community discussion of code, and by having the source code
open to the scrutiny of ones peers
    * collaboration, again a characteristic of a community based
approach to software decelopment
    * intrinsic motivation, FLOSS developers often code because they
love to, rather than for financial reward, although this helps
    * a well structured knowledge base, again the open souce aspect
provides motivation for documenting ones work, as does the communal
construction of documentation, support forums, wikis etc.
    * problem solving, an experience known to most programmers, and it
could be argued, many end users of FLOSS programs.

Such approaches are based on a social constructivist approach to
education, in which knowledge is created through the interactions and
relationships within a community, or classroom. This is mirrored by the
community approach to development that characterizes most FLOSS projects.
If the above are values to which we aspire in our schools and
classrooms, then shouldn't the software we use to help us towards them
itself embody the same processes and aspirations?"

Miles Berry
Deputy Head
St Ives School Haslemere