resources to learning processes (and relateddiscourse) or the possibility to establish peersupport, correction, development or even assessmentsystems.A third challenge to education, though notnecessarily related to ‘closed’ or ‘semester based’structures, is the question how to provide studentswith meaningful and motivational learningopportunities that would allow them to develop theirprofessional skills within a real world scenario andimpart them as well subject matter skills as also keyand soft skills, such as ICT literacy, critical andanalytical thinking skills, project and timemanagement skills, or presentation, negotiation andconflict management skills. To respond to this thirdchallenge web based communities in general, andFLOSS communities for computer science educationin particular, might be an adequate equivalent totraditional physical internships, placements ortrainings-on-the-job.So how to address those challenges that preventseducation within its traditional structures to fullytake advantage of the collaborative learning andknowledge production opportunities the web and theFLOSS paradigm provides?
2 FLOSS COMMUNITIES AS ANEXAMPLE FOR OPENPARTICIPATORY LEARNINGECOSYSTEMS
To deepen our understanding how collaborativelearning and knowledge production takes place atthe web we first reviewed at the EU fundedFLOSSCom project (FLOSSCom 2008) one of thelikely most mature open participatory learningecosystem: the FLOSS communities.Surprisingly the underlying technology used bymost FLOSS projects is relatively simple, yetmature, usually including versioning systems,mailing lists, chats, forums, wikis or similarknowledge bases. Additionally free web basedservices such as Sourceforge provide each FLOSSproject with an initial working and communityenvironment therefore facilitating the take off of new projects (Meiszner 2007).The way learning takes place in FLOSS isusually a mixture of more than one approach andunlike in formal education learning materials areusually selected by the learner and not the educator,but more importantly, those learning materials arecommonly generated by the community itself andalso include the code and dialogues betweencontributors. Further on students are not acting inisolation from previous cohorts of students, but thehistory of other learners and contributors, and theirremaining availability for follow up contacts,constitutes a vital element of the learning materials(Weller & Meiszner 2008). FLOSS participants alsotake on tasks such as knowledge brokering (Sowe, etal. 2006) therefore taking information andknowledge forward and backward between groups,communities or even language domains.From a pedagogical perspective learning inFLOSS is characterized by self-studying, project-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, collaborative learning, reflectivepractice or social learning. It is not assumed thatthose pedagogies were deliberately set out, butrather that due to the structure, approach andgovernance of FLOSS communities certainpedagogies have emerged (Glott et al. 2007, Weller& Meiszner 2008).Although institutional education might be seentoday as the prevalent way of learning, self-education and practical knowledge have theirhistorical foundations long before the institutionalformal knowledge. Therefore, communities of common interest like the FLOSS communities, showhow exchange and creation of knowledge can besupported by the web in a not institutional way.As described by Glott et al. (2007) one of theFLOSS characteristic is usually known as‘openness’ or ‘inclusivity’ of the FLOSScommunity. FLOSS communities, like any othersocial formation, have established specific culturaland social patterns and norms that require fromanyone who wants to join a certain degree of assimilation. Openness and inclusivity doestherefore only mean that those who want to join thecommunity do not have to pass enrolmentprocedures or have to pass formal performanceassessments. Openness also fosters transparentstructures as the FLOSS ecosystem is openlyaccessible, including not only code anddocumentations, but also communications,discussions and interactions of any kind, e.g.through forums, mailing lists or chats sessions.A second characteristic relates to ‘volunteering’and ‘volatility’ since FLOSS participants voluntarilydecide which role(s) they want to play or whichresponsibilities to take on. As a consequence, rolesand responsibilities (or capacities) of communitymembers can change over time but also at the verysame time depending on the different contexts. This