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Report on the learning environment of Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities

Report on the learning environment of Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities

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Published by Andreas Meiszner
In recent times, Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) is making inroads not only in business and software industries but in colleges and universities as well. There is increased interest in the FLOSS learning environment (Sowe, et al., 2004; Bacon and Dillion, 2006) and in FLOSS projects as bazaars of learning (Sowe, et al., 2006). As Faber (2002) noted, FLOSS is both an alternative teaching methodology and an educational model. The main objective of FLOSSCom is using the principles of informal learning environments of FLOSS communities to improve Information and Communication Technology (ICT) supported formal education. Despite the influence and popularity of FLOSS and the benefit inherent in its methodology, educational institutions have been slow to adapt. This can partly due to the fact that the FLOSS environment is fundamentally different from the formal learning environment in most institutions. The focus of this report is collate and report on the learning activities of individuals in various FLOSS communities. The report benefits from the experiences and expositions of various authors in order to provide a synergy and a fresh look into the learning environment of FLOSS communities. FLOSS communities, like other online communities (e.g. Community of Practice (CoPs)) have many interrelated elements that define the dynamics of the community. As such, this report is divided into 5 major sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of the learning environment of FLOSS communities with a 6th section summarizing the main findings.
In recent times, Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) is making inroads not only in business and software industries but in colleges and universities as well. There is increased interest in the FLOSS learning environment (Sowe, et al., 2004; Bacon and Dillion, 2006) and in FLOSS projects as bazaars of learning (Sowe, et al., 2006). As Faber (2002) noted, FLOSS is both an alternative teaching methodology and an educational model. The main objective of FLOSSCom is using the principles of informal learning environments of FLOSS communities to improve Information and Communication Technology (ICT) supported formal education. Despite the influence and popularity of FLOSS and the benefit inherent in its methodology, educational institutions have been slow to adapt. This can partly due to the fact that the FLOSS environment is fundamentally different from the formal learning environment in most institutions. The focus of this report is collate and report on the learning activities of individuals in various FLOSS communities. The report benefits from the experiences and expositions of various authors in order to provide a synergy and a fresh look into the learning environment of FLOSS communities. FLOSS communities, like other online communities (e.g. Community of Practice (CoPs)) have many interrelated elements that define the dynamics of the community. As such, this report is divided into 5 major sections, each focusing on a specific aspect of the learning environment of FLOSS communities with a 6th section summarizing the main findings.

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Published by: Andreas Meiszner on Jan 29, 2008
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10/14/2011

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Closely related to the abovementioned aspect of learning in FLOSS is the usage of large scale

networks. Volunteering and volatility seem to be possible and effective because of the big

size and continuous growth of the community.

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The crucial question for transferring this principle to formal education is how similar

networks can be created within formal environments, which usually have small classes.

However, as the exploration of regular contacts between FLOSS community members has

revealed, most FLOSS community members have regular contacts to only 1 to 5 other

community members. It might therefore be possible to reap similar network effects from

small networks in formal education as in the big FLOSS network.

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