Friday, August 12, 2011

Questions on using open source in classrooms:

1. How does "the open source way" apply to your course work?

Developing open source software doesn't seem to apply directly to mathematics
courses, however at U. of Rochester math department we use WeBWorK extensively for homework.
I will be teaching numerical analysis (really numerical
methods for mathematical engineering)  next semester and will probably use Sage for
at least a few exercises.  There are a few other professors using Sage in their research in number
theory so contributing to this open source project might spread sideways in
the math department.

2. How will you incorporate what you have learned here in your course?

What I've learned about building packages will be used in the near future to make the server component
of WeBWorK much easier to setup.  This has been a barrier to using WeBWorK
and some universities and is likely to be a bigger barrier when encouraging its use
in high schools.

Much of WeBWorK has been developed with the aid of undergraduate programmers and that
will continue.  This won't involve class work per se but it will be part of a few undergraduates' experience.

3. Any feedback/comments on POSSE itself you would like to add?

As one of the creators of the open source on line homework system WeBWorK
I was interested in finding how other open source communities work.  This POSSE
has been very useful in that regard.  I think the CommArch exercise is very useful and enlightening 
and will probably try to work through it for other math open source projects -- moodle, sage,

Being able to meet people involved in other open source projects at this POSSE and at the
sagedays31 earlier this summer has been a very valuable experience.  It's very interesting
to see the diversity in open source communities.

Michael Gage
Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
University of Rochester

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