FOSS in Education
When I think about what makes SageMath different, one of the most fundamental things is that it was created by people who use it every day. It was created by people doing research math, by people teaching math at universities, and by computer programmers and engineers using it for research. It was created by people who really understand computational problems because we live them. We understand the needs of math research, teaching courses, and managing an open source project that users can contribute to and customize to work for their own unique needs.
In the education track at SCALE 14x in Pasadena, Gina Likins spoke about the surprisingly difficult task of getting information about open-source development practices into undergraduate college classrooms. That scarcity makes it hard to find new college graduates who have experience with open source. Although the conventional wisdom is that open source "is everywhere," the college computer-science (CS) or software-engineering (SE) classroom has proven to be a tough nut to crack—and may remain so for quite some time.
Likins works on Red Hat's University Outreach team—a group that does not do recruiting, she emphasized. Rather, the team travels to campuses around the United States and engages with teachers, administrators, and students about open source in the classroom. The surprise is how little open source one finds, at least in CS and SE degrees. Employers expect graduates to be familiar with open-source projects and tools (e.g., using Git, bug trackers, and so forth), she said, and incoming students report expecting to find it in the curriculum, but it remains a rarity.
It's that time of the year where I go to FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting). The keynotes and the maintracks are very good, with good presentations and contents.