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Open Source Educator (Part Eight: Future) March 8, 2011

Filed under: Volunteering — polyachka @ 8:08 am
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<polyachka> What are your long term plans?

<mchua> I’m still going to be working full-time for Red Hat while I’m in grad school.

<polyachka> why do you need grad school?

<mchua> Because I’ve been doing all these things with professors under the assumption that open source *is* a good way to learn.

<mchua> That we’re doing all this work because it’s going to give students a better experience, etc. That it makes a difference.

<mchua> But is that actually true? Nobody knows. Nobody has really tried to find out – how can you tell whether a student benefits, what does it mean for them to be “better”? How can you tell if a community benefits – would that energy have been better spent some other way?

<mchua> I’m going to grad school in engineering education in order to learn how to do that research, so someone will be doing it.

<polyachka> so you think PhD will help you in your career

<mchua> Well, that and I’d someday like to be a professor myself, so yes, the PhD will certainly help with that. 🙂

<mchua> It’s funny – Sebastian and I were joking about this… we work together a lot on our open source and education stuff.

<mchua> and the joke we have is that he makes things, and I make those things scale.

<polyachka> it is great what you are doing

<mchua> He made Sugar on a Stick, and when I started helping with that I did a lot of marketing, etc. to get more people involved, that sort of thing.

<mchua> And right now he’s building his own open source degree at Olin – trying to come up with a study pathway that any other college student could follow afterwards, to actually study “becoming an open source contributor” in college …and I’m going to school to do research on how effective that course of study is, how it can be tweaked and made better, what sort of results it gets you.

<mchua> so we joked that if he built it and I made it scale, then poof, a few decades from now there’d be open source degrees all over the place. 🙂

<polyachka> so your ambition is to make open source dominant in the world?

<polyachka>what in your opinion is so good about open source?

<mchua> I wouldn’t say my ambition is to make open source dominant.  I’d say, perhaps… that my hope – and what I work towards – is that people be free, be teachers and learners, be able to learn what they want to learn so they can do what they want to do.  And I think that the open source way of thinking and doing things is a very positive culture for that.

<mchua> You’re part of a supportive ecosystem, you’re part of multiple communities – your work and your learning has an impact – but you’re free to do what you want as an individual. It’s a nice balance of interdependence, and I like how open source fosters that sort of maturity and trust among people.

<polyachka> last question… do you know that OLPC/Sugar volunteers created http://olpcmap.net

<mchua> Yep, I’ve been following along on the Planets. Great work!

<polyachka> is it ok if we create a marker for you as a mentor and if any open source newbie has a question they would contact you?

<mchua> Sure thing. Put me down in West Lafayette, Indiana, because I’ll be there more often than not over the next 5 years or so. 🙂

<polyachka> Thank you so much, Mel! Good luck with all your open source plans!

<mchua> Thanks!

For more info check Mel’s Blog, her Wiki Page or meet her when she travels near you. Also read more about teaching open source.

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