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Goals and Objectives

The primary goal of the Humanitarian FOSS Project is to build a collaborative community of educational institutions, computing organizations, and social service agencies engaged in the development of socially useful, open-source software. While humanitarian open-source software development serves as the unifying theme of the project, we believe that the primary impact on computing education will result from the successful building of this diverse community.

The problems with undergraduate computing education–sagging enrollments, out-of-date curricula, changing demographics, rapidly evolving technologies–can best be addressed by getting students excited about the technology they are learning about and getting them to see that designing and building good software is a way to contribute to society. The H-FOSS project provides challenging opportunities by which students can build their knowledge of the open source community and the contemporary software development process. Of course, study of computer science entails so much more than software development. Our hope is that by getting students interested in the kinds of contributions they can make through the H-FOSS Project, they will want to continue with the formal study of computer science and all that it entails.

Our project addresses the following specific objectives:

•    Introducing new concepts and methodologies. Working with a community of educators to experiment with various ways of introducing the open-source software model into the undergraduate curriculum

•    Attracting a new demographic. Will building socially beneficial software help attract more women to computing majors?

•    Debunking the computing-is-coding misconception. To emphasize that computing is all about problem-solving and working with people our projects involve the entire software development process, from requirements gathering, use case analysis, object-oriented design, implementation, testing, and end-user support.

•    Bringing Together Town and Gown. In addition to getting IT corporations to help fund our activities, we seek to place students within community settings and to get them interacting with IT and computing experts from the corporate domain.

•    Contributing to Society. Through summer internship programs and other activities, the project will develop a model to create meaningful opportunities for students, faculty, and computing professionals to collaborate on projects that benefit the community.

•    Portability and Sustainability. Develop free and open web-based resources to help other colleges and community groups get involved, including a repository of software tools and support materials and a clearinghouse that will help match up social service agencies seeking support with corporations and colleges seeking to participate in the program.

In addition to the three initial schools, Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Connecticut College, we are in the process of building collaborative efforts with faculty and students from other institutions, including Bowdoin College, University of Hartford, Drexel University, Brooklyn College, and George Washington University. Student participation has been facilitated through the offering of new courses, independent research projects, and summer and academic year internships. For a complete listing of ongoing project .

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