Teaching and Thinking Globally

This week I began teaching another round of our introductory Open Source courses, DPS909 and OSD600.  Despite our new online reality, I've got the largest group I've ever had, which is a bit intimidating (especially since this isn't my only course).

Teaching online has lots of challenges, but in the case of this open source course, being online and asynchronous is beneficial.  I know a lot of professors that are trying to continue a face-to-face style of teaching, despite everyone being remote. But to me, the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to embrace asynchronous and remote workflows.  Open source is fundamentally a global, asynchronous activity.  I don't have to try very hard to bend the course content into this shape.

I just finished reading my students' first blog posts.  Incidentally, it was fantastic to read these posts using the software that last year's students wrote in the course!  One thing that struck me was how global this group is.  I took note of all the places where the students are living right now as they take the course.  A lot are in Ontario, but spread out:

  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Richmond Hill
  • Markham
  • Newmarket
  • Milton
  • Scarborough
  • North York

Others are back home:

  • Tanzania
  • Vietnam
  • Jakarta, Indonesia,
  • Red Deer, Alberta
  • Hong Kong

Not everyone mentioned where they are, so there may be other places I've missed.  That means that our community is scattered across 5 different time zones!

  • Mountain (GMT -6)
  • Eastern (GMT-4)
  • East Africa (GMT+3)
  • Indochina/Western Indonesia (GMT+7)
  • Hong Kong Standard (GMT+8)

This term I don't have to pretend that we're operatinging globally, which is fantastic.  My goal for the students is that they would have the chance to work with developers all over the world, and build their network of connections.  It's nice that they'll also get some experience with it while collaborating with their peers.

It looks like a great group of passionate students, and I'm excited to see what they'll do as I unleash them on GitHub.  With Hacktoberfest 2020 just around the corner, and everyone stuck inside, I anticipate some excellent work this term.  Wish us luck as we git commit.

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