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Learning in the Linux Community

About the Talk

April 2, 2011 11:00 AM

Hilton Austin Hotel

Hilton Austin Hotel

Don Davis and Iffat Jabeen.

GNU/Linux community members often develop skills through community participation. Within the community, there is an expectation that members learn and educate others. The community's strong emphasis on learning represents a resource relatively untapped by educators. Particularly, the framework under which GNU/Linux is used and developed deserves more attention from educators. Therefore, research was conducted to study the significance and impact of Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LPP), a process whereby group members learn informally through in-group interaction, on learning within this community. The data provided by 4603 respondents highlight educational benefits of participation in the GNU/Linux community and a recommendation of the FOSS framework for K-16 education.

Research findings and implications: Fully involved participants indicated greater learning in programming, computer skills, and team work within the context of the community. There is a positive correlation between members' identification with the community and learning. Community members' software contributions (such as code, patches, and work-arounds) and communication contributions (such as how-to's, wiki pages, and documentation) to the GNU/Linux community correlate with their level of identification with the community. Members' participation in GNU/Linux activities (such as filing bug reports, compiling code, and reviewing source code) and communication (on media such as mailing lists, IRC, web-forums) correlate with their identification to the GNU/Linux community. Community members who regularly participate and contribute perceive educational benefits of involvement in the GNU/Linux community. Members who have learned within the GNU/Linux community support the use and instruction of the FOSS framework in K-16 academic settings.

Researchers will present an examination of the various roles and activities within the GNU/Linux community and their relation to learning. General interest demographics will be presented along with an examination of findings, which will be followed by a brief discussion on making the GNU/Linux community more accessible to educators.

Don Davis and Iffat Jabeen are graduate students in the Educational Technology department at Texas State University. They conducted the Legitimate Peripheral Participation in the GNU/Linux community research study in order increase awareness and discussion of GNU/Linux among (non-CS) educators and instructional technologists.

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