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Can Student-Written Software Contribute to Humanitarian FOSS? Ralph A. Morelli *, Heidi J. C. Ellis *, Trishan R. de Lanerolle *, Jonathan Damon *, Christopher.

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Presentation on theme: "Can Student-Written Software Contribute to Humanitarian FOSS? Ralph A. Morelli *, Heidi J. C. Ellis *, Trishan R. de Lanerolle *, Jonathan Damon *, Christopher."— Presentation transcript:

1 Can Student-Written Software Contribute to Humanitarian FOSS? Ralph A. Morelli *, Heidi J. C. Ellis *, Trishan R. de Lanerolle *, Jonathan Damon *, Christopher Walti § *Trinity College §Accenture Corporation Hartford, CT

2 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 2 Humanitarian FOSS H-FOSS: Free and open source software built to serve humanitarian purposes. Humanitarian (broadly defined): any non- profit activity that benefits society. Examples: Sahana -- Disaster recovery software OpenMRS -- Medical record system VM -- Volunteer management software

3 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 3 Humanitarian FOSS Movement Premise 1: Quality humanitarian software can be built and given freely to organizations in need. Premise 2: The FOSS development model can successfully harness contributions of IT professionals. Premise 3: Computing students and faculty can contribute to FOSS as part of their educational goals.

4 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 4 Educational Motivation David Patterson (ACM) Nov. 2005: Computing professionals should help our neighbors (post Katrina). David Patterson (ACM) Mar. 2006: CS educators should get involved in the open- source movement. Our Question: Can these initiatives be combined to: Do good in the community. Help revitalize computing education.

5 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 5 The Crisis in CS Education

6 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 6 Sahana ( H-FOSS disaster management system Sinhalese for relief. IT management system for people and resources. History and Highlights 2004 started in Sri Lanka following Asian tsunami deployed during earth quake in Pakistan deployed during mudslide in the Philippines Sourceforge project of the month (June) FSF Award for Social Benefit.

7 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 7 Trinity Sahana Project ( Activities Jan: Trishan meets Sahana team in Colombo Spring: Sahana independent study Spring: Accenture--Katrina ShelterKatrina Shelter Summer: Volunteer Management Module Jun: National Conference on Volunteering and Service (Seattle) Aug: Strong Angel III (San Diego)Strong Angel III Fall: Course with Trinity, Connecticut College and Wesleyan University (7 students)

8 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 8

9 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 9 Trinity Sahana Project Activities 2007 Jan: NSF C-PATH Proposal -- Can humanitarian open source software development help revitalize undergraduate computing education?NSF C-PATH Jan: VM Module in Sahana 0.5 Alpha. Mar: SIGCSE 2007 PresentationSIGCSE 2007 Spring: Video Conference courseVideo Conference course Trinity, Connecticut College and Wesleyan

10 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 10 National Science Foudation CPATH H-FOSS and Higher Education: A Portable and Sustainable Model? Computing Departments Teach FOSS Build Software Student gain skills and opportunities IT Corporations Host interns Help advertise and fund Provide expertise Create volunteer opportunities Humanitarian Community Acquire software. Provide real-world development context. Open Source for Humanity

11 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 11 Spring 2007 Application Programming Course 24 (male) students across 3 campuses Student Projects (10 projects) Sahana Hospital Management IS Darien, CT EMS Scheduling System Sahana Multi-Incident Reporting System Sahana VM Customization

12 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 12 Non-Traditional Educational Development Environment Deadlines dont match academic calendar. Requirements come from real-world clients. Deliverables must meet industry standards. Collaborators are distributed globally. Beta testing is done by real-world clients. All of these provide challenges and benefits.

13 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 13 What the Students Learned Good documentation is important. We were forced to read and understand other peoples code. Things change: Deadlines, specifications, database structure, etc. We had to find our place in a real world organizational network. Bottom line: Our students seemed to enjoy the challenge and experience.

14 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 14 What the Faculty Learned Considerable planning and setup is required. Good system and open-source tools are critical. PHP, MySQL, PHPDoc, MySQLAdmin, etc. Students must be willing to experiment. Good faculty-student communication a must. Faculty must be comfortable with uncertainty. The community must support it. Bottom Line: More work and more risk than a traditional software engineering course.

15 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 15 Summer 2007: H-FOSS Internship Program at Trinity College Funded by Aidmatrix Foundation Aidmatrix Foundation Five student interns and five faculty and staff Projects Sahana Refactoring VM Module Implementing requested enhancements OpenMRS (Medical Record System) Summer of Code Project

16 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 16 Future Plans… Grow the project to other U.S. colleges and universities. CUNY, U of Hawaii, Yale Develop industry and humanitarian collaborations. Open Source for Humanity NSF CCLI Proposal to develop H-FOSS teaching methods and materials.

17 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 17 Results – The Jury is Still Out Did We… help students make a meaningful contribution to the H-FOSS community? Maybe? strengthen bonds between academia and industry? Some baby steps, perhaps. broaden interest in the computing discipline? Not yet. Did we enjoy the experience? Absolutely!

18 R. Morelli -- ISCRAM Page 18 Questions??? Visit:

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