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Three unspoken blockers that prevent professors from teaching open source community participation

Nov 17, 2010, 16:05 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mel Chua)

"One of the hardest things about trying to bridge two worlds--for instance, open source communities and academic institutions--is all the stuff you don't hear on a daily basis when you're working remotely. Sometimes it takes several rounds of garlic bread and pasta for people to begin articulating what's blocking them from teaching their students how to participate in FOSS communities. Sebastian Dziallas and I sat down last weekend at the 2010 Frontiers in Education conference with a group of professors from the Teaching Open Source community. "What are the biggest blockers that you're facing in doing this," we asked, "that people in the open source world just don't know about or understand?" Here are their answers.

"Blocker #1: Intellectual property policies, aka "No, you can't release that under an open license."

"At some schools, if you make it on campus, for campus, or with resources from campus, guess who owns it? Yep: campus. One way colleges and universities make money is "technology transfer," a form of intellectual serfhood--if you're a professor, a student, or a lab, you get resources (students, classes, space, equipment) from the school, but all the IP you produce is owned by the school, so the school takes care of licensing that IP out to companies that want to use it... and keeps the cash."

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