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There are more professors than ever hoping to teach the open source development process to their students -- but working in the open source world can be a daunting proposition. Professors themselves have only a limited amount of time to learn about open source, and are often unsure about how, exactly, to get started.

POSSE (Professors' Open Source Software Experience) is a Red Hat sponsored cultural immersion in the tools and practices of open source communities, designed for professors looking for ways to bring their students into active participation in those communities. Participants attend a 2 or 5 day workshop in the summer where they deep-dive into open source participation; by the end of the first workshop, participants have a much better understanding of the workings of open source projects and a strong network of contacts to lean on as they begin to bring students into the open source world. Regular support and mentoring continue through the following school year, along with course funding for select attendees.

We've run this workshop since 2009 in a number of places including:

  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Singapore
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Rochester, New York
  • Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

To read firsthand accounts of the workshop from the point of view of faculty attendees, see the blog posts our alumni have written.

The 2015 POSSE OpenFE Workshop will bring professors through the full POSSE experience with a 3-day workshop at Red Hat Headquarters and course funding for those who successfully complete the program. Read more and apply - a limited number of seats are available.

The remainder of this page describes the 2015 POSSE OpenFE Workshop.

Who should attend[edit]

This program is intended for faculty who will be teaching a post-secondary Computer Science or Software Engineering course during the 2015-2016 school year and are interested in incorporating open source community participation into their class. Adjuncts, graduate students with teaching responsibilities, research supervisors, and others are welcome - if you are responsible for teaching or supervising undergraduates, we'd love to have you.

Read more detailed eligibility information, including details on the course grant, then apply!

Attendees of the first POSSE in 2009.


The POSSE program is composed of several modules that link into a series of courses. The first module, POSSE Basics, is always taught in-person; subsequent modules may be delivered in-person or taken remotely. All curricular materials are released under an open content license, and instructors are available to teach academic, corporate, and community audiences upon request. Learn more.


The workshop begins at 2 pm on Thursday September 10 and will end at 4 pm on Saturday September 12. Daily activities begin at 8:30 am and run until 5 pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday, with a dinner (and project planning) on Friday until 8pm. To maximize your benefit from the workshop, you should plan to make it your only activity for that weekend.

In addition, there is a set of pre-workshop online activities that participants will need to complete before September 9th.

There is no program fee for accepted attendees, and materials will be provided.

The workshop will take place at Red Hat headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. We're located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, in the distinctive Red Hat Tower. Keep in mind that the weather here in the American South can be... warm, even in September.

The nearest airport is Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Public transportation in Raleigh is limited, so airport shuttles, taxicabs, or rental cars may be your best options. Please don't book your flights until your attendance is confirmed! This POSSE provides support for travel, lodging, and meals. Details will be provided to participants by email.

Attendees will be subscribed to a mailing list in advance of the workshop so they can coordinate transport arrangements, find roommates, ask questions, and so forth amongst themselves.


Steve Jacobs, Game Design and Development, Rochester Institute of Technology (via email, one semester after his POSSE experience): "Some of the real wins from our experience in teaching FOSS... Motivates kids. Allows them to work on their own projects... Biggest plus has been what's happened outside the classroom after the class. Guest speakers, co-ops, undergraduate research fellowships, hackfests for the New York State Government and Sugar Labs, whole educational ecology that's emerging across projects and across classes, sponsored research opportunities... on-campus jobs..."

David Humphrey, Software Engineering, Seneca College: "There’s a ton of opportunity for teaching inside an open source community. OSS is about sharing code, but it’s also about sharing the how – teaching one another. And as professional educators, we have a lot to give them in terms of knowing how to teach... we brought to our projects what a new contributor experienced, over and over again. We brought an awareness of what’s hard about being new, and also a bunch of people who could fix that – we made tons and tons of documentation, tutorials…”

Fardad Soleimanloo, Software Engineering, Seneca College (via email, one year after his POSSE experience): "I finish the material earlier and have time to do reviews for students. Student work is transparent and easy to recognize... [Students] are not afraid of huge [projects] any more. They understand the true meaning of groupwork and collaboration. Less students procrastinate. Everyone, even [students who are behind], do some work during the semester. Since everything is open for everyone to see, they... start working on their task."

Dave Shein, Technical Writing, Rochester Institute of Technology (on Day 2 of his POSSE experience): "Spending a fair amount of time today being bewildered.  We were warned that this is part of the process... I am in fact still wrapping my head around the day to day of working with software that is not based on magic, black boxes.  I never thought I’d ever consider this approach to computing.  It’s been just too daunting.... So this is different. I still do not like the feeling of being stuck, but that is ameliorated somewhat by the less unpleasant feeling of going to ask for help... Access to expertise, to help, makes me think–for the first time–that I could actually get into working with software “under the hood.” It’s a weird feeling.  It’s as if I’ve been told that I could talk to trees if I wanted to."

Dave Shein, one semester later (via email): "I would add as a highlight of what has occurred in class the success of the Transbot team of Mark Thil and Taylor Rose. While nearly all of our students this past quarter really took the ball and ran with it, these two students really got an ideal experience with full engagement with the OS community. Their first release clocked four hundred odd downloads in the first two weeks, and they were receiving feedback and fixing user posted bugs and user patches during the semester itself."

Gary Pollice, Software Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute: "After the first day of POSSE I know how my students feel when I hit them with everything at the beginning of the software engineering courses. This immersion is great. In some ways, it’s utter chaos, but one begins to feel somewhat comfortable by the end of the day... Like my students, I’m suffering from information overload, but I know that it will all come out okay. That’s the value of experience."

For more notes written by POSSE attendees, check out the POSSE Blogs.

Help build the POSSE program[edit]

The design and implementation of POSSE as a whole is an open project - we try to be as radically transparent as possible about what we're doing and why, and welcome anyone to join in. See POSSE program design for conversations about this, and how to get started - note that as in any open project, these pages may be chaotic and out-of-date. We do try to keep this page (the one you're reading) accurate and up-to-date.


For more information about POSSE, email us at education@redhat.com.