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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 Summer 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 for the past two years in:

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

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

The Summer 2011 POSSE Cohort Program will bring 15 professors through the full POSSE experience with a 2-day workshop at Red Hat Headquarters and up to $1600 USD in 2011-2012 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 Summer 2011 POSSE Cohort Program.

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 2011-2012 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 now!

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 9am Saturday July 23 and will end at 3pm on Sunday July 24. Daily activities begin at 9am and run until 6pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday, with a dinner on Saturday until 8pm. To maximize your benefit from the workshop, you should plan to make it your only activity for that weekend. There will also be a minimal amount of pre-workshop preparation.

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

The workshop will take place at Red Hat headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. We're on the Centennial campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU), and summer weather here in the American South is... warm. Consequently, handmade local popsicles may appear during the workshop. Just sayin'.

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!

Participants are responsible for their own accommodation arrangements. We recommend and will be arranging transportation to and from the Four Points by Sheraton Raleigh-Cary during the two days of the workshop; attendees who choose to stay elsewhere are responsible for their own transportation. We secured a room block at the hotel to give everybody the chance to stay in the same place. Again, please don't reserve your room until your attendance is confirmed. Make sure your reservation is made by June 23, 2011 as the group block will expire at that point in time. You can book it using the following link: http://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/Posse

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.


Submitting your application should take you less than 90 minutes from start to finish. (If you find yourself going substantially over that time, please let us know, because that's a bug (that's our fault) that we need to fix!)

  1. Read the POSSE application questions and an explanation of why the application is designed the way it is. (Time: 30 minutes to read and think through - mostly the latter.) You may also want to check out the fine print to make sure your course is eligible for the grant.
  2. Submit your answers to these questions at our online application. We recommend you write your responses offline in your preferred text editor and just paste them into the online app. (Time: 60 minutes to write and submit your answers - mostly the former.)
  3. Wait for 1-4 days for us to read your application and get back to you with a first response. Here's what's going on in the background:
    • The public parts of your application will be for review, and you'll be emailed the URL as soon as it's up.
    • Members of the Teaching Open Source community may read and comment on your application.
    • If the workshop team has questions about your application, we'll email you and work with you to clarify whether this summer's cohort is a good fit on both sides. Don't worry about this too much, we're really just trying to get to know you better - if we've spoken before, we may even skip this step.
  4. Find out your admissions status via private email within two weeks of your initial submission. (We're usually much faster.)
  5. Confirm your attendance within a week of finding out your admissions status.
  6. You're all set! We'll see you in July.

Admissions is on a rolling basis. There is no application deadline; we'll keep going until we have our full cohort of 15 confirmed. We opened admissions on March 10, 2011 and currently have 5 out of 15 seats filled. You can see all current applications and accepted attendees at POSSE 2011 applications.


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 keep this page (the one you're reading) accurate and up-to-date.


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