The need for education in Computer Science and Free Open Source Software

Investing money in training and research activities is generally considered crucial in this period of crisis and incertitude. The role of training on Information Technology issues since primary education, plays a central role, as it is an important element of the knowledge society as well as the starting point of the new outcomes like “internet of the future”. This is essential to build a liveable future, avoiding plugging the current crisis with old methods, established by a ruling class which hasn’t gone with the times, conforming our political and economic models to the current situation.

Moreover, in the future the scene will be dominated by the digital natives, who are used to technology. They are not interested in the technology itself but in the services that technology can offer. At this rate, we will soon have to face a generation of consumers, also in the technological domain. In relation to this, school plays a crucial role. Students’ education should include those subjects that help them understand the basis of life. For example, biology allows students to understand how flowers open and Computer Science teaches how to turn over the pages of an iPAD… This is part of the current new life!

At this point, I think we should consider the opportunity to:

  • Introducing Computer Science into the whole course of studies, from primary school to university
  • Identifying teaching methods suitable for new generation (Generation Y or Generation Z or whatever next generation …) Probably we must care about not introducing barriers and at the same time teach them the fundamentals of human behaviour, of emotional and cognitive relations and of sciences.

Therefore, it’s particularly important that we start teaching Computer Science to students. I think that do to this it’s normal to adopt Free Open Source Software, not only because it’s low cost, but mainly because it’s available.

Accordingly, teaching how to use this type of software to digital natives would be nonsense.

It mainly offers us the opportunity to teach them the values of Free Open Source Software, which are useful to live in the knowledge society too. I am referring to the ability to use, share, participate and conceive.

At this point, we have to consider the following aspects:

  • The open model, to be used at school, concerning teachers, students, documentation and artefacts, the availability and exchange of information;
  • Different approaches for teachers and for the various categories of students, during the whole education path;
  • Last but not least, the expectations of industry concerning students’ skills.

If we reach this goal, we will contribute to educate next technology consumers, making them aware of how technologies are built, getting them ready to choose between just using and contributing/developing new technologies, between using a proprietary and open source approach or finding out new ones.

In other words, we must have the opportunity to help the education reach its final goal also in the Computer Science domain: make citizens face life being well aware of the reality surrounding them.

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