Archive for January, 2009

Eclipse WTP Tutorial and Project Wiki

January 30, 2009

Jordan has posted many resourceful links on our course wiki page. After getting some emails from the students, he asked me to post a link to the WTP tutorial in my blog. No problem.

Actually I found Jordan’s link to Eclipse Community Education to be useful. From there I browsed the Project Wiki. It gives me a broad view of the   Eclipse WTP project. Interestingly I have found that there’s not much  for the category “How to… for WTP Developers.” As we gain experience in fixing bugs, I think some of the contents of our blogs could be proposed to the WTP community for public use.

Finally Jordan has posted some links to WTP-related resources under Week 3 and Week 4. It’s worth reading. The reading will prepare us to understand what our guest speakers are going to say in the coming two weeks.


Eclipse WTP – Reading Blogs & Fixing Bugs

January 30, 2009

As I was reading the blogs on Open Source @Seneca Planet, I noticed that a few fellows in our WTP class have posted their BLOGS about the BUGS. Reading their blogs has motivated me to undertake the challenge of fixing WTP-related bugs. Then I discovered that Kevin’s Blogrolls [1] has linked up all these blogs.

Let us continue BLOGGING our experiences in navigating our ways through the huge code base of WTP project as well as our failures in fixing the bugs. I have a hunch that all our blogs will enable us to build a knowledge repository for fixing WTP bugs. Hopefully some experienced developers in the Eclipse WTP newsgroup will comment on some of our blogs!

Indeed Dave Humphrey has blogged recently why he wanted his students at Seneca College to blog a lot… [2]

Eclipse WTP Class – Ask For Help

January 27, 2009

I just came back from Jordan’s class. He couldn’t finish his demo because of the wireless connection problem on the campus. The Eclipse p2server could not make through the wireless security that has been set up here. Some students were eager to help him out without much success.

Nevertheless, Jordan perservered. Today he emphasized again that we need to ASK PEOPLE FOR HELP. I think this is a new mindset and practice that many students(me as well) have to grasp here. First, who are the people here? The professor? The classmates? The developers in the Eclipse community? I wonder if many students still have the old tendency of asking help from the professor and their immediate friends who sit next to them in the classroom. In the classroom today, I noticed that students put forward questions to the professor rather than to their fellow classmates. The students did not interact much with each other.

Second, I have the impression that some students are not used to being “open” in asking for help. If they do not make their questions and problems known by BLOGGING and wiki-ing, how could they get help from anyone?

It seems that many of them are going through a kind of cultural shock. If I were one of the students, I would tend to think in the old way: “I am going to choose a bug that I want to fix and I want to be able to fix it on my own. Then I can tell the world that I’m a very good developer.” It could be a pretty foreign concept that one will be rewarded by helping others to solve their problems. Shouldn’t I take care of my own problem first?

Maybe blogging and reading the blogs of our fellow students will lead us into this collaborative mode of thinking and practice.

We Teach Who We Are

January 27, 2009

My colleague Jordan has graciously allowed me to sit in the open source development class(OSD600, DPS909) offered by the School of Computer Studies, Seneca College. After attending the Teaching Open Source seminar at FSOSS 2008, I have become interested in observing how students could interact with open-source communities such as Mozilla and Eclipse Web Tools Platform(WTP). I am also curious about how a professor could teach such as a non-traditional project-based course effectively. I have a hunch that there are many issues of teaching and learning that I could explore here.

On the first day of the class(Jan. 13), I was impressed by the remarks of my three colleagues. Dave Humphrey told the students in an inspiring way: “You are not ready to work on these big open-source projects such as Open Office and Eclipse Web Tools. You must persevere. In the end, you would show that you’re good developers.”

Fardad told the students in a straight-forward manner: “I do not know much about Open Office. We learn as we go.”

Jordan told the students in a humurous way: “Our goal here is to fix bugs in WTP.” A week later(January 20), Jordan was showing the HUGE code base of WTP to the students. He said, “I do not know much about this code base. When we want to fix a bug, we ASK HELP FROM THE COMMUNITY.”

I was amazed by my colleagues’ transparency. They were honest with the students: “The professors do not know everything!” This reminds me of what Parker Palmer has said in his book The Courage To Teach: “We teach who we are.” Maybe I have to be willing to reveal my limitations as a teacher if I want to teach such a course effectively. Rome is not built in a day. As for the students, have they learned to nurture a spirit of taking challenges and perseverance? The challenges become even greater since(I think) most of them are full-time students who have to work hard on other courses at the same time.