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Using OpenSource projects as classroom material

Posted by felipegaucho on February 19, 2006 at 9:32 AM PST

In the last CEJUG - Café com Tapioca, I introduced Cejug-Classifieds as
a project designed to be a study-case for the J2EE community. The aim of
the project is to allow university students to test their subjects on an
alive project, taking advantage of collaborative effort in a real J2EE test
bed. The reduced scope and some didactical strategies serve as guidance to
students and are also a way for teachers to follow up their pupils learning.
Some of these strategies are enumerated below:

Strategies used to facilitate the adoption of the project as classroom

  • The project is an implementation of the chapter 6 of the book
    Core J2EE Patterns. The
    book can be used as a guide for the understanding of the code. Every pattern
    proposed at chapter 6 has an implementation into the project, and students can learn with
    patterns in action. The correctness of the implementations, the way patterns interact
    among the others and the J2EE details seem a good starting point for lectures
    and class debates.
  • The classes receive a suffix identifying their patterns, for example: the source of a helper class is named
  • The package names also receive a suffix identifying their patterns, i.e., the pattern adopted by the classes that composes the package.
    • This suffix strategy promotes the following project tree:
      root.gif JavaSource

The subjects explored in the current release

Despite every J2EE technique can be explored in the Cejug-Classifieds, some of the
classical patterns and web application features were already discussed and implemented
by the project members. The available code includes:

Message for teachers

Dear teacher, just as you are, I'm a teacher of undergratuate courses of computing and I share your
anxiety about how better to teach and how to provide powerful learning stuff to the students.
My frequent search for useful tools in teaching requires innovative thinking, such as the one
I described above. Some ways you can use the Cejug-Classifieds in your classroom:

  • Just download the project contents from CVS and evaluate it with your students
  • Ask for a CVS branch in order to keep your own version of the classifieds. The enhancements
    you do in these branch can eventually be merged into the project head.
  • Ask for a subproject or a separate study project inspired on the classifieds, perhaps
    with a formal link between the projects with a guidance from the community leader.
  • Ask me for an isolate folder inside the project, where you and your students can create
    a new flavor of the project
  • Your idea here - the main goal of the project is to become a good tool for teaching and
    every idea about how to reach that will be considered.

If you agree with the idea of an Open Source project designed to be used into
classrooms, please help to improve this idea and also give some clue about how my project could
help your students. Let's share teachers experiences. Just send me your thoughts
about the model of Cejug-Classifieds as learning tool or comment any other trick you have adopted in your

Message for students

You are always welcome to learn from projects. If you have new ideas on how such didactical
project could evolve to become a good experience, be my guest to post your point of view. Students
are the target audience of the project and your sincere opinion is one of most important quality indicator of our project.

Next steps

A complete description of the project and its design is a subject for a further article,
but the above brief introduction of its goals cam help you to join our efforts.The next steps are
formalizing a documentation about the usage of Open Source projects as didactical tools and
also evolving the ideas with your contribution.

The enigma of the T-shirt

During my presentation on the Café com Tapioca, we distributed free t-shirts about the event.
On the front side of the T-shirts, you can observe an enigmatic set of letters representing
a secret sentence. The first person who reveals the secret message will receive a gift. Just a tip: all
you need to decipher the enigma is on the T-shirt and/or into the project code.
The t-shirt photos and the enigma are below:

front side - click to enlarge back side - click to enlarge
ERRATA: unfortunately the t-shirt was printed with some wrong character, and unfortunately I don't have more the original. Sorry by the inconvenience. In order to keep the competition, I'm posting the new set of (tested) characters:


Good luck ;) all photos of the event and the presentation in Brazilian Portuguese are here.