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OSSCOM aims at supporting PC institutions to strongly link with enterprises, with a goal to build large-scale OSS resources, knowledge, and expertise through a network of OSS communities. The main aspects of the project are:

  1. HE institutions that promote partnership with enterprises;
  2. Universities with rejuvenated technology education using OSS and strengthened excellence of faculty and students;
  3. Society with increased access to affordable ICT resources made available through established technology centers in OSS;
  4. Partnership models on basis of advanced technology parks for open source in the general and in the specific context of partner country;  and
  5. Cultural and local requirements for relevant open source software applications. 

 

The project consists of the following main phases:

  1. Evaluation of technical prerequisites and criteria of industry linkages and OSS technologies at PC institutions.
  2. Acquisition of knowledge and expertise through cooperation with EU institutions to develop partnerships and OSS resources and build OSS capacity among faculty and student communities,
  3. Establishing centers of excellence in PC institutions as partners in the change towards the use of OSS and in providing support services and on-line learning resources,
  4. Building viable communities of practice to promote open source usage as well as develop entrepreneurial skills and motivate and incubate business startups,
  5. Developing partnership with enterprises to strengthen university-industry linkages and build technology parks for increased innovation in OSS,
  6. Creating OSS awareness in key sectors: government, education, tourism, agriculture, and rural and civil society institutions.

 

OSS based teaching and learning will be enhanced in many different ways:

  • Revise core courses to accommodate OSS principles, tools, and products. Such courses include Operating System, Programming, Software Architecture, Software Design, Networking, Artificial Intelligence applications, and others.
  • Adapt and localize widely used open source products to provide cheap alternatives to those, which are widely used such as: office suites, operating system, and other applications. The products together with useful documentation will be made available locally to faculty, staff, and students for teaching. Certification in OSS will be introduced similar to other ICT qualification certificates to measure skills acquired and competencies.
  • Develop a professional diploma program with a focus on OSS tools and products targeting technical employees in organizations, institutions, and public agencies.

 

During the project, different stakeholders will be involved:

  • Faculty and engineers build up OSS expertise and knowledge/ information repositories. This will represent the nucleus for sustainable OSS centers of excellence.
  • Students build up OSS expertise during their study in the OSS revised curricula and by participating in OSS activities in the technology centers and in their senior projects
  • Students will be using open source products for documentation and presentation during their studies and as examples in software engineering, design, architecture and other related Engineering courses
  • Enterprises will be linked to universities for joint cooperation in developing OSSCOM concepts and operations
  • EU academic and enterprise partners will assist in developing OSS resources, building OSS capacity, and facilitating knowledge/ technology transfer to PC institutions

 

The inclusion of OSS products in teaching and learning will enable new didactical forms:

  • Studying and enhancing existing projects of medium to large scale enables a realistic application of project methodologies
  • Learning outcomes that are difficult to realize if students always build up projects from scratch can be more realistically and more naturally included in curricula, e.g. understanding code, code readability, coding styles, and documentation.
  • Interactive content and e-learning sequences can be provided and made available in a joint effort on a wider scale, and thus can widen the number of different didactical methods in PC institutions.

Equally, OSS allows addressing different relevant aspects related to the definition and objectives of open source in education, including different business models, digital divide, copyright, intellectual property, software piracy, and information society inclusion and exclusion. The learning resources at PC institutions will undergo a modernization process to accommodate new development investigated in OSS technologies. The diverse domain expertise developed in the PC in OSS will create a framework for modernization and revisions. Some of the activities of the project focus on development of material to create a new trend in the teaching and learning at PC institutions. OSSCOM consortium members are fully dedicated to the concept of the project.

The project is not focusing on implementing open source software, but rather on developing partnership with enterprises to facilitate access to open source software products, collect and document knowledge and experiences, and adapt variety of software applications to regional requirements. Participating institutions in the PC will cooperate in building and sharing excellence in OSS. PC institutions will create hubs of knowledge in OSS for building communities in emerging technological trends.

These centers coordinate their development efforts and specialization. Each center builds specific competencies for a well-defined area and makes its knowledge available. To do so, common servers are built up to provide OSS support services, content, as well as access to knowledge and information repositories.

The local centers of excellence build up local free and open source communities and are responsible to make available resources and support services. Communities regularly organize workshops for local participants to share products, ideas and knowledge. The local centers will play a major role in promoting the concept of OSS as an alternative feasible solution to proprietary software. The structure of the centers will be based on powerful computing machines, running portal integration software, knowledge/information repository, and a kind of Wiki for OSS technologies and terminologies. All centers will comprise as a one powerful computing infrastructure hosting varieties of OSS applications, products and development projects. The infrastructure will also be available for education communities for further collaboration. For future plans, the infrastructure will be linked with the larger Arab e-Infrastructure and other OSS communities.

On this basis, the technical prerequisite of the centers requires building powerful computing infrastructure. In each center, an array of servers will need to be installed. As outlined in the proposal, each center will have 12 eight-core blade servers with 64G RAM each and large storage capacity, configured as a network storage, with tape auto-load backup system, and supplementary networking equipment for connectivity. This setup is needed for the project success and is based on a concrete need for powerful computing infrastructure to be locally administered and managed in a decentralized manner. The setup will be a nucleus for an OSS driven cloud computing system for faculty, students, and communities.

Experiences, learning resources, OSS courses, knowledge, and information will be disseminated and made available to other universities and communities. This is done in many different ways:

  • OSS technology centers will be connected through the existing National R&E network at PC countries, which are linked to all Universities at PC and to Europe.
  • OSS educational tools, curricula, and course content are published will be published on www.osscom.org
  • OSS support services, tools and products are made available for public use
  • Faculty and communities provide online resources for life long learning to societies at large
  • Technical curricula as well as learning targets, propositions are made available

 

OSS centers of excellence equally convey their knowledge to the society as a whole by:

  • Providing OSS consulting and support services to institutions as well as enterprises
  • Participating in the development of OSS resources for life long learning thus conveying knowledge to the public at large

 

The activities of the project include several coordination visits, infrastructure set-up, gathering information and knowledge, staff exchange, OSS material development, building communities, workshops, seminars, and innovation efforts for more entrepreneurs in OSS in PC region. Students involved in some of the project activities will be selected based on their interest, passion, and enthusiasm about OSS technologies, in addition to their academic achievements and qualifications. The monitoring and quality control process will focus on intended outputs and will be based on a series of benchmark activities throughout the lifetime of the project. Evaluations will take place immediately after activities and will use focus groups and feedback questionnaires to assess the quality of the training experience, its learning outcomes, reconstructed learning and institutional impact. Peer reviews of content will be arranged. OSSCOM members will monitor progress on project activities through a reporting system to be installed. Progress and summary reports will be published internally and circulated among the members. There will be half-year budget reviews and annual audits. Recommendations for modifications and improvements will be regularly made to ensure progress and success of the project. On-site inspections, monitoring, and periodical reports will assure the quality control. The opinions of participants are important feedback mechanism and effective tools in the evaluation and development process of OSSCOM.

The quality level of the project will be monitored during and the lifetime of the project. Each implementation stage will be qualitatively estimated and a proper quantification value will be derived. After the project lifetime, graduate students, research and industrial collaborations, and local community recipients will assess the major outcomes of the project through a continuous monitoring procedure, to follow the progress and quality of these outputs.

The objectives and outcomes of the project are of vital importance to the communities, enterprises and institutions. The outcomes are expected to align with the strategic plans of ministries towards stronger links between universities and enterprises and increased access to ICT and OSS resources. Establishing communities of practice in OSS will help not only in overcoming access barriers, but also in introducing affordable technology solutions. Therefore, OSSCOM activities and outcomes will not be limited to participating institutions, but rather disseminated to PC institutions and communities at large. OSS applications and services will be extended to include professionals, engineers, and staff members of governmental institutions. OSS technology support services and local content development will be openly published on OSSCOM web portal. Disseminating knowledge and experiences will create new prospective professionals and entrepreneurs. It will also allow for more multicultural diversity among EU and the PC institutions. White papers will be published on regular basis to point out issues of concern in open source technologies and for creating awareness on the potential of OSS.

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