Open Source Interview Questions

I will interview our district technology coordinator on Monday.  These are the guiding questions I am planning to use.

  1. What is your job?  What is your background?
  2. What familiarity do you have with open source (OS)?
    1. How do you use OS personally?
    2. What have you learned about the OS community and how it works?
    3. How do you use OS professionally?
  3. What educational problems (administrative, teacher, and student-focused) does OS currently provide effective solutions for?
  4. Let’s consider a program like Schoolmaster.  In The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond lists five criteria that indicate a piece of software should be open:
    1. Reliability, stability, and scalability are critical;
    2. Correctness of design and implementation cannot be readily verified by means other than independent peer review;
    3. The software is critical to the user’s control of his/ her business;
    4. The software establishes a common computing and communications infrastructure;
    5. Key methods (or functional equivalents of them) are part of common engineering knowledge.
      If we think about the educational issues that Schoolmaster addresses, should a program like this remain closed-source, or should an OS solution be developed?
  5. If most educational software were OS, how would your job change?  Would this be a change for the better, or for the worse?
  6. One of the fears people have if the school district were to replace its computer fleet with an OS-based system is that students would be less prepared for the job market than their peers who have access to proprietary software at school.  Is this a realistic fear?
  7. In 10 years, what changes do you see for the use of technology in schools?  Specifically, do you see the same dependence on proprietary solutions that we currently see?
  8. What is your favorite tech toy?

3 Responses to “Open Source Interview Questions”

  1. japhyr Says:

    If you have any suggestions before Monday, I would be happy to add them to the list, or modify existing questions.

  2. Skip Says:

    No real changes–I’m sure this will engender a lot of good discussion, which I’m looking forward to reading. From my perspective, the most intriguing question is #6. The 800 pound gorilla in this arena is, of course, MS Office. Between OpenOffice and Google Docs, we have excellent, well-supported free tools that equal or exceed the capabilities of Office, but most educators (and probably most employers) still insist on the Word-Excel-PowerPoint standard. In my own personal and professional use, Google Docs has supplanted Word and PowerPoint as my tools of choice, largely because of the collaborative capabilities of those apps and, increasingly, the highly productive integration of Google Mail with these programs–e.g., being able to send an attached Office document directly to Docs. Storage, backup, and collaboration all in one transparent step–it doesn’t get much better.

    So–why do we still pay inflated prices for inflated applications? Would it be difficult for a student who learned to use Google Docs or OpenOffice to move to Word or Excel in a corporate environment? I suspect not, but it’s a difficult argument to make to K-12 and post-secondary faculty and administration.

  3. japhyr Says:

    It has been a difficult argument, which is why it will be really interesting to start reading more about successful school-wide and district-wide implementations of OS-based computing; not just OpenOffice, but Linux rather Windows. It seems you pay for hardware and real IT expertise.

    Reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar is pointing to an approach that might work with teachers, principals, superintendents, school boards, and community members. Rather than attacking Microsoft and proprietary solutions, we simply focus on what people get from OS – reliability, security, and functionality. Rather than a proprietary system and some OS stations for experimentation, shift to an OS system and a couple proprietary stations where necessary.

    It will certainly be an interesting conversation, and he (Paul) is looking forward to it as well.

    I will write a reflective post shortly, about how my growing understanding of the OS culture is affecting my thinking about school culture, and the way I approach problems in school. I can’t tell you how satisfying this course is!

    PS Please feel free to share any of these posts, or this blog, with any of your current ed tech students who might have an interest in OS. I’m going to keep it public, and as I start to use forums more for my research and project work, you might see some comments from others on here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: