Special Issue "Open Source Software in Learning Environments"

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Computer Science & Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 February 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Manuel Palomo-Duarte
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Computer Science, University of Cadiz. Av. de la Universidad de Cádiz 10, Puerto Real, Spain
Interests: technology-enhanced learning/learning analytics; open collaboration: open source software; wikis/Wikipedia; serious games; computational thinking

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It has been more than 30 years since the first version of the GPL license was published, providing legal support to the “shared source” movement that had been around years before. In this time, the enthusiasm and initiative of computer programmers in academic workplaces became a reference for the big actors in the software industry. At present we can find open source projects leading a wide range of fields, from small autonomous devices to supercomputing clusters, including web servers or smartphones.

The process of integrating information and communication technology solutions in educational processes also started decades ago. The initial solutions based on isolated learning management systems became integrated learning environments enabling gamification options and massive collaboration. At the same time, educational processes took advantage of the adoption of virtual worlds, serious games, and virtual/augmented reality technologies. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the adoption of cutting-edge online solutions like smart educational platforms, remote laboratories, personalized learning environments, intelligent tutoring agents, and adaptive systems.

Open source software features like customization, reduced adoption cost, interoperability, continuous improvement cycle, peer-review development methodology, and community support make it especially interesting for educational processes. This Special Issue focuses on educational experiences where free/libre/open source software provides a key value. We invite investigators to contribute original research articles as well as review works on any educational level or context.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Open source software in education;
  • Technology-enhanced learning based on open systems;
  • Best practices of open collaboration for online education;
  • Challenges for the adoption of open source solutions in educational contexts;
  • Smart open source environments and educational trends;
  • Open source methodologies and ICT education;
  • Case studies of education based on open communities;
  • Open source and inclusive learning;
  • The role of open technologies in educational digital divide.

Prof. Dr. Manuel Palomo-Duarte
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Electronics is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Open source software
  • Technology-enhanced learning
  • Open collaboration
  • Learning technologies
  • Community-driven software development
  • Educational research
  • Smart learning environments
  • Learning methodologies
  • Code review
  • Collaborative learning

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
ULearnEnglish: An Open Ubiquitous System for Assisting in Learning English Vocabulary
Electronics 2021, 10(14), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10141692 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 609
Abstract
Language learners often face communication problems when they need to express themselves and do not have the ability to do so. On the other hand, continuous advances in technology are creating new opportunities to improve second language (L2) acquisition through context-aware ubiquitous learning [...] Read more.
Language learners often face communication problems when they need to express themselves and do not have the ability to do so. On the other hand, continuous advances in technology are creating new opportunities to improve second language (L2) acquisition through context-aware ubiquitous learning (CAUL) technology. Since vocabulary is the foundation of all language acquisition, this article presents ULearnEnglish, an open-source system to allow ubiquitous English learning focused on incidental vocabulary acquisition. To evaluate our proposal, 15 learners used the developed system, and 10 answered a survey based on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Results indicate a favorable response to the application of incidental learning techniques in combination with the learner context. ULearnEnglish achieved an acceptance rate of 78.66% for the perception of utility, 96% for the perception of ease of use, 86.5% for user context assessment, and 88% for ubiquity. Among its main contributions, this study demonstrates a possible tool for ubiquitous use in the future in language learning; additionally, further studies can use the available resources to develop the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Assessment in Software Development for Competitive Environments: An AI Strategy Development Case Study
Electronics 2021, 10(13), 1566; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10131566 - 29 Jun 2021
Viewed by 528
Abstract
Competitions are being widely used to motivate students in diverse learning processes, including those in computer programming. This paper presents a methodology for designing and assessing competitive learning scenarios that allow students to develop three different coding skills: the ability to compete against [...] Read more.
Competitions are being widely used to motivate students in diverse learning processes, including those in computer programming. This paper presents a methodology for designing and assessing competitive learning scenarios that allow students to develop three different coding skills: the ability to compete against unknown competitors, the ability to compete against known competitors and the ability to compete against refined versions of known competitors. The proposal is based on peer code review, implemented as an improvement cycle after the dissemination of the code among participants. A case study evaluating the methodology was conducted with two cohorts of students in an undergraduate course. The analysis of the obtained grades suggests that while performance after our assistance was improved, students could still fail or succeed independently of the assistance. Complementary data from student questionnaires and supervisor observations are aligned with this finding. As a conclusion, the evidence supports the validity of the methodology. Additionally, several guidelines based on the experience are provided to transfer the proposal to other environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry through Students’ Contributions to the FIWARE European Open-Source Initiative: A Pilot Study
Electronics 2021, 10(13), 1523; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10131523 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 479
Abstract
Although many courses in computer science and software engineering require students to work on practical assignments, these are usually toy projects that do not come close to real professional developments. As such, recent graduates often fail to meet industry expectations when they first [...] Read more.
Although many courses in computer science and software engineering require students to work on practical assignments, these are usually toy projects that do not come close to real professional developments. As such, recent graduates often fail to meet industry expectations when they first enter the workforce. In view of the gap between graduates’ skills and industry expectations, several institutions have resorted to integrating open-source software development as part of their programs. In this pilot study, we report on the results of the contributions of eleven students to the FIWARE open-source project as part of their final year project. Our findings suggest that both teachers and students have a positive perception towards contributing to the FIWARE open-source initiative and that students increased their knowledge of technologies valued by the industry. We also found that this kind of project requires an additional initial effort for the students as well as for the instructor to monitor their progress. Consequently, it is important that the instructors have previous experience in FIWARE, as many of the students need help during the process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Leveraging Final Degree Projects for Open Source Software Contributions
Electronics 2021, 10(10), 1181; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10101181 - 15 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 657
Abstract
(1) Background: final year students of computer science engineering degrees must carry out a final degree project (FDP) in order to graduate. Students’ contributions to improve open source software (OSS) through FDPs can offer multiple benefits and challenges, both for the students, the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: final year students of computer science engineering degrees must carry out a final degree project (FDP) in order to graduate. Students’ contributions to improve open source software (OSS) through FDPs can offer multiple benefits and challenges, both for the students, the instructors and for the project itself. This work reports on a practical experience developed by four students contributing to mature OSS projects during their FDPs, detailing how they addressed the multiple challenges involved, both from the students and teachers perspective. (2) Methods: we followed the work of four students contributing to two established OSS projects for two academic years and analyzed their work on GitHub and their responses to a survey. (3) Results: we obtained a set of specific recommendations for future practitioners and detailed a list of benefits achieved by steering FDP towards OSS contributions, for students, teachers and the OSS projects. (4) Conclusions: we find out that FDPs oriented towards enhancing OSS projects can introduce students into real-world, practical examples of software engineering principles, give them a boost in their confidence about their technical and communication skills and help them build a portfolio of contributions to daily used worldwide open source applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Using Scratch to Improve Learning Programming in College Students: A Positive Experience from a Non-WEIRD Country
Electronics 2021, 10(10), 1180; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10101180 - 15 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 696
Abstract
Teaching computer programming is a real challenge in the State University of Milagro (UNEMI), located in one of the least-developed zones in Ecuador, a non-WEIRD country (WEIRD stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic). Despite the application of various learning strategies, the [...] Read more.
Teaching computer programming is a real challenge in the State University of Milagro (UNEMI), located in one of the least-developed zones in Ecuador, a non-WEIRD country (WEIRD stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic). Despite the application of various learning strategies, the historical pass rate does not exceed 43%. To solve this problem, we have relied on visual programming languages, specifically Scratch. Scratch is an open source software to learn programming that has a strong assumption of the benefits of community work. A quasi-experiment conducted with 74 undergraduate students during the first semester of CS showed that: (1) Both groups (control and experimental) are homogeneous in terms of their demographic characteristics, previous academic performance and motivation (expectations) concerning the course; (2) Scratch is strongly accepted by students in the experimental group and concerning the learning process, both groups showed similar levels of satisfaction; (3) the experimental group showed a pass rate four times higher than the control group; (4) in general, student success is associated with having learned programming with Scratch. While limited, our results are an important step in our road to improve the learning of programming in a low social status area of Ecuador. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Can the OSS-Focused Education Impact on OSS Implementations in Companies? A Motivational Answer through a Delphi-Based Consensus Study
Electronics 2021, 10(3), 277; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10030277 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 531
Abstract
In the last few decades, the Open Source Software (OSS) diffusion has grown remarkably in companies. In this context, the present study has analyzed the factors that incentivize OSS implementations for enterprise purposes, linking two perspectives: (1) managerial and (2) educational. Thus, the [...] Read more.
In the last few decades, the Open Source Software (OSS) diffusion has grown remarkably in companies. In this context, the present study has analyzed the factors that incentivize OSS implementations for enterprise purposes, linking two perspectives: (1) managerial and (2) educational. Thus, the Delphi methodology was applied to a panel of experts with two aims: (1) to know managers’ perceptions about organizational users’ motivations toward OSS after receiving OSS training and (2) to develop a forecasting study to examine the OSS diffusion in the medium term in companies and educational centers. In this context, the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) was the theoretical approach through which we identified the motivational factors. Specifically, three SDT motivations were added: (1) autonomy, (2) competence and (3) relatedness. The 104 selected experts were managers from companies with employees who have studied in educational centers where OSS usage is mandatory. The results show that managers perceive that OSS training incentivizes OSS implementations in companies. At the same time, user motivations are considered to be extremely relevant, especially autonomy. In addition, is the results foresee a similar level of OSS implementation in the business and educational fields in the medium term. Finally, conclusions, practical implications and limitations are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
Article
Enhancing EJsS with Extension Plugins
Electronics 2021, 10(3), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10030242 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 598
Abstract
Easy JavaScript Simulations (EJsS) is an open-source tool that allows teachers with limited programming experience to straightforwardly bundle an interactive computer science or engineer simulation in an HTML+ JavaScript webpage. Its prominent place in Physics (where it has won several prizes) should not [...] Read more.
Easy JavaScript Simulations (EJsS) is an open-source tool that allows teachers with limited programming experience to straightforwardly bundle an interactive computer science or engineer simulation in an HTML+ JavaScript webpage. Its prominent place in Physics (where it has won several prizes) should not hinder its application in other fields (such as building the front-end of remote laboratories or learning analytics) after having adapted part of the functionality of EJsS to them. To facilitate the future inclusion of new functionalities in EJsS, this paper presents a new version of this tool that allows the enhancement of EJsS, letting it incorporate new tools and change its graphical user interface, by means of extension plugins (special software libraries). To illustrate the benefits of this distributable self-contained non-intrusive strategy, the paper (a) discusses the new methodological possibilities that the Plugins bring to EJsS developers and users, and (b) presents three plugins: one to support the plugin management and the others to easily set up a streamlined remote laboratory. Moreover, the paper also presents the main characteristics of that remote lab to allow readers take advantage of EJsS and the three plugins to set up new online experiments for their students quickly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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Article
Open-Source Drone Programming Course for Distance Engineering Education
Electronics 2020, 9(12), 2163; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9122163 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1605
Abstract
This article presents a full course for autonomous aerial robotics inside the RoboticsAcademy framework. This “drone programming” course is open-access and ready-to-use for any teacher/student to teach/learn drone programming with it for free. The students may program diverse drones on their computers without [...] Read more.
This article presents a full course for autonomous aerial robotics inside the RoboticsAcademy framework. This “drone programming” course is open-access and ready-to-use for any teacher/student to teach/learn drone programming with it for free. The students may program diverse drones on their computers without a physical presence in this course. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) applications are essentially practical, as their intelligence resides in the software part. Therefore, the proposed course emphasizes drone programming through practical learning. It comprises a collection of exercises resembling drone applications in real life, such as following a road, visual landing, and people search and rescue, including their corresponding background theory. The course has been successfully taught for five years to students from several university engineering degrees. Some exercises from the course have also been validated in three aerial robotics competitions, including an international one. RoboticsAcademy is also briefly presented in the paper. It is an open framework for distance robotics learning in engineering degrees. It has been designed as a practical complement to the typical online videos of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Its educational contents are built upon robot operating system (ROS) middleware (de facto standard in robot programming), the powerful 3D Gazebo simulator, and the widely used Python programming language. Additionally, RoboticsAcademy is a suitable tool for gamified learning and online robotics competitions, as it includes several competitive exercises and automatic assessment tools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Open Source Software in Learning Environments)
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