Teach your students to fish

Open source in the classroom

Taylor Jadin & Amanda Schmidt

Who we are

Amanda Schmidt

Instructional Support Specialist

Taylor Jadin

Community Instructional Technologist

What is open source?




Open source like... what?

VLC media player (cross-platform)

QuickTime Player (macOS)

Windows Media Player (Windows)



Open source

Using open source tools in the classroom not only gives students and teachers control over their data and tools, but can help them cultivate digital skills.

Exhibit A

R / R Studio vs. SPSS

The tools in action...


  • Labs involved following packets of instructions
  • Instructions were many pages long and extremely detailed to allow students to follow along

R / R Studio

  • Students needed to learn how to:
    • Set up R Studio
    • Read R code, and understand the syntax
    • Find help via online resources
  • Labs started with code samples that students would modify

How is open source enabling this impact?

  • It's free!
  • R = programming language with built-in ecosystem and community
  • SPSS = product incentivized to never change and maintain customer base

Exhibit B



Wix / Squarespace / Weebly

The scenario:

You want to ask your students to build an e-portfolio and are choosing which platform they do it in.

Wix / Weebly / Squarespace

  • How do you prepare students to use these?
  • What do they end up with after completing their portfolio?
    • a website, that stays on the platform

By Vector Market on thenounproject.com


  • How do you prepare students to use this?
  • What do they end up with after completing their portfolio?
    • a website that they own and control, can bring with them, and have learned about how websites work (contextualizing the technology / they’ve built a skill)

By Juicy Fish on thenounproject.com

When does learning how a tool works become part of the learning objectives?

When is this most beneficial?

Thank you!