Peter Mooney is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Maynooth University Ireland. He is also a founding member of the OSGeo Ireland chapter and has organised many OSGeo events in Ireland in the past. He uses FOSS4G and Open Data in all research and teaching.
The COVID-9 pandemic has been a massive challenge for all of society. Within education the institutional response to the pandemic has been crucial to how education continues to function and deliver the highest quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students. For everyone, teachers and students, working from home far away from the high quality facilities of our universities, colleges and schools is one of the major challenges. In this talk I reflect on the last 18 months of teaching and learning within the University environment and how Free and Open Source Software For Geomatics (FOSS4G) has responded to the many challenges of this 'new normal' in education. In particular, I recount my experiences of teaching subjects such as Spatial Databases, Web-based Mapping and Mobile Application Development whilst also supervising student-led projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate level all of which involve the use of FOSS4G and Open Data. With my talk I shall outline where FOSS4G delivered major advantages in the fully online teaching environment including: * A community of technical and educational support available around the world. This was particularly important as many students were studying at home in their home country and not easily able to access institutional support. The international community of FOSS4G allowed students to access technical help and support in their native language. * Portability and compatibility with a very wide range of computers, laptops and devices. Away from the homogeneous computing environment offered by university or school computing laboratories students used a wide variety of devices and FOSS4G software was available for practically all of these. * Offering a FOSS4G and Open Data approach in classes means we avoid any messy issues around licenses and contracts. Students have enough issues to deal with without software and data adding to their daily stress. * Many students reported needing to use different computers or devices depending on availability in their household which consequently meant installation of software for their study on each device.
I believe that many of the arrangements put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic will become integrated into future teaching and learning practice. Over the last 18 months the loss of one-to-one tuition and classroom based teaching has been monumental. As I will detail carefully in my presentation, during this time, FOSS4G has further embellished its reputation to become a critical component of technology-based learning in the future.