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What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

FLOSSCom - Using the principles of informal learning environments of FLOSS communities to improve ICT supported formal education "

Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities are not only an exemplar for successful software development, but also for effective learning environments, yet little is known about how learning occurs in FLOSS communities and what the underlying success factors are.

FLOSS communities might be seen as an example of 'Best Practice' in how ICT can help to improve education in terms of learning processes, up-to-date content and open inclusive education where no learner is excluded from participation.

This project aimed:

I - To identify the factors that contribute to successful knowledge construction in informal learning communities, such as the FLOSS communities.

II - To analyze the effectiveness of a FLOSS-like learning community in a formal educational setting.

III - To provide case studies, scenarios and guidelines for teachers and decision-makers on how to successfully embed such learning communities within formal educational environments to enhance student progression, retention and achievement.

IV - To evaluate the project and disseminate the results to the wider community.

Until recently, there has been limited recognition of the importance of FLOSS-like communities as informal learning environments. Currently, most formal educational settings are not fully aware of FLOSS-like communities in general, and their educational impact in particular. Consequently in most formal education these successful principles of informal learning environments are not applied. One argument for this could be the lack of studies in this domain. Therefore this project is aimed at providing all stakeholders in the education area with the required information on how to improve education and to meet modern society's needs.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

The project activities included the review of available data, elements of action research and open debates with relevant stakeholders, including teachers, students, and members of informal learning environments like in the FLOSS communities.

As a result of the project the different stakeholders in the education area were provided with case studies, scenarios and guidelines assisting them to improve formal ICT enriched education.

Findings and outputs

A number of project reports were produced and can be accessed here:

Report on the learning environment of FLOSS communities

Report on the effectiveness of a FLOSS-like learning community in formal educational settings

FLOSS-like education transfer report

A number of guidelines for implementing FLOSS-like learning principles in Higher Education were developed.

Project impact

The research has helped inform course design at the University of Thessaloniki, and provided a theoretical framework for adopting open source approaches in education. It has led to further research projects (OpenEd) and collaboration between the OU and UNU.


Meiszner, Andreas (2007). Communication tools in FLOSS communities: A look at FLOSS communities 'at large' beyond the development team. In: IADIS International Conference: Web Based Communities, 18-20 Feb 2007, Salamanca, Spain.

Meiszner, Andreas; Glott, Rüdiger and Sowe, Sulayaman K. (2008) .Preparing the ne(x)t generation: Lessons learnt from free/libre open source software and their communities. In: 4th International Barcelona Conference on Higher Education: Higher Education: new challenges and emerging roles for human and social development, 31 March - 2 April 2008, Barcelona.

Meiszner, Andreas; Glott, Rudiger and Sowe, Sulayaman K. (2008). Preparing the ne(x)t generation: lessons learnt from free/libre open source software. GUNI News, September 22nd

Meiszner, Andreas; Glott, Rudiger and Sowe, Sulayman K. (2008). Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities as an example of successful open participatory learning ecosystems. UPGRADE, The European Journal for the Informatics Professional , 9(3), pp. 62-68.

Meiszner, Andreas; Mostaka, Katerina and Syamelos, Ioannis (2009). A hybrid approach to Computer Science Education - A case study: Software Engineering at Aristotle University. In: CSEDU 2009 - International Conference on Computer Supported Education, 23-26 March 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.


Open source, informal education, higher education, open education

People involved

Martin Weller

Project partners and links

The Open University



Thessaloniki Technology Park

University of Paisley


European Commission, Socrates Programme

Start Date and duration

1st October 2006 for 24 months

Research & Innovation