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Modernizing CS Education with Open Source

Scott Chacon (GitHub), Jay Borenstein (Stanford)
Portland 252
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(3.57, 7 ratings)

Real-world software development as a profession has many features distinct from computer science as an academic subject. Projects are larger (in timeline and size) than the people who participate in them; substantial pre-existing code bases must be evaluated and understood; project management and interpersonal relationships can have as much impact on software design as technical issues; and systems are ultimately evaluated by user satisfaction rather than technical merit.

Meanwhile, an applied, collaborative, and fast-moving software development culture within the open source community is thriving. By definition, the projects and communities created around open source projects are available to anyone who wants to contribute. And unlike in school, where a project might just be theoretical, or relevant only in context of the class, an open source contribution makes immediate impact on the ecosystem.
Scott Chacon, co-founder of GitHub, and Jay Borenstein, CS professor at Stanford and founder of Facebook’s Open Academy, a program designed to match university students with open source projects for academic credit, will discuss how to bring the best of the open source community’s learning frameworks into formal computer science education.

Photo of Scott Chacon

Scott Chacon


Scott Chacon is a cofounder and the CIO of GitHub. He is also the author of the Pro Git book by Apress and the maintainer of the Git homepage ( Scott has presented at dozens of conferences around the world on Git, GitHub and the future of work.

Photo of Jay Borenstein

Jay Borenstein


I was born in Southern California. I did my undergraduate and graduate studies at Stanford, specializing in quantitative economics and operations research. I discovered both academic disciplines benefited greatly from computer simulation and I found my passions increasingly directed toward realizing products and experiences through software.

Another thread in my personal and professional life has been a love for teams of people. I find few things to be as stimulating as a smart and motivated group of people coming together in a common pursuit.

Combining the above interests, the culture of Silicon Valley (and Stanford itself, for that matter) has been a perfect fit for
me. After initially working as software engineer for a number of years and then plying the waters in technology management as a CTO, I founded Integration Appliance in 2000. I stepped down as CEO and away from day-to-day operations at IntApp in May, 2007 and served on the board through 2012. Today, IntApp is a successful and growing company.

Part of the reason for stepping away from a mature business is the quest for new challenges. Another part is the desire to get
back to the root of where many great technologies and ideas emerge; academia. I currently teach computer science at Stanford University and also run Facebook Open Academy as part of a larger Facebook effort to modernize education. I find it very fulfilling to help motivated, bright minds grow and succeed.