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Introducing students to modern computing systems can be complicated and challenging. When Boston University faculty members Jonathan Appavoo, computer science (CS) professor, and Orran Krieger, electrical and computer engineering (ECE) professor, were looking for a new, simplified way to educate their students on the critical concepts of computing systems, they turned to Red Hat OpenShift Data Science (now Red Hat OpenShift AI).

Red Hat OpenShift Data Science provided the CS and ECE departments at Boston University a scalable environment for students while ensuring a personalized Linux playground that only requires a web browser to get started and provides a platform for hosting open source textbook and interactive lectures.  

The team at Boston University, along with the help of Red Hatters Erwan Granger, Senior Principal Architect for Red Hat OpenShift Data Science, and Mark Dunnett, Red Hat OpenShift Data Science Cloud Success Architect, began building an environment using Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS and Red Hat OpenShift Data Science that quickly progressed from concept to reality. In less than a month, Boston University had scaled the environment to around 100 users. As of today, the environment has nearly 300 active users with peaks of more than 100 concurrent sessions, and Boston University plans to add even more. 

While the environment is currently being used exclusively in computer science and computer engineering systems courses, the faculty’s long term vision is to create a new model of open source interactive textbooks which can serve the needs of the university’s entire academic community. By using open source practices, faculty across the university can have the ability to update and distribute course materials and textbooks, thereby providing students with the most accurate education materials as soon as they’re available. 

Hugh Brock, Research Director for Red Hat and leader of the BU partnership, said “The idea to use Red Hat OpenShift Data Science and Red Hat OpenShift for teaching, and for textbook authoring and maintenance in open source, grew organically out of our research partnership. We expect we will see more and more of these kinds of innovations as additional universities begin using Red Hat OpenShift as a foundation for research and education.”



Img. 1: The number of Red Hat OpenShift Data Science users per cluster has continued to increase throughout the spring semester

This new environment allows the faculty and staff to reduce the technical effort that students put forth to start  building the foundations of a complex computing curriculum. Through the use of Red Hat OpenShift Data Science and Red Hat OpenShift on AWS, Boston University now has a Jupyter notebook environment capable of:

  • Providing an interactive Linux lecture environment where both presentation and demonstration are seamlessly combined
  • A personalized modern Linux environment for students to explore and complete assignments using open source software
  • Authoring and publishing computer systems oriented textbook material

The Red Hat OpenShift Data Science environment is used as the main classroom platform for presenting lecture materials, conducting in-class demonstrations, and seamlessly integrates with online textbook material which is also authored using the Red Hat OpenShift Data Science service. 

“This effort is providing my students with a rich, full-fledged Linux experience that hides no details and yet can be easily accessed and integrated into my teaching materials and methodologies. These students will graduate not only knowing the technical details of the open source platforms that power the world around them, but also with an understanding of how open platforms and open access can impact society and education,” said Jonathan Appavoo, Associate Professor at Boston University

This rapid deployment of Red Hat OpenShift Data Science is a testament to the collaborative partnership we have built with Boston University. Red Hat is excited to continue working with Boston University to explore additional ways to integrate course materials into the Red Hat OpenShift Data Science environment and allow for a more interactive teaching and learning experience.

Learn more about open source education, our partnership with BU and our work through Red Hat Research at the Red Hat Collaboratory, including the recent Red Hat Collaboratory Research Incubation Awards.

About the author

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.

Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. Award-winning support, training, and consulting services make Red Hat a trusted adviser to the Fortune 500. As a strategic partner to cloud providers, system integrators, application vendors, customers, and open source communities, Red Hat can help organizations prepare for the digital future.

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