[Talk-us] Talk-us Digest, Vol 101, Issue 10

OSM Volunteer stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Mon Apr 11 23:35:32 UTC 2016

At least a couple of posters have responded to the thread:

> I'm equally inexperienced in the contact department, so take what I say with that gain of salt. 
> This appears to be a class at California University of Pennsylvania (calu.edu <http://calu.edu/>), and the last of the users you link appears to be Dr. [Tom] Mueller himself.
> Perhaps someone with some degree of officialness can contact the professor directly (via institutional email, I'd guess) to start the conversation in a good-faith fashion.

I have had excellent results in working with my local University (of California, also my alma mater) with professors (of Computer Science, Environmental Studies), staff, interns, contractors, etc.  OSM is very higher-education friendly as there are many ways that using and improving its underlying data can be beneficial to both the students and back to the project.  My best experiences come from acting in the capacity of a local “ambassador” to the project, offering longer-term project perspective, consultation, direction, technical answers, in-person class attendance (once or twice during a quarter or semester is quite sufficient) and whatever else might be needed to support the professor and the aims of the class.  True, this is most helpful before-the-fact (students joining OSM and editing) rather than afterwards, but it can be successful either way.  I just think its easier to do a little discussion and planning up-front to reduce surprises and anything unexpected.

If you are in academia as a professor/instructor, new to OSM yourself and are contemplating using OSM in your class (especially if more than just a few students will be editing en masse) please endeavor to find some local OSM person(s) who can act as a guide.  While not necessary, this can reduce misunderstandings, more easily glide into the brief (yet necessary) additional “mapping curriculum" that must be developed so students are both good editors yet while still furthering the aims of the class.  Our map is a shared fabric, not only among us, (OSM volunteers who add and edit data) but also among the wider world who can and do use OSM to teach and do wonderful things that we might not even have imagined.

I don’t particularly think any “degree of officialness” (Ph.D. or otherwise!) is required to contact the professor:  simply introduce yourself as an interested and eager OSM volunteer who wants to help.  Then, listen.

Good luck to everybody, COMMUNICATE, keep learning and most of all, have fun!

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