A preliminary analysis of learning awareness in floss projects

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It can be argued that participating in free/libre open source software (FLOSS) projects can have a positive effect in the contributor's learning process. The need to interact with other contributors, …

It can be argued that participating in free/libre open source software (FLOSS) projects can have a positive effect in the contributor's learning process. The need to interact with other contributors, to read other people's code, write documentation, or use different tools, can motivate and implicitly foster learning. In order to validate this statement we design an appropriate questionnaire asking FLOSS contributors about their experience in FLOSS projects. In this paper, we illustrate how this questionnaire was designed and what we expect to learn from the answers. We conclude the paper with a preview of the results from three cases studies.

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  • 1. A  preliminary  analysis  of  learning  awareness  in   FLOSS  projects   Sara  Fernandes,  Antonio  Cerone,  Luis  Barbosa
  • 2. Aim  &  Overview  Aim   Understand how contributors learn and whether they recognize the learning process they experience  Overview   Approach   QuesBonnaire   ParBal  Results  –  Case  studies   Conclusions  and  future  work   United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 3. Approach  Free  /  Libre  Open  Source  SoHware  (FLOSS)  CommuniBes     Heterogeneous  groups  of  independent  volunteers,  who  interact  even  if  driven  by  different  moBvaBons   Provides  an  example  of  peer  producBon,  based  on  collaboraBve,  social  modes  of  interacBon  and   knowledge  exchange.   Raise a number of relevant questions. United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 4. Approach   Examples  of  quesBons:        In  what  sense  contributors  to  FLOSS  projects  learn  through  collaboraBon  and  collaborate  while  learning?    Do  FLOSS  contributors  recognize  their  FLOSS  communiBes  as  possible  learning  environment?   Do  the  acBviBes  performed  in  a  FLOSS  community  enable  knowledge  sharing  and  collaboraBve  learning   experiences?     FLOSS communities collaborate in a wide range of activities, which are by no means restricted to software development: • Exchange information • Reciprocal support and technical assistance • Planning • Code review • Testing • Etc. United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 5. Approach   1.  How do people learn and produce knowledge? 2. How communities collaborate and work to solve problems while performing these activities. United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 6. Approach   FLOSS can be regarded as an instantiation of Common-based Peer Production model (CBPP)* * Refers to the collaborative efforts based on sharing information and outcomes of a large number of people working incrementally on a problem. *Constitutes a new model of economic production based on a theory where “ Yochai Benkler, who first introduced the CBPP model, considered FLOSS United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 7. Approach   Common-based Peer Production model (CBPP) have 4 key characteristics 1. Motivation – where individuals are not driven by money to work on a project; 2. Chunking – where many individuals work incrementally and asynchronously on a problem 3. Multi-disciplinary – where peer-production projects include a large number of contributors, complementing expertise and solving problems 4. Integration - of successful peer-production products FLOSS can be considered as the prime example of CBPP United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 8. Approach   3 preliminary case studies indicating the potential positive impact of membership of a FLOSS community on the contributor’s learning process FLOSS communities provide valuable, though partial, source of information Questionnaire United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 9. QuesBonnaire   – Long term participation in FLOSS projects can have a positive effect in thecontributor’s learning process – Understand how contributors learn and whether they recognize the learning process they experience This questionnaire is focused on gathering evidence relative to questions like the contributor’s ability to interact with other contributors, own achievements, doubts, etc… United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 10. QuesBonnaire  3 set of questions: •  emographic data D •  ontribution to FLOSS C •  LOSS as a learning context F United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 11. QuesBonnaire  –  Demographic  Data United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 12. QuesBonnaire  –  ContribuBon  to  FLOSS United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 13. QuesBonnaire  –  FLOSS  as  a  learning  context United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 14. ParBal  Results  –  Case  Studies PhD student Male PERL, Parrot and Debian Parrot project Became part of this project as a tester The community communicate through wikis, forums and chats He was able to develop skills as a developer, programmer, code reviewer FLOSS project community has a relevant role in his learning experience For him the community “has a lot of knowledge that can externalized and shared” FLOSS projects can have a positive effect in contributor’s learning process United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 15. ParBal  Results  –  Case  Studies Software developer Male Bigodejs, Plone and Django Plone project Became part of this project as an observer. The community communicate through mailing lists He was able to develop skills as a tester, programmer, code analysis. FLOSS project community has a relevant role in his learning experience For him “FLOSS projects can be regarded as complement to formal education” FLOSS projects can have a positive effect in contributor’s learning process United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 16. ParBal  Results  –  Case  Studies PhD in Computer Science Male PERL Dancer PERL Dancer project Became part of this project as an observer The community communicate through wikis, mailing lists and chats He was able to develop skills as a tester, programmer, code reviewer FLOSS project community has a relevant role in his learning experience FLOSS communities could be regarded as educational communities, since they provide a platform for learning technologies , as well as technical and social skills United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 17. Conclusion  and  Future  Work Goal: Understand whether and to which extend participation in FLOSS projects may effectively contribute to the individual’s learning process FLOSS communities provide experiences that can be regarded as valuable complements to formal education Knowledge sharing occurs naturally and easily Regard their participation in FLOSS project as learning experiences United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 18. Conclusion  and  Future  Work Improve the questionnaire Apply it to a significant sample of FLOSS contributors United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology
  • 19. Thank  you!  United Nations University - International Institute for Software Technology