How to engage students in real open source projects
HOW TO ENGAGESTUDENTSIN REALOPEN SOURCEPROJECTS
Scott Wilson Apache Committer Service Manager, OSS Watch GSoC MentorResearcher, University of Bolton @scottbw firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
You want to know howto use open sourceprojects in your classesI’m going to suggest oneway to do it from weekone, with no codingrequired
HOW DID I GET HERE?How an ASF committer and researcher got involved in undergraduate teaching…
CPU4000 Core Skills ModuleFirst year, first semesterTraditionally “boring” stuff like how to use library, how to do referencing in an essay. Involved lots of lecturesMoved to inquiry based learning on open source projects
Results• Run now for 3 home cohorts of 25-45 students plus 2 international cohorts• Some students produced fantastic work! Some… needed to be unstuck :)• Notable increase in motivation
1.START WITH SOFTSKILLS, NOT CODE ly rc e is primari n open sou oll aboratio ities and c about commun
You don’t need codingskills to: file a bug reportask for help on a list orforum correct thedocumentation improvegraphics localization testbrowser compatibility ighly en source projects value h These are all things op
And the truth is, not allcomputing students willend up as developers. r… t out until late b ly won’t find tha And they proba
2.LET STUDENTS PICKTHEIR OWN PROJECTS**yes, non-apache ones! And especially not my-favourite-project We need to build enth and develop usiasm a sense of ownership
Working on software ismore fun if its forsomething you’reinterested in already,like music, sport,games, art, sharing picsof cats … Gi ve up control now, while you still can :)
3.TEACH HOW TO “READ”A PROJECT Know how to check fo r signs of lif e in a project
Get students familiarwith finding sourcecode, subscribing tomailing lists, navigatingan issue tracker, andusing tools like ohloh later these are fundamental skills to build on
4.GET STUDENTSINTERACTING WITHTHE PROJECTCOMMUNITY -NOT THE LECTURER You’ve got other things to do , and its not like you’re an expert on all the software ever written
Start simple: try todownload and install thesoftware, and if you getstuck, ask for help onthe list or forum -NOT THE LECTURER
… but you can helpstudents understand listetiquette Z PINSTALL PL UR COD E S UX. H E L
5.ASSESS PUBLICINTERACTIONS Authentic a ssessment!
By which I mean thingslike issue trackerreports, conversationson mailing lists andforums, and any patches(probably to doc)
You can use a learning(b)log, patchwork text,or whatever you’recomfortable with. Evenroll it into a traditionalessay.
1. START WITH SOFT SKILLS, NOT CODE2. LET STUDENTS PICK THEIR OWN PROJECTS3. TEACH HOW TO “READ” A PROJECT4. GET STUDENTS INTERACTING WITH THE PROJECT COMMUNITY - NOT THE LECTURER5. ASSESS PUBLIC INTERACTIONS
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