[TOS] choosing projects for students to contribute to

William Cohen wcohen at redhat.com
Thu May 14 14:36:29 UTC 2009

tridge at samba.org wrote:
> Hi Will,
>  > In the NCSU open source course (CSC591W) had a similar list in the "Evaluating
>  > Open Source Software" lecture. Materials for the course are available at
>  > http://people.redhat.com/wcohen/ncsu_opensource_course.tar.gz.
> Thanks very much for posting that! Can you tell me what the license on
> that material is? There is a lot of good stuff there that I might want
> to incorporate into the ANU course in future years if the license is
> CC compatible.

The material in there will be covered by some type of CC license. There are a
couple lectures that will be covered by more restrictive CC license. I need to
spend a weekend and go through and put the proper license on things.

> Did you happen to record the lectures as well?

None of the lectures were recorded.

>  > One thing that tripped up the students was some of the projects
>  > didn't have clear explanation on how to contribute to the
>  > project. When doing it over I would certainly have the students
>  > examine how new developers can get started on the project and
>  > whether there are writeup explaining how to contribute to the
>  > project.
> That is why I chose a2ps for the first lab. In that lab all the
> students worked on the same project, and I chose a2ps deliberately as
> an example of a project where it was quite difficult to work out how
> to contribute. On the a2ps website there is contradictory information
> on what SCM they use, and it isn't clear how contributions are made
> and releases are done. 
> The idea was to show the students that the FOSS world often has quite
> poor information for new contributors, and then to show them how to
> work out what they need to know anyway.
> The fact that a2ps isn't developing very rapidly these days means it
> doesn't really matter, but it does serve as a good example.

That does sound like a good exercise to make the lesson clear.

> We also had a system setup in the lab where we used x11vnc to redirect
> the students display to the projectors at the front of the room when
> the students asked questions. Each time the students asked about
> something like how to work out what to do with a particular project we
> would answer it for the whole class, using the students login as the
> example. 

At NCSU the class met for lecture, but there wasn't a lab session to do
exercises. However, there was an email list. Even though the students were
working on different projects the students were encouraged to post questions
(e.g. problems dealing with revision control systems) and discussion on there
for all to see. At times students would answer other student questions. This
email list was trying to model how the open source projects work.

It is nice see that one of the students doing the same thing on the email list
for the project he worked on during the semester well after the semester was over.


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