[TOS] tos Digest, Vol 98, Issue 1

Susan E. Sons sesons at iu.edu
Tue Mar 6 15:28:03 UTC 2018

Agreed.  I'd also add that spreading students out or letting them choose
their own projects is essential.

I was one of seven or so Edubuntu devs in 2006-7 when a professor from
somewhere sent their entire lecture hall of 60+ kids out with a
directive to contribute to edu FOSS, giving only our project as an
acceptable example.  For seven part-time volunteers, this was
overwhelming and did some temporary harm to the project as the students
drowned out the teachers and school IT folks in our MLs and IRC channel
trying to get help.  The students were very demanding of attention,
mostly out of fear that they wouldn't get a good grade.  Our people who
wanted to mentor but just didn't have time to manage that many
unacculturated but excited young people in addition to working on the
project, supporting its users, holding day jobs, having families, etc.

Students can be valuable OSS contributors.  I was when I was young.
However, they are also high-maintenance in the initial ramp-up.  Your
typical student today hasn't yet worked in a professional environment,
doesn't communicate efficiently, and needs a good deal of prodding to
pick up the level of independence needed to function in OSS and *then*
start ramping up their technical skill.  The overhead can be worth it if
1/3 or even 1/5 turn into solid contributors, but it is a real cost and
it can overwhelm a project if a large influx occurs at once.


On 03/06/2018 06:09 AM, Clif Kussmaul wrote:
> Outside of academic settings, I think it's rare for someone to pick a
> project and dive into its community.
> Most people get involved with a community because they use and care about
> the software,
> and gradually get more involved in the community, following an onion or
> pyramid model.
> First they use the software, then they ask & answer forum questions, then
> submit bug reports & feature requests,
> then patches / pull requests, etc.
> It might be hard to follow this model in a course, but I think students
> would be more motivated and engaged
> in a project that they used and felt connected to.
> Clif
> ---
> Clif Kussmaul  clif at kussmaul.org  http://kussmaul.org  +1-484-893-0255
> -----Original Message-----
> Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2018 15:00:29 -0500
> From: Tom Callaway <tcallawa at redhat.com>
> To: tos at teachingopensource.org
> Subject: [TOS] What makes a "good" open source project for Academic
> involvement?
> Message-ID: <909a2f7b-e86e-aa96-08ac-13450133713f at redhat.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Obviously, no teacher, class, or academic institution are the same, but I'm
> curious to know what aspects of an open source community make it "good" for
> you to connect your students with it.
> Not looking to make a list of "good" communities, but rather, interested in
> hearing what things that they do that made them a "good" fit. Are there
> things that you wish open source communities would do more often (or at all)
> to help make them more student/academic friendly?
> I've got my own ideas here, but I'm interested in hearing this from an
> academic perspective first. :)
> Thanks in advance,
> ~tom
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  Susan E. Sons
  Chief Security Analyst
  IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

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