[Sugar-devel] Using open source communities to provide students an insight

James Cameron quozl at laptop.org
Mon Jan 28 22:38:41 EST 2019


At linux.conf.au in the Open Education miniconf was Dr Peter Serwylo,
Lecturer, IT Education, Monash University, who spoke on "Using open
source communities to provide uni students an insight into the IT

With Google Summer of Code 2019 coming up, this talk had a lot of
interesting correlations.  I recommend it for mentors.


Peter guides students through "capstone" units, analogous to the
"project" units of older degrees.

He speaks about several skills that must be developed for success;

- communication; many of the problems students have are people
  problems, and they are resolved with communication skills, yet
  students don't often appreciate that their problem was solved by
  communication, instead thinking their problem was technical.  We
  have had students at Sugar Labs who hit a problem and go quiet, or
  try to contact only one mentor, ignoring the community around them.

- requirements gathering; many students fail to gather the
  requirements of a business or user, which leads to work not meeting
  the requirements.  We see this at Sugar Labs too; I've often given
  some requirements that are politely ignored.

- prototyping; is often overlooked as an option; in our case at Sugar
  Labs, you can prototype solutions in order to test assumptions and
  verify requirements.  A fixation on the final source code can make
  it hard to write things that will be thrown away.

- user testing; at Sugar Labs some projects have not delivered
  anything for user testing, or have delivered it far too late to
  iterate again.  A cause can be a proposal with a schedule that lists
  only one release date.

- code review; students spend their early years discouraged from
  colluding, yet code review is very important; at Sugar Labs many of
  our students have focused only on their projects, and have not
  reviewed the work of others.

It was an interesting talk.

James Cameron

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