Involving Students With Open Source Projects


A Slashdot story titled OSDDP: Involving Students With Open Source Docs prompted me to describe my experiences with the Software Comprehension and Maintenance course I am teaching. The reactions from the—difficult to please—slashdot crowd were surprisingly positive and friendly.

Involving students with open source code (Score:5, Interesting)
by Diomidis Spinellis (661697) on Sunday October 24, @03:48AM (#10613000)
In my course Software Comprehension and Maintenance [] I ask students to contribute to an open-source project, by adding a new feature or fixing an important bug. The course's grade [] is entirely determined by their performance on this project.

The course is an elective, and was offered for the first time last year; not many students decided to take it. Those who did, got hooked; some commented that it was the course where they really understood what it meant to program.

The following projects were completed last year:

  • Support for PDF actions in PDFBox [].
  • Improvements to the GUI interface of the ZGRViewer []
  • The addition of a new question type in the ETH Lecture Communicator []

This year the course will be taught in English and will be offered to students across Europe through the EU's Erasmus [] student mobility programme. I hope to be able to report on new exciting results through slashdot next year.

Re:Involving students with open source code (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, @04:07AM (#10613043)
Students being forced to contribute their work to an outside group in exchange for a grade? If that isn't "free as in freedom" I don't know what is.

Re:Involving students with open source code (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, @04:13AM (#10613053)
What part of an "elective course" do you not understand?

Re:Involving students with open source code (Score:2)
by sien (35268) on Sunday October 24, @05:49AM (#10613239)
That is so fscking cool. Just had to say so.

    Re:Involving students with open source code (Score:0)
    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, @07:45AM (#10613464)
    Very Cool =)

    If they're ever stuck for which project they should contribute to, send em on over to have a looksie at asterisk [], The Wishlists and bounties on the asterisk wiki [], and the asterisk bug tracker []! [/shameless plug]

    Seriously though....
      Awesome idea. (Score:1)
      by Aldric (642394) on Sunday October 24, @09:06AM (#10613657)
      I'd have loved to do stuff like that for my grades when I was a student - I hated doing pointless programming like most assignments force a student to do.

      This is an absolutely fantastic idea (Score:1)
      by Catullus (30857) on Sunday October 24, @07:54PM (#10616697)
      Universities (in Europe, at least) are mostly funded by the public purse. Why not give students the option of giving something back?

      Almost every computer science degree involves some kind of group or individual project. Just imagine the amount of free software that could be produced if all of these projects were released as open source.

      Also - forcing the students to handle e-mails saying "your s0ftware is cr@p! where can I get l33t cracks?" is good experience for life :)

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      Last modified: Monday, October 25, 2004 10:29 am

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