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Goals for Open Source Comes to Campus in 2014

by Shauna February 7th, 2014
Goooals.  Photo CC-BY-SA by Thomas Leth-Olsen.

Goooals. Photo CC-BY-SA by Thomas Leth-Olsen.

At OpenHatch we have big dreams. One of them? Keeping better track of our dreams.

When we sat down a few months ago to make a plan for 2014, we regretted not creating clear and public goals at the start of 2013. By committing to specific goals, and promising to measure and report the results, we’re pushing ourselves to make progress.  In the spirit of progress, here are our goals for 2014.

Increase the number of Open Source Comes to Campus events, and make them easier for others to run.

Why: Last year we had many more invitations to run events than we, with our small team, could possibly accept. We’re only human – and we don’t want our humanity to keep students from being introduced to open source! While we will continue planning and attending workshops ourselves, we’re focused on making it so anyone, anywhere can run an Open Source Comes to Campus workshop.

How: In phase one, we documented our planning process and put all of our materials – curriculum, publicity, etc – online. Phase two, currently underway, involves recruiting schools to run events and using their feedback to improve our process.

Measured by:

  • Number of events: We hope to double the number of Open Source Comes to Campus events, from 12 in 2013 to 24 in 2014.
  • Feedback from events: For each event, we will elicit feedback in the form of surveys from students and mentors, and have debriefings with organizers. We hope to see a positive trend in the surveys. A positive trend would be an improvement of the average rating by 1 point or more (on a scale of 1-4).
  • Hands-off events: We plan to run at least one event with minimal-to-no involvement on the part of OpenHatch organizers. We hope our surveys show that these events are just as successful as those we have a more active role in.
  • Repeated events: It’s as good a sign as you can get when organizers want to run more events. We’re hoping to run at least six repeat events this year, and for at least half our event organizers in 2014 to express interest in a repeat event.

Improve the Open Source Comes to Campus curriculum

Why: We’ve worked hard on our curriculum, and have seen the payoff from that in a few key areas. Over the course of eight months and a lot of trial and error, our introduction to version control went from a confusing, too-long lecture to a well-liked, hands-on activity. We want all of our curriculum to be as well-received as Practicing Git – and we’d like to offer more curriculum options for organizers, so they can tailor events to the needs and interest of their participants.

How: Through feedback, we’ve identified the ‘Contributions Workshop’ as the element of our events that needs the most work. We’ve also identified the ‘History and Ethics of Free Software’ section as needing significant improvement. We will continue to brainstorm ways to improve the activities and test those changes by eliciting feedback from attendees and mentors. We’ll also talk to event organizers and community members about what new curriculum elements to add and how to add them.

Measured by:

  • Existing weak areas: For the ‘Contributions Workshop’ and ‘History and Ethics of Free Software’, we hope to go through at least one new iteration of the activity, and to see a positive trend in survey evaluations of these activities.
  • New sections: We hope to add at least two new sections to the curriculum. Current ideas for sections include more openly discussing the mental blocks that keep people from contributing to software, an expanded IRC activity, and an introduction to Linux (either through installations, or a virtual machine).

Partner with open source projects to help students form relationships with communities.

Why: While it’s great to see students submit pull requests at our events and get their changes merged, the truth is that most open source contributions – especially to new projects – don’t take place in an hour or two, even for open source veterans. We’re refocusing our efforts on helping students connect with open source projects that will welcome them into their communities.

How: We’re going to recruit OpenHatch-affiliated projects to participate in Open Source Comes to Campus. We’ll work with these projects to improve their guides and introductory materials, and to help them identify good tasks for students. After events, we’ll help projects follow up with students. We’ll be a resource to help students continue to contribute.

Measured by:

  • 10 OpenHatch-affiliated projects: We hope to have at least ten such projects actively participating in our events by the end of the year.
  • 2 new contributors per project: For each affiliated project, we hope to help them find at least two ongoing contributors from among our students. An ongoing contributor is a student who has made at least one new contribution to the project, separate from what they worked on at the Open Source Comes to Campus event.

Keep students involved in the community after events are over.

Why: We’ve been so focused on improving our events that we’ve neglected the important work of following up with students and seeing how involved they’ve become with open source. While there’s a lot of value in simply knowing more about open source and how to use it, we do hope that some of our students continue to contribute to the community. We want to see if our students are staying involved and, through outreach, help them do so.

How: Most students will work one-on-one or in small groups with at least one mentor during the event. We will ask mentors to take brief notes on their students – their level of enthusiasm, their interests, and the types of problems they encountered. We will also gauge student interest through our exit surveys. We plan to follow up with every student who submits an exit survey as well as every student we receive feedback about from a mentor. Additionally, we plan to do some community-building around OSCTC alumni and organizers.

Measured by:

  • Identifying students: We will attempt to collect contact information and notes on interests and goals for at least half of students at each event.
  • Following up with students: We, or a local organizer, will attempt to follow up with 100% of students we’ve collected contact information for. We hope that 20% or more of those students will go on to participate in the community (or will already be doing so).
  • Community events: We plan to host community events for students, including: a monthly online meetup for OSCTC alumni on IRC; a monthly online meetup for OSCTC and other open source organizers on IRC; and 5 in person meetups for alumni in Boston and San Francisco.
  • Using the mailing list: Our alumni mailing list is currently very quiet. We plan to start sending a monthly email to attendees letting them know about opportunities available to them and events in their area.

How you can help

If you want to help us reach our goals, there are a lot of things you can do.

To help us increase the number of Open Source Comes to Campus events you can invite us to your school!

To help us improve the Open Source Comes to Campus curriculum you can test out our current curriculum and give us feedback. This is especially great if you’re new to one of the topics, such as git, or navigating bug trackers. You can also help us develop new activities.

To help us partner with open source projects you can talk to us about what it would take to make your project an OpenHatch-affiliated project.

To help us keep students involved in the community you can send us information about opportunities such as Google Summer of Code or good tutorials/resources that we can send their way.

Watch this space

I’ll be revisiting this post over the course of the year to check our progress towards our goals.  And in December, I’ll make another post letting you know how we did.  See you then!

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