SIGCSE 2014 Pre-Symposium Event

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Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Community Workshop

Overview: This workshop will bring together members of Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) project communities and faculty members to discuss student contribution to HFOSS projects. Faculty members will discuss their experiences with student participation and HFOSS community members will discuss issues in helping new contributors become productive. A particular focus will be the learning value of vertical integration of students into a professional developer community.

Location: ACM SIGCSE 2014, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Conference Level, Courtland room

Date and Time: Weds March 5th, 9:00 – 5:00; lunch will be provided for registered participants

Live Notes:

News Update!

We expect over 20 participants in this workshop, but still have room for a few more!

Representatives from the following FOSS organizations will be there:

  • GNOME Accessibility Team
  • OpenMRS
  • Red Hat
  • Ushahidi
  • Non-Profit FOSS Institute (NPFI)


This workshop is intended to bring together members of HFOSS project communities, faculty members to discuss the best ways to facilitate student learning and participation in HFOSS projects. Some of the questions that we'll be looking at are:

  • What are the roadblocks to student participation in HFOSS projects? How do we surmount these?
  • What are the roadblocks to faculty participation in HFOSS projects? How do we surmount these?
  • Do faculty and students have the same starting point? The same process for involvement?
  • What needs of HFOSS projects might students and faculty be able to meet?
  • What are the best practices and problems for HFOSS projects in accommodating new contributors?
  • How can HFOSS projects and faculty work together for mutual benefit?
  • How can students and faculty become valued contributors to HFOSS projects?

Intended Audience

Anyone interested in helping students (or others) become involved in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software projects. Participants will include faculty members who have been working on student participation in HFOSS and members of HFOSS project communities. Faculty who have not worked on student participation in HFOSS but would like to hear about this effort are also welcome. These new participants will be introduced to a supportive community of instructors experienced in supporting student involvement in HFOSS and learn about opportunities to begin exploring this area.


Welcome 5 minutes
Overview of student involvement in HFOSS
  • Benefits and challenges
  • Examples of student involvement
  • Overview of OpenFE and POSSE
  • Hackathons and extra curriculular activities
15 minutes
Panel: Academic Vignettes
  • Brief descriptions of initial efforts at student participation (5 minutes each)
    • What did the students set out to do?
    • Example challenges
    • Example benefits
  • Discussion (20 minutes)
35 minutes
Panel: HFOSS Project Community Perspectives
  • Comment by each panelist (5 minutes each)
    • Brief overview of the project - what does it do?
    • How does the project view new participants and the importance of attracting them?
  • Discussion (15 minutes)
35 minutes
Break 15 minutes
Panel: Academic Perspective
  • Opening comments by panelists (5 minutes)
  • Discussion based on the topics below or related questions (30 minutes)
    • The learning curve for HFOSS participation
      • What do faculty know and need to learn before leading student participation?
      • What do students know and need to learn to become participants?
    • Differences in perspective between HFOSS projects and academic needs
      • Student technical knowledge vs. large scale project complexity
      • Term vs. project schedules
      • Project needs vs. course learning objectives
      • FOSS Transparency vs. FERPA
      • Course predictability vs. real world complexity
        • Project personnel turnover
        • Schedule changes
45 minutes
Panel: HFOSS Project Community Perspectives
  • Opening comments from panelists (5 minutes)
  • Discussion - based on questions from participants or the following questions (25 minutes)
    • Hints and tips to get involved. How might a newbie get started?
    • What are the project's needs and goals for new participants?
    • What are the key aspects for success?
    • What are some common roadblocks and how do you get new participants over the roadblock?
    • What does it take for people to become productive HFOSS participants?
    • What would you like to see the foss2serve project do?
    • What specific actions can we take to help?
45 minutes
Lunch 60 minutes
Project Selection and Alternative Strategies
  • FOSS project evaluation for education (Choosing a project for students)
    • HFOSS model (Ellis, Purcell, Hislop, SIGCSE 2012)
    • Project success factors (Calloway)
  • Research on collaboration and learning within FOSS communities
  • Creating HFOSS for community organizations
    • Ronald McDonald House
    • NPFI - the Non-Profit FOSS Insitute
  • Education outreach by FOSS communities
    • Red Hat
    • Gnome
45 minutes
Breakout - HFOSS Project On-Ramp
  • Are there best practices for projects to attract and support new participants?
  • What specific techniques and information are most useful?
  • What can we do to create better on-ramps for students, faculty, and others?
  • How do we create long-term relationships that are beneficial to both faculty/academic institutions and HFOSS communities?
60 minutes
Report Out 15 minutes
Break 15 minutes
Breakout (option 1) - What does someone need to learn to be a useful HFOSS participant?
  • Student learning
    • What do students need to learn to become successful participants
    • How do we improve the process of becoming a student participant?
    • How can we scaffold student involvement?
  • Faculty learning
    • What is the best way to bring faculty members on-board?
    • What is different about faculty members' learning needs vs. students?
    • How do we find commonalities between course content and HFOSS project activities
60 minutes
Breakout (option 2) - FOSS education infrastructure
  • What is the right vehicle?
    • Other?
  • Creating and sharing course materials
    • What is needed?
    • How do we make it work?
60 minutes
Report Out 15 minutes
Discussion: Next steps
  • How can HFOSS projects and higher education support each other?
  • Where do we go next?
  • Wrap Up
    • SIGCSE Birds of a Feather session
    • POSSE
30 minutes
Focus Groups - Topic(s) selected by group vote
  • Continuation of small group topics
  • Discussion of particular HFOSS projects
45 minutes

To Register

Email Greg Hislop ( or Lori Postner ( Please provide your name, organization, and reason for attending.

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