Open Source Software Development, NYU, Klukowska

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Course Open Source Software Development (OSSD)
Institution Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Instructor(s) Joanna Klukowska
Term Spring 2018, course website, 38 students
Course Overview This course prepares students to become active participants in open source projects. It begins with an overview of the philosophy and brief history of open source development, followed by an in-depth look at different types of open source projects and the study of various tools involved in open source development. In particular, it covers the collaborative nature of open source projects, community structure, version control systems, licensing, intellectual property, types of contributions (programming and non-programming) and the tool-chains that enable such contributions. The students are expected to contribute to existing open source projects.
Course Length {{{courselength}}}
Student Characteristics This course is upper-level undergraduate elective.
The first time this class was offered, there were 38 students.
Prerequisites Familiarity with a programming language for the chosen FOSS project. Basic familiarity with command line tools and a version control system.
Formally: Computer Systems Organization course (required prerequisite for all electives).
Infrastructure The class meets twice a week for 75 minutes each time. In general, one of the class meetings will consist of discussions of the reading assignments and/or guest speakers, and the other class meeting that week will be for learning activities, project status updates, and presentations, or time to work on the project.

Use of specific software and technologies depends on the chosen FOSS projects.

Learning Objectives

  • objectives & prerequisites should be active, student-centered, specific, and measurable
    • the student will be able to...
  • for the entire course, and/or for FOSS-specific parts of the course
  • might include content & process skills
  • might consider all levels of Bloom's taxonomy

Assessment Methods

  • what will students do in this course, and how will it be evaluated
    • Exams, assignments, projects, etc.
  • should be tied to learning objectives

  • Weekly blog posts
  • Participation in class discussions
  • Small individual contributions
  • Team project contributions
  • Quizzes
  • Midterm and final exams

Course Outline

  • major topics, events, milestones
  • learning activities that can be adopted or adapted
  • new learning activities that should or could be developed
  • include links to foss2serve Learning Activities where appropriate
  • reading assignments and supporting materials
  • or link to course website

The day by day outline for the Spring 2018 instance of this course.

Notes to Instructor

This course has been offered once so far. It will be revised before the next offering in spring 2019. The revisions will be based primarily on student feedback and instructor experience. (See the Moving Forward section for some directions of revisions.)

Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding the materials and the structure of this course.

Moving Forward

The course will be revised before its next offering in spring 2019. Some of the changes suggested by students and/or instructor:

  • start working on projects earlier in the semester (not necessarily "real" projects, but maybe another type of the website project)
  • create a list of "easy for beginners" projects
  • reorganize order in which topics are covered
  • go deeper into how version control works


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