By now already some time ago, to be precise from January 9 to 20, 2012, we ran the second instalment of the Catalyst Open Source Academy. This is a summer program for high school students in New Zealand in which they can learn about open source and related topics as well as participate in the further development of open source projects.
During the first week, the students had a lot of input in the form of introductions and workshops to open source concepts, programming languages and tools. In the second week, they chose a project to work on more closely and were mentored by developers who work within that project on a frequent if not daily basis.
As the coordinator went on a conference during the second week, I was lucky to replace him in “overseeing” the Academy. That gave me the chance to get a better idea of what the students were doing and how they progressed. It was great to see that they could show off first results already on the first day and didn’t have to wait until the end of their time in the project to see results.
Some open source software projects the students worked on were:
- aCal (Java for Android)
- Drupal (PHP)
- Kiritaki Koha (Java for Android)
One student started to contribute to Mahara and has been doing so since then which I find very awesome being involved in the project myself and like to see bugs fixed and new features developed. 🙂
One of the very tangible results of the Academy is that the code students contribute to an open source project can be used around the world by any user of the software. The bug fixes and features the students have worked on are to a large degree directly visible to users of the software (instead of being code fixes on the backend). Thus, they can show their family, friends and teachers exactly what they have been working on and how they have improved software.
Last year, we had 17 students from Wellington participate in the Academy. This year it was already 23, and some of them were out-of-towners. I am looking forward to the Open Source Academy 2013 and also the preparation for it as we will take the feedback from the students into account to make some changes and improvements.
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