[Design-team] More about the Allegheny students

Mel Chua mel at redhat.com
Mon Apr 5 14:58:19 UTC 2010

Short version: Marketing and Design have help for the remainder of F13, 
and we're working to scaffold 40 newcomers quickly into helping with 
specific deliverables (Marketing) and tickets (Design).

Longer version: Over the next month, this statement will become more and 
more true.

"During the Spring 2010 semester, 40 first-year students from Allegheny 
College dove into the Fedora project. Specifically, with the help of the 
excellent people on the Marketing and Design teams, they engaged in 
their first experience as open source contributors, learning about 
blogging, wikis, IRC, and how to create positive change as part of a 
worldwide community."


I'll be writing more details to the lists as we find them - I'm working 
with the professors and will be on campus for another week working with 
the class directly. We're trying to be as open and transparent about 
this process as possible, but there's also the tension of not wanting to 
completely overwhelm students with what's going on. We are learning how 
to build this kind of scaffolding - it's going to be frustrating at 
times from the community side because the first thing we need to figure 
out in bridging the classroom + the community is how to communicate.

It means we may be doing some things opposite of the way we'd usually 
encourage people to get started in FOSS - experimenting with private 
emails that later get forwarded to public lists, etc - at least during 
initial attempts to see if they work out. Basically, we're trying to get 
them all to work TOSW, but maybe in order to do that quickly we have to 
start in a less-TOSW manner so we can ramp up to full "yeah, community 
participation makes sense!"-fu as fast as possible for as many people as 
possible. We'll do a full report + disclosure of everything after the 
semester ends (right after F13 releases, actually). I suppose what I'm 
trying to say is "yes, we're doing strange things; we realize that some 
of what we're doing is *not* normal, and we're trying our best to be 
transparent and explain things as we go along, but "the best we can do" 
may not be "good enough to make sense" for a little longer.

Anyway! That disclaimer aside, I'm quite excited - we've got them on 
small projects like "make a webpage for this new spin" and "develop and 
teach a microblogging outreach strategy." We'll see more as the week 
goes by.

The students hang out on #allegheny (sometimes - they're still learning 
IRC, so the channel is still rather empty) if you want to lurk and say 
hello; that's their sandbox to play in for the class (creating a safe 
space where the profs can announce things like assignments, lab hours, 
etc is important), though we'll be pulling them into #fedora-mktg and 
#fedora-design as much as possible as well.

Please please please ping me on IRC (mchua) or email or anywhere if you 
have any questions, thoughts, ideas, concerns, and especially 
suggestions on how we can be more transparent about what we're doing - 
that's a big focus of mine, trying to teach people here how to turn on 
the firehose. We're going to learn a lot about what Fedora looks like to 
newcomers as we go along - their end-of-term reflections are supposed to 
be on that - and that, for me, is the most exciting part about all this. 
We're learning how to help people help us.

That's an update for now, and a big setting-the-stage dump: more 
thoughts coming as more things happen. Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 
11am-noon EST) is class again, so there may be a flurry of activity 
around then.


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