Involving Software Engineering Students in Open Source Software Projects: Experiences from a Pilot Study

TitleInvolving Software Engineering Students in Open Source Software Projects: Experiences from a Pilot Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSowe, SK, Stamelos, I
Date PublishedJune

Anecdotal and research evidences show that the Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS) development model has produced a paradigm shift in the way we develop, support, and distribute software. This shift is not only redefining the software industry but also the way we teach and learn in our software engineering (SE) courses. But for many universities F/OSS is seen as an optional low cost technology to support the IT infrastructure and administrational duties. Few see F/OSS as an opportunity for students to learn the SE concepts and skills we teach. Furthermore, it is still an open question as to whether the F/OSS methodology can be effectively used to teach SE courses within the formally structured curriculum in most universities. This paper discusses F/OSS projects as bazaars of learning that offer a meaningful learning context. The discussion is centered on a pilot study in which students were involved in software testing in F/OSS projects. We present the teaching and learning framework we used in the pilot study and report on our experiences, lessons learned, and some practical problems we encountered. Our grading and evaluation approach show that the students did relatively well as bug hunters and reporters. Results from two online surveys indicate that students are motivated in participating in software testing in the bazaar, and they are willing to participate in project activities long after their graduation. The study reveals one possible way SE educators can teach and integrate F/OSS into their formal curricular structure.

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