@omar Huge kudos for starting this initiative, along with @nimisha and Michelle! Many of us have been working independently on onboarding material and courses for our own purposes, but that’s a lot of duplication of work. We will all gain by working together on onboarding materials that we share - the result will be higher quality, and easier for everyone to maintain.
There is one in particular that we (OpenCraft) were planning to develop, to facilitate the training of our new recruits, and capitalize on our experience with contributing upstream - so that’s one that we could also contribute as part of this effort:
It’s worth discussing it, as we have a few goals in mind with this, some of them go beyond the scope of the current initiative - but that seem to align well:
We would like it to be both a contribution to the Open edX community and to the larger free & open source community - i.e. both a way for people interested in learning how to contribute to Open edX to do so, but also for people interested in learning how to contribute to free & open source in general. It’s a great contribution to make, as there is currently no good course on how to become an usptream contributor!
One consequence of this approach though is that we wouldn’t just focus on Open edX, and wouldn’t have other Open edX courses as mandatory prerequisites, only optional - it could be taken as a standalone course. Though of course people already familiar with the other courses, in particular with the Open edX intro course, could skip some sections that explain the relevant parts of Open edX.
It could be a great opportunity for Open edX to get more contributors, as Open edX could feature prominently as a project to which learners would be encouraged to try contributing to, as part of the learning experience.
If possible, we would like to work on it with other members of the free & open source community - we have identified several initiatives that the course could build upon and/or with:
- @dachary has built the Upstream University training – we have started discussing it there: https://talk.libreho.st/t/contributing-to-free-software/403
- An initiative from Marc Jeanmougin from Telecom Paris, with the participation of Remi Sharrock and Framasoft (who tried to get more developers to become contributors as part of Contributopia)
- Our own onboarding course and years of experience with upstream contributions - the upstreaming training is currently mixed up with the rest, and relatively minimal; we would extract the relevant parts and build it up.
To make the initiative sustainable & ensure it has resources and time allocated to keep improving it on the long term, we are also thinking about ways to allow people & organizations working on it to optionally earn money from it. A couple of ideas so far:
- The course content would be under a free & open source license, so its content would be free, but we would consider offering a version that would include mentoring (as a course mode, or a separately hosted one). I.e., a similar business model to the “learn to code” bootcamps. It would specifically target existing developers who want to try to improve their professional skills and/or get a better job, in a master-like program.
- Another option, also inspired from bootcamp programs, is to also use the program as a job search & recruitment tool, matching the desire of learners to work for a free & open source company after completing the program on one side, and on the other side the need of such companies to find and evaluate good candidates, who know how to contribute well upstream.
One thing that we want to carefully consider is doing proper marketing for the course - especially, find a way to attract the attention of developers outside of the free & open source community:
- One idea is to involve high profile figures / open source stars - people who would be known to all developers. I.e. a bit the masterclass.com approach, if you will. Ideas of names welcome
- The other would be to get exposure to the audience on edx.org – which is likely full of people who could be interested in working with free & open source. We would gain both more contributors for the community in general, and also provide a way for learners on edx.org to give back to the project that helps them learn!
For the license, to ensure that its source remain published by anyone republishing & modifying the course, we are considering the AGPL license - does that work? This way we would always all have access to the course archive, not just the rendered Open edX course.
The very next step is to get the opinion of the various communities & community members that have an interest in seeing such a course come to life. And if there is interest, see if & how we would be able to collaborate on it.
On the OpenCraft side, we are still figuring out the assignation, i.e. who of our core committers would be in charge of our contributions, but we are ready to put some significant effort into this, especially if there is interest from other community members, and core committers from OpenCraft will likely focus our work on onboarding courses on this specific one.
(To also contribute what we have already produced/written that is related to the other courses, @Fox_Piacenti has also done a pass to publish all our relevant documentation that was previously still kept internal, to make it available as source material for other core committers working on other courses.)
Then once we know who and how we work on this, we would start working together on a more specific concept, learning objectives & syllabus.
What do you think?