Five years, 1000 students: The story of Open Source Comes to Campus

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 25, 2015 from 10:00 – 10:45am in B301


Since 2010, OpenHatch has been running workshops at college campuses, teaching undergrads how to get involved in open source. In 2015, we expect to reach over 500 students through 25 events. This talk presents how we've the scaled program over the years, how we've evolved our curriculum, and how you can get involved.


In 2010, someone convinced me to spend a weekend teaching undergrads at their college about open source. Today, I’m volunteer president of a non-profit that’s done that 50 times, reaching a thousand students, with Shauna Gordon-McKeon serving as Program Director from 2013 to 2015. In this talk, you’ll learn about how we’ve doubled every year, and how we’ve continually retooled the event series to improve diversity.

We’ll discuss:

  • The many things we got wrong the first time we did it;
  • How focusing the curriculum enabled us to shrink the event from two days to one day;
  • How I learned that I was not as good a teacher as I thought I was;
  • How we leveraged documentation writing, teachers in the community, and volunteer event organizers to grow from 4 events per year (2012) to 24 events per year (2014) without a net increase in staff;
  • The program’s growth from a side project into a funded non-profit;
  • Our various attempts at gathering feedback, including exit surveys and the Software Carpentry “sticky notes system”, and;
  • Given that our events are more gender-diverse than the computer science programs that host us, we’ll discuss why we think that is.

We’ve doubled every year, and in this talk, you’ll learn about what’s next for the program:

  • How we’re teaching open source project maintainers how to onboard students more effectively;
  • Our work with Mozilla Science and Mozilla Reps to grow internationally; and
  • How you can get involved and help at an event near you.

You’ll leave with an understanding of the common challenges that community teaching efforts face, and how we’ve overcome some of them.

Speaking experience

I've spoken at past Open Source Bridge conferences; I got my start speaking in 2008, when I worked at Creative Commons and presented about our technical work at OSCON. Since then, I've presented at, PyCon, Debconf, OSCON, Open Source Bridge, and other conferences.