Sunday, September 22, 2013

Upstream University

After a couple of days training with Upstream University in Paris this week I wanted to give them a quick plug here.  Thanks a lot to Rodolphe Quiedeville for his teaching the course and others involved in organizing and mentoring.

Upstream has the following goal as expressed on their web site:
Upstream University's training program, for both students and professional developers, has a single goal: to train contributors in contributing code or documentation upstream in a free software project.

They have a standard 2 day training program that they provide at locations around the world, including the OpenStack summits (next session is at HongKong during the summit).  But Upstream encourages all contributions - whether code or documentation - to all free software projects.

Day 1 provided a good overview of the difficulties of contributing to free software projects, and software development methods such as agile.  In the afternoon we performed an exercise building Lego as a team - we were 11 participants - to emphasize the difficulties of contributing or building upon free software projects and the need to work with "Upstream".

Day 2 allowed us to define our personal project for the coming weeks - to what project we want to contribute and what contribution we want to make.  My goal, was simply to get a contribution commited to the OpenStack project.  Students define their project and how they plan to accomplish it.

This is much more than a 2 day course though.
Upstream provide mentorship over the 10 weeks following the course.
Students define weekly goals such as what contribution will be made, what challenges they expect and how to overcome them - in particular how they will communicate with core project developers to be aligned with project direction.
They then provide weekly status on their progress and plan for the following week - which will be assessed and discussed with their mentor.

Upstream are currently experimenting with the Open Source "EdX" platform to manage students interactions and progress.

Upstream training is to be paid for by an employer if for professional development or free for individual contributors.

I thoroughly recommend this course to those who've not managed to make the jump to contribute to their favourite projects.  This is an excellent course especially thanks to the 10 weeks of mentoring and required assessments in the followup to the 2 day training.

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