This year I’m going to help out with Google Summer of Code (GSoC) within WordPress. GSoC is an event where students work the whole summer on an open source project. This is pretty cool since students spent a lot of time on a project and it can result in something cool. This year I’m really trilled to see all the cool project ideas and really hope to see some awesome results in September. GSoC also results in long term contributors and that really helped a lot in shaping WordPress what it is today.
This all really let me think about how I did projects at my university and how most of them really sucked because the end result was almost always not used. This results in students that aren’t really motivated to work on other projects. But how cool would it be if an university chooses to work on open source projects. I already have a few awesome ideas that I’m sure students would love to work on. And even when it doesn’t work out well, they still had a nice platform to work for since the ideas does effect a lot of users.
And even without the need of coding/design skills you still can contribute back with translations. For WordPress it is more easy since we have a nice platform (also open source). Students can work on translating WordPress core, themes or plugins. And even when it’s already translated they still can check if it’s correct translated. But most likely this is just boring to do for students.
I once worked on GIMP as a 3 days project to work in teams to solve an UX issue and it was really cool to do. First I didn’t know GIMP at all and second because you are working with a team on a real issue. Since four teams all working on the same issue you do know that a lot of your stuff will get ignored but in the end it is all about combining all the feedback since every team will have an unique way of solving the issue. Seeing things others didn’t saw. And if I look back at my time at school, the open source projects made me the person I’m today.
So universities should work together with open source projects to get things done. Solving real issues a lot of people have. But at least universities should talk about open source projects. It happens more and more but still a lot of universities still don’t do it. I would say that they all should look at FHV in Dornbirn. In 2009 I worked on Gimp and WordPress/Joomla/Drupal. That only in the 5 months I was abroad.