Teaching Software Engineering with Free Open Source Software Development: An Experience Report

AbstractWe report on the design and delivery of a senior Software Engineering course within the limits of a Computer Science program. The course is structured around a collaboration with a large, active Free Open Source Software project. We show how this structure allows us to (a) incorporate principles of Project Based Learning and of Service Learning, reaping the benefits of these pedagogies, (b) effectively, using a hands-on approach, teach a number of essential topics in Software Engineering, (c) provide the students with a capstone project experience, given the lack of one in our curriculum, and (d) use the project as a powerful motivating factor for the students. We outline the experiences of the course instructor, of the teaching assistants team, and of the students of the course. We also describe the experience of the lead developers of this open source project, and report on the benefits and costs (time commitment) to the project.

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