POSSE alumni Matt Jadud and his colleague Darren Miller have begun an ambitious experiment - one we have spent the past 3 weeks preparing for, and which I'm trying to liveblog as best I can now that things are rolling. (Transparency fail, I know - I committed the common error of "oh my gosh I'm too busy to write anything," resulting in (1) not getting help and (2) being even busier. Fortunately, other folks on the Marketing team knocked some sense into me.) Anyway!

40 first-year students from Allegheny College have begun to dive into the Fedora project. Specifically, with the help of the excellent people on the Marketing and Design teams, they engaged in their first experience as open source contributors, learning about blogging, wikis, IRC, and how to create positive change as part of a worldwide community. Their weblogs can be found at act.ivism.org, and they have a feed of all of their posts generated by rawdog. --from Allegheny Activism and Fedora

I've listed the projects they're working on below, but you can also see their teams page for more detail. You may notice that these are all a certain type of problem - the type that isn't strictly critical-path for the F13 release ("if things go wrong, we'll still release on time") but which could have huge positive effects on the release if they go well. That's our goal, anyhow.

If you're interested in a particular project, please contact the team members. Folks who are already involved with specific projects may be getting pings in the near future; you're of course under no obligation to answer, but if you'd like an extra couple pairs of hands, this is an excellent opportunity.

If you look at the project links, you may notice I've constructed a lot of scaffolding (well, a "lot" of scaffolding in terms of what we usually have in Fedora; I'm sure it's very little scaffolding compared to what students are used to getting in class!) to support the students in their learning, because it's challenging to dive into a new project with little to no context and try to be productive in the last 5 weeks of a release cycle.

Scaffolding is important. When newcomers come in, we usually welcome them on a 1-to-1 basis - when 40 newcomers enter all at once, we try to set up a bit of a buffer (in the form of those instructions on the wiki pages, me running around the classroom like a maniac this week, the professors being there as a supportive resource, etc.) so as to help make them (1) as successful as possible, without (2) killing us. If you think you can improve on that
scaffolding in any way, please do so!

The class is already yielding useful resources - instructions for the class on using IRC and trying out Fedora without having to install it to their hard drive have been written with the novice in mind, and are being battle-tested by 40 freshmen completely new to open source. This is an opportunity to steal notes to improve our documentation - If you know of an "upstream" resource (the main wiki page on IRC or livecds?) this content should be merged with, please speak up - or better yet, perform the merge.

Bonus points: new vocabulary words. In the middle of cleaning up the "press kit" project page, I found Henrik Heigl, who'd been working on press kits.

Mel: Henrik, you have minions!
Henrik, whose native language is German: What are those?

After a little bit of back and forth, Henrik determined that the closest translation to what I was looking for (a playful/endearing term meaning "people who have come to help out with a project") would be "fleißige Helfer." So now I know new words. And now you know the reason for the (hopefully not too badly mangled) title of this blog post.

We're hanging out on IRC in #allegheny if you'd like to swing by and ask questions, though we're also going to be coming into the main #fedora-mktg and #fedora-design channels as the students have their own questions. Any other questions, comments, discussion, and such are welcome as usual - thanks to everyone for putting up with this grand experiment!

It should be fun.