Project/Education/Pilot Fish/Challenges for Educators

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Part of the Pilot Fish project.

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The following notes on key challenges can likely be expanded. For now, they can live here in their rough form.


The volume and diversity of communication is the first challenge.

For example, in the PHP project, circa 2000, there were at least two dozen information channels (mailing lists, IRC channels, issue trackers, websites, etc.) that an engaged developer need to be aware of and at least half a dozen that they would need to participate in.

Each channel has a different set of associated conventions and (often) jargon. For example, it is often perfectly appropriate to jump into an IRC channel where your peers hang out and ask if "the last build broke for anyone else". However, making the same query via the project issue tracker is likely to get a rather sharp response.

  • High-interrupt
  • High-volume
  • Reading comprehension very important
  • Understand that you are likely writing for an international audience who may not speak English as a first language and who may have different cultural norms
  • Take into account the time delay in email/blog/etc. discussions
  • Research before posting - an ill-considered post can waste the time of many of the key developers of a project

Conflicting Social Norms

Project Complexity

  • the environment is complex and changing
  • codebase may be of an intimidating size
  • participation requires a good understanding of the project's culture
  • engineering practices may differ from the practices that the students are familiar with

Project Economics

  • for projects, the time invested in coaching a student may provide no real return, as students may not become long-term contributors