How to organise a successful Google Code-In meetup

In this blog post I hope to write about what is Google Code-In and the best way to organise a successful Google Code-In meetup or workshop in your local community. I hope you will find everything that you need to know about conducting a successful meetup.

What is Google Code-In ?

Google Code-In is a global and an open source contest funded by Google to give real world software development experience to pre-university students who are in age range 13-17. Beside of software developing, this contest’s main objective is to motivate tech enthusiastic students to contribute to opensource and give them the knowledge about open source software development.

The usual timeline of the contest is, it opens for students on end of the November and runs until mid of January. There are 25 open source organizations participating for Google Code-In this time.

Your role ?

As a GCI mentor , past GCI student or an open source contributor you have a responsibility towards the community. That is to expand the community awareness and transfer your knowledge to next generation. You gather experience while working on the open source projects and GCI is the best place to give your knowledge to youngsters while working with them. You should be devoted to guide students and give them an introduction to open source software development.

How students can be a part of the contest ?

Any pre-university student in age group 13-17 can register for the contest. The following four steps needs to be followed by the student to be eligible to compete in the contest.

  1. Sign up at g.co/gci after reading the Contest Rules.
  2. Ask their parent or legal guardian to sign the Parental Consent form.
  3. Find a task that interests them.
  4. Claim the task and start working while getting guidance from the mentors.

In return to their hard work and open source contribution, students can win digital certificates, t-shirts, hoodies based on their performance as well as a trip to Google HeadQuarters for Grand Prize Winner.

How to organize a local meetup ?

Since the Google Code-In contest is for pre-university students, I highly recommend that you organize a meetup for schools in the community. You can easily contact the club or society of the school which is related to Information and Communication Technology and convey your idea of the meetup so that the responsible person can get the management approval from their side to facilitate your meetup inside the school.

If you are not confident enough to conduct a session on your own maybe because this is a new experience to you, Don’t worry ! You can always call some other past GCI students, GCI mentors or open source contributors to collaborate with you in conducting a successful session. As open source world teaches us, it’s always collaboration that brings success to any project.

Taking the start to the meetup, you need to give an introduction to the Google Code-In. You may find different questions from the audience about “What is GCI?”. It is better if you can emphasize the importance of contributing to the open source projects since the students have no experience in that field. I suggest you to give students an insight on the evolvement of Google Code-In throughout the past years, so they get to know the real world statistics.

During the meetup, you need to focus on the 05 types of tasks that are available for students to claim, giving insights to what are the small small things that they really need to use in each task type.

  1. Coding
    • Give insights into GitHub and how to make a GitHub account, how to clone a project repository to their local machines and how to make a pull request.
  2. Documents and Training
    • Give insights into standard ways of doing documentation and basics to follow when conducting a user training.
  3. Outreach and Research
    • Give insights into how to make a blog account and write a blog as well as how to do some research on the project areas.
  4. Quality Assurance
    • Give insights into the measures that we take to assure the quality of the project and the steps that we take in order to make sure the project is adhered to the relevant quality measures.
  5. User Interface
    • Give insights into basic wireframing software like Balsamic as well as guidelines to a successful user experience.

It is really appreciated if you can share your experiences in open source contributions with them like what did you do, what you will be doing next and what obstacles that you had to face while contributing and how did you overcome those challenges. This will be an eye opener for them to think beyond the comfort zone. This section will be really helpful for the students to grab really what open source contributing is.

It is a best practice to conduct the session in an interactive way getting things done out of the box so that the students won’t get bored and they feel more energetic and comfortable since they feel that their opinion is also valued when we give time for their voice as well. Always motivate them to ask questions in the moments that they need more clarifications about what you are saying. In return if you have swags from Google, give them too since they will love it.

Always try to localize the session according to the audience that you are talking to. Use the language the majority of the audience is feasible with in order to make the meetup content more understandable to the community. You can use some slides so that you won’t miss the sections that you are going to talk about and the presentation flow will be really smooth to the initiative. Try to take an offline slide set with you in a USB drive, if you are making your presentation on Google Slides. Same for any videos that you are going to show up too.

Don’t forget to bring necessary cables/ converters(projector converters) with you and always remember to have a good internet connection with you if you are using internet for demos or other things  to eliminate connectivity issues which interrupt the meetup at some points and it is not a good impression to the students.

So far I wrote about how to organize a successful meetup in your local community on Google Code-In and hope this information will be very useful for you which I gathered through my own experiences when conducting the local meetups. I’m waiting to see some new meetups coming soon from all of you guys. Good Luck !

 

References

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New York City Hack Manhattan Hackerspace Meetup

Hackerspaces are community-operated physical spaces, where people can meet and work on their projects. Hackerspaces around the world are listed on the hackerspace wiki. Yesterday I had the chance to visit Hack Manhattan.

Hack Manhattan is operated as a non-profit community hackerspace in New York City. Equipments includes a mini-mill, sewing machines, soldering irons and reflow tools and several 3D printers. Members work on all kinds of projects. Many are in electronics, 3D printing, and software, but we also brew beer, keep bees on the roof, and garden. I was very happy to meet Real John Connor, Stephen Lynch, and Dave Reeves and learn about their work.

I hope we see more hackerspaces in Asia and I would love to support people who are starting them. Let me know on twitter about your hackerspace! http://twitter.com/hpdang

Links

Hack Manhattan: https://hackmanhattan.com

Hackerspaces on the Web: http://hackerspaces.org

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Google Reunion in Silicon Valley with FOSSASIA

Being at the get together of more than 500 mentors and students of over 200 projects from 50 countries at the 10th anniversary of Google Summer of Code and join the celebrations at the Reunion 2014 is an amazing experience. It was the first time that Google brought together such a large number of contributors in Silicon Valley for a fantastic Unconference, a great day out at the “Great America” and a Gala at the San Jose Tech Museum with Linus Torvalds and a catering with an outstanding American Fusion cuisine.

Google Mentor Summit Tshirts

Yes, 10 years! Google Summer of Code is the only program of a company supporting hundreds of Open Source projects for many years and bringing them together with students from around the world. The magnitude of this support shows the real commitment of Google to Free and Open Source Software and I would like to thank everyone involved including Carol Smith, Cat Allman and Stephanie Taylor, and all the other fantastic people at the Open Source office supporting us.

The idea of free sharing and collaboration across borders has always inspired me. And I could not be happier to enter the conference room in San Jose – full of creators, developers, contributors of many amazing Open Source projects such as Mozilla, KDE, Python, Haiku, Blender, GNU, Debian, Inkscape and many more.

Google Reunion 2014 in San Jose with FOSSASIA

In previous years, the program brought together mentors of each active organization, but for this years celebration Google also flew in mentors of former years and even some students of the program. As an organizer of our annual FOSSASIA event I know what a challenge it can be to bring in a few dozen speakers from different parts of the world, but flying in 500 Open Source contributors from around the world is a logistic masterpiece. Organizing this event takes a huge amount effort and resources. Two thumbs up for the organizing team, they did an amazing job. I am grateful to be among the participants.

Great Day Out at the Great America

Every year the Mentor Summit spreads out in two days filled with interesting unconference sessions, lighting talks, and plenty of spaces for group discussing and code sprints. This time Carol and the team went an extra mile to surprise participants with an additional day-out at the Great America Theme Park (exclusively for us!). Believe it or not the majority of my lovely geek friends apparently have never been to an amusement park in their lives. We had such a great morning and afternoon there. I am sure some of us will never forget that very first roller coaster ride. It is great that Google makes this experience possible for mentors and appreciates their contributions.

Google Reunion 2014 in San Jose / Mentor Summit USA

Gala at the Tech Museum San Jose with Linus Torvalds

Another of the highlights of this year was the Gala at the Tech Museum in San Jose. Everyone dressed up in beautiful garments. It was fun to see all the developers who kind of always wear black shirts suddenly dressed up. And, on top of organizing everything the team also arranged a meetup with a star of the Free and Open Source community: Linus Torvalds joined us as a special guest. Of course Linus was everyones hero. And I was thrilled to meet him and Dirk Hohndel just before their talk. Sincerely thanks to Cat Allman for introducing him. I took the chance to invite them to our next FOSSASIA in Singapore, which will take place from March 13-15, 2015.

Linus Torvalds FOSSASIA Meetup at Google Reunion with Hong Phuc Dang, Dirk Hohndel, Mario Behling

After the interesting talks about the history of Linux, Open Source at Google and future projects, we experienced the interactive exhibits at the Tech Museum and enjoyed more of the yummy food. Coming from Asia, experiencing the food in the US is always very special for me. Especially in Silicon Valley and San Francisco I love the Fusion food, the blend of Western food and Asian cuisine. On the night of the party, the Google team really did arrange a fantastic catering with very friendly caterers, who knew a lot about all the different ingredients. I learned from Stephanie that this was one of the best catering companies and that they came all the way from San Francisco. It was truly special indeed.

Participants at the Reunion

Personally I was so excited to meet with the developer team of Processing at the Google Reunion. Processing is one of my favorite software applications. One team member – Andres Colubri from Argentina – told me he finally met his friend and co-developer whom he worked together with during the last 7 years but never got a chance to meet.

Some voices of participants of this years summit: Doris Lee, a first year GSoC from Taiwan said: ”The program is a great way to practice and apply what I have learned in programming. I took computer science at UC Berkeley but I never had the feeling I get the right assignments to work on. I enjoyed so much to work with GSoC program which gives me a chance to improve my coding skill, to learn how to use Git, Python and much more.”

Google Mentor Summit FOSSASIA, Hong Phuc Dang, Doris Lee

Adnan Zahid – 2nd year GSoC student also commented: “It is good that Google created the program for public benefits and I wish this program can be extended not only during summer but throughout the entire year. My suggestion is to create cooperation between Open Source projects and universities so that the schools constantly receive assignments and then distribute them to students”

Hamish Bowman from OSGeo said: “We are participating at GSoC for many years and I am happy to see new and old faces at the Reunion. For me the mentor summit is a chance to meet developers from projects, that we are using and working together with. Many of them, we would not be able to meet some anywhere else. After a long time, I had the chance to talk again with Mario Behling who is working with lots of projects and founded Lubuntu. It was great to see Mario’s excitement when I showed him our OSGeo Live distro which we build on top of Lubuntu.”

Google Reunion Hamish Bowman and Mario Behling Lubuntu Founder

I also spoke with one of the most senior mentors – Kevin Krammer from KDE, it was Kevin’s 10th time mentoring. He said: “This is a fantastic thing. I appreciate the opportunity to be mentor. I think we had very good students who have helped KDE a lot during the past few years. GSoC gives us the possibility to experiment new things for which we normally do not have enough resources and this is a great training opportunity as well.”

 

The closure Q&A session marked another year of GSoC was over. We are all looking forward to another 10, 20, 30 …years to come. Once again congratulations to GSoC 10th Anniversary!

Links:

FOSSASIA http://fossasia.org

Google Melange http://google-melange.com

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