Learning of Participants in OSS Development
Sherae Daniel, University of Pittsburgh (formerly University of Maryland)
Jitesh V. Desai, University of Pittsburgh
Software development systems and methods are changing rapidly in terms of systems development approaches, programming languages, and interoperability and security of requirements that are requiring increasingly complex understanding of technology and its business application on the part of IT professionals. These changes pose a challenge for software developers to update their skills and remain competitive in the marketplace. The learning opportunities that OSS projects provide to their participants have been less studied, and are the focus of this research. The objectives of the research proposed this report is to examine what developers of OSS projects learn from their participation in those projects by focusing on three kinds of knowledge or skills: technical - programming knowledge, collaboration skills, and skills about learning how to learn, that is about the learning process itself. We examine how the team context may impede or facilitate learning by focusing on two aspects: the network structure of the OSS project teams that are composed of developers interacting with each other while working on programming tasks, and on the cultural composition of OSS teams, which often span geographical and national boundaries due to the open participation architecture of OSS projects. The research question we pose is: What do developers learn from participating in OSS development projects and what team contexts are conducive to learning.