How Did We Do? Part I

by Shauna February 8th, 2015
Some goals on a field.

Goooals. Photo CC-BY-SA by Thomas Leth-Olsen.

A year ago I wrote a post titled ‘Goals for Open Source Comes to Campus in 2014’. This is the first of the promised posts – let’s review how well we met our goals, to help us better reach our goals for next year!

Goal #1: Increase the number of Open Source Comes to Campus events, and make them easier for others to run.

We wanted to grow our community by making our events easier to run, with less hands-on help from Asheesh and myself. I picked four concrete goals to help us measure that.

Number of events: We hope to double the number of Open Source Comes to Campus events, from 12 in 2013 to 24 in 2014.

Result: Exceeded! We ran 26 Open Source Comes to Campus events this year. You can see the full list here.

Feedback from events: For each event, we will elicit feedback in the form of surveys from students and mentors, and have debriefings with organizers. We hope to see a positive trend in the surveys. A positive trend would be an improvement of the average rating by 1 point or more (on a scale of 1-4).

Result: It turns out that it’s very hard to get people to fill out surveys. Across our 26 events, we collected 41 survey responses, which is unlikely to be a representative sample of our attendees, nor can it tell us much about trends. We’re still working on a way to get the sort of concrete feedback we’d like to have. If you’d like to get involved in that discussion, join us here.

Even if we had gotten a higher response rate, we’d have trouble measuring our success. Why? We didn’t ask for ratings of the overall event, only of the individual activities. Nor did we ask before and after questions using sign-ups. As a former research psychologist, I’m kind of embarrassed to be writing out this section.

But we did get some informal feedback. Let’s take a look.

We asked students to tell us their favorite and least favorite things about the event. Some sample responses (most people wanted to remain anonymous):

Favorite things:

“I loved being able to make my first contribution. I also thought the career panel was very informative.”

“My favorite thing was getting to make the small fixes in the first activity where we first learned how to use open source.”

“In our contributions workshop, we got the chance to talk to a data analyst about his work which was really cool!”

“I liked the in-depth tutorial on how to work on Github. I couldn’t figure it out on my own before.”

“Being able to contribute. Career panel. Just having someone around who I can ask questions.” ~ Chris Garry

“My favorite thing about the event was being able to speak to the mentors and gain insight from them. I enjoyed being able to speak to them and hearing their experiences. “

Least favorite things:

“There were not a lot of instructions going into the Contribution part. This makes sense to the extent that each project and bug have their particular niche, but it made for a challenging activity.”

“Not getting a broader introduction to the mentors. Maybe an online portfolio page for mentors so when we are done talking to couple of mentors, we can figure out what to do next since we might have forgotten what other mentors did by then.”

“I was a little frustrated with how long the workshop lasted. It was a lot of info.”

“It was somehow fast when we started with ‘git’ especially for newbie like me. But I’ve got help and everything went great.”

“My least favorite thing about the event is that I did not have much experience with the languages that the projects on github used, so it was difficult for me to try to find a way to contribute.”

And then, to end on a nicer note, some more favorite things:

“The workshop was a great introduction to an intimidating field. I learned a lot, and got to interact with many other talented developers. I enjoyed working with other people that were also new to open source software, and felt like I was actually making a difference.” ~ Armand Halbert

“I really enjoyed the contributions workshop, as it gave me both some technical insight into projects I’m interested in, and gave me some information on how to go about contributing to projects.”

“Get to know people, to know how to use githhub, basically everything was great.”

Hands-off events: We plan to run at least one event with minimal-to-no involvement on the part of OpenHatch organizers. We hope our surveys show that these events are just as successful as those we have a more active role in.

“Hands-off” turns out to be an ambiguous term. Predictably, repeat events tended to be more independent than first time events, but we ended up being somewhat involved in every single event. This is fine by us. Our goal is to empower others to run open source outreach events, not to never attend their events or offer advice.

The closest we got to satisfying these goals were likely our repeat events at the University of Minnesota Morris (September 13th) and City College of San Francisco (March 22nd, September 13th). Experienced and highly capable local organizers Elena Machkasova (Morris) and Katherine Moloney (CCSF), along with new student organizers at both schools, did the vast majority of work in making these events a success.

Given our lack of survey data, we can’t really compare among events, though we did get a lot of great informal feedback about both events. It’s also worth noting that CCSF is continuing to run events every six months, while Morris plans to repeat yearly.

Repeated events: It’s as good a sign as you can get when organizers want to run more events. We’re hoping to run at least six repeat events this year, and for at least half our event organizers in 2014 to express interest in a repeat event.

Finally, something easy to tally!

Repeat events from previous years: 9

UMass-Amherst, City College of San Francisco (twice), George Mason University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota at Morris, Indiana University at Bloomington, Columbia University, and Princeton University.

New events this year: 15

University of Arizona, SUNY Stony Brook, Northeastern Illinois University*, Hartnell College, University of California-Davis, Claremont Graduate University, De Paul University*, University of Victoria, Bucknell University, Cornell University, Swarthmore College, University of Washington, University of California Berkeley, Baruch College, and Per Scholas.

Repeat events this year: 2

Special shout out to Hartnell College & SUNY Stony Brook, which held events for the first time in the spring, and did follow up events in the fall.

* It’s worth pointing out that our events at UIUC last year, and at NEIU and DePaul this year, included many of the same mentors and organizers. Just because they haven’t repeated schools yet doesn’t mean there’s not an active community!

Most organizers have expressed interest in follow-up events. Of the 24 schools we ran events at last year, twelve are currently planning to run new events with us this upcoming semester, with at least six others interested but still deciding or waiting until the fall. This surpasses our goal of “at least half” of schools expressing interest in repeating.


We easily met our goals for both the number of events we ran (26) and the number of schools expressing interest in repeating (17). We also met our goal of having at least one event run mostly independently. Our biggest issue was eliciting feedback from attendees and organizers about the success of our events. Fixing this will be one of our goals going forward.

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