Over the Columbus Day weekend I attended the GNOME Montreal Summit with my Software Engineering class. The Summit was a hack-fest where GNOME developers and contributors get together to get things done. During this summit, we met many GNOME developers and contributors. Many of the developers took time out of their schedules during the weekend to talk to us. They spent time showing us ways to improve our current development process, like using jhbuild. The director of GNOME also took time out of her schedule to talk to the class about licensing in GNOME, and why OSS is so great.
Besides just interacting with the GNOME community during the days at the conference, we got to interact with them at a couple social events. The community members were very welcoming to the class as newcomers, and included us in their activities. It was a great experience to get to collaborate with the community both in a development environment, as well as in a social setting.
In general, learning in an OSS community is very different from learning in a typical class. The knowledge that I have acquired while working on the MouseTrap project and interacting with the HFOSS community has taken the theoretical applications from class and applying them to a real situation. I have learned how to effectively search for answers on my own, without having the answers told to me in a lecture. I have spent a lot of time searching for answers on wikis and online documents, and learning how to extrapolate answers to my problems based on the solutions I found online. This skill will help me in my future professional life, as I will not have the answers to my problems lectured to me. Being able to learn on my own, and solve problems based on existing solutions will be critical to my success in the future.