Summer of Code/2013/Application

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Describe your organization.
Sugar Labs is a 100% volunteer-driven project, a member project of the nonprofit Software Freedom Conservancy. Sugar Labs coordinates volunteers—international community of teachers, software developers, artists and writers, parents and children—who are passionate about providing educational opportunities to children through the Sugar Learning Platform. Globally, there are teachers that discuss how they use Sugar in their classrooms; students who blog about their Sugar learning experiences; and everyone, not just software engineers, contribute to the code base. (Children as young as 12-years old have written Sugar activities and we regularly receive patches from 15-year-olds.) At Sugar Labs, we promote investing locally in learning that works for every child.
While there are many great ICT-oriented learning projects, what distinguishes Sugar is its platform features. Like a sponge, Sugar pulls in projects such as Gcompris, Etoys, Scratch, and Open Office for Children, as well as hundreds of learning activities specifically written for Sugar, making those great tools available to more children. But the Sugar platform further enhances the learning experience through its mechanisms of collaboration and reflection. With Sugar, the computer represents more than an opportunity for interaction with isolated applications; it is the manifestation of a change in the culture of learning.
Sugar will engage even the youngest learner in the use of computation as a powerful “thing to think with.” They will quickly become proficient in using the computer as a tool to engage in authentic problem-solving. Sugar users develop skills that help them in all aspects of life.
The Sugar software is a learning platform designed for children, originally designed for the XO laptop of the OLPC project, but completely independent of OLPC since Q1 2008. Sugar installs on most GNU/Linux distros, hence it can run on most netbooks and PCs and on virtual machines in Windows and iOS. Sugar is used by more than three-million students in Peru, Uruguay, Rwanda, Nepal, the United States, and more than 40 other countries. Sugar is Free Software (GPL3) and is available in more than 25 languages. (We have projects in more than 150 languages and full support in many indigenous languages, such as Quechua and Aymara in Peru. Sugar Labs provides i18n support for many of our upstream projects, including Abiword and Etoys.)
Why is your organization applying to participate in Google Summer of Code 2013? What do you hope to gain by participating?
Our primary motivation is to recruit more developers to our project. We've had great success in the past with both GSoC and Google Code In in identifying and retaining talent that has had significant impact on our project. A secondary goal is that we believe engaging in mentoring is a positive experience for our existing cadre of developers. It forces them to look through the eyes of someone new to the project and see things that they may otherwise have missed. And since our project is fundamentally about learning, anything that exposes our developers to learning and mentoring is of benefit.
Has your organization participated in past Google Summer of Codes? (yes/no)
If you answered “yes” to the question above, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation. Please also list your pass/fail rate for each year.
We participated twice: in 2009 and 2010. We had great students and enthusiastic, engaged mentors. We met as a group weekly on IRC and had at least daily interactions between our mentors and our students. We paired two mentors to each student to ensure there was never an opportunity for a student to slip between the cracks. This year, we plan to appoint some of the participants from Google Code In—too young to apply to GSoC—as Sugar Labs “mentors in training”, sharing their experiences and learning something about how to mentor at the same time.
We had 100% of our students pass each year we participated.
If your organization has not previously participated in Google Summer of Code, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?
What Open Source Initiative approved license(s) does your project use?
The Sugar core and toolkit are GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3. Sugar apps are any of the FOSS licenses found here:
What is the URL for your Ideas list?
What is the main development mailing list for your organization?
What is the main IRC channel for your organization? #sugar
Who will be your backup organization administrator?
Claudia Urrea and Gonzalo Odiard
What criteria did you use to select the mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
Our mentors tend to self-select, in that they make proposals for projects that they are interested in promoting. As the organization administrator, I do encourage some contributors, whom I have observed to have superior mentoring skills to sign up. All potential mentors are interviewed by community members who have been successful mentors in the past. Specific criteria include availability, patience, general people skills, communication skills, depth of knowledge about the project, and the quality of their contributions. Also, as mentioned above, we pair multiple mentors to projects. In the pairing process, we try to find a balance, such as pairing a software engineer with an educator to ensure a well-rounded approach to our projects.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students? Please be as specific as possible.
We've not had a problem with this in the past because we have regular meetings with mentors (at least 2-3 times per week) and weekly group meetings of all mentors and students. But in case a student does disappear, we plan to reach out to the student through a local colleague (we have Sugar volunteers on the ground pretty much anywhere a potential student might be coming from, so we have usually have the ability to meet face to face with a wayward student).
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
We have had a problem with this in the past, but we have a back-up mentor plan so we were well-prepared to hand off the responsibility without a hitch. We always have many more mentors than students, so assigned multiple mentors has not been a problem.
Are you a new organization who has a Googler or other organization to vouch for you? If so, please list their name(s) here.
Are you an established or larger organization who would like to vouch for a new organization applying this year? If so, please list their name(s) here.
What will you do to encourage that your accepted students stick with the project after Google Summer of Code concludes?
We are already in discussion (on IRC and in email) with potential students. They are publishing their proposals in our wiki, where the community is able to comment on them. During the program, the students are "required" to be logged into IRC daily, as well as subscribed to our developer list. After the program, our experience has been that students transition into full-fledged community members, utilizing the usual tools. One big draw for continuity is that we have an active and vocal user community, so the chances are there will be a teacher or child somewhere in Peru or Rwanda who is in daily contact with the student about their work, encouraging them to continue their engagement.