Revamped training format features fewer lectures and more exercises with a new tool.

Every month, thousands of people open up the OpenStack contributor documentation to learn how to contribute to OpenStack.

Every Summit (and at OpenStack Days around the world), the OpenStack Upstream Institute (OUI) training helps new community members quickly get started being active contributors. Despite both teams working on helping contributors get started, these efforts were often done in parallel. For the Vancouver Summit, we wanted to shake up how we run OUI and help new contributors learn to navigate documentation: Enter the Contributor Guide!

The Contributor Guide, accessed through the OpenStack Contributor Portal, is a beginner-friendly tool for getting up to speed on a variety of contribution activities. There are sections on being a user, an operator and a code/documentation contributor.

With each OUI training, we learn how to make OUI more effective and engaging. First, we added more exercises to keep students attentive and interested, then we focused on moving away from a lecture-style course to a hands-on lab. Instead of using slides to deliver content (how boring!) the only slides shown pointed students to relevant sections of the Contributor Guide and to introduce exercises.

This format allows students to learn at their own pace and easily revisit topics where they need more time. The exercises kept everyone on the same page and pushed students to interact with one another and use the tools we use in our community, like IRC and Etherpad, to work collaboratively.

The feedback from both students and OUI mentors was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone loved the self-driven format and the decreased “lecture” time. Teaching from the Contributor Guide was a roaring success and we are excited to continue to build out the Guide and make it an even better resource for future students and people interested in becoming a contributor.

Get involved

We’ll be hosting more OUI trainings at OpenInfra Day Korea, OpenStack Day Brazil and OpenStack Day Nordics, as well as before the Summit in Berlin later this year. Come join us if you want to learn how to contribute upstream!

The Contributor Guide has come a long way in the last year, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you’re a user, especially an operator, we need your help! Those are the next sections of the Contributor Guide that need more content and expert input. Work on the Contributor Guide is being tracked in Storyboard if you want to get involved with planning the new content.