Google Summer of Code 2014 Student Projects

Google Summer of Code 2014

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to participate in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program. For those who are unfamiliar with the program, GSoC is a (very popular) student developer outreach program by Google. Under this program, for about 3 months selected students get to work on open source projects under the supervision of experienced mentors from the organization. Google, as an organization, uses many open source technologies since it’s inception and now for about 10 years GSoC is one of their efforts to give back and help open source projects, communities foster.

We have a couple of people in our BuildmLearn core team who were familiar with the program, having participated earlier as students and mentors for other large open source projects. We applied for the program and were shortlisted to participate.

We had a variety of projects for the students to choose from – from working on developing the BuildmLearn Toolkit on Linux and Mac OS to developing great educational mobile applications. Our project ideas were highly received with an interest from over 250+ students who applied to work on our projects. After careful evaluation, we shortlisted 3 students to participate in our projects.

Student Projects

The hacking period of 3 months was very productive and here is a glimpse of what each summer project was like:

Martin Rotter from Czech Republic worked on porting the BuildmLearn Toolkit to Linux, OS/2 and Mac OS X. He also worked on a lot enhancements to the toolkit and stabilize the code base. About his experience with GSoC and BuildmLearn, Martin writes “I was very happy, that all stuff was implemented and roughly tested before the deadline. We ported BuildmLearn Toolkit to Windows, Linux, OS/2 and Mac OS X, which is great achievement, which I am proud of.” Read more about Martin’s experience here.

We were successfully able to release this version of BuildmLearn Toolkit to public at the end of GSoC. Here is the post announcing the release.

Kelvin Khoo Kuok Yao from Malaysia worked on an educational mobile game called “Tell the time” which teaches children about the concepts of time and date in an interesting manner. Targeted at children 4 to 8 years of age, this mobile game uses an interactive clock and calendar elements to engage the kids. Kelvin writes about his experience “Overall, the GSOC experience was intensive yet fun. What could be best when you can do work at your home, has the freedom to implement your idea into an interesting project that you like.” Read more about Kelvin’s experience here.

We were able to publish the game to Google Play store as a part of this program. You may download and try the application here.

Abhishek Batra from India worked on an interesting mobile application called “Learn from Map” which is focused on teaching geography. Targeted at kids studying in primary schools, this application uses interactive map elements to teach geography and related topics in an informal environment. After completing GSoC 2014, Abhishek writes “I am really thankful to all the BuildmLearn members for giving me the opportunity to be part of this organization and GSoC. Past three months were really awesome for me. And I am not going to disappear any where and will continue to be part of BuildmLearn (this is the essence of GSoC program). I hope we can have more mLearning projects in the future.” Read more about Abhishek’s experience here.

We successfully published this application to Google Play store as a part of this program. You may download and try the application here.

Thank you, Google!

Overall, it has been an amazing and productive summer for BuildmLearn. We would like to thank Google for giving BuildmLearn this opportunity to be a party of this awesome program. We were able to take our projects to the next level and attract many new contributors!

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GSoC 2014 – Amazing three months

IMG_2305

Four (maybe five) months ago, I learnt from friend of mine, Jan Grulich,  that GSoC is really program for me. I was so excited when I decided to give it a try. I must say that I was already part of OSS world, because I developed some free software before, including:

So I have some knowledge about OSS mechanisms. GSoC was another huge experience to enhance my OSS understanding and skills.
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BuildmLearn Toolkit 2.0.4 now available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS

We are happy to announce a major update to BuildmLearn Toolkit (version 2.0.4) today. Over the last couple of months we have refined the user experience of toolkit to a great extent. Additionally, this version of the toolkit comes with a bunch of new features and enhancements as well.

First off, from this version onwards the BuildmLearn Toolkit is now available for all major desktop platforms – Windows, Linux and Mac OS. This was something that was requested from a lot of users since previous versions of the toolkit only supported Windows desktops.

We have revamped the complete look and feel of the toolkit and made features intuitive to use. The toolkit would work seamlessly on all of the supported platforms with any screen resolutions. The template editor, which allows the user to input custom content for applications, is redesigned completely to make it easily usable. There has been a lot of refactoring of code behind the scenes, many components of the toolkit were written from scratch.

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BuildmLearn GSoC Applications for 2014

As announced earlier, BuildmLearn is accepted to participate in this year’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC) Program. GSoC is a global program organised by Google, that offers students stipends to write code for open source projects. Every year, since past 10 years, during this program Google works with the open source community to identify and fund exciting projects for the upcoming summer.

The period for students to choose open source projects that interest them and apply to work for them has just ended yesterday. From the very day of being accepted into GSoC (i.e. Feb 24, 2004) we have received tremendous interests for students across the globe to participate in our projects. We have been busy answering the queries and discussing the project ideas with students on our Google group. We have collaborated with many students on our projects in the past so it wasn’t totally a new experience.

To talk about some numbers, we have reviewed about 150 draft proposals by students before they submitted their final proposals to Google. Basically, we have successfully provided reviews and feedback to every student who requested it. We received a total of 258 proposals on Google, with a large number of drafts reviewed we kind of expected a high number of proposal submissions.

Here’s a graphical timeline of how the student proposals were submitted to us.

Proposals

As expected most of the proposals came in the last 4 days before the deadline. What can be said about the quality of proposals we’ve received so far is that there is a clear differentiation between applications from students who requested a review and ones who did not. We also noticed couple of proposals with very thin details and these can be considered substandard quality. However, the quality of a large number of proposals is very good and refined, so we are happy about that.

Over the next weeks, our mentors would be reviewing these proposals, evaluating and ranking them internally based on quality. We hope to select the best students from the proposals we have received.

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BuildmLearn accepted to participate in Google Summer of Code 2014

We’re delighted to announce that BuildmLearn is accepted to participate in this year’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program. This is the first time we’ve applied to the program and we’re in!

For those who haven’t heard about the program here’s a gist,

Google Summer of Code is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects. We work with many open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund projects over a three month period. Since its inception in 2005, the program has brought together nearly 6,000 successful student participants and over 3000 mentors from over 100 countries worldwide, all for the love of code.

Through Google Summer of Code, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios and the opportunity for employment in areas related to their academic pursuits. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers. Best of all, more source code is created and released for the use and benefit of all.

We’re looking forward to work with students across the globe on our project ideas. We have put our project ideas on the Github Wiki here: https://github.com/BuildmLearn/BuildmLearn-Toolkit/wiki/Google-Summer-of-Code-2014-Ideas

In addition to this, we have setup a page for guidance and instructions students interested in BuildmLearn for GSoC. Here is the link to the page: https://github.com/BuildmLearn/BuildmLearn-Toolkit/wiki/Guidance-for-Students

The above page contains general guidelines on communication and how to write a proposal for BuildmLearn project ideas.

As always, we are available to answer any questions in our BuildmLearn Google group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/buildmlearn

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BuildmLearn Toolkit (v2.0.0) now available!

We are working on some new templates for the BuildmLearn Toolkit and refining the existing templates; we thought it would be good to provide an intermediate update with the refined version of templates.

bml2

Today, we are pleased to announce the release of the BuildmLearn Toolkit 2.0.0. The new version of the toolkit contains refined mobile application templates – with better, consistent UI across templates and android versions. Our target is to support the toolkit for android 2.3+ versions. The templates have several enhancements (for e.g. improved animation for Flash cards) and several bug fixes. We have also now tested and optimized the mobile templates for use on larger screen devices (tablets, phablets).

You can download the latest version of the toolkit here. Please post your feedback and suggestions to our Google group.

Here is the link to the official Github release: https://github.com/BuildmLearn/BuildmLearn-Toolkit/releases/tag/2.0.0

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BuildmLearn Toolkit (v1.0.0) now available!

Finally, we have a new version of the BuildmLearn Toolkit releasing today. We intended to make this release before the end of this year and here it is. Thanks to all the contributors who made this possible!

The earlier version (0.9) of BuildmLearn Toolkit was made available to teachers for trial for about 9 months. Based on their feedback and the comments generated on our Google Group, we have several updates.

The major updates for version 1.0.0 are as follows,

  • Added options to save and load applications. Many teachers asked us to add options to save the application that they were building so that they can work on it over a period of time. We prioritized this request and now teachers can save their ‘work in progress’ apps and work on them at a later time. The app files are saved with an extension ‘.buildmlearn’.
  • New template for flashcards introduced. This template allows to create apps as a collection of flashcards. The simulator is also available to preview apps before generating the apps for this template. The idea for this template was contributed on our Google group by Ashmita Nigam (thanks!).
  • Added toolbar for easy access of important options. This was one of the tasks for our Season of BuildmLearn program and now it’s integrated into the released.
  • Bug fixes for the existing templates and overall improvement in the usability of the Toolkit.

You can download the latest version of the toolkit here. Please post your feedback and suggestions to our Google group.

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