How Facebook’s Open Academy Offers College Credits To Computer Science Students Working On Open-Source Projects

By David Cohen 

OpenAcademyLogo650Computer-science students at 22 universities globally will be able to work on open-source projects as part of their coursework as part of Open Academy, an initiative Facebook hatched in the spring of 2012 and announced publicly Wednesday.

Open Academy was conceived by Facebook in collaboration with Stanford University Computer Science Professor Jay Borenstein.

The program debuted at Stanford in 2012, and the following universities were added this past spring: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, Cornell University, University of Toronto, Waterloo University, University of Singapore, University of Tokyo, Imperial College of London, Jagiellonian University, University of Helsinki, and Tampere University of Technology.

The winter 2014 course will begin in early February, and the following schools will be added to the list of those already participating in Open Academy: University of Pennsylvania, University of California San Diego, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of California Berkeley, Purdue University, University of Warsaw, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California Los Angeles, and University of Washington.

Facebook offered more details on Open Academy in a note on the Facebook Engineering page:

At the beginning of the semester, students and mentors from open-source projects come together for a weekend of learning and hacking. After this kickoff session, students return to their universities and continue to work in virtual teams. Open-source mentors support their teams by helping students find and understand tasks and review code contributions. The course instructors at each university meet with student teams at regular intervals to review progress. Some instructors overlay a lecture series to provide further learning opportunities to students.

To date, students and mentors have worked on open-source projects like Freeseer, Kotlin, MongoDB, Mozilla Open Badge, Phabricator, Pouch DB, Socket IO, Review Board, and Ruby on Rails.

The winter 2014 course will officially begin in early February, when all of the participating faculty, students, and open-source mentors from around the world fly to Facebook’s headquarters for a three-day kickoff event. Here, students will get together with their teams and begin to dive into their project code bases. Faculty will also get together and discuss innovative approaches to improving computer science curriculum as a whole.

The winter 2014 classes are assembling now. To learn more about Open Academy and get involved, please visit

Readers: What are your thoughts on the Open Academy initiative?