Experiential learning using open source is fraught with opportunities for disaster.
Open source is unfamiliar ground for professors. Not the software, which is well-known at this point. But professors aren’t accustomed to open development. They treat open source projects like busy work or an easy way to assign homework. Participating in FOSS projects takes work and time, maybe even six months, which is a big commitment for someone who wants to use it in a one-semester course. A student being sent in to a project without involvement from a professor is a recipe for failure.
First, professors need to choose the right projects for their students–not all projects are suited or equipped for an influx of students. And some simply don’t want to. Some are not welcoming to newcomers–the kernel is a good example. Projects that have participated in a program for the purpose of welcoming students and newcomers, like Google Summer of Code or OpenHatch, are a good place to start. They’re the ones who know how to accept inexperienced contributors.