Software Sustainability in Customer-Driven Courses
Context: Software sustainability is an emergent topic in an age when software is becoming ever more ubiquitous. We, as researchers, have the responsibility of ensuring the dissemination of sustainable software developments in the industry and academic contexts before enacting the creation of a body of knowledge in software sustainability. Our paper presents a review of project descriptions from a project-based course designed in close collaboration with students and external customers. Our master’s course is based on four decades of software engineering experience and teaching at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In the scope of this work, we analyzed 45 customers’ project proposals over the past three years to identify the social and technical sustainability addressed by the proposals. Objectives: More precisely, we investigated 1) how software social sustainability topics are introduced from customers’ project descriptions, 2) how software technical sustainability is addressed from customers’ project descriptions, and 3) the extent to which software environmental and economical sustainability is addressed from customers’ project descriptions. Method: We conducted a deductive thematic analysis utilizing open coding of customers’ project descriptions. Results: We found that customers’ project descriptions moderately addressed social sustainability for specific target groups. Technical sustainability is also addressed by a little more than half of the overall projects. However, we observed that no effort was made to address environmental and economic sustainability. Contribution: The study’s overall findings contribute to the future improvement of the course and help inform customers about prospective socially relevant project proposals.