Year Organiser Reports
INF1 courses are proceeding well. There are too many students this year to fit in the Informatics labs for the FP and OOP programming exams. We are discussing with IS how we might provide the necessary environment on IS machines so that we can use central labs for (some of) the students. This seems as if it may be possible in time for the OOP exam (semester 2), but is not likely to be in place for the FP exam (semester 1), so this is likely to require two separate exam sessions with separate papers. Together with the staff-student liaison meeting we have been discussing how we might provide less confusing options for communicating with (and between) the students. We intend to establish a single discussion forum for all first year courses/students which will be monitored by the TAs from (currently) FP and CL.
Courses INF2A, 2C Systems and Software Engineering proceeding fine. The new DMMR course has had some teething problems which are being addressed. One question is whether there is InfBase support for this new course.
No major problems, except for a couple of issues. First, there has been a complaint about 1st assignment deadlines for several courses (around 5) being clustered around the end of this week (ending 26/10). The 2nd assignment deadlines are relatively better -- staggered a little more. Second, there was a particular complaint from a student with an adjustment requirement that course work questions be provided at the start of the semester. The respective lecturers should be alerted to this particular issue better.
There have been no changes to the structure of ug4 (or MInf4) for 2012/13, so 4th year is proceeding as usual. Like 2011/12, the combined ug4-and-MInf4 group is a large class with about 140-150 students.
Some of the ug4 students have set up an environment within 'Google Docs' where students can raise issues of concern in an anonymous fashion (which are then passed back to the Director of Teaching). It seems to have been effective in getting fast feedback on mid-semester issues of concern.
There have been some small issues with coursework and equipment so far. The main issue seems to be with SLIP, which has a larger then expected enrolment - and students are suffering because of equipment problems, and lack of sufficient troubleshooting support. The lecturer has increased his office hours for SLIP, and is trying to sort out the other problems.
There have been some student complaints about the length of the first Computer Networking assignment. The feedback has been passed back to the lecturer and he has replied to the students giving justification for this.
The year size is down again slightly from last year: ~160 students down from the 170 stated in last year's report.
Some students have had difficulty identifying courses that match their background. In particular HCI has a demanding Java-based assignment that caught some students by surprise. I intend to update the DRPS course catalogue entries with programming+maths requirements, and will bring proposed changes to Board of Studies.
A few students were upset that specialisms that were advertised when they applied are not running (Economic, Music Informatics). These students were simply directed to the previous specialism advisors and allowed to pick appropriate courses.
While the specialisms are advisory, the course guide that I inherited implied that the specialisms are hard rules, with the word "must" frequently used. I have softened the wording on the website to be more consistent with the advice actually given by specialism advisors.
We subjected 64 of our MSc projects to moderation this summer. In almost all cases this moderation had no effect, and the external examiners commented that some of our moderation is unnecessary. We plan to moderate far fewer projects in 2012/13, but to concentrate on mark consistency for the few projects with marks <~52. We should (again!) heed the examiners' advice to ensure our marks are consistent with our comments, and give more detailed feedback. Some tweaks to the webmark form may help get more staff to follow the guidelines.