Year Organiser Reports
I am not aware of any significant problems with INF1 courses.
There has been a preliminary investigation into the possibility of running the programming exams in IS labs, so that we can accommodate all of the students at the same time. The COs have advised that this may be possible, but that it would be too risky to attempt in time for this year's exams. The investigation will continue, hopefully allowing any environment to be trailed live in the labs before making a decision on it its use for exams next year. This year's courses will require two separate exams.
A single discussion forum has been established for all first year courses, but the take-up has been negligible - possibly due to login problems (IS), or more likely, the confusion surrounding the various communication options in general.
The staff/student liaison meeting was useful and identified a number of small issues. However, it has been very difficult to get student participation - none of the reps responded to the initial call, and only two were present at the meeting (hopefully, this simply indicates that the students are all happy!) Minutes are here: http://bit.ly/TiZVW7
The UG2 courses are proceeding well and the new course DMMR has now settled down. There was a staff student UG2 liaison committee meeting last week.
The SSLC meeting was organised recently. Course lecturers were not invited as it was felt that it would make it easier for the reps to air their concerns. There was some trouble getting the student reps to sign up -- in the end the meeting was attended by only one student rep. Interestingly, one of the points raised in the meeting was regarding the usefulness of SSLC meetings, given weekly student rep meetings which have been going well.
There was one complaint about the use of objective-C in CSLP coursework; the claim was that it was difficult to develop using objective-C on a non-mac machine. The issue was conveyed to the course lecturer who disagreed and gave enough justification for this. Nevertheless, the lecturer would re-evaluate the use of objective-C in next year's offering.
There was a couple of more complaints about the lack of (useful) tutorials for IAML and the DBS courses. Feedback was passed to the respective lecturers. The DBS lecturer agreed to this but cited the lack of financial resources for holding DBS tutorials.
Finally, there was an issue with the AILP course where the course lecturer couldn't return the first assignment marked scripts on time. The student argued that the 2nd assignment was dependent on the first, so the 2nd assignment's due date was extended by a week.
The second half of semester 2 has proceeded fairly smoothly for the ug4 year. There have been some issues with coursework deadlines and extensions of those - we will have to plan a bit better next year.
We had a good SSLC meeting in week 9 with some of the class reps (Stan Manilov and Youri Tan) and also the School reps (Zsolt Ero and James Hulme). Their feedback on the teaching and courses in semester 1 was mainly quite positive, with compliments for a few lecturers. It does seem that the weekly Director of Teaching meetings have been useful in ironing out smaller problems as they happen.
Only other thing to note is that Don Sannella's enhanced monitoring of the ug4 projects (this including the possibility of referring projects to Don after the 2nd meeting), is a good thing.
Generally things seem to be going well.
A few students dropped PMR late in the semester, to take another course next semester. We should try to do a better job of warning these students of the required background. Both through course descriptors, and possibly per-specialism, "how-to-prepare" web pages.
There have been a lot of complaints about ANLP this semester, with more detail than I can go into here. There have been concerns from some PPLS students who struggle with the programming background. Other general issues include often not knowing what is expected on assignments or in the exam, and different expectations and apparent lack of coordination between lectures delivered by 5 different people. My initial recommendation for next year (necessarily uniformed, as an outsider) include: 1) disfavour resourcing courses with 3-way faculty splits; 2) lecturers could state more about what is expected in assignments: rough indication of depth expected (students like to hear an indication of number pages, despite the short comings of such a description), whether credit is available for exceptional effort (how much?), or whether a straightforward answer can get full marks.