Minutes of meeting 19th November

INF1-FP Tutorials are not as engaging as they should be, all the
tutorial work is auto graded, so therefore the tutorials are going over
the solutions but not giving instructions as to how they got to the
final solution.  In the Linear Algebra Maths tutorials the students work in groups helping one another work towards the tutorial solutions.
Informatics students believe this would be better for them as well.

INF1-CL some of the students are not sure why they are doing the Logic
part of the course, but Logic is used in various courses after first year.
It is a new lecturer this year who has changed some  of the course content.  It was also mentioned that INF1-CL has a 100% worth exam and a 0% worth coursework, the students felt it was not worth doing the coursework as it isn’t graded but feel it should be to motivate the students to do it and would have a better engagement in tutorials, to have something to work on.

DMMR Coursework 8 caused some confusion there was errors in the hand
out, it was decided that all students who submitted would be awarded
full marks 11/11. It was mentioned that the students felt there was inconsistencies in the difference in marks depending on the tutors.  Colin said marking
instructions are given to the tutors but some are more lenient than others.

Lots of week 10 coursework deadlines.
OS Lecturer is said to be lacking in confidence, he is new to the course and is using the lecture slides from last year.  The 1st coursework was hard.

One student had asked one of the Reps who he could talk to about lack of support from his 4th Year project Supervisor,  Colin said the student should  talk to Don Sannella.

Students doing RSS in Semester 2 said there are no courses available in
Semester 1 that teaches them C Programming, a course teaching this would be useful to gain more knowledge.
IJP 1st coursework was out 2 weeks ago but the students are not happy
with their results, the students have spoken to Paul Anderson and he has given more feedback since.

Appleton Tower will close for refurbishment in the Summer of 2015 and Informatics labs and the ITO will be moving into Forrest Hill hopefully for one academic year;
tutorials  in 2015/16 may  be all over the the central area as Forrest Hill has not got enough teaching space.

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Minutes of meeting 12th November

INF2A Coursework One has been marked and returned on time. Alex Simpson has emailed out to say that his taking part in the marking boycott which may affect the 2nd coursework for INF2A.  Lecturers are asked to tell the students if they are taking part in the boycott but not necessarily anyone else.

ADS students said they  were late  receiving their coursework marks back, but ADS does not have a marker, so Mary had to mark them herself.  There was an extension of one day granted to the 2nd coursework.
There are a lot of deadlines next week, week 10, some students have 2 or 3 coursework deadlines in one day. It was asked why TTS and IAML have 4 courseworks each, they feel that it is too many and they are spending more than 20 hours per submission. (Comments passed to the lecturers.)
The amount of coursework set for these courses can be brought up in the Board of Studies. DBS coursework 2 was released  2 weeks ago but the content  of the coursework has just been covered in the lectures.

CCS coursework comments were a bit random and some calculations were unmarked, they are  being remarked. CG courseworks 1 and 2 are both worth 50% but the students felt that coursework 2 was much more time consuming to be worth the same as the 1st one. 4th Year Projects, some students felt the group meetings were not as constructive as they had hoped for.

EXC feedback from the coursework was excellent, very informative and useful for the 2nd submission.

Colin asked how the BCS meeting went as the feedback he got from it wasn’t great.  The students said the meeting was only half an hour so they didn’t have much time to give out the positive views, so it mainly focused on the negative.  Colin said the  BCS report will be available after February 2015.

There was some talk on the School’s 0% late policy, this has been in place for a couple of years now;  students can obtain extensions from course organisers if  there is a  valid reason.

There was concern about about the hardware that  SLIP uses; the students feel it  is out of date and they would prefer to use a more modern  and widely supported open source  platform such  as arduino. (Comment has been passed on to the lecturer.)

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 19th November at 1.10pm

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Minutes of meeting Wednesday 29th October

Elizabeth Mortimer the new Careers Consultant for Informatics, from the Careers Service joined us this week to introduce herself.  She gave a brief description of what she does that can help students, such as help with CV’s, Job Internships, etc..

She asked the students if they had any suggestion of things the Careers Service can help with.  Some suggestions were it would be helpful if they could  find feedback of PhD programmes and further study.  The students said it was quite difficult to get an appointment with the Careers Service, Elizabeth said there are 40/50 slots per day but fill up very quickly.  She said she would consider doing a drop in service to Informatics but when she had worked out her calendar for the following months, she would be in touch and try and advertise this on the Facebook page.

It was reported that INF1-FP Tutor had made a female student cry in the tutorial.  Colin will look into this. (Alex and I sent out  email  “tips for tutors” to all tutors.)

INF1-CL lectures held by Michael Fourman were reported to be disorganised, they are not making any sense and all over the place.  The students are finding it hard to understand. (Mike Fourman will produce extra notes to clarify.)

Informatics 2 – Introduction to Computer Systems is a 10 credit course and the coursework for Computer Systems is taking up too much time.  The students taking INF2A which is a 20 credit course feel like the INF2A coursework is being affected due to the time they have to spend doing Computer Systems.  Computer Systems was awarded a deadline extension and the students feel they would not have got it finished if this was granted. (Colin talked to the lecturer about this.)

The reps said that DMMR revision tutorials would be good, as INFFBase doesn’t teach DMMR.  It was asked if Informatics could employ someone that could teach it in the Maths Base.  The reps asked if the DMMR lecture videos could be put on-line but Colin said DMMR is not being recorded this year. (DMMR will have revision lectures in  Week 11.)

Feedback from the IAML coursework was reported to have not been very informative, there was a general feedback sheet that went back with the coursework but the individual feedback on the actual coursework was not enough for the students.

Professional Issues the reps said that Phil Wadler and Michael Fourman who teach the course don’t have any time to give any lectures, they are mostly guest lectures.  It was reported that this years exam will be an Open Book exam.  Alex has spoken to Phil about his 0.5% penalty to students who don’t attend lectures.  Apparently Phil asked the students if they were agreeing to this penalty in the first lecture and the students did agree.

One student has reported to have been trying to get a hold of Sethu Vijayakumar with no luck regarding his 4th year project.  Colin said students should be allocated a 4th Year Project Supervisor by the end of the summer, so he will look into this as a matter of urgency. (The student is from Mechanical Engineering and Colin emailed them  that Engineering are responsible for project supervison.)

The INF1-CG students asked if the school could find funding to employ a tutor to help them with the Maths part of the course.  Colin will look into this.

Lecturers should encourage classes to form study groups amongst themselves.

It was asked if Colin could wear a mic in his DMMR lectures.

Week 8’s meeting will be moved to week 9, Wednesday 12 November at 1pm, in Room 4.14, Appleton Tower.

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Minutes of meeting 8th October 2014

At the end of last weeks meeting Colin asked if any of the Student Reps would
be willing to to become Reps for the Teaching Committee and Board of Studies.
Connor Stuart has agreed to do Board of Studies and Arthur Verkaik
Teaching Committee.

Both INF1-FP and INF1-CL students have reported that some of the tutors are
finding it hard to communicate with the students, and arriving at the
tutorials unprepared and unable to answer all questions.
Tutors are paid one hour to prepare for tutorials and one hour to tutor.
Some Lab Demonstrators are also paid for one hour preparation
but it depends on the course.

INF1-CL Lectures are also proving hard to follow.
There is new course lecturer who is presneting the material in a new way.
It is hoped that by the end of the course
like previous years students will have managed to grasp the course content.

DMMR there has been some confusion over the last week’s DMMR tutorial
locations, there appears to be some issues between Timetabling and Theon,
which is being looked into by the ITO.
Some students are finding the weekly coursework submissions a bit much.

CD Labs on a Tuesday are difficult for some students to attend,
a lot of the students cannot make the Tuesday slot so they are turning up to
the Wednesday slot and the room does not have enough machines to accommodate
everyone, so people are being turned away. The Lab Demonstrator was going
to look into getting more machines to try ease the problem.

DBS course slides appear to be one file,
the students would prefer if they were individual lecture slides.
OS lecturer appears to be rushing through the lectures and not being able to
complete one lecture without it being tailed into the next lecture slot.
So each lecture contains half of the weeks before and half of the new week,
the students would prefer the lectures to focus on one lecture and start
fresh at the next one.

PI students  reported that the Milner lecture that they attend last week was
too complicated to understand, they now have to write a 250 word report based
on it. Alex has spoke to Phil about his 5% penalty for missing lectures and
apparently Phil said that was agreed by the class in the first lecture,
it is about assessing engagement with the course.

IT Tutorials have tutorial slots that clash with other lectures,
a suggested time for tutorials would be the 1pm – 2pm, lunch time, or a
Wednesday when 4th year students don’t have any lectures.

RSS has coursework due to be handed out on the 16th October but there is now
details on the course web page. Colin said that this is a new course
so the students will have to be patient, but any issues can be raised
directly with the course lecturer.

AGTA Tutorials had clashes in and this has still not been resolved.
Colin said that this course actually doesn’t need to supply tutorials,
it is based on the lecturers ability to do these.
The issue was with the lecturer going straight through Timetabling and not
directly with the ITO.

IRR issues have now been resolved.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday 22nd October 2014.

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Minutes of meeting 1st October 2014

The first week of INF1-CL Tutorials were disorganised with tutors turning up
late and being unorganised with their material.

INF1-FP lab sessions are 3 hours long and only supervised for one hour by a
lab demonstrator, the students feel that this isn’t long enough as the labs
hold 50 students it isn’t enough Support. They also said that there are no
Haskell examples on the course web page, but other reps noted there are useful
websites such as learnyouahaskell and realworldhaskell with many examples.
The Reps also feel a EMACs session would be helpful at the start of year,
as the students are finding it difficult to use.
The Honours Reps said that they found using gedit easier.

INF2A lab exercises are good but a Python link on the course web page
would be useful. DMMR in week 1 the students were issued with reading to do,
and it was Chapters 1, 2 and 3 which was around 250 pages,
the students felt that this was too much and a more detailed recommended
reading within the chapters would have been better i.e 2.1 and 2.1 of chapter 1.
However there is a study guide on the course web page which breaks down
chapters into the required sections which need to be read.

Professional Issues has some issues, one being the lecturer was far too
fast in talking which was causing a problem for non English speakers.
The book that is recommended to read is very old and not that helpful.
The lectures need to cover more of technical side of the course than the
communication side. It was reported that the course lecturer
assesses the lecture attendance and if people don’t show he deducts 5% of the
final mark at the end of the course. Alex Simpson will look into this.

SELP the students has asked for resources to be made available to them, other
than a Google search. It is a an individual project that students have to
work on their own and the framework is fine but some help would be good from
the lecturer.

AGTA tutorials have a clash with the IT lecture,
DBS lecture was really over crowded in LG9, in DHT,
but this is being looked into.
TTSDS the slides on the course web page relocate students to NB; it would
be useful to have the slides on the course web page.

IRR the tutorials have still not be sorted, due to a lack of tutors.

Volunteers have been invited to put their selves forward to become
Reps for the Board of Studies and Teaching Committee Boards.


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Minutes of meeting Wed 24th September 2014

This was the first weekly meeting of Semester one.  Present were reps from all  years UG1 to  UG5 and MSc;  from the School, Kendal Reid (ITO),  Alex Simpson  and Colin Stirling.  There was  a brief introduction and discussion of what it is to be a student rep. UG1: there were no issues so far with UG1, the Reps said that have set up a web page where students can post any questions or concerns but so far there was nothing to report. UG2:  the only issue was with DMMR, the 1st coursework was late  because the TA’s posting of it had to be  moderated,  so a 24 hour extension was granted.
UG3:  the Course SEOC was reported to be very overcrowded in the lecture hall.  Alex Simpson asked if anyone was taking the new Undergraduate Research Proposal Project with John Lee;  Nantas said he was, along with about another 10 students. There are no lectures involved with this course, just the production of a mini Thesis of 20 pages to be submitted by the 3rd December worth 100% of the mark. UG4:
some students said that SLIP had a sign up sheet for the course at the 1st lecture, but as the general course choices had to be submitted by the 22nd September, a lot of students didn’t know this and  so may have  missed out doing the course.
UG5:  BIO1 and IT were reported to  clash , so if you take both courses, you miss 50% of each course.  The has been mentioned to the ITO but they said there was not enough people on the courses to warrant a timetable change.
MSc: a Rep asked if it was possible to have  the 1st lecture recordedfor all the course choices, as it would help with their final choices. Some  are available but not all ,  as we cannot force lecturers to record them.  The School doesn’t have a policy on recording lectures; only  some lecture rooms  have  facilities to do this and if we had to record them all it could cost a lot of money. There was also some concern about IRR and when the lectures would take place as the web page is showing last year’s timetable.

General discussion followed. There was  discussion about whether semester 1  honours courses could be examined in December certain exams being examined in December;  this issues had been  discussed  at  Teaching Committee last year, so Alex will forward  the minutes  to the Reps for their information.
It was asked if lecturers could be asked to keep their lectures notes on-line until after the resit diets. The 1st 4th Year Project group meetings will take place in Week 5.
One Rep said some of the recommended reading books for courses are very expensive, and could the School supply e-books;  Colin said we couldn’t for
It was mentioned that a lot of course links on the web pages are broken.
IT and CG were overcrowded and students were having to stand in the lectures Theatres.

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Minutes of Meeting 13, 26th March 2014

Present: Alex, Kendal for ITO, student reps.

Randomness and Computation
Complaints had been received from students about the Lecturer Ilias Diakonikolas being 20 minutes late on a few occasions. This was raised with the lecturer who clarified that he was late on 2 occasions and only by 10 minutes due to personal appointments overrunning.  He has apologised for this.  It was also mentioned that Ilias uses the blackboard during his lecture, and there are no notes for the course. If you miss a lecture, the only fallback is the textbook.  It would be useful to have notes or at least a summary.  Coursework seems to be taken from a textbook and not put together by the lecturer. This has been raised and next session all coursework will be written by the lecturer.

Secure Programming
Students had asked David Aspinall if it is possible to have a revision tutorial before the exam, as this is a new course, it would be good to have some kind of idea of what to expect in the exam.  David Aspinall said that this wasn’t possible as the course has already exceeded its budget for this year. Alex agreed that it would be useful to find extra money for this, and this has since been done.

Natural Language Understanding
Issues with the TA have continued. Apparently he gives conflicting advice to different students. Apart from the issues with the coursework and TA this year, students felt that this was one of the most interesting and challenging courses for final-year students.

Introduction to Vision and Robotics
Michael Hermann forwarded a repsonse to student complaints about the quantity of coursework (which has been reduced considerably this year). He feels that students have failed to make use of the assistance provided for the coursework.  He ran supervised labs, and they were very poorly attended.

Informatics 2B – Algorithms, Data Structures, Learning
The complaints in the previous meeting about errors in the code in the first coursework had been reported to Kyriakos Kalorkoti. His reply was that this was an unexpected error, discovered only 3 days before the deadline. It was quickly fixed and an extension granted commensurate with the problem.

The Reps asked if we have some sort of policy about extensions being granted if bugs are found in coursework software.  Alex said we don’t, and it would probably be trickty to have a uniform policy covering all instances.  Nevertheless, it would be worth thinking about.

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Minutes of Meeting 12, 12th March 2014

Present: Michael, Kendal for ITO, student reps.

1. Courses

Informatics 1 – Cognitive Science
Michael spoke to Mirella Lapata about PPLS students struggling with the
mathematical and programming side of the course, so she is going to pair the students up with Informatics students which should help.  The Reps asked if they could set up a
meeting with just INF1-CG lecturers, Michael said they should just contact the
lecturers directly.

Natural Language Understanding
After the students’ complaints about the first assignment, Michael has spoken
with the lecturers Frank Keller and Mirella Lapata who said they had addressed
the problems by issuing an extension.  The students said the marks issued with
quite high, this has appeased many students.  The second coursework was
out on the 11th March and due on the 25th, and students felt the deadline was a
bit late.

Informatics 2B – Algorithms, Data Structures, Learning
The reps reported that faulty code had been issued for the first coursework, and that fixes
were not made available until 48 hours before the deadline.  An extension was granted
over the weekend.  It was stated though in the coursework that if the
algorithm doesn’t pass all unit tests 0 marks would be awarded and the
students don’t think this is fair.

Introduction to Vision and Robotics
Students complained that the coursework was too big and should be worth more
than 25% given its size.  Apparently the course has been cut down by 66% from previous years, but students still feel it is too big, and only a few managed to complete it.

2. Coursework and project deadline timing

The reps said that there are a lot of deadline due in March, all about a month
before the 4th year project is due and asked why they can’t have the same
deadline date as the MSc project deadline.  Michael said the reason for this
was students need to time to prepare for exams and if the deadline was any
later it would mean extending the teaching period and this is not ideal for
students who are starting jobs in the summer or need their grades back for
starting in other Universities.

3. Computing

The reps reported that the Latex installation on DICE machine lacks a number of packages useful for dissertations and project reports such as subcaption.
Michael said that those should be easy to add by Computing Support, students should request this via the normal support form. It is also possible to download the respective style files from the internet and simply store them in a local folder.

4. Other

Taught Programme Review
This review of all our teaching is done every 5 years by a mixed panel of external and internal reviewers, and is due to be done in the Spring of 2015.  Michael said it is important that the students engage in the process and would appreciate any input in the process throughout the next months. There will be a more specific process to engage students in the review, watch this space.

Next meeting: The next meeting will be held at on 26th March 2014 at 1:10pm in AT 4.14a.




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Minutes of Meeting 11, 26th February 2014

Present: Michael, Kendal for ITO, Student Reps, Alison Downie from Computing Support.

1. Matters arising

Machine Translation

Michael has spoken with Clemens Wolff to discuss this, has personally spoken to Barry Haddow about it, and there has been further communication between Clemens and Barry on the matter.

Informatics 2B – Algorithms, Data Structures, Learning
Attendance is still low, but there has been a slight improvement in
Hiroshi’s lecturestyle.


The issue with the speakers in Lecture Theatre has now been resolved.

2. Courses

Informatics 1 – Cognitive Science
The INF1-CG Rep said that the course was great, but there has been issues with the quantity of the course content.  Students who are on this course are feeling like the coursework and the reading content is way too heavy compared to other courses.
Many students had to use the Innovative Learning Week to try and catch up with the course.  She said there is up to 3 articles per lecture and 5 books to read.  One student has reported that they had to drop an outside course they were taking to concentrate on INF1-CG.  Richard Shillcock focuses more on the Psychology side and Mirella Lapata is more Informatics based and a lot of external students struggle with this as they have no maths background.

Update:  Michael has relayed this feedback to the lecturers. Mirella has responded with various suggestions to improve the situation for her part of the course, including pairing up PPLS and Informatics students in labs, introducing a Unix crash course next year, offering more TA one-to-one advice and feedback/feedforward sessions. Richard has not responded so far.

Natural Language Understanding
The first assignment didn’t run well, the code wasn’t put on the course web page, and it was really bad quality.  The lecturers gave the students 2 extensions, but for 15% worth of the coursework it took too much time to complete.

Update: Michael has discussed this with the lecturers again. They acknowledge the problems and the inappropriate communication from the TA to some students, but believe the issues have been addressed with the extensions granted, and the apology issues by the TA.

3. Computing

The reps reiterated their criticism regarding the student compute server, which is very slow and makes using even normal DICE machines more appropriate for running experiments. Alison Downie confirmed that the server is due for upgrade
soon.  Students are also complaining about other students leaving notes in on lab  machines saying “Do Not Use”  when they are running experiments.  Alison said that other students are well within their rights to force a log of, the machines are a shared facility.  There is plenty of documentation on the Computing pages about how to to run programmes  in the background.  If students want to run programmes that are up to 16 hours long, this can be arranged via Support.  Computing Support will look into putting up information in the Labs that clarifies the rules.

Michael asked the students about their views regarding programming exams,
they said they were good but maybe having the option of using some US layout
keyboards in the exams would be good.  Michael said this could be looked at, but having a first-come first-served basis on the keyboards in the exams might prove problematic.


4. Facilities

There are complaints about the state of the blinds in the Appleton Tower Labs, more than half of the blinds are either broken or missing.  The sun glare through the windows can be a nightmare, this was looked into last year, but as the Tower is due for refurbishment within the next 24 months, repairing or replacing them is highly unlikely.

5. Any other business

The Informatics Conversations event will be held on 27th February from 12:30-2pm in the Informatics Forum, followed by a free lunch. All reps are invited to attend, and to spread the word among the student body.

Next meeting: The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 12th March at 1:10pm in AT 4.14a.




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Minutes of Meeting 10, 12th February 2014

Present: Michael, Kendal for ITO, Student Reps.

1. Facilities

It was reported that the middle speaker in the 2nd row of Lecture Theatre 1, Appleton Tower was still making a buzzing noise.

Updated: This was reported to LSTS, and the problem has now been fixed.

Students asked for a new whiteboard to be fitted in the West Lab on AT Level 5, which is already there. Having such a whiteboard also in the South Lab would be useful. The ITO will look into this.

2. Courses

Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship

The course lecturer has spoken to Michael and Information Services were trying to fix the bug in Learn. Some coursework is still missing but this is being looked into.

Update: Adam Bock has forwarded further information from Information Services confirming that this problem should now be under control.

Informatics 2B – Algorithms, Data Structures, Learning
The students reiterated their complaints about Hiroshi Shimodaira’s delivery of lectures. Michael reported that after discussing this with Hiroshi, he has promised to try and improve the quality of the presentation. Students reported a slight improvement in this week’s lectures, possibly as a result of this intervention.

The students asked why the INF2B Lectures weren’t recorded and on-line. The reason for this is that lectures are held in a theatre that doesn’t have recording facilities.

Machine Translation

This course was discussed again, with reps relaying student complaints regarding the lack of teaching experience of the course team and the lack of guidance regarding assignments.

Update: These comments were relayed by Michael to the course team. A meeting has been set up between Barry Haddow, Clemens Wolff and Michael to discuss this in person with the responsible course lecturer.

MSc Dissertation / Informatics Research Proposal

Students are asking whether there is a budget for cost associated with individual dissertation projects. Michael confirm that it is possible to get some support where needed, this should be discussed with the supervisor in the first instance, who can then request support from the ITO.

3. Informatics Conversations
This event will be held on Thursday 27th February 2014 in the Informatics Forum.
Michael said he has sent an email out to the students and staff for assistance.
Two agenda items will be discussed, Student Interaction and
Employablity/Skills. A brief welcome will be made followed by two 20-minute slots to discuss each of the two themes. This formal part will be followed by an informal lunch for everyone.

4. Survey Season

Michael gave information about the various surveys currently going on, and explained that the School is keen to increase completion rates. There was some discussion over appropriate ways to approach final-year students by organising special events after project submission. Reps reported that students found it hard to find course questionnaires online, and that there was a lot of confusion about the various surveys conducted by the School and the University. Michael will look into improving the ways in which these are presented.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 26th February at 1:10pm.

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