Week 4 Meeting Report

This week’s meeting had representation from Honours and MSc students, as well as the Director and Deputy Director of Teaching, and Kendal Reid for the ITO; but again no student reps from first or second year. Some have now replied to direct email about this, and will attend future meetings. Ewan Klein joined the first part of the meeting to talk about the Smart Data Hack.

Smart Data Hack
Ewan Klein described an event he is running for Innovative Learning Week, and asked the reps for ideas on how to encourage student participation. The Hack will be running all through the week, with teams of students working with a range of data sources to build novel applications. Reps asked about what skills students would need to join in, and more precise information about the likely outcome of the projects. Suggestions for attracting interest included: telling potential students more about what they would learn from the week; explaining that students could sign up individually but would then get to work in a team; and giving examples of what had been done in previous events like this.
Computing Clinic
Last week the Informatics computing support staff had run a drop-in Computing Clinic for all students, advertised through email, Facebook and in lectures. This was following discussion and suggestions from the reps last semester. Sadly, no students turned up. Alison Downie, organising, plans to try again anyway, but was interested in suggestions from the reps as to what might help. Reps suggested emphasising that no problem was too small and trying to target non-experts, marketing the event as non-technical.
Blinds in AT labs
Kendal reported that Dave Hamilton had surveyed the building for Informatics, and reported all the faulty blinds to University Estates and Buildings. They are required to respond within 21 days.
Fourth-Year Course Timing
Zsolt Ero reported complaints that some courses were running right up to the end of Semester, April 5, when they should be leaving the last weeks free for project work by UG4 students. Ian explained that this only applies to Informatics fourth-year courses: courses in other schools, and Level 11 courses primarily for MSc students, may make full use of all teaching weeks. Informatics fourth-year courses, however, should not be setting any coursework deadlines in Week 11. Zsolt will relay specific details of any Informatics fourth-year courses which appear not to be keeping to these constraints. Unlike Semester 1, in Semester 2 there is no three-week exam period which can be assigned exclusively to project work.
Individual Courses

HCI: Reps are in discussion with the course lecturer over remarking of some individual coursework submissions.

UG4 Projects: Youri Tan reported that support from the hardware lab for building customised equipment for individual student projects took a long time, and initial estimates were not realistic. Other reps asked what feedback would be provided on the intermediate reports, submitted by students last week.
Update: Don Sannella, course organiser for honours projects, confirms that all supervisors should give students individual written or verbal feedback on their report; and he will revise documentation for students and staff next year to make this more explicit.

IRP: Reps reported timing problems around project allocation, first group meetings, and submission of first draft, all occurring too close together. Students had some confusion over what their groups would be, and whether they should be meeting in their group or with their project supervisor.
Update: Victor Lavrenko, course organiser, will change the organisation and information for next year in response to these comments.

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