• Happy Holidays (+ Addressing Feedback)

    Posted by Hayden Smith 🎉 Friday 24 December 2021, 10:38:30 PM.

    Hi everyone,

    This notice does not contain any critical information and is not required to be read.

    Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas for tomorrow! This is a very delayed final notice for the course that I've been meaning to send out.

    I wanted to first say thank you to our 800~ students for being such a great bunch of students this term. It was honestly a pleasure to watch so many of you learn and grow. It's the reason I kept coming back to teach this course - watching people like yourselves "level up" (professionally, technically, and more) in such a short amount of time.

    I also wanted to say a massive thank you to the teaching staff for 21T3. Jake, Emily, Nick, and our 30 wonderful tutors. I don't exaggerate when I say that on the whole I think the balance of experience, professionalism, and commitment to teaching that your tutors show is really some of the best UNSW has to offer. I hope you all take the time to reach out and stay in touch - they're all great people and they speak so highly of everyone here.

    The primary reason for this notice though is to address feedback from MyExperience. I think it's important that for every course offering the time is spent to demonstrate that we've read the feedback and that in many cases we're intending to do something about it.

    To those who had a rough time in COMP1531, all I can say is that I'm sorry that it happened. Whilst every term it seems like we reduce the number of people that receive bad luck, there is always a small group of people who just have it rough. We'll try and do better.

    The short story is that in response to your feedback we intend to: pushing CSE to stabilise the gitlab runners; overhahuling the tutorials & labs (including lab marking); providing more resources for students in areas that are lacking; providing more feedback; doing our best to further support challenging groups (both in formation and ongoing battles).

    The more detailed comments are below

    Things that we're planning to improve based on feedback

    • Providing more guidance and frameworks for resolution for groups with challenging team members
    • Pushing CSE to improvement the gitlab runner infrastructure so things are both more reliable and faster
    • Making some improvements to how groups are formed to make things a little bit fairer across the course
    • Fundamentally rethinking how we do our tutorials and labs, both in terms of content but also in terms of how we structure the 3 hours, how we mark labs, and more. This includes reducing the amount of manual marking that labs require so that students get more time getting feedback from tutors
    • Getting more help on critical topics such as deployment
    • Ensuring that feedback for both labs and the project is more thorough and more structured so that you have more of a chance to learn from your work and mistakes
    • Reviewing iteration 2 & 3 lengths and weightings.

    Things that we'd love to learn more about so we can hopefully action

    These are pieces of feedback that we received that are hard to action with more information, since the comments were broad enough that we'd normally ask follow up questions. However, since MyExperience is anonymous these will be hard to do much with unless anyone wants to reach out to share more specifics about how they felt. The items below are paraphrased:

    • "Workload was too much": Which particular part of the workload? Would love to hone in on that
    • "Can we have more practice exercises": Yes, absolutely! Though it would be good to know where the biggest pitfalls were
    • "Spec was too vague to know what it's asking without posting on forum": Would love to know what particular parts felt like they were falling down so wecan learn more
    • "Lectures were confusing and disorienting, or weren't informative enough": Similarly would love to know specifically what parts people found could be improved so we can go and look at that

    Things that won't be changed or have already been mostly solved

    Feedback is paraphrased:

    • "If group members don't contribute pull their mark down": We do actually do this currently - reach out to our team if you felt like this didn't happen properly for you
    • "Remove the group project": I appreciate where those desires come from, but group work is an important part of computing education. We're interested in the question how can we do groupwork well , but aren't interested in the question should be expose students to groupwor k .
    • "Project outline was too long": We get what you mean, but the project spec being long and dense is actually part of the learning outcomes in terms of interpreting a set of requirements and implementing them.
    • "Have less automarking": Automarking is great because it's scalable and it's often more fair. We had processes in place to help groups who had critical issues (e.g. we re-ran your work). If you have specific worries about automarking reach out to the team! We never want any students screwed over by a small mistake.
    • "Have more iterations but make them smaller": Probably not feasible, iterations carry a fairly high overhead and it would most likely stress both students and tutors out more. Nice thinking, though!

    Things that are challenging to fix, though we'll do our best

    These are things that we'd certainly love to fix and will do our best! However, sometimes the story behind the topics are more complicated than they seem. The feedback is paraphrased.

    • "More help sessions": We'll do our best, though largely the rough number of help sessions are based on a budget coordinated with CSE
    • "Teach content at least a week before we need it": This one is tough. Sometimes the issue is that UNSW timetables tutorials before the lectures in a week. We don't like this and it's hard to restructure the entire course around it. In other instances I know that students don't like learning things in the same week that you use them. We're sympathetic to this, though with trimesters there is only so much we can do too. We will keep doing our best.
    • "There is too much work in the course": I think conversations about difficulties of courses are more productive when focusing in on the specifics of where people feel unnecessary difficulty lies. So please feel free to reach out anytime.
      "I don't like participation marks": Yeah, we're not a massive fan either. Problem is that an engaged tutorial is a real cornerstone of having a good online experience + it helps create an environment to meet some learning outcomes. It's fun for everyone once people put camreas on and start participating, but reality is people won't do that unless we incentivise. So it's kind of like free marks in the end. If we think of better ways we'll explore those, though in the meantime we hope you can appreciate the nature of the challenge!
    • "Record tutorials": This one is only tough because of all the webcams on. We don't like recording students when they have webcams on. We may consider sometime next year just having a tutor pre-record a tutorial without students or something similar.
    • "Don't use zoom": This one is always tough. Different students have different opinions here. We've tried out Teams, Collaborate, Zoom, Hangouts in various courses at various times. We'll continued to be led by what makes the most sense for a course at a specific time, but rest assured we do a lot of research and consultation before making decisions on this stuff!"

    Have a great holiday season. I know that for many it's been a chance to reunite with family or loves ones that is long overdue. For others it's no doubt still a time of stress or a time where you are still unable to be doing the things you want or be with the people that matter to you. For anyone who struggles through this holiday season we'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

    Stay safe & always do your best to look after each other :)

  • Congrats on making it through the exam

    Posted by Hayden Smith 🎉 Wednesday 01 December 2021, 08:47:02 AM.

    Hi everyone!

    (I thought I hit send on a notice on Saturday but it appears I must have closed the tab, so sending a replacement one now)

    We just wanted to say a big congratulations to everyone for making it through the final exam on Friday. A quick look at the results is a reminder of how much so many of you have learned this term. Whether your own learning lived up to your expectations or not, I hope that you all reflect what a transformation you've undergone in the last few months. A week ago some of your tutors were telling me how great it has been watching how much you've all picked up and how much you've learned!

    In terms of the final exam, we're still undergoing some marking for it. We aren't releasing results prior to the final release date, so your final COMP1531 mark will be available to you when the official UNSW results come out. From this it will be very easy for you to tell what exam mark you got based on a basic subtraction.

    We hope the rest of your exams are going well and that you get a nice break over Christmas. I know it's been a hard term for some of you so I'm sure it will be a much needed chance to recharge.

    If you want to stay in touch connect with me on on LinkedIn. If you're interested in the startup space at UNSW or want to see more of the work I'm doing or get some free things when signing up shoot me an email anytime. One way or another, I might see you around in another UNSW course :)

    Finally, there is a brilliant bunch of students in Sydney, including a COMP1531 student, who are helping bridge the gap between education and industry . I found out about them because I'm featuring in one of their live streams on December 11th . If it's not something like this, there is always so much cool stuff happening in our industry. Always keep your eyes peeled and don't be afraid to spend the 30 minutes a week just digging around social networks and the internet looking for cool things going on.

    Have a great week, and we'll see you around!

  • Exam + Mark wrapup

    Posted by Hayden Smith 🎉 Tuesday 23 November 2021, 08:26:49 PM.

    Hi everyone,

    Some updates below about marks and the exam. Please be aware that all marks are tentative. Sometimes clerical/technical errors exist that require marks to be corrected, and sometimes new information is brought to light which may result in a mark update.

    Also, thank you to the 55% of people who have completed MyExperience so far. You are all awesome.

    Iteration 3 + Overall project mark

    Your final project marks are now available on the grades page .

    • iteration3 : Your iteration3 mark out of 110 (including the bonus marks).
    • project : Your overall project mark out of 50.

    There are a couple of classes whose tutors are still marking - but in these cases your tutor should have already emailed you letting you know about this. If you feel there has been a mistake with your mark please reach out to your tutor, too!

    Tutorial mark + Class mark

    Your final tutorial/lab marks are now available on the grades page .

    • participation : Your tutorial attendance and participation mark out of 8
    • class_mark : Your lab + tutorial marks combined capped at 15.

    If there have been any mistakes please email your tutor or lab assistant.

    Marks required to pass exam

    If the sum of your project mark and class mark is 50 or higher, then you have already passed the course. If it isn't, then you can tell how many marks (/35) you need to score in the exam to pass the course.

    Preparing for the exam

    We've covered everything in terms of exam preparation. Expect to receive an email from me by 2pm on Friday outlining information about starting the exam. The email will be sent to your student email as well as posted as a pinned post on the ed forum.

    I have just sent a test email to you tonight that you should have received - this is the email address we will email exam info on to you throughout the exam.

    Have a great week! See you Friday afternoon.

Upcoming Due Dates

There is nothing due!

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