Congratulations for finishing!!
Hayden Smith 🎉 Friday 21 May 2021, 07:21:06 PM.
Firstly, I'd like to congratulate the top 5 achieving students in COMP6080 for T1. In order, they are:
Alex Liu, Benjamin Mickan, Alvin Cherk, Sarah Oakman, Yasmin Akhtar
For those who have emailed me in the last 24 hours, I will get back to you in the next day or two. If I don't get back to you by Sunday night then I have accidentally lost an email. But I will get back to you :) There are just a few things I have to do in order to get back to you.
Thanks for all the positive comments people left about COMP6080! And thanks for the less positive ones. Whether your experience denotes something actionable or not, having the extensive display of how people feel makes my job of understanding you a lot easier. Your course offering was better than the previous one because of feedback your predecessors made, and I appreciate you taking the time to care about future students.
A big thanks to your tutors to for being wonderful people. A bunch of you know I have private work as well, and what keeps me wanting to teach this course is just how much of a pleasure it is to teach you all. So thank you.
For those who've failed the course, please don't be disparaged. Some of the most successful people I know have failed courses before. This is just a drop in the ocean, keep your head up and trust me when I say everyone trusts your abilities.
I did want to take a bit of a moment to address the less positive comments. I love reading these and learning about what's on your mind, and my biggest weakness is that I just want to learn and discuss them all the time :) Genuinely there are some great pieces of feedback I know, some great pieces of feedback I didn't know, some things that I think I can shed context on to show it's not something we'll do, and then things I just have no idea what to do with :D
1. Things being taken on board for T3
More react resources
: We could definitely provide more resources (either practical or theoretical) with ReactJS. Any suggestions just email me. Thanks!
UI/UX being more practical
: Yep, will do. Thanks!
More on code structure & design patterns
: Yep, I at least
to integrate this. Not sure how. Thanks!
Fix issues with Canva lectures
: Yep, we'll look into that. Thanks!
2. Bigger things to explain
Both of these ones below are extremely nuanced topics and I welcome any and all conversation or ideas people have about it. My email inbox is always open!
2.1. "The course is too hard or time consuming"
I think there are a few things I want to emphasise to people when considering how difficult you find the course:
This is a level 6 course
- this means its going to be a lot harder than a first year course. Typically we'd expect people who do level 6 courses are in 3rd or 4th year. I understand that some of you do it earlier, which is fine, though it's really not designed for an average 2nd year to find it that easy. It's not meant to be easy, and we're here to push you to learn. And we don't expect every student to get an HD or to finish everything.
Assignments are worth 75% of the course
- If you find this course say 50% harder than some other courses you do, have a look at their assessment weightings. The assignments are quite large, though we make up for that because we don't assess you as heavily in other areas.
You all generally did quite well
. As I discuss below too, we gave out nearly 50% of grades were a distinction or above. So it's not like students are doing terribly overall. It's not an easy course, and everyone worked really hard, and you have the results to show for it.
Some say that "The course should have more depth and less breadth"
- You know, I totally GET what you're saying. The contrast to COMP6080
might be COMP2521 - a course where the concepts are quite narrow but
they're very challenging. So you do the same work, but its solving
complex and difficult problems rather than just "doing more". I.E.
Complaint is that COMP6080 should have less work, but that less work be
harder. And while I do get what you want here, I think the reality (in
my judgement) is that this will just not be a course you will find that
in. Web, by its nature, it's EXTREMELY broad. It's the WORST thing about
teaching this course. It's the anti-C. Every answer leads to 3 more
questions. I could teach 1.5 courses just on CSS. We could have a whole
degree just on web technologies. And more than that - frontend... even
in industry, isn't that
immediate depth. Like I work on frontend/backend every day. The
frontend work is just DIFFERENT - rarely algorithmic problems to solve
and more just tweaking dials and fine tuning things to get them how you
want. It's just a different skill. And that's OK. So while I'm sure we
can make little tweaks, I think the nature of the content, and our
ambition for teaching you more than just CSS, this will always be a hard
course to have you find that in.
2.2. "I want there to be marks for labs"
This one is quite tough.
Do you want marked labs so you can learn more?
Well that wouldn't change what you
do, because nothing stops you doing the labs/exercises and turning up every week to get help and have tutors look at it. In fact, you probably get MORE help under this model because otherwise most lab time would be trying to quickly mark people (and get minimal help)
Do you want marked labs so you can be incentivised to do them?
Sure, I get that. But the problem is that there isn't a scalable way (that I can see) to just "cut out" parts of the assignments. Therefore we'd be reducing assignment weights in order to create MORE compulsory work for you. This was the criticism ("too much to do") that caused us to remove them. And you know what, the 20T3 students were right. Having labs marked off weekly by tutors on top of assignments is a kind of crazy burden and it's also a structure that isn't really appropriate (imo) for a level 6 course that assumes students should be capable of self-learning at this stage. SO!! Would it motivate you to complete them? Yes. Would it then make you do even MORE work? Yes. Thus is the problem.
One thought I had today was that I could maybe do a model where each weeks lab/exercise is worth 1 mark. And that 1 mark can come off the assignments instead (not a bonus mark, but rather trading marks). It would need to be small enough that for a typical student that "just doing the assignment" is a more efficient way to get marks per unit of effort, however, still big enough that if people really find the labs super valuable they want to instead of being assessed 30/30 for an assignment and 0/10 for labs, they could do 2 labs and have their assignment scaled down etc. This gets a bit complicated to discuss, but the point is there are some middle grounds.
3. Smaller things to explain and discuss
"Split the course into two"
- Would love to. That would solve the problems that I have with it (that you might share too). Though not on the drawing board in the immediate future. I'm sure in a couple of years the course will be split in the middle around week 6-7 and both halves made twice as big / twice as hard. I just want to be clear that I don't think the reason to split is to reduce the workload (because the workload is pretty standard for assessment weightings of a level 6 course imo), but rather because we honestly have to skip a lot of interesting things (UI/UX, accessibility, design patterns, backend) that I would LOVE to teach more of but don't have the space for. But again, this isn't something I can imagine ever being in affect until at the absolute earliest 18 months from now.
"I want to learn Vue as well"
- Just not enough time. One declarative framework to teach is pivotal IMO, but that's already pushing the envelope.
"I couldn't complete all the exercises"
- Yeah, I know. Last term students told us there wasn't enough exercises and wanted more to practice more or to have more choice. So we added that. We have no expectation that you would do ALL the exercises (as a normal student). Better to be spoiled by choice!
"I also wish there were more women guest lectures from industry"
- Me too. I don't have much control over Canva staff. But don't forget we did have a team of great female teaching staff who were all very knowledgeable too. In terms of my approach to affirmative action I generally like to approach it top-down (e.g. more female guest lecturers) so whether that's a success or not I hope you know I support that want.
"I didn't like how many students already knew frontend"
- It feels unfair, doesn't it? This disparity between students? Well, this is exactly why I wanted this course to exist. Because I was frustrated by seeing students feel there weren't on a level playing field. But sadly, some students will take this course when they already know a lot... and if that ever makes you feel uneasy, I encourage people to remember that at least you're getting more for your $! Doing a course that you are already comfortable with will yield less personal growth then someone who has more to learn :) So it sucks, but it's life, and don't compare yourself to the 70 smarties in the course, compare yourself to the millions of people who don't have a skill that you now have!!
"Allow anonymous posting"
- I tried this once. When you allow it suddenly about 50% of the posts
become anonymous and student participation drops. Generally identities
motivate people. Also, you can post privately (so no other students can
see - just tutors). If anything is ever that sensitive you could always
email me (for future reference). And we do have that totally anonymous
feedback form in the sidebar. Generally speaking I'm comfortable with
those avenues too and am aware that once in a blue moon a student just
won't be, but if I'm oversimplifying or missing anything do reach out!
Always keen to learn.
of assessment mark distribution / expectations from assuming 90% of
students being a pass grade – distributions generally follow a normal
one centered around CR"
- I actually don't know what you mean
here... If I take the UG offering, more than a quarter of people got a
DN. It was the most populate grade. I gave out 20% more HD's than I did
PS. (FL = 5%, PS = 18%, CR = 25%, DN = 26%, HD = 20%). This course gave
nearly HALF of the students a DN of above grade. I understand that I
spent some time explaining
how we have to make some assessments harder
but that's just to explain that if I didn't do that then virtually
everyone gets a DN or above. The marks are still very very high, I just
wanted to avoid them being excessively high to the point of eroding the
integrity of assessing you.
"It felt like the course didn't want us to do well"
- Again, would love to learn more. People did very well in this course,
and it's a pretty typical difficulty for a level 6 course.
"Release of feedback for assignments earlier"
- This one is tricky. We actually release things pretty early compared to other courses (most tutors work like bulldozers to mark). Further, due to extension we actually can't release assignments usually more than 7-10 days. So it's kind of edge of the envelope again. I understand that diligent students might completely finish the next assignment before the previous feedback comes out, and don't want to go back and adjust, but I just don't know how feasible that is. The best I could probably say for future reference is if you truly did FINISH the next assignment in like 7-10 days totally, then you could probably email me/LiC and ask for some tentative feedback as a one off case.
"Release lectures early"
- A lot of the time there was actually a process to go through in terms of finalising the order and whatnot. Often I released them as soon as they were ready to go. Sorry that I didn't have more of them ready earlier!
"I wish topics were taught in chunks"
- I understand that, though nothing stops you learning them in chunks. We release them in an order to help students absorb content slowly. But we label them (with cute emojis) so that if you want to tackle topics in a chunk you can just click through them too :)
"I normally get X mark in my other courses"
- An average COMP6080 student scored within a few points of their current WAM, so it's likely a case that some students will outperform their WAM in this course, and others will underperform their WAM. So I don't think a single WAM comparison will yield much, but I do love all the other feedback.
4. Things I don't know what to do with
So the following is feedback that... I understand what you wanted to say, but it's hard to do without more specific information. If you wrote this, or you feel the same, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and just like elaborate with more specificity.
"Course materials weren't helpful in the assignments"
"React can be deeper"
"Give more hints about how to do the assignment (like give similar examples)"
"Add more structure to the course"
"Should have more examples on each topics"
"Would appreciate more guidance from lecturers"
"[I didn't like] the tutors"
"I know some lecture notes have the code snippets, but I find it inadequate."
"I felt that the response to forum posts regarding some students' lack of access to assignment 3 was initially a little poor. Other questions were answered while that question was ignored which almost gave the impression that the course did not care to respond"
(For the assignment) "I had to make so many similar pages"
"Timestamps in youtube videos"
"More tutors in help sessions"
"Assignment X was too hard"
"Assignment X was too long"
"Canva's lectures weren't as good"
"I feel like React could be introduced a little earlier"
"I wish assessments were broken up into more parts"
Overall, thank you so much for a great term. This is the second offering of this course and already so much of your feedback will help drive future iterations of this course. I genuinely mean this when I say you were all some of the most pleasant students I've taught, and I really appreciate your understanding throughout the course!
Go find me and add me on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch :) And if nothing else, I hope learning some of this material will have immediate or long term benefits to your capabilities. I'm sure you'll all go and build incredible things.
Finally, if you're interested in Typescript,
go check out a talk by one of your COMP6080 tutors
I'll see you all around!!