Whups, it appears I missed the original email on doing this writing assignment–apologies for it being a bit late!
I’ll start with my thoughts on the positives for this course first. I really feel I’ve learned a great deal about working with a distance group on a software project–something normal CS coursework doesn’t really prepare one for (and even precious little time is spent in the courses I’ve taken on working with more or less random groups as well). There are definite difficulties in the process, but it’s been a great experience learning these things firsthand.
And for the negative. Looking at some of the other posts, I think I would be redundant if I simply mentioned the lack of structure in the course, so I would like to point out at least one thing specifically–I’m going to pick on the grading schemes here (I was already thinking about writing this up before I saw Eric’s post just below mine–I guess this is ending up being a long extension on one of the subjects to touched on). It’s an interesting idea to have the students decide how their own projects will be graded, but I don’t think it worked out very well this time around.
I really feel there needs to be a more definite overall grading scheme. I went through all my emails from UCOSP going back to the beginning of the term, and didn’t see anything with any sort of set grading scheme. Through the semester we’ve been asked to do various things (several writing assignments, project presentation video, etc), but these pop up more or less at random, and other than being told basically that “it will affect my grade”, I have no idea how they will affect my grade.
If at the beginning of the term we could see something like:
“Initial writing assignment: X% of final grade
Project status updates: Y% of final grade
Final project video: Z% of final grade
*Along with item due dates*, I feel that would be immensely helpful. The specifics of the items don’t have to be filled out at that point, but would make sure students knew ahead of time when something was going to be due, and around when to check back for more information. For example, I somehow missed Greg’s first email about this writing assignment–but thought nothing of it, because I guess I didn’t remember seeing the initial email, and I didn’t know to expect one–so the current terrible signal-to-noise ratio of my inbox took over.
Then for some set percent of the overall final grade, students could do what we did this term and pick how their final deliverable would be graded at the end of the term. However, that would not be their *entire* grading scheme, but section of a more structured grading chart. This would allow not only for the projects to be graded more simply, but would allow students to get a better feel as to how they are progressing throughout the course, and have a better idea on how to schedule their time through the term.
So I do think that more structured grading would be a great thing for this course, what students could get out of it, and positively impact the final products as a result. I like the ideas here http://ucosp.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/some-ideas-for-next-term/ as a start, but to implement those ideas, we’re also going to need structured grading.
It’s been a great experience overall though! I know this post is a little long, so I hope it all made sense–feel free to comment if anyone wants me to make any part of my long rambling here more clear / want me to explain anything better 🙂
Thanks for reading, and it’s been great working with everyone!