Here are three suggestions for improving UCOSP next term [1]; comments would be very welcome.

  1. Have every mentoring project put together a list of 1 small task per week per student for the first four weeks of the project. The goal is to make sure that the mentors and the students are more organized and on the same page by the time the main work in the project starts. It will also serve as a weeding out period: students who can’t get four small tasks done are unlikely to be able to hack the rest of the course.

  2. Require every project to have a mailing list that anyone can subscribe to. Everyone “gets” e-mail, even if other methods dominate in the actual development process of the project, and interested people (like faculty) can lurk.

  3. For each week, require that either each student have their milestone done by the end of the week OR have written a blog post explaining what problems they ran into that prevented them from getting it done. It’s the “no free lunch” idea — you can drop a task, but not “just because”.

[1] Assuming we get enough students to run it — so far, we only have seven (!). Please help spread the word…