of CSG held 10am-12noon on Tuesday 17th March 2015.

Present: Tim Colles, Alastair Scobie, Perdita Stevens, Colin Stirling

Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising

The minutes were accepted. Actions had been done except that AS has still not been in a position to ask Kerry Miller to come and present about the research data store because we're still waiting on resolution of technical issues; this has been delayed by several issuse, currently availability of IS effort. It is looking as though AFS on RDS may not actually be sensible, and we may need to revert to those who want access to RDS using the standardly provided mechanisms, only. Action: AS and PS to discuss. Not yet done, July 15

Nothing has been heard lately about the College Security Action Plan; for example, no mail from head of school has appeared. Action: PS to follow up. DONE

Current situation is that there is, we are told, no plan to push our mail to Office365. There is an issue about whether the recently announced availability of the Office suite for home use applies to us: it was announced by IS as though it did, but as we don't subscribe to MS Select, it seems that it doesn't really. AS is pushing for a follow-up announcement one way or the other.

The lab machines on Level 5 of Appleton Tower are getting better monitors (not all at once, but many will be done as part of the decant). Unfortunately it's not possible to upgrade the flipdesk monitors because high resolution screens of the right dimensions are not available - replacing them by higher resolution but smaller monitors does not seem like an improvement.

Date and time of next meeting

Provisionally 2-3pm Wednesday June 17th.

Major current and pending projects, and new projects system

Tim walked us through major projects shown at https://computing.projects.inf.ed.ac.uk/ . Some recurring themes are:

  • the Appleton Tower decant. Is happening. Nothing much to discuss.
  • the SL7 upgrade. Request for "trailblazer" usersto trial it will be out soon. Some lab desktops will be upgraded during the decant. We'll have to keep some at SL6 for MSc students who shouldn't have the platform changed under their feet, and may even have to change some machines back for the programming exam resits, but this can be done.

Current annual plan

We discussed the current annual plan (which is a living document, i.e. can be changed whenever appropriate).

We discussed some issues that are not yet fully reflected in the plan:

We have been told to expect that next year Euclid will start containing coursework marks.We are not sure what the timeline is for it to do the actual calculation combining coursework marks and exam marks, and replace the software we currently have for producing information for Boards of Examiners. SMART will now not be used. Action: TC to talk to Gillian about timeline. DONE. One of our courses will run in parallel in both systems in 15/16.

The System Design Project is becoming a problem given our rising numbers. For next year this is not really a CSG matter, but for the following year, a new project will be needed. There are COs who would like more involvement in teaching and in this context that might be very helpful. Action: CS to talk to AS once an academic lead has been identified. Not yet done, July 15

(Not) migrating to EASE explanation

We discussed this result of the investigation into whether we could rationally save effort by migrating to EASE. The conclusion seems clear. We need to make sure that we send clear messages, including in our Plan, about possible migrations; e.g., we must avoid suggesting that we'd migrate if it weren't for deficiency X in the centrally provided service, when what we actually mean is that deficiency X is one showstopper reason not to migrate (but that there still might be other reasons not to, even if that deficiency were rectified).

MFDs and laser printers in the forum (Alastair)

The current situation, in which many printing areas have both MFDs and laser printers, was intended to be temporary while we established that the MFDs could print to our requirements. It has drifted on, but the laser printers are now failing. We intend that the print queues that currently point at the laser printers will be changed to point at the MFDs, which should be labelled, and that this change will be announced so users know where to look for their paper. It is believed that we collectively have enough experience with the MFDs to be confident that this will be smooth, but if not, it's easy enough to switch back to the laser printers.

We discussed related issues such as: now that fax is no longer used and many users use phone cameras + printers for things they would once have used photocopiers for, do we actually need an MFD on every floor? Likely the admin staff use photocopying and scanning facilities more than academics do, so probably yes, but we should bear in mind that this may change over the years.

It is still observable that many printouts are never collected from printers. We discussed options including facilities that would mean a job wouldn't actually be printed until the user who asked for it was standing at the printer to enter a code; this would cause some inconvenience, but might help. Quotas for academic printing such that an academic could find themselves unable to print would, we thought, make no difference until an academic ran out of quota, and then would be acceptable only until the first time someone needed something urgently and couldn't get it. The current situation, in which those who print most pages may be approached individually and asked to try to reduce their use, was thought to be likely the most effective.


We discussed the recent Teaching Programme Review, in which it seemed to us unfortunate that there had not been systematic involvement of any of us. Tim was on a panel as a last minute replacement for Alison. PS is having some correspondence with Susan Eisenbach about, among other things, our software provision. It seems that she may have been misinformed on some points, which may be a sign that some students are misinformed, which we may be able to fix; it is also possible that there are things we can improve. Action: PS to send copy of her mail to SE, to CS (DONE). Action: PS to pass on information as appropriate when those issues have been clarified with SE. DONE, vacuously, as we never did get further input before TPR was finalised.

CS reported that some students say they get too much mail, and wonder whether some mails could be replaced by entering events such as employers' visits on a calendar instead. That in itself seems unlikely, as surely some people would need to have an announcement when something was added to a calendar. But perhaps there is a need for more fine-grained mailing lists so that students could unsubscribe themselves from kinds of mail they aren't interested in. On the other hand, depending on exactly what the problem is, that might not be the best solution; it would have a cost in teaching both staff and students about what mail should go where, and we know from experience with staff mailing lists that this is difficult for people to remember. CS's impression is that the amount of mail students are talking about may actually be very small compared to what we and many professionals handle; it is possible that a better solution is to provide education or advice on mail clients for students. Action: CS to investigate further. Not yet done, July 15.

PS reported that several first year courses are, at students' instigation, using Piazza for forums, and that this is going well. It is possible that this is a better default than our (new!) service at http://discuss.inf.ed.ac.uk This has been used so far by Inf2A , Inf2C -CS, Inf2C -SE, and (in one post only) SELP. On the one hand the work has now been done to set that service up, and little would be saved by taking it down; on the other, we could do so, and quickly put it back if we did need it in future, and students may find it easier if all courses use the same software; on the third hand, there may be some circumstances in which Piazza is not suitable. Action: PS to contact the lecturers of the courses that use the forum, to make them aware of Piazza. DONE

-- PerditaStevens - 11 Mar 2015

Topic revision: r5 - 28 Jul 2015 - 16:20:19 - PerditaStevens
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