-- Main.soa - 29 Oct 2007

Informatics School Council Meeting 23 Oct 2007

This is the email between the reps and Dot over the issues raised at the meeting:

BR Black wrote: > Hello Stuart,
> Boriss and I, the school representatives held a school council meeting yesterday and a few issues were raised, which I though I would pass on to you to see what can be done about them.
Thanks. I've replied to some of the issues below and copied to Neil in the ITO. >
> Library
> -------
> The library doesn't have enough copies of course textbooks, I know that you can request books using a form on the library website, but it seems most students don't. Either improving the process (stick a link on the Informatics student page to the book request form) or getting lecturers to submit book requests.
OK, I'll ask Neil to put a link on the Students page. >
> Computing labs
> --------------
> There was a request to have wireless central-wpa installed in the labs (in addition to the insecure version) as students are having problems when they need to submit secure information using the standard central.
This has already been raised and discussed via or other meeting. VPN is available over central - I use it all the time. It is adequately secure and will allow you to do everything you need to. Because of the structure of the wireless infrastructure supplying wpa is a considerable investment for little gain over VPN. If someone can produce a good argument for what considerable benefit wpa gives you over using the VPN I'll revisit this. >
> Apparently people are annoyed that the radiators are on and that it gets too hot.
a) The heating pipes will be insulated on all floors to reduce the level of waste heat produced by circulation. b) The radiators are thermostatic - they are set by the School at between 2 and 3 - users of the labs turn them up to max. I don't see what to do about it. >
> Increase disk quota for all students, and it was suggest 1Gb each would be good. The main argument was that students didn't have enough disk space to experiment when they are programming - and of course experimenting is an excellent method of learning. Considering you can buy a 1Tb hard disk for 400, it is hard to understand why it can't be done.
OK, I will take this up with computing staff. The cost of backed up disk is way more than 400 per terabyte because it involves people, routine, multiple copies, maintaining the backup's integrity and backup machinery. One approach is un-backed-up 4 or 8 Gb flash drives or some other "unmanaged" medium. We are already looking at this. >
> Revision Time in Week 11
> ------------------------
> Last year (3rd year) when they introduced the no lectures or coursework deadlines in week 11 rule I remember my lecturers having to move coursework deadlines from week 11 to week 10 (which of course meant I had less time to do them and it reduced my mark). After inquiring about this, it turns out that if students don't have exams at Christmas (which students in Yr 3 and 4 don't) then this rule doesn't apply and lecturers can teach/set coursework deadlines in week 11. Can lecturers be informed about this.
Well, there are issues on this, we accept one-semester visiting students who do have December examinations and do need revision time. We are reviewing all assessment right now and this will involve student representation. >
> Feedback
> --------
> Another of the EUSA campaigns is to improve feedback on coursework/tutorials/exams. The students obviously agreed that this was a good move. Students said they wanted more than just a number on returned coursework. The example that someone had got 9/10, but wasn't told why - it turned out that they had missed a ';' on one of there statements.
This is a University campaign too and we are trying to do things about it (e.g. 1 week turnround on Inf2A pracs). I am in the process of sending out some suggestions on coursework feedback to all staff with a view to improving feedback. I agree the ";" is ridiculous but I doubt if we can ever completely eradicate such things but I do want to see a significant improvement. >
> Coursework isn't being marked anonymously since you have to put your student number on it (and sometimes your name). Since the university has a policy of marking anonymously why isn't this being done?
We have implemented some of this (e.g. all examinations are marked anonymously and this constitutes 70% of the assessment for most courses). Board of Examination meetings are anonymous in line with policy. We will move to full anonymity but this may take a couple of years because we see other issues are more of a priority. >
> One of the class reps is also doing Physics brought up webCT as being an excellent way of organising a course, distributing notes and ensuring people are keeping up with the course. Has Informatics looked into using webCT?
We already use it on Inf1A , we will probably use it on more courses next year. It may be that the University preferred VLE is about to change - once the University has decided and the interface to EUCLID has been resolved we will look at moving over to using this kind of thing extensively. Meantime, it could mean quite a bit of wasted time for people if here is a change in the supported VLE. Really we need a good solution to integrate student data, VLE content and other data like clicker streams. >
> I'm happy to meet up to discuss these issues further or I can talk to you about them during the Monday meeting.
Discussing them at the Monday meeting would get other reps involved so I'd prefer that. Is it OK if I put the above on the wiki when I get it going?

Yours, Stuart. >
> Kind regards,
> Ben

Thomas Graham - Academic Services Convenor wrote: > Thanks Ben, that's really useful.
> The comment about the use of VPN is interesting (I'm sat in the labs and
> only able to send this using SMTP because I'm using the VPN). I find I
> have difficulties keep connectivity at times with it, but I'm not sure
> why that is (seems to only happen in here).
Losing the VPN on wireless seems to be associated with the short lease on the wireless network - it is much more stable on the wired connection in the open areas on level 3 and 4 of AT. > There is a fairly good
> reason for using central-wpa rather than VPN on a university wide scale.
> VPN connections require much more resource than a central-wpa
> connection (physically, and therefore financially), but I suppose the
> people spending the money on VPN are IS so the School isn't so concerned
> by it. I'm fairly certain that IS would much rather that Informatics
> used central-wpa than encouraging everyone to use central and connect
> using the VPN.
I've checked up further with our COs and we will evolve to using wpa in the medium term - given the work spike for our COs on occupying the new build this is unlikely to happen in the teaching space before next AY. > The comments about the VLE are really interesting, and are something
> that I will raise with my committee in the Students' Association. If
> schools are holding back on using WebCT because of FUD about the future
> of it (and these concerns are completely legitimate, as it seems likely
> it will be replaced), we need to be thinking more clearly about the
> implications for students over the next few years.
In general we need to get a clear view of the VLE and how it articulates with EUCLID in order to plan in the medium term - this poses generic issue for most Schools. College Teaching and Learning Committee are trying to plan the implementation of the T&L strategy and uncertainty about the VLE/EUCLID combination is an issue. From a Staff perspective adoption of a VLE is a significant cost - good integration with the Student admin system and a stable choice of VLE make the decision to adopt easier to take. > I'll try and add comments to the wiki (is there a link?) and hopefully
> will one day have the time to make it to a Monday meeting!
> ATB,
> Thomas.

Topic revision: r1 - 29 Oct 2007 - 09:58:28 - Main.soa
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