[CSE]  Advanced Operating Systems 
COMP9242 2014/S2 
UNSW
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Number: 00098G

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On-Line Survey 2007

Gernot's Comments

Many thanks to all students for taking the time to answer the course survey.

The results mostly speak for themselves. The course seems to be in good shape, overall satsifaction was at par with '06 and among of the highest ever (but given the small size of the class, the statisitical significance of this result is low, so should not be overrated).

Specific observations:

  • The biggest gripe was the quality of the documentation. That's one of the challenges of working with a research platform. In 2008 this will be resolved by moving to the commercially-supported and well-documented OKL4 platform (this would have been too risky to do in '07).
  • The second gripe that was repeatedly made was that the security lectures were boring, and there was a significant sentiment that they should simply be dumped.
    That might have been an option this year, although I still think the material is very important. In 2008, with only 12 teaching weeks, security is being almost completely squeezed out of COMP3231 and friends, so it really has to be taught here.
    However, I take the comments to heart. I will revise the material and try to make it more stimulating.
  • 12UoC was a repeated comment... This won't happen, sorry. People know what they are getting in for ;-)
  • A repeated comment about prerequisites was that there should be flexibility. Of course there is! I am always open to give someone permission to enrol if they can convince me that they are up to it. But experience has shown that most people with less than a D in OS struggle, and either just scrape through or fail. I want students to have a good experience in this course.
  • More direct discussions of research papers: I'll try to do more of this if I can create space for it (12-week sessions will be a challenge).
  • A few things were only brought up by one individual (not always the same, of course), so don't seem to be major issues. I'll comment on them anyway:
    • didn't like the exam, probably doesn't test what I've learned
      Actually, my experience is that the exam marks are quite well correlated with the project marks. Also, the project is assessed on its own (and contributes 2/3 of the total mark!), so the exam shouldn't just assess the same knowledge/skills. I believe that the exam assesses the insights I'm trying to get across in the lectures.
    • Not a lot of feedback on the project:
      Good point. The project assessment should provide feedback. Noted.
    • Start on time, more breaks:
      The first one is up to the students, many come late (I was on time!). But I'll be less tolerant of latecomers in the future...
      I'll also do more breaks (which is easier to do if the lectures start on time).
    • More info on assessment criteria
      I actually think they are quite clear. However, I noticed that the tutors were stricter than in earlier years and frequently docked off marks. I adjusted a lot of the milestone marks, as the emphasis for milestones should be on helping students (sending them back for an improved version rather than marking them down). Tutors will be better briefed in the future.
    • Let best team (of every milestone?) present their design:
      Hmm, that would require putting much more effort into assessing milestones. I'd rather spend time on helping students. However, I strongly encourage discussion, and in previous years there was a fair bit of this in the labs. You guys are old enough to organise yourselves...
    • How are monolithic OSes built (eg Linux):
      We did a comparative OS design lecture last year. Requires someone with a lot of experience in design and implementation several systems, not always handy. (In '06 we had this, and the person is actually quite an engaging speaker, but the topic didn't exactly get rave reviews.) Will see whether I can line something up next time.

All up, that was a lot of useful feedback. Thanks to all those who submitted!

Gernot


Last modified: 03 Aug 2008.