Course Surveys 2009
Gernot's Comments on CATEI Survey
This was impressively positive, across the board better than last
year's (which already was very good). However, with a return ratio
of 40%, not too much can be read into this.
Nice to hear the positive comments on the tutors. They did indeed
work very well.
I appreciate all the improvement suggestions, and think we can
address most of them easily next time round. Specifically:
Give demo mark during demo: This is supposed to happen, there is
no reason why the tutors should hold this back. We'll issue
clearer instructions next time. Also, I agree that marks should be
entered in SMS ASAP.
Three-hour lecture right after the demos: This is a perennial
problem. There is very little we can do about the timing of the
lecture (the alternative this year was 11–2 on Wed, which I
think would be worse). At least the Fri-arvo lecture block means
we can all feel good about going to the pub right after.
However, we can do something about the milestone demo time, and
I'm somewhat surprised that this hasn't come up earlier. I intend
to have the milestone demo on Mon in the future. This actually
helps scheduling m0, and means students can pull their
all-nighters far away from the lecture ;-)
Scheduling lecture material is always a bit tricky, particularly
with me travelling so much. But I agree that caching should come
earlier. There is no real need for having the Week-3 material so
early. Will fix next time.
The issue about final docs vs code submission hasn't come up in
this form before, and we'll need to think about it. The idea was
to leave time after debugging to do the docu, as else it's likely
to be de-prioritised to debugging. But maybe it's educational to
require both to be done at the same time? We'll consider this.
Provided docu: This one will be hard to fix. Trust me, the level
of docs we provide is generally of good standard compare to what's
around elsewhere. I suspect this relates more to particular bits,
such as the network stack (which is a horrible hack...)
Gernot's Comments on LiC Survey
Many thanks to all students for taking the time to answer the course
survey. A return rate of >80% is very good and makes the results
The results mostly speak for themselves. The course seems to be in good
shape, overall satsifaction was better than the previous year and possibly the
highest ever (but given the
small size of the class, the statisitical significance of this result
is low, so should not be overrated).
The biggest gripe was the quality of the
documentation. Which is interesting, as previous years that
was also the biggest gripe, but then we were using a research
platform, while for the last two years we used the commercially-supported and
OKL4 platform. I guess part of the problem is that we're
programming directly to the kernel API, which isn't the
recommended way of using OKL4, and thus not so well supported by
docs. (But making more use of the library API would have hidden
some of the stuff I wanted you folks to learn).
We'll keep improving docs, but we also provide a lot of support in
face-to-face consults and on-line forum...
We're considering moving to seL4, but that's unlikely to improve
the documentation situation. But in real-life, docs are usually
Workload is heavy — sure. It's meant to be that way. You
won't learn building real systems without that. But we're always
very up-front about this, so students know what to expect.
Timing of demos vs lecture, etc: As discussed above, we'll try to
More about internals of main-stream OSes: Fair point. This is some
of the stuff that's been squeezed out by the 12-week
session. We'll see what we can do about it.
The rest are one-off comments. I'll look at them again before the
beginning of next year's offering.
All up, that was a lot of useful feedback. Thanks to all those who
09 Dec 2009.