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Christopher Douce

Preparing to chair TM354 Software Engineering

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Over the years I’ve had a connection with a number of Computing modules. I started as a tutor on M364, which then became TM356. When I became a staff tutor, I joined the TM352 for a short period of time, where I made a couple of very minor contributions, and TT284, where I offered some suggestions about web development frameworks. Most recently, I’ve been helping behind the scenes on TM112.

In the coming months, I’m going to be taking over the chairing TM354 Software Engineering. This module closely aligns with some of my long standing research interests. When I was a doctoral student, I studied the maintenance of object-oriented software, during which I looked at the subject of software metrics, where I made a very tiny contribution to the area. After completing all my studies, I worked in industry for a number of years, before returning to the university sector.

In September 2014, I attended a TM354 module briefing, where I wrote a quick summary of all the main components of the module. Since the briefing, I understand that the module has gradually changed and evolved over time.

From time to time, I shall be writing blog posts as an incoming module chair.

Figuring everything out

After a handover meeting, I have the following questions and the following tasks. 

I should add that I have mostly answered some of these questions:

  • Who do I need to speak to, to get things done? I know our curriculum manager, and fellow members of the module team, but there might well be other people who I need to know about.
  • What are the key dates and times by which things need to be done? I think I’ve seen a seen a document that contains the title ‘schedule’.
  • What are the biggest issues and challenges that immediately need to be dealt with? There is a lot going on at the moment in the university; I need to know what to prioritise.
  • What bits of software do I need to know about, and where should I go to find everything out?

Here are my immediate tasks. I have started some of them, but I need to work on others:

  • Acquaint myself with the module guide, assessment guide and accessibility guide.
  • Read all the module materials carefully (there is module mailing that is likely to be coming to me over the next couple of days)
  • Go through all the software engineering textbooks the outgoing module chair has left me.
  • Review all the assessment materials; the exams, the TMAs and and iCMAs.
  • Look at how the module makes use of Open Design Studio.
  • Listen to or watch any podcasts or videos that are used within the module.
  • Identify the file store or file areas that everyone uses to carry out assessment authoring.
  • Learn how much time every module team member has allocated to the module.

Reflections

I view TM354 as a really important level 3 module.

It is also a really interesting subject, since it links many different subjects together. On one hand, software engineering is quite a technical subject. On the other, it is about people and organisations; creating software is an intrinsically human activity. Software engineering processes and tools help to guide, manage and often magnify the creative contributions that people make to the development of software.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the contribution and efforts of our outgoing module chair, Leonor Barroca, who has worked on the module since the first presentation.

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