Some material from Ana towards a strategic plan for the CSE education.
- Lindholmen: rooms / working environment needs improvement
- Bio: needs a more visible structure - and more income!
- CSE-minor: should be formulated
- GU: too few students
- Stress: teachers over-worked
- MSc theses: need proposals
- SET MSc: some mismatch of competence with subject - review?
- FoCAL: small courses?
- SDCS: join with FoCAL in the longer term?
- Common economic model for cse edu. needed
Verksamhetsplan 2009 -- 2013 f÷r Avdelningar CS & SET
By Ana Bove
What do to with Lindholmen in general seems to me a departmental strategical (and political?) decision. There is little I can say regarding the situation at Lindholmen that has not been said before and I will not repeat the usual stuff nor state the obvious.
There are 3 teachers from Lindholmen I plan for. They all work in both campuses but there are big variations on how much they work here and there: UH spends most of his teaching time at Lindholmen (he teaches 3 LPs there + part of a LP at Jhb), JvH spends a bit more than 50% of his teaching duties at Jhb (2 courses at Jhb + some work in a 3rd course at Jhb + 2 courses at Lindh.) and PZ spends most of his time at Jhb. From next academic year on JvH will teach only 1 course at Lindholmen and PZ will only be involved in exjobbs at Lindholmen.
To make JvH's and PZ's working situation better we should assign them an office here (PZ shares a room together with some of PÍ's PhD students). I think it is the minimum we should do for them given how much time they spend in here.
Bio Inf. Area
Although there is a lot of talking about Chalmers "satsning" in this year, we do not benefit from many students in it! The courses we give for students in this area have less number of students now than a couple of years ago. Structural bioinf. for example had only ca 8 students this year and ca 25-30 in the past. The other course, an introductory course in programming, we hope to be able to "sell" to other students that want to study some programming and in this way, have a reasonable amount of students in the course (though we had a similar course in the past and we did not succeed much in selling it, but with the master programs in place this might be different now). This course could be in the future the starting point to a minor in CS.
It is unclear to me what to do with this area. Thanks to GK's participation in the area we have a lot of master students (mainly supervised by GK). But the time he spends in the Structural bioinf. course is way beyond what we get paid for! Unclear of all in all we win or loose, at least in the economical part.
Besides the 2 courses mentioned above + master supervision, we participate here and there in other courses. This participation usually amounts to relatively few hours but it is always very unclear who and how much they work. So far most of this has happened beyond "my control" which makes planning a bit difficult. The economical part of all this participation is also usually handled very late, sometimes as late as 1 year after! We should try to have an easier process towards the ÷verenkommelse for this area. Right now takes a lot of time, relatively speaking at least.
The number of students at the GU program is something we should really worry about. Most GU courses are shared courses with Chalmers and then it is not much of a problem that GU students are not that many (in some case I must say it is only thanks to the GU students that a course has enough students). However, there are 3 courses which are "plain" GU curses (Objektorienterad programvaruutv LP2, Programmering GU, fk LP3 and Datastrukturer DV LP4). While the number of students in the OOP course in LP2 is "OK" (ca 38 students), the number of students in the other 2 courses is not OK (ca 20 students). This situation has repeated the last 2 years and unless numbers in general improve I believe the number of GU students will continue to drop dramatically from HT to VT.
It doesn't seem easy to move things around so even those 3 courses are shared with Chalmers in some way and it is probably not a good decision to cancel the program all together, but we should try to see the way to minimise the lost in here.
While we do have a few teachers that have some period with no course to teach, my feeling is that most of our teachers feel over-worked. Those who teach 100% feel that having 4 courses leaves no time for updating the courses or for self study in other areas of interest. Those teachers with 25-50% teaching usually do their share of teaching (and even more) in a more research related course or a course close to their interest. Those who are "under bemannad" are (in all cases I believe) those who are 100% teachers.
Despite the fact that some teachers have some LP with no course on their own it is sometimes not too easy to plan all courses. This depends on several factors. For example, in some LP is difficult to find someone who could teach even a basic course (unless we do a big shifting of course responsible which is not something people like). For more specialised courses, it is not always trivial who could teach them.
I think it is desirable to have a few people with some LP free of course so we can have a "fault tolerant" system. In addition I think it would be good if 100% teachers do have a period free of course now and then. This is maybe easier said than done due to practical reason though.
There are also some tasks (exjobb responsible, director of studies, responsible for assigning assistant to courses) which are not very popular and it is difficult to find a replacement when it is time to shit the job to other person. How to do for making these tasks more attractive?
We have currently problems with exjobb supervision and I only think it will become worse, so we really need to do something here.
At the moment we are all kind of doing our share with supervision and still exjobbs keep coming in. Some need to wait longer than desired before they get a supervisor.
A problem we have is that most exjobbs that need a supervisor are at the moment exjobbs that almost no one finds interesting, hence people is more reluctant to take yet another exjobb on their hands.
In the future (less than 1 year?) I think there will be even other problems.
First, it seems we will need to supervise even more students than those we currently supervise and this will not be easy given that we are already all near our quota with exjobbs. The time frame for exjobbs will be more concentrated in the Spring and this will make things even more difficult.
Then we have the problem of finding exjobbs for all the students. This will certainly be a problem for many international students. This implies that we need to produce more "internal" exjobbs than those we have now and in the long run I do not know how easy this will be. For some master programs we might need to take this really seriously for other reasons as well. For example, how many of the exjobbs industry offers nowadays can be consider as an adequate exjobb for someone who is doing a master in the FoCAL program?
It seems unclear whether we have the actual competence needed behind this master program. Or whether the master program has the right profile for our department. It was not easy to find assistant for the Soft.Architecture course and for the Agile course it wasn't obvious who could be responsible. Right now we have just the resources we need for courses (without counting exjobbs) but sometimes it feels like we are kind of simply patching a whole.
Besides, some people think some of the courses in the master program are a bit too basic for master courses so I think we need to go through the program and review it as soon as possible.
Here the situation is a bit the opposite to SET when it comes to competence and people available. The problem here is more that some of the courses have not many students and it is unclear how many courses we could have with ca 20-25 students or even less sometimes.
Despite the fact that this is the master program we had had for the longest time, it was last year (and it seems this year as well) the one that got less students. Ca 17 students is not much and even though the courses in this program are taken by other students (and hence have a reasonable economy) it is unclear what will happen to this program if numbers continue to drop.
A possible unification between this program and the FoCAL program has been discussed but so far no decision was made. We might need to re-discuss this again in the near future.
At the (old) CS division the issue of how much a course cost was never very clear. After a while I used certain algorithm to compute in some way the cost of a course and be able to make certain decisions (like if I could give the course more resources), but it was never clear to me how acurate the alg. was.
Old CE had its way of computing the cost which seemed very complicated and not obviously better than ours.
In any case, we have reorganised now and it seems more clear than ever that we need to have ONE way of computing how much a course cost. It seems this is easier said than done since I understand that even the economy of the whole sections are computed in a different (and incompatible?) way.
In any case, it is important we, those who take economical responsibility in the educational area, have access to the information (budget for example), access to the tools, and maybe even some training in economical issues. Administrative support is also a big need here.
So far I have been attesting invoices even if I have no idea if there is money for paying them (not big amounts fortunately!). I was told "no problem, of course we can buy a laptop for this teacher" but when one is the one saying the final OK it feels not good to have done so without a better understanding of the overall economy one is in charge of.
I am aware that this issue goes beyond the CS+SET educational budget and that we are working towards a solution. However, I feel it must be part of the VP to have a smooth machinery which can be understood by all of us that need to use it.
It is also desirable to have some kind of guidance for the decisions we need to make, for example, how many assistant hours is a course with good economy allowed? what is a reasonable CUL cost in a course?, etc. We are also working on this.