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6:06pm on Thursday, 13th October, 2011:

Too Many Students


It was the first CE317 lecture of the year today, from 11am-12pm. It was followed by the first CE317 laboratory of the day from 12pm-2pm. This meant neither I nor the students had time for lunch.

Well, we wouldn't have had time for lunch if we hadn't all brought sandwiches and burgers and slabs of chocolate into the laboratory. I checked and there was no sign to say eating stuff in there was against the rules, but that doesn't mean it's OK, it just means you didn't find the obscure page in the obscure booklet you can read if you go to the right obscure place to ask for it by its exact obscure title.

The lecture was in a room meant for 30-40 students (although the air conditioning seemed to be meant for more like 3-4). I had 39 students on my book, but because one is blind he gets a note-taker too, and because some students haven't decided what module to take I got 2 or 3 extras. Fortunately, I also got 2 or 3 no-shows because they couldn't find the room (or, alternatively, couldn't get their car parked). It's going to be a squeeze next week, though, unless the ones dithering over whether to take my module or not decide to abandon it in the teeth of the onslaught of Lua I'm teaching them.

After 4 weeks, we'll stop with Lua and get onto the non-programming part of the module. This has discussion classes instead of labs. I knew that this year I'd be having more students than I did last year, so I prudently arranged for there to be 2 discussion classes with the students split evenly between them. I wasn't expecting nearly 20 students in each, though, otherwise I'd have gone for 4 classes. Actually, I wouldn't have done that, either — I'd have abandoned the idea of discussion classes entirely and got them to play some games and stuff like I do with the second years. Discussion classes only work if people are willing to speak, and in larger groups students are not willing to do that in case their peers think they're jerks. I'll need to beat them with a crowbar to get them to say anything, but I think I remember there being an old, unrepealed law that makes such an approach formally illegal.

Maybe 3 years from now, when I'm getting students who are paying £50 to attend each lecture, they may be more willing to get their money's worth and will actually engage in discussions. Then again, we may not have any students 3 years from now, following the recent revamp of the university's web site that makes the computer games degree scheme seem like a cut-and-paste job (read it here if you want to experience its full blandness).

Oh well, it'll all be over by June.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).