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3:22pm on Saturday, 5th April, 2014:

Old Experience


It was Experience Day at Essex University today.

The rationale for it goes something like this: prospective students have one week left before they decide what their first-choice university is; last year, when we invited students back who came for interview, 50% of them put Essex University as first choice; therefore, we should have an Experience Day every year.

Note that these is no baseline there. For all we know, 70% of them would have put Essex University down as their first choice but we put them off. Anyway, because of this academic members of staff were cajoled into giving up half their Saturday to participate in this experience. In the end, 13 of us showed up: one who had to organise it; one who is in charge of admissions; two who gave 25-minute presentations; nine who had hands-on demonstrations. The format was that all the students would listen to the talks, then they would choose which of the nine demonstrations to attend. They'd spend 30 minutes on one demonstration, then go back and choose another one for the next 30 minutes. Then they'd go and have lunch and we could go home.

I was one of the volunteers to give a demonstration. Fortunately, I'd found enough time during the week to finish marking the CE217 assignment (primarily because about a third of the students hadn't found enough time to finish it, so marking was easy). I was supposed to be going to Norwich to bring back my younger daughter for Easter, but she has to wait until tomorrow. Experience Day, as was stressed many times during the preparation, is Important.

17 students showed up. 17 students, to be split among nine "experiences". I was demonstrating MUD2, on the valid presumption that it was an experience they hadn't had before. I was worried that I might only get one student want to try it, which would have been rather a flop for a multi-player game. I'd spent several hours yesterday working on an instructions sheet for the student and Turrican the Arch-Wizard had provided 40 login IDs for them, so I was a little annoyed as well as concerned.

As it happened, for the first split of students eight of them decided to try MUD2. The other nine were split among the other eight demonstrations. Four of the students got into the game enough that they wanted to continue playing it rather than go learn about signal compression or robot fish or whatever, so I took the other four back and brought another three. Two of the eleven prospective students who tried the game seemed impressed enough to ask how they could play it from home, and were surprised to find that they didn't have to install anything, they could run it.

All in all, I'd have liked more prospective students and I'd have liked them for longer. I'd also have liked the free luncheon voucher we'd been promised.

Still, at least I hadn't spent some time preparing an "experience" only to have no-one attend it because they were all off playing some antique computer game.

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