The programming team from iWeb attended the March Agile Staffs meeting last night. This is a monthly event that attracts a many programmers from different companies in the region.
Part of the evenings focus was to help design a university course on Agile progamming methods. After a presentation from Trevor Adams, a lecturer from Staffordshire University, he asked us for ideas for his course. He is looking to make the course both appealing to the students and relevant to what companies want from graduates.
Some agree that it is important to learn the theory of Agile at university, but it cannot really be put into practice until you are in a commercial environment, while others thought that things like test driven development should be taught from the start as a way of programming.
Another area of discussion was whether or not the course should be tailored to different areas of computing or taught as a standalone module. A lot people thought that a standalone module would be quite ‘dry’, but tailoring the same techniques to all the different areas of computing taught at the university would be a lot of work. Perhaps Agile techniques should be introduced into existing programming modules instead of a new module?
One of the most difficult parts of designing a university course is determining how to assess it. How do you determine the difference between pass and fail and grade students with A, B or C. If the course involves writing test-driven code, it is easy to assess their tests by breaking their code and checking that it makes their test fail. However, how can you assess whether the student really understands the reason behind writing all these tests?
Being involved in these discussions has helped us as iWeb to understand what we can expect from future graduates.