Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Put your hands up in the air!

I haven't posted much about my Software Engineering course.  It is a good class: the professor has taught it for a long time and knows his stuff.  He brings an great historical perspective to the class because he has followed the industry from Waterfall model days through Scrum, from Cobol to C#. 

Anyway, most of the class is lecture from this professor.  And as usual, he will throw a question or solicit comments every few minutes.  

"So, class, what is the step this author missed from the Waterfall Model with Sub-projects diagram?" 

[crickets chirping]

And about 75% of the time, nobody answers for at least 30 seconds, which is an immensely long amount of awkward time.   Until finally I can't stand it, since of course I have some idea of the answer he's after, having been in this industry for over a decade and having read many books on the subject.  So I throw up my hand and give my response.  Or the one other guy in class that seems to have had significant experience does.  

I don't know why we have so few hand-raisers in this class.  The class is 5:45pm to 8pm so possibly just sleepiness, but on second thought most of these people claim to be up till 2am (I get up at 4am myself), so that can't be it.  One possibility is that it is because there is no class participation grade.  The grading is based on several (long) papers and a term project.

But if so, I really want somebody to explain to my fellow students that it doesn't matter.  It is still worth participating in class.  When you answer a prof's question you:
  1. Show the prof you are engaged and know what's up.  And they do know who you are, and being a human being, their impression of you from class will probably be reflected in your paper's grades.
  2. Demonstrate your level of expertise or intelligence/curiosity to your fellow students, who may someday be in a position to interview you or select your employer's project bid (software is a small world).
  3. Keep your own wheels turning.  If you answer a question, you will stay awake and interested, and you'll learn more.
Anyway, that's the way I see it.

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