Friday, August 17, 2007

It's about to begin...

The 2007-2008 school year is almost here. The freshman have arrived as well as many upperclassmen, and the campus is starting to come alive. Monday classes begin!

I've spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for classes and re-adjusting to faculty life. Yesterday I attended the pre-session conference entitled "Our Vision for 2008-2013". After the conference, Becky and I joined the rest of the faculty and their spouses for an evening dinner where Don England and Nathan Guy gave excellent keynote talks. We left Ethan at home with his cousin Anna (it's nice having some family around) and enjoyed our evening out. Although I had being seeing all my old friends all week, it was the first time Becky got to see many of her old colleagues.

This semester I'm teaching two sections of Introduction to Programming (COMP 150), GUI Programming, and the senior capstone course Software Development Project. And I'm completing my dissertation which I'll be defending in mid-Oct. Too much on my plate? Yes, but it's gotta be done.

In my Intro and GUI classes, I'm doing something a little different this time: I'm allowing students to pair-up on their big assignments. But, they must work completely together on the same computer, each must write approximately half the code, and all of their time must be accounted for. I'm hoping this change will benefit some students who learn better in this type of environment as was seen in experiments by McDowell et al. It will be interesting to see how many students choose to do pair programming vs. working on their own.

For Soft Dev, I've chosen the 1970s game Blockade. This was a personal favorite of mine growing up, and the recent award winning game Quoridor is based on it. I haven't been able to find a computer implementation of Blockade, and purchasing the game is nearly impossible, so I developed my own game board which someone can print out and play on a piece of paper. I also modified the rules just a little... each team is given a single bomb that can be used at any time to blow-up a single section of a wall. The bomb enhancement is going to make developing an AI more difficult, but it also adds an interesting twist to the game.