Advice from alumni
Here is some advice from survivors of 427.
To my opinion COSC314 and COSC427 are some of the most useful courses taught at Canterbury in the general sense, because they teach how to build on what has been done in the field of SE so far. That's one of the main points in engineering: we need to rely on what has been done for us by other people. When we are building on top of such work, we don't need to waste time solving problems that have been solved before. Skyscrapers can't be built on the foundation of a log cabin. I don't know who said that, but this is such a simple and sublime statement. I keep coming back to what I've learned in COSC314 and COSC427 almost every day. I wish I had done more work and reading during my time doing the course. It took me a while to get into the swing of things because there's was so many other external distractions. I think these course can really empower people.
This is Phil's well-informed (obviously) opinion.
I really liked 427 this year, and for me it was easily the most valuable course. I don't know what it is, but the topic is considerably more engaging than some of the other stuff we've been doing *carefully omitted*. It can be frustrating (certainly at first) not having a party line to follow, but ultimately I think it's nice having a course where you're not just expected to adopt the lecturer's own personal bias so you can vomit it forth in the exam. It feels like (at least to me) Wal has been careful to present the range of different opinions & ideas that exist in the OO design community. (There is one noteable exception to this, and the fact that we can label one thing and say "this is what is missing" and that it is pretty much the only thing contrasts with a lot of other courses where the missing things would vastly outnumber the things that were present. *talks in circles* Anyway, basically I don't think we've been very well-primed for large development projects. Pretty much we've been told they fail, and here's how to do small development. That's not particularly useful, but is just about the only place where we've pretty much been expected to buy into an idea without argument. Note that this applies to our entire uni career - not just 427.)
I also think a lot of the value came from having a bunch of other people who were all keen to learn and help each other out, and without them the course would not have been nearly as good.
The Wiki thing seemed to work for me this time around - I hated it last year in 224, but this time it was fine. I doubt I would have been very impressed by the course any time before this year and probably would have felt like Wal was being a slacker (I'm being honest), but somehow I don't think Wal was being a slacker and it all worked pretty well. I don't know how you could get the Wiki to take off and work without there being a bit of room for people anyway, so I'm not necessarily saying that Wal should step in and direct a bit more than he did at the beginning - maybe if that happend we'd never have gotten into it.
Hmm, my comments are so useful. Cheers Wal, I had a lot of fun with this course :)
The best way to improve the assignment would be to remind people that their reports are what the marking will be based on (as is the case with the honours reports), but that it is also important to show that you are capable of successfully implementing the design that you propose. A fair balance should be made between implementation and the write up. Ideally one would hope the design and description of the project gives enough evidence to show that the author is capable in OO design. The implementation is just the supporting evidence that you're not all smoke and mirrors.