Educating Programmers at The University of Sheffield

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A summary of the educational activities of epiGenesys at The University of Sheffield, as presented to attendees of the Educating Programmers Summit at Bletchley Park in August 2011.

A summary of the educational activities of epiGenesys at The University of Sheffield, as presented to attendees of the Educating Programmers Summit at Bletchley Park in August 2011.

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  • 1. 1  
  • 2. Genesys  Solu,ons  was  ini,ally  a  ‘virtual  company’  and  later  became  part  of  epiGenesys.  Masters  students  within  the  Department  of  Computer  Science,  mostly  from  Computer  Science,  Enterprise  Compu,ng  and  SoCware  Engineering  courses,  may  par,cipate  by  choosing  a  Genesys  module  as  part  of  the  fourth  year  of  their  degree  programme.  Bachelors  students  from  Enterprise  Compu,ng  courses,  plus  students  from  other  courses  across  the  University,  may  also  par,cipate  by  choosing  a  smaller  Experiencing  Genesys  module  as  part  of  the  third  year  of  their  degree  programme.   2  
  • 3. epiGenesys  is  a  trading  name  of  Epi  Genesys  Limited,  a  private  limited  company  and  a  wholly  owned  subsidiary  of  The  University  of  Sheffield.  epiGenesys  operates  as  a  social  enterprise  with  a  primary  goal  of  delivering  enterprise  educa,on,  in  addi,on  to  suppor,ng  the  bespoke  soCware  development  needs  of  University  departments.  The  company  also  engages  in  business  ac,vi,es  which  ensure  the  epiGenesys  team  retains  current  prac,,oner  skills  and  enable  epiGenesys  to  operate  without  direct  funding  from  the  University.  epiGenesys  specialises  in  the  delivery  of  informa,on  systems  for  the  medical  and  health  research  sectors.   3  
  • 4. 1.  The  epiGenesys  team  is  responsible  for  delivering  the  Genesys  modules,   supported  by  academics  to  facilitate  assessment  and  feedback.  2.  The  students  adopt  an  agile  approach  with  Extreme  Programming  prac,ces,  and   use  TDD,  BDD,  source  control,  con,nuous  integra,on,  etc,  developing  primarily   with  Ruby  on  Rails.  3.  The  students  are  encouraged  to  operate  Genesys  Solu,ons  as  an  independent   division  of  epiGenesys,  taking  responsibility  for  their  decisions  with  support  from   the  epiGenesys  team.  4.  The  Genesys  experience  is  intended  to  be  as  similar  as  possible  to  working  in  the   commercial  sector  within  the  constraints  of  a  learning  and  teaching  environment.   4  
  • 5. 1.  Obtaining  sufficient  direct  funding  to  support  the  Genesys  modules  would  be   difficult.  Instead  the  epiGenesys  team  use  a  por,on  of  their  ,me  to  generate   revenue  from  business  ac,vi,es  which  allows  the  company  to  operate.  These   business  ac,vi,es  must  be  carefully  managed  to  generate  sufficient  revenue   without  compromising  the  support  available  for  educa,onal  ac,vi,es.  2.  Encouraging  students  to  manage  projects  with  external  organisa,ons  is  a   significant  risk.  The  epiGenesys  team  must  be  involved  in  high  risk  ac,vi,es  and   ul,mately  responsible  for  agreeing  contracts  between  epiGenesys  and  external   organisa,ons.  In  some  cases  learning  opportuni,es  must  be  managed  to  avoid   excessive  risk.  3.  The  Genesys  modules  are  available  to  a  range  of  students  including  those   studying  four  years  courses  who  will  already  have  experienced  various  prac,cal   and  teamwork  ac,vi,es,  and  those  studying  one  year  Masters  courses  who  may   have  limited  experience  of  prac,cal  and  teamwork  ac,vi,es.  The  learning   opportuni,es  must  be  tailored  to  each  student,  which  increases  the  demands  on   the  ,me  of  the  epiGenesys  team.  4.  The  number  of  students  studying  Genesys  modules  varies  from  year  to  year,   partly  in  accordance  with  recruitment  onto  degree  programmes  in  earlier  years,   but  also  varying  with  the  number  of  one  year  Masters  students  recruited  each   year.  Addi,onally,  numbers  have  increased  in  recent  years  and  this  is  expected  to   con,nue,  which  necessitates  addi,onal  staff  recruitment  for  the  epiGenesys  team   to  maintain  a  viable  staff-­‐to-­‐student  ra,o.   5  
  • 6. Graph:  Recent  and  expected  student  numbers  for  the  Genesys  modules,  categorised  by  year  of  study  and  course  (MSc  are  one  year  Masters  students,  MComp/MEng  are  fourth  year  Masters  students).   6  
  • 7. Graph:  Recent  and  expected  staff-­‐to-­‐student  ra,o  for  the  Genesys  modules,  with  a  target  of  one  full-­‐,me  epiGenesys  staff  member  per  five  students  (roughly  transla,ng  to  one  staff  member  per  student  team).   7  
  • 8. 8