Agile

How is an it project built? No body really knows. I have a problem with how Agile Methodologies (grammatically speaking it should be method but we are IT students not English majors) are taught at uni. I don’t blame my lecturers … directly. Industry says “We use agile, we want students to know what agile is and how to use it.” Uni then creates courses that cater to teaching agile which is on balance a good thing. However agile methods are described as best used by senior developers who know what they are doing. Uni students have no idea what they are doing.

The other thing that agile relies on is communication. All projects require communication but when you work on an agile project you are expected to be in daily communication. Now for the modern uni student your week consists of eating, sleeping, working, going to lectures, having a heart attack about that assignment which is due next week. Occasionally I will concede that that you will sit down and watch a movie and feel terrible for the rest of the day because of it.

A bigger detracting factor perhaps is how many mini milestones and marking criteria you must complete. Agile at its core suggests that you build functionality over documentation which is something I think makes a lot of sense. When you add in all these criteria of Design briefs and UX goals that must be submitted with deadlines and then you tell your class that they wont be marking some of these but you will have to mark each other the whole thing smacks of laziness and doubling up on our workload.

What do I mean by doubling up the workload, the course in question has to have something to mark, that makes sense. But you cant just mark the project because they don’t really have the time or office space that is usually associated with a project so we will do the normal thing of they have to produce a document. Generally this leads to the group splitting up its task into two main camps things for the project at the very end of the course to show to our real client (that we see once every 2 weeks) and tasks that have nothing to do with our project but are needed for marking.

It’s not all doom and gloom, you do end up learning some skills you didn’t think you would. As a for instance I am doing the database and whatever else I can help out on. I am learning a bit of Laravel as it will interface with my database quite a bit this is good. Other skills I am learning are what does the international student mean in this paragraph. Who to yell at for not doing the weekly blogpost or reflective journal. And how to avoid facebook… more.

The problem here is I dont know how to fix this situation. I can imagine a scenario where our course co-ordinator sat down long and hard and wondered if this was really the best way to do things. They probably concluded that this was not really the best way to run a course and get the most learning out of it. Then they probably looked a re-working some of the assessment pieces then found out that if they changed anything it would then require an exam at the end of term. Also the project could not be used for anything because of some arcane rules put in place by the university administration to make sure that their global ranking stays where it is.

There is no real solution to this one as far as I know, I just wish they would slow down on telling us how we are learning agile and how it is so important. From my perspective I am just doing another course which mimics the real world enough to get by but not enough to really help you if you are in that situation.

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