Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hate Kill Destroy

It has been a long long time since my last post (as some will not let me forget). I've been exceptionally busy for the last month, more so than I should have been.

The last module of my masters course was a group project - no exam, just build a system with 4 other people and try to market it to people invited to a Trade Fair. This should've been one of the better modules - no need to try to listen to lectures (the amount of my Agents course I didn't get the first time around became clear when revising, but I'll get to that later), just code all day.

The problem is that you don't get to choose your team - it is allocated based on giving each team the same average CAS marks for the first term, and making sure that there was a good mix of nationals and internationals in each team. Having said that I didn't originally mind my team allocation, but that was before the module began.

Paul Ritchie and I got a head start with the project, brainstorming and putting together a database and framework for the system over Easter. When the project started properly, we were already jogging if not running with the system, and the others did a poor job of getting up to pace.

We just got no commitment from the rest of the team. One guy was alright - you could give him work to do (I was the team leader) and it would get done well - but the other two did very little that could actually be included in the final submission.

"Do this part of the system for 2 days time." Wait a week. Get back a partial implementation borrowed heavily from a rival business' site.

"Prepare the outline of our marketing brochure so we can all write a section and we know exactly what needs to be said and with how many words/pages." Wait 10 days. Get back sketchy notes, written once and never read, borrowed heavily from the course website, adding very little to what we already know and not actually helping to divide the writing task.

I think my favourite let down can be summed up with a quote from my individual report:

The day before the Trade Fair I asked X to follow the Roadmap document to see if it was missing anything. He instead had to leave to buy a shed.

As you can see I didn't let them get away with it. I was more than civil until the project was over - the Trade Fair would've failed if I was to busy with my Spanner! I'm even being nice now by preserving some anonymity.

It's hard to get across just how difficult it was to work with these guys. After about half of the module had passed Paul and I had to basically carry the whole thing to completion - coding the vast majority of the system, making a huge poster, editing the brochure, demonstrating the system, all of it.

This is where a course can fall over: I've been getting really good marks for almost everything I've submitted apart from assessments where I'm in a team. And it's not because I'm poor in a team, it's because team's are allocated based on averaging grades, and that means the team's overall mark is bound to be near that average. (Yes that sounds selfish and all the rest but I've been working damn hard on this course.)


Blogger paul said...

just noticed this post..

I am the Paul ! I would like my name removed for the sake of anonymity.

That name to remove again.. Paul.

Regards.. Paul

4:42 pm  

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