Thursday Extra: "Developing Soft and Technical Skills Through Multi-Semester, Remotely Mentored Community-Service Projects"

On Thursday, February 21, 2019, Professor Samuel A. Rebelsky will present a talk discussion the design rationale for CSC 321/322 (now CSC 324/326), in preparation for a talk that he and Dr. Janet Davis will present at the 50th SIGSCE Technical Symposium in Computer Science Education:

For the past four years, we have taught a reimagined software design course with typical and atypical components. Projects form the core of the course: Students work in teams of 4–6 people to develop non-mission-critical software for local non-profits, building their engagement with the community and helping them understand the broader impact of their work. These projects require multiple semesters to complete. Since students typically enroll for the course for one semester, this model gives students the novel experience of legacy software. We also provide each team with an alumni mentor who helps them navigate not only technical problems but also the challenges of working with a real-world, non-technical client.

These aspects of the course also develop our students' soft skills. They learn to work with a team, to communicate with non-technical clients, to work with remote collaborators (or mentors), and to think ahead to those who will take on the project in the next semester. As we tell our students, these skills are often as crucial as their technical skills.

In this talk, we report on the design of the course and describe some of the challenges associated with this model (e.g., projects that inadvertently reveal information, clients who switch management or expectations, and projects that become obsolete) and provide suggestions for those who might want to adopt a similar approach.

Refreshments will be served at 4 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). Professor Rebelsky's talk, Developing Soft and Technical Skills Through Multi-Semester, Remotely Mentored Community-Service Projects, will begin at 4:15, in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!