I spent the weekend trying to get together a paper for WCCCE 2009 (Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education). WCCCE is a fairly small, local conference. I always like going: the people who go pretty much all know each other, and it’s a good chance to talk to people from other schools.
What I wanted to do was look at the Subversion version control repositories from the last few semesters of CMPT 470. I figured I could make a good story out of it somewhere: there’s a lot of data in there. I assumed there would be some correlation between the way the repository was used and students’ marks or peer evaluation or something.
There wasn’t. Bupkis.
Anyway… I could have tried to sell a paper along the lines of “hey, look how unquantifiable this marking thing we do is”, but that’s pretty unsatisfying. I thought I was going to have to give up on the whole thing, or at least wait until next year and take some time to analyze things in a less frenzied way.
But, just before I sent the email calling the whole thing off, a thought occurred and I proposed a workshop instead:
Using Subversion in Your Class
In this interactive workshop, we will explore the use of the Subversion version control system in a class, particularly one that involves group work. Topics will include the basic usage of Subversion, creation of shared repositories given various technical restrictions, resources for students, and discussion of how instructors can enhance their teaching using a version control system. Participants with laptops will be invited to explore a shared repository as part of the workshop.
That’s a lot better than some dodgy paper: it’s something the people at the conference might actually want to hear about.
The lesson: Everything has a good idea in it somewhere. Unfortunately, you might spend your weekend fruitlessly doing statistics before you find it.