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2009-06-28 The beginning of the end

posted Jun 27, 2009, 11:42 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 17, 2009, 1:51 AM by Eddie Woo ]

Major project register repository

I have just finished spending a lot of time standardising (i.e. renaming and editing) (HSC IPT: "Processing") old project registry entries in order to produce a large index. This idea was provided by Mr. Woo on his latest news post, Fuel for Project Registers.

While producing this index, I identified some interesting patterns and trends (HSC IPT: "Analysing"):
  • During the Project Prospectus phase of the project, I had a habit of overdoing entries - on some days, more than one entry was made! (Particularly the first day of project development, when four completely seperate entries were made!) This completely redundant practice was eventually phased out.
  • Procrastination was (and still is) a huge issue. There were various things that, frankly, should not have taken as much time as they did. However, the habit of putting things off seems to be compensated for by an equally irritating habit of doing too much work in one go - as was the case with Processing complete!
  • Much more work was done in the holidays (Summer and Autumn) than during school terms, presumably due to the relatively low workload that holidays are associated with.
  • The project register was notably neglected during examination times, such as the Year 10 Half Yearlies and HSC IPT assessments. This reason for this is obvious - more time for study means less time for project work.
  • Originally, it was intended that register entries would be classified as either "structured" or "unstructured". However, the "structured" entries became too impractical, as work that was done usually did not fit neatly into the headings dictated by the structure that I was using. This classification of register entries has since been phased out.

Volunteers for video

On Friday, I asked my friend Gerald to be filmed in the Cameron block, either talking about maths or explaining a mathematical concept. He agreed.

Last night, I decided that having more people volunteer to be filmed would be useful, as it would result in a greater volume of material that I could use. I therefore posted this message on a student-run web forum:

Hi all,

For my IPT major project, I need to produce video relating to Mathematics at James Ruse. I would therefore be very grateful if some of you guys could give up a little bit of time (say, 2-3 minutes?) to be filmed talking about maths in the Cameron block during Recess or Lunch. Tell the camera what you like about maths, or explain some mathematical concept to juniors.

You will need to give consent to having your video distributed on the James Ruse intranet. The upside of this is that you get a lot of publicity. If you are interested, please reply ASAP, as this project is due very soon.

N.B. This thread may be reproduced for the purpose of system documentation.

So far, only one additional person - Andrew (Moby) C, 10L - has offered to be filmed. I will not be able to film tomorrow, as the material will look extremely odd with people in DPCU for tomorrow's Cadets parade.

Structure Continuum + IPT Major Project

For consolidation purposes, this has been identified as my final submission in response to IPT: Major Project = Problem?

The IPT Major Project is semi-structured, and leans heavily towards the unstructured end - on the scale of 0 to 10 (0 being completely unstructured and 10 being structured), the project would be around 1 or 2 in terms of structure.

In a structured problem, all the possible inputs are known. This is untrue for this project; while many of the inputs were known, a number of inputs were vague, constantly changing, or undefined. For example, the past papers that were to be uploaded was initially clear - Mr. Woo had provided them to me in packages. However, some had incorrect solutions, some had missing diagrams, and some were mislabeled. As time progressed, the number of past papers naturally increased: additional past papers were discovered, problematic versions of past papers were replaced with the problems fixed, et cetera. The need to upload past papers was an example of inputs that were vague, constantly changing, or undefined; however, some inputs were comprehensively defined in detail, and never changed. For example, the list of external resources remains the same as the list provided to me by Mr. Woo; I was never instructed to add any new resources, nor was I inclined to, as I am unsure of whether or not the entire maths faculty would agree to some of the resources that I would add (such as Wikipedia articles or software such as GraphCalc).

In a structured problem, all the outcomes can be predicted exactly. This project changed repeatedly throughout the course of development, and is hence unstructured in that respect. Initially, there were only three things to produce: a project prospectus, a project register, and a final release. However, the details of the latter two products became more refined, with the introduction of a mini-assignment that required a number of multimedia products to be incorporated/integrated into the final release of the intranet, and a number of support documentation items that needed to be incorporated/integrated into the project register. These multimedia products could not have been forseen at the beginning of the project timeline; the outcomes could have, in no way, been predicted with precision.

In a structured problem, it is possible to identify and compare solutions. However, with this project, there were a number of possible solutions to the problem, due to the freedom that Mr. Woo had given in terms of development. For example, there was no reason for me to replace the decorative photograph on the senior course page with a "Wordle" image, nor was there any way to compare the photograph and the Wordle image with specific, weighted criteria (as both were suitable).

Finally, an unstructured problem cannot be programmed - it must be solved with the judgment and experiences of the person responsible for solving the problem. I highly doubt that a program could be written to choose interesting points of view and exposure settings for my panoramic photographs, to creatively compile my video product, or to realise the need to convert past papers to PDF/A for standards compliance. This is the key factor in my decision to classify the major project as a semi-structured problem that leans heavily towards unstructured.