4.6.4 The Computing and IT Project (TM470) – helping to shape a dissertation

Towards the end of their degree studies, many students complete what is known as a project module. A project module allows a student to demonstrate the skills and knowledge that they have acquired through earlier OU study. A project module differs from other OU modules in the sense that the project is defined by the student, rather than the module team. The module materials exist to guide the student through the process of choosing a project, how to organise and run their project, and also how to write the final project report (which is the equivalent of a dissertation).

The type of project that a student chooses is important. A project might be a research project where a student caries out an in-depth analysis of a technical problem. A project might also be an implementation problem, where a student solves a problem by creating a design of a system, perhaps drawing on technical knowledge they have gained by earlier level 3 study. A project could also be an evaluation project: a comprehensive comparison of different systems, products or solutions.

A project tutor will help a student to choose an appropriate project. The tutor will also provide a set number of hours of one to one tuition for each student.

Since the project module meets the accreditation requirements of the BCS, the British Computer Society, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Engineering Council, tutors must also encourage students to consider the social, ethical and professional issues that their project raises.

Towards the beginning of the module, a tutor may choose to run tutorials to help students to understand how best to plan and run their project. Towards the end of the project, a tutor might be providing very targeted one to one support.

Not only must a tutor provide some practical guidance about how to run a project, a project tutor must also be willing and able to offer some practical guidance about how to write and structure their project reports. For some students, the project report may be the biggest piece of assessed work they have ever completed for the university.

Activity 7

What challenges motivate you to help our students?

Pick one of the modules discussed briefly over the last few pages and consider how you would address the challenges described.

Select one example and post it to the discussion forum [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Comment on some other ideas posted. How do you think the students would respond to the proposed help?

4.6.3 IT Systems: Planning for Success (TM353) – exploring security vs. privacy

4.7 How C&C supports the professional development of tutors