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Teaching practical and global Software Engineering (4/11/06)

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Changes and globalization of software development require us to implement new ways of teaching and training future software professionals. At CS Department at SFSU we embarked on innovative methods in teaching software engineering (SE) including global SE, where teams are geographically distributed.

In Fall 2003 we started a new course in SE (CSC 640/848). In this short report we present the innovative methods and experiences from several years of teaching this course, in conjunction with the University of Applied Sciences, Fulda University, Germany.

The key objectives and desired outcomes of our course were to train future SW developers, technical leads and managers in practical SW engineering practices, including global SW Engineering, where the team members work in different locations. Our approach was to combine and synchronize class teaching about SW engineering methods and processes with actual SW development work in a setting designed to simulate a small SW company. Students were divided in “local” groups of 4-6, each forming a small SW “company” in charge of developing a complete working WWW application as a final class project.

Several groups of students at SFSU were “virtually” paired with groups of students at Fulda University, whom they never met face to face, to form “global” groups, thus simulating global SW engineering in a realistic setting. Students then developed a final project incorporating five well-defined milestones typical for SW development lifecycle. Instructors spent considerable time supervising and interacting with student “companies” in the role of company customers, CTO and VPs of engineering, marketing and sales. In addition, student filed weekly “time sheets” which were questionnaires designed to provide feedback, which was used to analyze and understand the teaching effectiveness and improve the class.

All student groups (including global ones) were able to produce impressive final project applications and gave very positive feedback for this class.

For more details read the following Technical Report: SFSU TR 06.02

Contact: Prof. D. Petkovic

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