The course was run as an intensive 6-week course with two double lectures a week, yielding a total of 24 45-minute lectures.
As such, 4 credit hours may appear to be much for such a short course. However, the course was quite intensive and those students who actually passed it had to put in a lot of work every week. Those who couldn’t commit to this dropped of after a lecture or two.
The purpose of the course was not only to give the students an understanding of the publish/subscribe paradigm and a network architecture based on it but also to get them into the mode of disruptive thinking. Pub/sub and PURSUIT really serve as a case study of defining an entirely new internet architecture which is not at all based on the current Internet architecture. As a mental exercise, it should help the students to broaden their views and think radically.
The students were expected to read a rather large amount of related material, consisting of conference papers, journal articles and deliverables of the FP7 PURSUIT project. Because of the amount and nature of the material, this was time consuming.
The lecture schedule was posted on the course’s home pages, with each lecture’s reading material and presentation foils next to the lecture.
All the lecturers were asked to think of a couple of open questions, related to their topic, which the students could then comment on in their learning diaries and discuss in the electronic forum.
An important part of the course was the learning diary, which each student had to keep on a weekly basis. The lectures were on Mondays and Tuesdays. By Thursday morning every student was expected to write a page or so on what they considered to be the main points of the weeks lectures. Open questions, critique, alternative views etc. were called for. Pairs of students peer reviewed each other’s learning diaries, providing feedback to each other. These learning diaries were only for the assistant, teachers and the peer reviewer.
Each student was also required to every week start some discussion and contribute to another discussion on the Optima system, which was open to all the students as well as the teachers and the assistant. These discussions dealt mostly with issues to which there were no simple answers.
Grading the course without a final examination was surprisingly easy. All the ten students that followed through were active in the classroom and Optima and demonstrated understanding of the topic also in their learning diaries. So, they all passed with at least grade B. A few of the students demonstrated deeper understanding of the topic and produced more novel ideas than others. These same students also were the ones who showed good activity and almost 100% attendance and, consequently, they received grade A. Nobody complained about the grading, which can be taken as a sign that the grading was considered fair also by the students.