Caring and sharing computer files with configuration management

Wandel, Andrew P. and Jokic, Michael D. and Kist, Alexander A. (2013) Caring and sharing computer files with configuration management. In: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE 2013): Work Integrated Learning-Applying Theory to Practice in Engineering Education, 8-11 Dec 2013, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND
Group-work projects are commonly included in engineering courses to prepare the students for the workplace where this is the standard situation. One of the difficulties students face is that they do not have access to a unified file system where they can create and edit documents related to the project. Such a system reduces the risk of members duplicating work because someone was working offline
for a substantial period, makes the integration of individuals' contributions simpler since all the work is
visible and keeps the latest version of a document visible to all members. While the internet cloud has recently offered some solutions (e.g. Dropbox), a genuine Configuration Management solution is superior because it allows such features as merging different versions of a file and ensuring that only one person is able to edit a file at any given time: cloud solutions may allow multiple instances of file editing and therefore only stores the last instance of saving—deleting the changes made by the first person. Furthermore, Configuration Management systems store copies of each revision made to the files, so that it is possible to revert an individual file to a previous instance if it is found that subsequent changes were erroneous, unnecessary or undesired.

PURPOSE
To investigate the impacts the implementation of a comprehensive Configuration Management solution has on student behaviour with regard to file-sharing practices and how that affects the overall student experience, thereby helping achieve the learning outcomes.

DESIGN/METHOD
A configuration management system was set up so that each team could share files with each other and the staff also had access. Usage of the system was made 'compulsory' by allocating a few marks based on the quality of the system usage. Surveys were conducted following the 2011 and 2012
offerings of the course to assess the students' opinions on the operation of the system.

RESULTS
Most students saw that the benefits in easily managing their team's files outweighed the administrative cost of setting up and running the system. They also appreciated the teaching team having direct access to their files without having to actively share the files (which can be frustrating if the student shares a subset of files and omits a file which is critical).

CONCLUSIONS
Configuration Management systems are an industry standard that can improve student project outcomes by providing an environment where students are able to automatically manage their file sharing in a consistent and coherent fashion that protects against the errors that occur when manual
administrative systems are implemented. The large majority of students appreciated the benefits of this system and were willing to devote the small amount of initial time required to setup the system because of the overall advantages, so this intervention resulted in positive student behaviour and outcomes. The staff also found it easier to manage the facilitation of the team project by having direct access to the students' files.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2013 Australasian Association for Engineering Education. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source. Outside of these uses, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2013 06:21
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2015 05:09
Uncontrolled Keywords: configuration management; teamwork; file sharing; higher education research
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0806 Information Systems > 080609 Information Systems Management
09 Engineering > 0999 Other Engineering > 099999 Engineering not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/24414

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