CSCF Start of Term Email to Instructors

We want to have an understanding of what instructors need, so we send them mail before the start of term to learn of any changes to our current understanding. At the same time we let them know who their Point of Contact is (for each course they're teaching). We also use data provided by ISG to let them know who (if any) their Instructional Support Coordinator is.

The email is automated, using

  • course resource needs from a CSCF database (described here),
  • CSCF PoC assignments from a CSCF database,
  • instructors and titles of courses being offered, from the OAT database,
  • personal names (from userids), using WatIAM
  • ISG Instructional Support Coordinate assignments, from ISG supplied data. It's term specific, with the files residing in the ISG linux.cs account.

The software used is on linux.cscf, at     Bill had said linux.cs

/software/courses-cscf/maintenance/course-term-email
with configuration in
/software/courses-cscf/data/config/
The "-v -h" options provide a description of command line options.

A typical workflow is:

  • make an ST item for the upcoming term's email (e.g. ST #101083) using the "See Also" create button from the previous term's item, and then make it a dependency of the general "start of term preparation" item (e.g. ST #101082) that will have already been made smile

  • clone the course resource data from the current term to the upcoming term, via
    cd /software/courses-cscf/data/config/sponsorships
    cp ThisTerm NextTerm
    chmod a+r NextTerm
    where term names are of the form [WSF]\d\d\d\d, e.g.
    cp F2015 W2016

  • query the instructor data for the upcoming term, e.g. via
    course-term-email -d -p ./PoC >./data
    which records course information in "./data", and CSCF PoC assignments in ./PoC. `course-term-email` will assume the upcoming term if it's within a month from now, otherwise use the "-t" option to specify the term. You might find it handy to stash the ./PoC and ./data to facilitate quick lookup of course information.

  • using the above knowledge of upcoming instructors, update the course resource database with any known preferences specific to instructors this term. This doesn't happen very often, and we have no automated way of doing this. Notes in course computing support may (in theory) be helpful. In addition, comments in the course resources data may be helpful as well. It's mostly faculty that have preferences, which is fortunate as the selection of sessional instructors is at times not complete until close to the start of term.
    • update the course resource data by updating /software/courses-cscf/data/config/sponsorships/NextTerm
    • then update the course resources database via
      crdb-in /software/courses-cscf/data/config/sponsorships/NextTerm | psql -h postgres.cs -d postgres -f /dev/stdin
      which assumes that you have a login to the database, and that it has the needed permissions, by being a member of the "_cscf_root" role. It's a PostgreSQL database and the Who Does What list suggests (as of 2015-08) that Isaac can provide the needed access, via "grant _cscf_root to <userid>".

  • update the messages to be included in the generated mail, based upon whatever is known about the upcoming term and courses. In /software/courses-cscf/data/config/ the files are:
    • no-resources - names of the courses that we know don't want to be asked about resources.
    • extra_messages/.all - to be included in all messages
    • extra_messages/ISG-supported - to be included for courses that have ISG support.
    • extra_messages/ISG-not - to be included for courses that don't have ISG support.
    • extra_messages/course - to be included for mail sent about the course course (e.g. cs330).

  • get a copy of the mail that will be sent to instructors, via
    course-term-email >tosend

  • email the instructors via
    course-term-email -s

  • stash a copy of what was sent (see above) in the ST item by mailing it (as an attachment) to
    ST-comment+NNNNNN@cs.uwaterloo.ca
    where NNNNNN is the ST number created earlier.

  • gather the responses, updating the course resource data and message configuration accordingly, as described above, creating dependencies of the above ST as needed for each new software request.

In theory, everything we need to know about course needs should be in the course outlines maintained by the Course Coordinator. However that doesn't work in reality.

Topic revision: r8 - 2017-11-23 - AdrianPepper
 
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