Thursday, January 22, 2009

My First Lecture

So, I've been neglecting this old blog for the last few weeks, so I figure it's high time I let my captive audience in on what I've been doing at grad school.

Once again, I'm TAing CSC301. This term, in addition to my standard duties of marking, critiquing assignment questions, and coming up with exam problems, Greg asked each of his TAs to give a lecture to the class. My topic was unit testing with javascript. My first reaction was "Yay, I already know about unit testing, this will be a breeze", but then I remembered that my knowledge of javascript extended to image rollovers, and no further. So, I spent about 10 or 15 hours over the next week or so learning proper OO javascript, as well as how to use (or not use) JsUnit and some of its competitors, JsCoverage, Selenium, and trying to beat CruiseControl into state that fits together with these tools (no such luck, unfortunately).

The lecture went pretty much as I expected. I had prepared a loose agenda of items, a timeline for discussion and demonstration, and a few canned questions designed to get the undergrads to turn their brains on - all of which I forgot as soon as Greg introduced me. Luckily, I had my laptop and a big desk to hide behind. After a few moments of awkwardness, things got back on track, however.

Lessons learned:
  • leave your pen at your desk (aparently I click-click-click it as a nervous twitch).
  • always bring a glass of water to a lecture, so that a) you can keep your throat lubricated and b) you can take short pauses to think/fabricate answers to questions without looking like you're thinking/fabricating
All in all, I think it was a pleasant experience. I was worried everything I said went past the class and out the back door of the room, but I received several questions and comments from a couple of the project teams, asking about setting up JsUnit to test their code! Hooray! I hope they can get it working.

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