Don’t Forget the Sanity Check

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I sent out a bunch of emails today with the details of the lab demonstrations for the First Year programming course. Last time I did this I managed to make the final part of the schedule repeat, so that I had some students down for multiple sessions. At the time I remember thinking “Better not do that again”.

Of course I did though. I had all the sessions spread over four days, which is a long time. Too long. If I’d done a simple Sanity Check – e.g. “If we can mark 66 students in one day, how long does it take to do 170 or so?” then I’d have figured out that something was wrong. But I didn’t. I just blindly copied down the slots and pasted them into the timetable document. Idiot me.

This illustrates an important point. Just before you press send, or submit the file, or do whatever it is that sends your work off, you should do a quick “Sanity Check”. Just make sure that there is nothing obviously wrong. Quite often you’ll focus on all the small bits (like I did) and not check the big picture. See if you can come up with some simple test that you can use to make sure that nothing is stupidly wrong – like creating 240 slots for 170 students…..