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Challenges and recommendations for the design and conduct of global software engineering courses: a systematic review.

Clear, Tony; Beecham, Sarah; Barr, John; Daniels, Mats; McDermott, Roger; Oudshoorn, Michael; Savickaite, Airina; Noll, John


Tony Clear

Sarah Beecham

John Barr

Mats Daniels

Roger McDermott

Michael Oudshoorn

Airina Savickaite

John Noll


Context: Global Software Engineering (GSE) has become the predominant form of software development for global companies and has given rise to a demand for students trained in GSE. In response, universities are developing courses and curricula around GSE and researchers have begun to disseminate studies of these new approaches. Problem: GSE differs from most other computer science fields, however, in that practice is inseparable from theory. As a result, educators looking to create GSE courses face a daunting task: integrating global practice into the local classroom. Aim: This study aims to ameliorate the very difficult task of teaching GSE by delineating the challenges and providing some recommendations for overcoming them. Method: To meet our aims we pose two research questions (When teaching GSE to students in Higher Education, what are the (a) challenges, and (b) recommendations for addressing them) and then conduct a systematic literature review (SLR) to determine the answers to these questions. Our SLR follows a carefully designed and validated protocol. Results: We found 82 papers that addressed our research questions. Our findings indicate that in addition to the challenges posed by GSE in general, particular problems arise in educational situations. The majority of these challenges fall into the global distance category, though teamwork challenges and people issues (such as trust) also commonly arise. Organizational differences between institutions, differing skill sets between students in different locations, and varying cultural work norms, for example, all operate within educational settings in quite different ways than in professional development teams. Integrating cultural training, conducting teamwork exercises to build trust, and instructor monitoring of team communication are all examples of techniques that have been used successfully by educators according to our review. Conclusion: Despite the severity of the challenges in GSE education, many institutions have successfully developed courses and curricula targeting GSE. Indeed, for each of the challenges we have identified in the literature there are numerous recommendations for overcoming them. Instructors can use the recommendations given in this study as a starting point to running successful GSE courses.

Start Date Jul 4, 2015
Publication Date Jul 8, 2015
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery
Pages 1-39
Institution Citation CLEAR, T., BEECHAM, S., BARR, J., DANIELS, M., MCDERMOTT, R., OUDSHOORN, M., SAVICKAITE, A. and NOLL, J. 2015. Challenges and recommendations for the design and conduct of global software engineering courses: a systematic review. In Proceedings of the 2015 Innovation and technology in computer science education on working group reports (ITiCSE-WGR '15), 4-8 July 2015, Vilnius, Lithuania. New York: ACM [online], pages 1-39. Available from:
Keywords Global software engineering; International collaboration; Open ended group project; Capstone; Teaching and learning; Global software development; Systematic literature review


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