I am an experienced Computer Science academic, best known for research work into academic integrity, plagiarism and contract cheating. I have held leadership positions in several universities, with specialty in student recruitment and keen interest in working in partnership with students.
Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts.
Just ran through the LinkedIn Labs InMap Tool to see what my professional network looks like.
(you can also view the larger full size image here)
Unsurprisingly, it’s dominated by my current place of work, but it’s certainly interesting to see the different links between the people I know from different aspects of my career.
In particular, there’s a group of other academics not directly connected through any of my workplaces, but all of whom seem to know one another. That just demonstrates the value of contacts made through groups such as the Higher Education Academy.
At the 2013 HEA STEM Conference, we held an introductory meeting for the Special Interest Group in contract cheating. Although the group is primarily aimed at the Computing discipline, the group is not discipline specific and should be of interest to all areas.
A short presentation was held to kick off the session and the slides (hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster) are included here.
One thing that I did for the slides was that I chose a live example of contract cheating (a request for an Information Systems student project found at Freelancer.com). Unfortunately, no-one was able to attribute this during the session, so this remains in the slides as an activity for anyone interest.
We also briefly shared some new success at using TurnItIn to find details of assignments, thanks to students starting to include their assignment specification along with the work they uploaded for marking.
The session finished with delegates discussing some of the good practice they use to prevent contract cheating. This included staff who were able to get to know their students and question them on anything amiss, as well as various staged submission types. However, methods to circumvent these checks were also shared.
As always, there was a sense of surprise around the room that this type of cheating was happening, meaning that continued discussion about contract cheating is needed.
The mailing list for the HEA Contract Cheating Special Interest Group can be joined here.
As part of a wider research project looking into Computing placements and employability, Nzinga Deenah and I conducted an investigation looking at the availability of resources online to support placement students across the sector.
The argument was that by advertising these resources online, Higher Education Institutions were helping to promote and market their courses and the opportunities that they provide to their students.
The slides can be accessed in my SlideShare account (Thomas Lancaster on SlideShare), but I’ve also embedded them here for ease of reference.
One observation we did make is that many placement resources end up being private. It would be good to see increased sharing and reuse across the sector and that is something which we can all work towards.
At the HEA STEM Conference 2013, I presented on the work that I’ve doing helping students to develop a Professional Presence, as well as some initial evaluation about the success of that approach towards helping students to become more employable.
The research showed that students were engaging with setting up LinkedIn profiles, creating their own websites to present their skills and making placement applications. But there are still challenges to overcome to get all students engaged with this aspect of work.
The slides are available hosted in my SlideShare account (Thomas Lancaster on SlideShare).
One of my plans for the upcoming year is to look at incremental improvements and the language that students use to market themselves online. One observation I’ve made is that, whilst a student may carefully check their CV for mistakes, they seem less inclined to do this online materials. And yet, the online materials are much more immediately visible than a CV ever is.
I had some interesting conversations at the conference with academics who had been offered international speaking opportunities on the strength of a prof
Within the wider topic of contract cheating one area, which I hope to explore further with Robert Clarke relates to the wider implications of contract cheating to the IT industry.
We often discuss this when we’re presenting.
Where a student has cheated to obtain a qualification, this means that they’re not equipped with the core skills needed for success. This reflects badly on not only the student, but also the university which produced that particular student. Since the Computing industry now is so easily interconnected through social media, such information can soon spread, and can lead the IT industry having a lack of confidence in the qualifications that universities are awarding.
As part of our work to publicise contract cheating, we’re presenting a talk for the Wolverhampton Branch of the British Computer Society on Wednesday 24 April, 2013. The talk is exploring the topic of “Outsourcing Assignments? Exposing The Threat Posed By Contract Cheating To The Computing Industry” and one thing that we’re hoping is to engage the community of IT professionals that are present in a discussion on this issue.
More information about the talk can be found here (it is free to attend and booking is not required).