Measuring The Extent Of Online Placement Resources To Support Computing Students

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.

Using Professional Online Presences To Enhance Computing Student Employability

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

The Wider Implications Of Contract Cheating

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).

Mobile, Social and Cloud

Over the past months, I’ve attended events and workshops run by three of the best-known (and biggest) IT vendors – Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

And, three common themes have been emerging about where the IT industry is heading, and what skills students need to have by the end of a degree within a Computing discipline.

First Mobile. A substantial amount of Computing now goes on within mobile devices, whether these are phones or tablets. Students need to be able to develop apps and mobile websites for different purposes and to present a seamless experience, whether a site is being accessed on a mobile or desktop device.

Second, Social. Integrating social media technology into applications and web sites is essential, both to ensure that content can go viral and to increase the uptake of that content.

Thirdly, Cloud. Developing software and data that is only available on one device is of limited use. Even for something as a game to be successful, it would want to have the opportunity for people to compete against one another and have scores appear in a single high score table. This is something which requires remote storage of the data.

All three of these themes clearly link together. For instance, a mobile web site could be developed to store all of its data in the cloud so that it can be accessed from any device. It could use “Login With Facebook” to speed up access to the site and to promote activity on the site automatically on Facebook.

The challenge will be to what extent universities respond to these changes and integrate these skills within the technical remit of their courses. Certainly, an interesting area to explore further, particularly in my case, the more technical social media opportunities.

Developing Your Digital Presence For Academics

Here’s a slideshow for material presented by Alex Spiers at a seminar at Liverpool John Moores University recently.

It’s all about how academics and researchers can develop their own digital presence.

The area is of particular interest to me as I’m running a workshop on Professional Presences For Academics at Birmingham City University in May.

Alex’s take is very different to how I would present this and the focus is on different areas, but the talk definitely covers one of the main challenges for academics, which is to be visible, and to think about research as being something more than dry papers and conference talks.

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