Reviewing The Way That Computing Is Taught At School

I’m currently attending ITiCSE 2013 which is one of the world’s major conferences looking at Computer Science Education.

One of the major changes being discussed related to the planned changes in the way that Computing is taught in schools within the UK. Simon Peyton Jones (of Haskell fame) delivered a keynote address about his work with the Computing At School project, and this subject has also been picked up in discussions in person, in Twitter and during panel sessions.

The main problem expressed with Computing at school has been the focus on ICT skills. That is, trying to ensure that children are able to use computer packages (particularly Microsoft Office) and consume information, but not understanding the mechanics and science behind computers.

That approach has been said to be damaging to pupils, with GCSE coursework based around taking hundreds of screenshots. There have also been expressions that this is demoralising to staff, with the low level of teaching not allowing them to engage pupils (one delegate reported having to teach fashion students how to use a mouse).

The alternative, which is being pushed, is to offer several different choices of Computing qualifications, analogous to how Science may turn out Physics specialists as well as people with a more general Combined Science qualification. The push needs to be to treat Computing on a level with other core subjects.

The recommendations from the Computing At School Working Group include students being exposed to Computer Science from an early age, gaining a practical understanding of topics such as algorithms and logic. All of the GCSE accreditation bodies are now offering qualifications in Computer Science as well as in ICT. And, funding for training school teachers has now moved away from training ICT teachers to instead training Computer Science teachers.

One of the outstanding questions is how these changes will impact upon study at university level. Will students be arriving at university with higher level skills, thus requiring university courses to start and end at a more advanced level? Will at interest in Computer Science at school increase the uptake of Computer Science at university? As Computer Science is repositioned, universities will have to adapt to the changes.

The Application Of Intelligent Context-Aware Systems To The Detection Of Online Student Cheating – Video Post

Here is the video version of a presentation for the ICAS 2013 workshop. I’m unable to attend this workshop in person as I’m attending ITiCSE 2013 at the same time, however one of my colleagues will provide the presentation at the workshop on my behalf.

The presentation looks at applying the growing research area of intelligent context-aware systems to one of my main research fields of student cheating and plagiarism. I’ve selected three particular problems within the field and proposed some initial solutions which use this type of computer systems.

This area is very much a work-in-progress, as there are several other plagiarism, cheating and academic integrity related problems which I could have selected. Further, with some more development of solutions, each one of these concerns could easily form the basis for a paper on its own.

My intention here is to open up the discussion, and ideas for research focus, solutions and collaboration opportunities are welcome.

The slides are also available here in my SlideShare account.

Teaching Undergraduate Research Methods Using Action Learning Sets – Video Post

This video presentation explores the methods that I’ve been using with my undergraduate students to help them to gain a practical understanding of research methods and to become prepared to use research within their final year project.

The presentation is part of the current Higher Education Academy project on Innovation In The Assessment Of Social Science Research Methods. Although my approach is geared around my experiences with Computing students, I do feel that the techniques are applicable to other academic disciplines, and I’ll be interested to hear any thoughts and ideas.

The slides are also available on my SlideShare account.

How To Create A High Quality Personal Statement For University Entry

As part of my responsibility for the BSc Computer Science course at Birmingham City University, I get the opportunity to review a lot of Personal Statements submitted by students looking to join the course.

I spoke to students at Solihull College about how to best present themselves for successfully university entry and the slides are included below. The slides are hosted on the SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster.

I do recommend that students put the time in to identify their skills and experience and to relate these to the courses that they want to take.

This will help them to obtain a valuable and worthwhile position to study a Computing or IT subject at Birmingham City University.

How To Quickly Grow Your Pinterest Profile

One area I’ve been working on is expanding my use of Pinterest, as it’s an excellent social site, but one that I’ve fallen very behind with.

You can view my Pinterest profile here.

Pinterest is mostly a site where you can share graphics and images that you’ve seen on other sites and liked. You can also upload your own graphics and images directly to Pinterest.

However, this definition is quite broad, as you can also pin videos, slides and other resources.

There are several ways to quickly add pins to images of interest.

First of all, if you Follow other prolific pinners, you can repin some of the pins that they’ve made.

Second, you can create boards relating to areas of your research. Then just choose some of the main sites that you know of and pin appropriate images.

Third, pin your own talks. This can easily increase their exposure. You can pin slides that you’ve uploaded to SlideShare.

Fourth, you can search websites directly on Pinterest to find appropriate graphics. Use this to start off with some of your own other professional presence sites.

Fifth, grabbing screenshots is a great way to quickly create other images which you can share.

Just be creative! Pinterest had a lot of potential and is an excellent visual community and a way to expand on your own professional online presence.

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