Don’t Want To Write That Lecture?

For academics, this request seems like a very reasonable price to pay to get someone else to get someone else to prepare a set of “good enough” slides for you.

I had this example planned as a slide for one of my own research presentations, but with that presentation at 60 slides at present, this just wouldn’t have fit it.

I support I could have saved myself a lot of time and had other people outbidding themselves to produce that talk for me for just $6 (£3.71 according to Google). Even comparing the options and paying double that to get a competent worker involved, this would represent a good deal.

There’s certainly no excuse for academics to not have a set of slides prepared when you can get offers like that (9 bidders so far), although I’d recommend setting this type of auction up as a fixed price rather than paying by the hour. Of course, I don’t know if paying someone to create your slides would be ethical

What next? Get someone in to deliver the lecture (there are some that would argue that PhD students are already taken advantage of in that way…)?

Personally, I’m one of those people who has my own presentation style and likes to be very much in control of my own slides, but I see an increasing numbers of posts on agency sites like this one.

Contract Cheating Within The Computing Discipline – Examining The Threats And Solutions For Face-To-Face And Distance Learning Courses

When I was putting this contract cheating research seminar together, I was reminded just what a volume of slides, talks and interesting anecdotes we had. Far more than can fit in every one hour session (with questions), which invariably means leaving some very interesting material out.

This time, we focused particularly on the issues that look like to cause problems to universities that teach primarily by distance learning, such as the UK’s Open University.

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.

There was an interesting discussion after the research seminar about the ways in which measures taken to prevent contract cheating can also cause issues for people with dyslexia. For instance, one attendee overviewed the very real situation from his own PhD studies where his university he was attending had not allowed the use of external proof readers, for fear of the potential for contract cheating. Invariably, this caused issues with the completion of his PhD.

This is certainly an area of contract cheating worthy of further discussion and opens up a whole cans of worms related to policies which really need to be explored.

No Systematic Solution To Essay Mills

I’m quoted in the cover story of this week’s Times Higher Education (although much of the story looks based around the long discussion we had on the telephone):

It’s an interesting feature, running to six pages in the printed version of THE (and having attracted comments on the online version).

An interesting statement is the estimate that over 15,000 customer essays are written by essay writing firms within the UK every year. That doesn’t account for the students who commit other forms of contract cheating or order from abroad.

The implication in the article is that there is no easy solution in sight, but I hope that we can do better.

Is Employability A Local Issue?

Much of the focus of my recent teaching, research and presentations have been based around student employability.

To me, it’s very important that students are given every opportunity to achieve a career in the academic discipline that they’ve been studying. As a Computing academic, much of my approach is to look at the skills needed for a Computing career, encompassing both technical and inter-personal aspects, as well as helping students to document and present what they’ve done in a manner that is easily accessible for employers.

However, several incidents recently have led me to believe the employability focused approach is one that is most common in the UK, and does not easily extend internationally.

At a general conference I attended on Computing Education, the focus was almost entirely on standard technical skills, with very little interest shown in employability, or thinking about what is needed for students after they complete a course.

I attended a workshop, and one of the discussions was about employability not being a core concept. The closest equivalent was looking at life skills (of which setting students up for a career could be argued to be a part), but there seemed little consensus that universities should be working around that role.

I also wrote a draft of a paper recently, which was generally well-received, but one of the most striking reviewer comments related to something I wrote about employability, that this was the end aim of university study. The reviewer made it clear that this different greatly from their interpretation, and presented the view that any piece written to involve employment should be repositioned from a sociological aspect.

Despite these different views, I still believe strongly in making sure that students are prepared for employment. Much of my continued research relates to the ways in which the selection processes that get students into jobs are changing. Employability certainly isn’t a static area, and it is one which needs continual updates to match the changes in the wider world.

Developing Student Employability Through The Creation Of Online Professional Identitites

I attended and presented at a really useful Higher Education Academy workshop, looking at the ways in which technology is becoming embedded within teaching and learning of employability. My own presentation focused on the need for students of all academic disciplines to establish an online professional identity.

The presentation took place at the Using Learning Technologies To Develop Employability Skills Workshop, held at the University of Salford on 11 July 2013. The slides, hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.

I was also interested to hear of work taking place at the University of Southampton where students (largely PhD students) were taking the role of helping students to establish, build and develop their professional identities. This certainly seems like an excellent way to extend this topic beyond the bounds of the Computing academic discipline.

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