Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Is slideshare, an alternative presentation route?

Can slide sharing sites such as slideshare be used as a way of student's presenting their work? Some examples of conference slides are shown below:

What do you think? Can we useful use this tool?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Stand alone computing in schools.

Originally published at: http://blogs.northampton.ac.uk/expertsatnorthampton/2012/01/12/why-computing-deserves-to-stand-alone/

Recently there has been a lot of interest in the news on more programming and computing  in schools (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16493929). I believe this is very likely to be seen positively by a lot of the computing profession. The British Computer Society (BCS) have been  campaigning about computing being seen as a separate subject to information and communications technology (ICT), or computing – at the very least – as an option within ICT in the National Curriculum.
So what is the problem? Computing is more than ICT; there is a belief that people are being put off computing by the difference not being clearer. Common myths include:
  • Everything has been done. This is not true, it’s an area where new things come along all the time. This is one of the exciting challenges of being a computing professional.
  • It is all about using databases and spreadsheets . Using databases is important but so is the theory of them. Spreadsheets, in a computer science course, only play a very minor role and may not even be taught.
  • It is all about business analysis. That is just one aspect, other aspects included but certainly not limited to are:
      • Programming
      • Games and other graphics. Who writes the software in the first place?
      • Hardware. Someone has to write the programs that go into aircraft or cars.
      • Mobile applications A growing area at the moment.
      • Web based applications. Webpages can be produced without a lot of computing knowledge, but making the pages do some of the more ‘clever’ things does.
      • Security. All those online transactions we all do, understanding where the loopholes are, programming tricks that hackers will or could try, takes some computing knowledge.
What role can universities play? Even before the recent news articles, universities have been actively going into and working with schools, trying to bring in a different perspective of computing. Examples from this University include.
  • Junkbots: Using a real programming language to program Lego robots. This has been successfully carried out in primary and secondary schools reaching over 150 students.
  • Be Switched On: An on-campus activity giving Year 12 and 13 examples of computing at university. Activities include programming robots or building 3D computer models.
  • Women into computing: presenting an alternative face to computing by school students meeting female computing professionals and computing students.
It is in the best interest of universities to do this.  Undergraduates who know something about programming and computing before they start would make the courses even more intellectually stimulating.
As an aside, personally I find ideas tried in outreach activities sometimes inform or lead to activities I do with undergraduates, as well as the other way around.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

opinion: ipad, mind maps and student feedback

I have recently been playing with mind maps as a tool for student feedback on the iPad. The idea being in a meeting with a student or students either a dissertation meeting or a project meeting, use mind mapping software on the iPad to document which can then be emailed or posted back to them.

My software preference is iThoughtsHD on the iPad, mainly because I find it easy to use and is set-up to email back the result in several forms, including as an image and as a text outline. It is structured and visual, which I can show the student(s) straight away when talking through my comments.

Why bother? Again a personal view but the visual structuring of the information I find helpful to me both when I am producing the map and the afterwards when I check progress. One of the other reasons, again a personal view, it is fairly enjoyable to do, and to look at afterwards. I find myself more likely/willing to view these afterwards than when I make written comments normally.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

STRiPE learning and teaching research

An overview of the learning and teaching research carried out by the School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton and the STRIPe research group. 

More details can be found at: http://apslandt.blogspot.com/ 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

More money for STEM

The School of Science and Technology and the School of Education both at the University of Northampton recently successfully bid to be part of a larger project: Enhancing STEM Public Engagement

Overview of our part

The University has, over a number of years, been very supportive of the STEM agenda with key staff across Schools and departments tasked with developing STEM activities.  The University is committed to providing local schools with high quality learning experiences that engender a love of STEM subjects and a desire to pursue these subjects at higher levels.

In order to ensure the success of our programmes we are keen to provide staff with appropriate training opportunities that enable them to deliver their subject to school children using age-specific pedagogies and taking into account the differences between teaching at HE and school levels.  This project coincides with the University making a greater investment in school engagement activities with local schools and would form a strand of a larger programme of training and development for all those engaged in school-based activity.