Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Back To School


Its always good for a teacher to go back to school. This year, in anticipation of setting up a sabbatical at a French University, I decided to go back to school and brush up my French. I was fortunate, in that I was going to be in Paris for a conference in any case for a conference.

Maybe its my personal preference, but I found a couple of weeks intensive study an excellent option. It gave me a chance to focus and refine my understanding, and once again I found myself musing on ways we could take an intensive approach in our regular courses at University.

So what was their recipe for success?
  • small classes with expert tuition
  • highly motivated learners
  • intensive, highly focussed topic area

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


More on ITiCSE:

Fab working group (Professional Values In CS Education) expertly run by Ursula Fuller and Bob Kleim from University of Kent in the UK. You can take a look at the proceedings, and expect our working group report to emerge at the end of the review process as a publication in inroads.
I will be participating in a workshop on a similar area which Tony Jenkins from Leeds will be running at Kent in August 2009 at the HEA-ICS conference.

As well as taking part in the working group on profesional values in computing education, I was at ITiCSE to present a paper about the relationship between research and teaching.

In some ways there are aspects of these two activities which overlap, and in both the paper and the working group we are interested in the perspective of change starting from the curriculum design.

Activities which find and exploit natural links between research and teaching are powerful additions to the traditional curriculum with its content led, technological bias. Researchers are highly tuned learners, and typically activities which relate research and learning, also contribute to the learners understanding of the value of independent/informal learning in a highly authentic context. I've done a few blogs on this subject already, and its a recurrent (and I think, imporant) theme in my work at Southampton..

Our working group at ITiCSE was really strenghtened by contributions from Diana Fitch, who is a careers expert who work very closely with our academic team in ECS at Southampton ( just part of the stuff she does supporting colleagues in a range of schools across the university). Her expertise and understanding of employers' views brings an important addition to the academics' analysis of the curriculum and its interpretation of the requirements of professional accreditation.

The conference was well organised with helpful student assistants

As it turned out, it was a pretty heavy commitment, and I was left exhausted at the end, but hey...

Some good papers in the sessions I was attending, Lil Bloom from toronto was presenting some interesting stuff on working with CS people on communication skills. I already use the university of Toronto materials about writing with some of my students, at various levels. Her paper included some fine examples of good practice.

I have a few pics,
  • I was awed by the UPMC building which is in the process of being renovated.

  • We went to a few restaurants, and had good meals accompanied by good conversation. We went to the Big Ben Bar next to the Blue Train for a few wines one evening, that was after the reception where the stalwart few were rewarded for our waiting by a final wine course of some quality champagne. But did not take pics
  • However on campus, the mural/grafitti of a fish tank was impressive

  • particularly liked the escalators in our building, although we never figured out when exactly they actually worked...

  • The coach left for the boat trip ridiculously early, with a few photo opportunities

  • After the boat trip (we had to wait an hour an a half on the quay, but the food was good, I did not take any of the the usual tourist pics although we went past Notre Dame, Quay D'Orsay etc etc)

  • I was saying... after the boat tripUrsula and I went to find her hat shop in rue St Sepulchre

  • Diana was a star, fortuitously speaking excellent french, the result of a fine international education.
  • Joyce and Chuck, who completed our team were good folk, and helped us understand a different perspective on values education.

The picture of the working group taken on the final day shows a rather tired band of people. Thanks to Karen Fraser (HEA-ICS) for this bit of photo journalism!

Afterwards I went to Gare de Lyon, had a nice lunch ( and got to understand why the big ben bar had a resident cat) I then got on the TGV for the south.

I was a bit exhausted so don't have so many pics from then....

Friday, 3 July 2009

Professional Values, Attitudes and Development in the Computing Disciplines

If the phrase being in the pink means anything to you, you will appreciate this photograph of our working area at UPMC (Paris VI), host to the 2009 ACM SIGCSE ITiCSE conference.

We are working on professional values, attitudes and development in the computing disciplines.  More later, but in the meantime, admire the architecture and the interior design