My last blog post was about a few CS-Women socials we’d held in Minecraft. These were pretty good fun, and after 3 events organised by the women students we decided to go large and organise one for the wider student body. Our first was held just before xmas: we had 8 teams of 3-4 + a team of 5 organisers; around 30 people in total. We held the second last night with 6 teams of 3-4 and 3 organisers. The general idea is inspired by the TV Show Taskmaster: set the players (in teams) a series of silly challenges, which they have to complete inRead More →

At my work we use the VLE BlackBoard for supporting our teaching. Some of the things it does are pretty good, but hidden away: this blog is about one of those dusty BlackBoard corners. In the first year module I’m teaching on there are a lot of students and so managing practical sessions and sign-off became a bit of a worry for me. How can we ensure that all of the students have done the work, without having to mark the work, and without giving all the students the same assessment questions? (If we have the same questions for all students, the answers will percolateRead More →

I gave a talk today about using short videos in teaching, to the Aberystwyth University Teaching and Learning conference (info here). The conference is an annual event which serves as a showcase for best practice in the uni, and it’s always interesting to see what people are up to. As part of my prep for the talk I did a lot of thinking about the different uses of video in learning and teaching, and about the different types of video I’ve put together. So I thought I’d do a blog post about that. If you’re interested in the how, as well as the what andRead More →

Last week, I went to Romania for an EU ERASMUS+ project meeting about computing in schools. There were four of us from west Wales on the trip – Tomi Rowlands and Erin Good from Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, in Machynlleth, and Wayne Aubrey and myself from Aberystwyth University. The project has been running for a while now and this was our third physical meeting (you can find my blogs on previous meetings here: Perugia; Girona). The aim is to share best practice and materials which can help kids to learn to code in a playful way – it’s a fun project and we’re starting to makeRead More →

For our summer holiday this year we went to Malawi. This is quite an exotic destination (for us), but R’s sister and her husband are out there doing a year volunteering on a farm which grows maize (inter alia) for Malawian farmers, and so we jumped at the opportunity to visit. During our visit we wanted to pop into some schools, and my sister-in-law Terri asked around and managed to make contact with Lisumbwe school, in Monkey Bay, and arranged for us to lead a morning’s class in computing. Here’s a google maps link, if you want to see it on a satellite, it’s quiteRead More →

I’m really pleased to be teaching computer vision this year. It’s the subject I research in, it’s what my PhD is in, and it’s my favourite part of computing. Challenging, mathematical, and very very visual. The previous lecturer (Fred Labrosse) is on sabbatical this year, and it’s great to take over from someone as good as Fred; the materials (blackboard, reading lists, slides) are all very thorough. So all I need to do is to update them to my style, shuffle the syllabus a bit, think about assessment, and make fancy videos demonstrating the algorithms we’ll be covering.

This summer, Amanda Clare and I won a small grant for teaching development. The idea was to use the stuff I teach (HTML5, JavaScript) to help students learn the stuff Amanda teaches (Mathematical concepts for computer scientists). We won just under £2k from the Aberystwyth University Learning and Teaching Enhancement fund, and we spent most of it on employing Mike Sheldon, a recent Aberystywth PhD graduate. I can thoroughly recommend working with Mike – he’s not only a good coder but he’s really quick at understanding problems, and imaginative at coming up with solutions. If we manage to get funding to extend the site, I’dRead More →