The final afternoon of the Latice conference started with a quick series of practice sharing papers, so I’ll just make some quick notes on the different talks presented.
The first talk was by Ilse Baumgartner from Singapore Management University on her use of enterprise level software systems in an undergraduate information systems course:
– silo style delivering of services is no longer the case, and so our students need to learn how to deal with these changes,
– our typical curriculum based on exposure to individual building blocks of computer science does not lend itself to complex or enterprise level problems,
– complex infrastructure requirements make it difficult to adopt enterprise level systems,
– the assessment is based on video submissions, where the students prepare videos that explain what they have been doing, which gives thoughtful assessment if time consuming.
The second talk was by Johannes Krugel, who looked at teaching algorithmic thinking using haptic devices for visually impaired students:
– teaching CS is often done visually, which places barriers for visually impaired students,
– design an inclusive class with techniques that work for both visually impaired and sighted students,
– uses a combination of physical, numbered blocks, spreadsheets and physical tree structures using molecule models.
The next talk was by Shih-Lun Chen in his work in a digital integrated circuit design course:
– using a case-based model of instruction for a hardware description language course,
– very strong national interest in integrated circuit design, so potential for industry led case studies,
– students struggle to see the connections between HDL constructs and the actual hardware artefacts that the constructs refer to,
– I remembered why I didn’t really like these courses 🙂
This was an interesting talk as I was never very interested in hardware design, or low level work. And so that prompts the question of why? Perhaps if I was was working with real hardware, or simulators on designing something interesting then I might have found it more engaging. As it was, when I was a student, dealing with IC diagrams and theoretical low level instruction design just didn’t grab me. For me, this is one area where some of the project or problem based learning ideas that we have been talking about might have been useful.
Years after I studied these courses, I came across a textbook that followed this model: The Elements of Computing Systems by Nisan and Schocken. A great book, and if I ever were to have to teach a course on this topic I would definitely use this. They have a great website as well: http://www.nand2tetris.org/
The final talk was by Su White, from Southampton, on motivating computer science academics to engage in professional behaviours:
– the constant struggle to expose CS students to human factors and professional issues when they have chosen CS to avoid those aspects,
– shifthappens: http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/
– putting students at the centre of the learning, giving them more ownership of their learning so that it is different enough from their other courses so that they will pay attention to it,
– when working with teams, good to create workflows of learning activities which include your approach to teaching and learning, along with the different activities that are being undertaken – a useful practice that might be a good process for academics to review their courses.