Friday, 27 June 2014

Preprint: Computer Science Courses Using Laptops

A preprint of paper to be publish in the next edition the journal Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences (ITALICS) is now available at

Computer Science Courses Using Laptops

Gary HillEspen Svennevik and Scott Turner
Department of Computing & Immersive Technologies, University of NorthamptonUK

Corresponding author: Scott Turner, Department of Computing and Immersive Technologies, University of Northampton, UK 
Phone: +44 (0) 1604 893028


Traditionally computer sciences courses have been taught using laboratories full of expensive desktop computers. Although this approach may have been valid in the 80, 90s and even the early part of this decade, this paper suggests that buying, maintaining and replacing laboratories full of computers is no longer required. This paper raises the issues associated with attempting to use laptops – as thin/thick clients using virtual machines – to deliver the computer science curriculum and offers potential solutions that, in some cases, may make computer science courses at such ‘brave’ institutions more appealing.

Read More:

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Open Educational Resources: Problem solving on JORUM

 Another new Open Education Resource (OER) has been made available by the School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton.


Author: Dr Scott Turner


These mini lectures are intended for undergraduate computing students, for providing simple steps in problem solving before the students learn a programming language. Problem-Solving and Programming is a common first year undergraduate module on the BSc Computing Programme at the University of Northampton. This material was taken from the problem solving part of the module and provides an introduction to five topics in problem-solving.

The resource can be found at:

Friday, 13 June 2014

Innovation Fund Event - 13th June 2014

Members of STRiPe (Adel Gordon, Naomi Holmes and Scott Turner) with one of the posters from the group at the University of  Northampton's Innovation Fund Dissemination Event on 13th June 2014.

Click on the images below to find out more.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

STRiPe at Northampton Learning & Teaching Conference 2014

A recent workshop presented by Scott Turner, Naomi Holmes, Adel Gordon and Janet Jackson at Northampton Learning & Teaching Conference 2014- Northampton 2018: Planning, Designing and Delivering Student Success gave participants an opportunity to 'play with' some of the computing technologies they have been investigating as tools for Environmental and Geography Students.

A recent paper presented by  Naomi Holmes and Adel Gordon at  Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference 2014- Northampton 2018: Planning, Designing and Delivering Student Success discussed some of the technologies they have been investigating as tools for Environmental and Geography Students.

A recent paper was presented by John Sinclair and co-authored by Stuart Allen, Linda Davis-Sinclair, Trish Goodchild, Julie Messenger, and Scott Turner at Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference 2014- Northampton 2018: Planning, Designing and Delivering Student Success about STEM outreach and employability.

Enhancing student employability skills through partnership working in STEM outreach

John Sinclair, Stuart Allen, Linda Davis, Trish Goodchild, Julie Messenger, Scott Turner

Contact details:

For over a decade, University of Northampton staff and students have delivered successful STEM outreach activities, master classes and co-working opportunities to learners in schools and FE colleges.  In addition, the University works with the local STEMNET contract holder to gain national recognition for staff and students STEM Ambassadors and recognises STEM Ambassadors through awards (staff and student) as part of its annual celebration of volunteer achievement.  Both developments derive from a culture of empowering students as partners and enhancing the student journey.

The University has developed a co-ordinated programme of training and events to empower students and staff to engage with school and community outreach.  A cross-University STEM Steering Group (SSG) which features both management and grass roots-level representation from the across the University (Science and Technology, Health, Education, the Arts and its Centre for Employability and Engagement) manages the activities, including recruiting representation from the student body.  As such, SSG is uniquely well-placed to champion STEM activities across the University and to make these available to the wider community.  Local schools are able to access inspirational science activities, whilst University students gain employability-related skills in leadership, communication, project-delivery and self-motivation and staff gain valuable CPD.  Students also identify more strongly with the University.  The total package plays a major role in contributing to University aspirations in widening participation and is hugely popular with participants.  This paper will outline the project and will showcase the positive enhancements which it offers to University of Northampton students and school participants.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mobile in the Field

Mobile in the field - Learning Across Contexts, the next generation from Adel Gordon

This slide deck was presented at the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference, April 2014 - Dublin, Ireland.

  • 1. Mobile in the Field Learning Across Contexts – The Next Generation ADEL GORDON Learning Technologist University of Northampton @adelgordon
  • 2. ABOUT ME ADEL GORDON Learning Technologist University of Northampton System Administrator for 11 years Focus on assessment technologies, Mobile and Blackboard/SIS integration
  • 3. ABOUT MY INSTITUTION The University of Northampton has around 17,000 students (FTE) and around 1,500 staff All students and around 75% of staff are expected to use Blackboard. The Learning Technology team have responsibility over all things related to Blackboard…
  • 4. WE’RE GOING TO LOOK AT… • Interdependencies when learning across contexts • Geographers’ use of mobile in the field • Lessons Learned • Future plans
  • 5. OUR CHALLENGE #1 Lecture Theatre LaboratoryThe field Personal workspaceSeminar room Online / VLE
  • 6. WHY MOBILE? “Mobile and wireless technologies support learning designs that are personalised, situated and authentic...” “mobile learning should aim to innovate and to discover what is gained through having portable tools that support observations, interactions, conversations and reflections, within and across various contexts of use...” (Kukulska-Hulme, Traxler & Pettit, 2007)
  • 7. OUR CHALLENGE #2 Mapping “Desk based” Survey Identify & Delineate Overlay key Plan Data Collection Assignment BE ORGANISED! Students are required to:
  • 8. OUR SOLUTION Tablets Image source: &
  • 9. OUR SOLUTION Skitch Image Source: & Holmes (2014)
  • 10. OUR SOLUTION FieldTrip GB Source:
  • 12. HERE’S HOW WE USED BLACKBOARD Mobile Learn • All materials are mobile friendly with options for viewing • Discussion board for collaborative work
  • 13. WHAT THE STUDENTS SAID Like having access to the forms before the fieldwork I like the bigger screen on the iPad mini – makes it easier to use the maps Being able to sync data once connected is great, and the FieldTrip GB app facilitates data collection really well I really like the iPad mini and having a 3G version makes it even better in the field FieldTrip GB is Great!
  • 14. LESSONS LEARNED • Can increase engagement and support activities that are central to learning • Be clear about the aims and manage expectations (especially of internet availability!) • Importance of preparatory work
  • 15. FUTURE PLANS Oculus Rift – pre fieldwork activities to enhance the usefulness of data capture and gathering in the field. In trials on generic maps and 3D environments student have commented that…
  • 16. DO THIS NEXT Have a chat with staff and students about their practice. Particularly in subjects where field, lab, studio work etc is carried out. Consider the contexts in which learning takes place, and how the gap between them can be bridged using mobile. Get some mobile devices!
  • 17. REFERENCES Brown, E. (ed) (2010) Education in the Wild: contextual and location-based mobile learning in action. A report from the STELLAR Alpine Rendez-Vous workshop series. University of Nottingham: Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI). Downward, S., et al. “Podcasts and Locations”. In Salmon, G. and Edirisingha, P. (eds) (2008) Podcasting for Learning in Universities. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 57-69. Gordon, A., Jackson, J. and Usher, J. (2014) Learning across contexts - mobile for fieldwork in environmental sciences. In: Mobile Learning: How Mobile Technologies Can Enhance the Learning Experience. Oxford: UCISA. pp. 2-5. Holmes, N. (2014) Lake at Delapre. [Skitch image]. Kukulska-Hulme, A., Traxler, J., and Pettit, J., (2007) Designed and user-generated activity in the mobile age. Journal of Learning Design, 2(1), pp. 52–65. Blackboard Mobile – FieldTrip GB - Oculus Rift -
  • 18. THANK YOU! Adel Gordon Learning Technologist University of Northampton @adelgordon

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Greenfoot in Problem Solving and Artificial Intelligence

Presented at The 10th China-Europe International Symposium on Software Engineering Education, Chengdu, China

Greenfoot is an interactive environment based around Java that enables two-dimensional graphical games and simulations to be set-up relatively simply. Currently maintained by the University of Kent, UK and La Trobe University, Australia, it provides a piece of free software (under a GPL licence), multiplatform and is multiplatform.

In this paper its use within the teaching of problem-solving and artificial intelligence will be considered. Three case studies of it use will be considered:
·        Exercises in developing problem solving within a problem-solving and programming module.
·        Greenfoot for a problem solving assignment within a problem-solving and programming module.

·        Use of greenfoot within a module on artificial intelligence.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Reflection for Scientists: a collaborative approach through university and beyond

Some work presented by a member of STRiPe at the 11th ALDinHE Conference: Learning Development Spaces and Places University of Huddersfield

Reflection for Scientists: a collaborative approach through university and beyond
Helena Beeson, University of Northampton

Employers in the Engineering and Computing disciplines notice that graduates often enter the workplace with limited transferable skills outside of their technical expertise (Davies and Rutherford, 2012). This seminar will discuss a collaboration between a learning developer, a module leader and a local employer (course team) to develop a ‘real world’ project assessment which emphasises the importance of reflecting on progress throughout the learning process, establishing clients’ needs and working successfully within a team. The proposed project is being developed for a Masters cohort at the University of Northampton, many of whom have relocated to the UK in order to specialise in computing practices in this country. The assessment will be set in February 2014 for the first time.

At the start of the project the groups will meet with the course team and find out key project requirements from the employer who will explain the relevance of reflection in their chosen career path. A model of reflection has been developed, adapted from Brookfield’s lenses (1995) and Rolfe’s framework (2001). Each group creates and maintains a blog to chart their progress which other students can add to by asking questions for clarification and making suggestions. The course team will monitor and contribute to the blog posts as part of the assessment for this module. It is anticipated that the online blog will serve as a platform for students to develop the visibility of their advancements to colleagues and employers, both at university and throughout their careers.

This paper will share the design and development of this collaboration and assessment and offer suggestions of how to reinforce reflection as a key skill in traditionally non-reflective subject areas.

Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Davies, J.W. and Rutherford, U. (2012) Learning from fellow engineering students who have current
professional experience European Journal of Engineering Education 37 (4), 354-365,

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D. and Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection for nursing and the helping professions: a user's guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave

Details of the conference can be found at Conference site

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

EOMOSA- Progress in IS: Software Engineering Education for a Global E-service Economy

The chapter "Electronic Online Marking Of Software Assignments  (EOMOSA)" published n the forthcoming book  Progress in IS: Software Engineering Education for a Global E-service Economy, Motta, Gianmario; Bing, Wu (Eds.), Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-04216-9. Due for publication April 2014.

Electronic Online Marking Of Software Assignments (EOMOSA) 

Gary Hill and Scott Turner


With the advent of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and online electronic submission of assignments, computing lecturers are increasingly assessing code online. There are various tools for aiding electronic marking, grading and plagiarism detection. However, there appears to be limited shared advice to computer science tutors (and students) on the effective use of these tools.

This paper aims to stimulate peer-discussion amongst tutors involved in the assessing (marking and grading) of software code. Many United Kingdom (UK) Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are using electronic marking. This paper discusses the authors’ experience and proposes suggestions for appropriate and effective solutions to the electronic assessment of software code. This will be based on the authors’ experience of electronically assessing code over three academic years and the current advice given to their students.

Friday, 24 January 2014

award winning mobile technologies in Fieldwork

The now highly commended case study (see figure) of colloborative work by Adel Gordon (a member of STRiPe Research Group) and Janet Jackson, University of Northampton, Julie Usher, Blackboard (previously University of Northampton) in using mobile technologies in Fieldwork for Environmental Sciences  was presented on 23rd January 2014 at 

Effective use of mobile technologies to enhance learning, teaching and assessment


Context take from the paper:

"The culture, practice and pedagogy of academic disciplines such as geography and environmental sciences are based around in the field activities as well as traditional learning in face to face, online and laboratory scenarios. Downward et al (2008) have argued that environmental scientists are uniquely positioned to pilot mobile technologies, because they work across so many different contexts.
figure 1

Figure 1 depicts the varied contexts in which environmental students are now expected to work. Within each of these disciplinary contexts learners should have access to all the resources they need, as well as the ability to capture, reflect on, develop and extend their ideas into other contexts.

As Kukulska-Hulme et al (2007) note, mobile learning may offer a solution to this problem, by encouraging students to use “portable tools that support observations, interactions, conversations and reflections, within and across various contexts of use...” (p.53).
With this in mind we wanted to find a solution that could facilitate students’ learning both within and across these contexts."

To read more, read the full paper at Good Practice Guide "Mobile learning:How mobile technologies can enhance the learning experience" page 2  published by UCISA.


Kukulska-Hulme, A, Traxler, J, and Pettit, J, (2007). Designed and user generated activity in the mobile age. Journal of Learning Design, 2(1), pp 52–65.

Other related links: