FEBRUARY 2011 VOLUME 10 ISSUE 1EDITORIAL BY STEPHEN HAGAN, University of Ulster & ANNE MORRIS, LoughboroughUniversity
Welcome to the first issue of Italics 2011. This spectrum of papers carried in this issue covers Flexible Learningand Learning Environments, Employability, the promotion of media and information literacy skills for postgraduatestudents and support for novices undertaking introductory programming modules
The paper by Nganji, Brayshaw and Tompsett, suggests a semantic approach to achieving reasonableadjustments to the presentation of e-learning resources to meet the needs of disabled students, drawing on anontology of various disabilities encountered in higher education. The process aims to present disabled studentswith tailored learning resources relevant and suitable for their individual and specific needs. The paper proposesa viable assemblage of established architectural components which overall could deliver such a customisedLearning Environment.The paper by Crane, Benachour and Coulton identifies and discusses infrastructural and sociological barrierslimiting access to learning environments via mobile devices. A survey of network coverage data, mobile widgetsand students’ experiences suggests that a lack of a dedicated mobile application or mobile website coupled withinept network access impose significant constraints at this time.
The paper by Thomas, Waugh and Smith describes an approach to the generalisation of tools for teaching andlearning the skills associated with modelling with diagrams. The paper briefly describes the existing tools and oneapproach to the automatic marking of diagrams. The authors report on their work to generalise both a markingalgorithm and a drawing editor in such a way that revision tools can easily be generated for new domains. Theyalso report on how they have incorporated their tools into their own institution’s Moodle-based Virtual LearningEnvironment.The paper by Whitworth, McIndoe and Whitworth details an open educational resource designed to developmedia and information literacy skills in postgraduate students. The authors describe the motivations forundertaking the project, the model of media and information literacy education which they used to create thematerials, how the resource was created, and its evaluation using eight students. The outcome is the provision ofa stand-alone resource that can be completed in 7 to 10 hours of independent study by postgraduate students.The resource is to be used by Manchester University in early 2011 but the authors are keen for other institutionsto adapt and use the resource and to receive feedback. Of particular interest is the use of the resource acrossdifferent disciplines. Links to the live resource are provided in the paper.Laramee offers a template and guidelines underpinning the mechanics of writing a final year student projectreport in Computer Science. These may serve as a useful starting point for students and new project supervisorsalike and are offered openly for adoption and use.Kerins provides a reflective analysis of the utilisation of Higher Education Innovation funding to establish asoftware development team within a department of computer science and information systems to grow industriallinks, and to effect synergy between students, academic staff and external clients in problem solving and inforging solutions to real-world problems. The author outlines numerous benefits derived from the initiativeincluding the honing of the employability skills of participating students.Solly and Matthews presents an overview of a real-world interaction design assignment where the focus was onencouraging students to explore the conceptual design space to find creative solutions. By providing studentswith background information extracted from case studies and with access to a domain expert, the students