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vol10iss1Feb2011[1]

vol10iss1Feb2011[1]

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Published by: Don Howell on Mar 09, 2011
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ITALICS 
Volume 10 (1) February 2011
Contents
Editorial – Stephen Hagan, University of Ulsterand Anne Morris, University of LoughboroughOntology-Based E-Learning Personalisation for Disabled Students inHigher Education – Julius Nganji, Mike Brayshaw, Brian Tompsett,University of Hull 1Virtual Learning Environments for Mobile LearningLaura Crane, Phillip Benachour and Paul Coulton, Lancaster University 12Generalised Diagramming Tools with Automatic MarkingPete Thomas, Kevin Waugh and Neil Smith, Open University 22Teaching Media and Information Literacy to Postgraduate ResearchersAndrew Whitworth, Steve McIndoe and Clare Whitworth,University of Manchester 35Bob’s Project Guidelines: Writing a Dissertation for a BSc in Computer ScienceRobert Laramee, Swansea University 43Building a Software Development Environment to Enrich Learning and EnhanceEmployability John Kerins, University of Chester 55A Real-World Mobile Interaction Design TaskPraminda Caleb Solly and Paul Matthews, University of the West of England 64Embedding Inquiry based learning into Programming via Paired AssessmentSonya Coleman and Eric Nichols, University of Ulster 72Emergent Requirements for Supporting Introductory ProgrammingNatalie Coull, University of Abertay Dundee andIshbel Duncan, University of St Andrews 78Python for Teaching Introductory Programming: A Quantitative EvaluationAmbikesh Jayal, University of Gloucestershire, Stasha Lauria, Allan Tucker andStephen Swift, Brunel University 86Studying First Year Forensic Computing: Managing the Student ExperienceDavid Salt, Harjinder Singh Lallie, Philip Lawson, University of Derby 91
 
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
 
developed a deeper understanding of the context. This assignment allowed for the integration of research andteaching in a way that created an exciting environment where both students and teachers became co-learners.The paper also discusses the benefits to the students of working with experts drawn from a range of non-cognatedisciplines.The paper by Coleman and Nichols presents a case study on significant improvements in student attendance andin assessment mark profiles obtained by pairing students within a first year algorithmic programming module.Students worked together in pairs and were also assessed in pairs. The authors also captured the students’views on working and being assessed as a paired unit and noted how the collaborative relationship and peersupport continued beyond the module of study and contributed positively to the overall student experience.The paper by Coull and Duncan reflect upon the problems associated with learning and teaching first yearUniversity Computer Science programming classes and review the various support tools and techniques whichhave been developed to improve student success in this area. The authors propose ten requirements that asupport tool should satisfy and offer these to those interested in selecting among the support tools available ormoving to build a dedicated system.Jayal, Lauria, Tucker and Swift presents an experimental study wherein the understanding and proficiency ofstudents studying introductory programming via Java is contrasted with an approach which taught basicprogramming concepts and constructs via Python before moving to Java. The study reported a markedimprovement in the performance of those students initially exposed to Python over those using Java throughoutthe module. The results as set out are an interesting contribution to the ongoing introductory programminglanguage debate.The paper by Salt, Lallie and Lawson presents the experiences of students studying Computer Forensics at theUniversity of Derby, together with the views of the teaching and technical support staff. The authors stronglysuggests that there is a growing mismatch between students expectations and reality, an underdeveloped abilityto problem solve and communicate findings and unrealistic expectations of the job market. The authors suggestthat Universities need to appraise their activities honestly and within an ethical framework. In introducing digitalforensics courses they suggest that there is a need to rapidly assess the needs of our students and to ensure thatour practices and their expectations align with the reality of the employment market.

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