Monday, August 10, 2009

Congratulations to John Lee

Congratulations on the Chancellor's Award for Teaching

HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh presented the Chancellor's Award for Teaching to John Lee at a gala dinner in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

John Lee has led development of a system known as "YouTute", supported by a grant from the Principal's e-Learning Fund (2007-8). In this system, video recordings of tutorial discussions are made available to students. The recordings of entire tutorials (from two cameras and a Smartboard) are streamed in an online environment in which students can extract "virtual clips" from the videos, annotate, tag and comment these, share them, and keep them for future reference. The videos are presented accompanied by the tutorial question sheets and, where appropriate, solutions, as well as the relevant lecture slides. This creates a new kind of learning resource, around which the students can develop a collaborative learning activity that will promote reflection, deepen understanding, and add significantly to the value of the original tutorial experience. Students can also observe different approaches to particular problems (and to teaching and learning) as revealed in different tutorial groups' discussions.

A robust prototype system is currently being trialled in Informatics, with great potential also for use in many other areas of the University. Over 50 tutorials were recorded in AY 2007-8 from Informatics 2A/B,which have been made available to all second year Informatics students since then (nearly 400 students). The system was especially appreciated by resit students revising during the summer, who used the system for over 50 hours, suggesting that it may be very helpful for the slower learners.

Collection of tutorials continues. The next step is to integrate recordings of lectures, which are increasingly captured in many subject areas, allowing these also to be re-used in a much more flexible and substantial way. The system is also the focus of research to assist students further by developing automated means of indexing and tagging the videos, exploiting methods developed in existing Informatics research on multi-party meetings.

YouTute exploits vicarious learning, which is learning from exposure to the learning experiences of others. John Lee has a long history of working to develop innovative ways of exploiting the concept of vicarious learning. He has been investigating this idea, with collaborators, in a series of projects since 1995, funded by EPSRC, ESRC, and the Teaching and Learning Research Programme — the recent Principal's e-Learning Fund grant has enabled a sharper focus on application to be added to this work. There is clear evidence that vicarious learning has substantial benefits for motivation and attitude as well as discussion skills and learning strategies. Research elsewhere also suggests that vicarious learners learn better if they collaborate with each other. It is to exploit these benefits, and also to evaluate subject-specific learning in much more detail, that practical application has become the focus, leading to the current YouTute deployment.

John has been keen to promote innovations in teaching for many years. 10 years ago, in what is now the School of Arts, Culture and Environment, he co-developed the highly successful MSc in Design and Digital Media. He introduced teaching of web design and technologies at a very early stage, and continues to teach these and direct this programme. In his seconded position in Informatics, he was the founding course organiser of the pioneering Informatics Entrepreneurship courses, one of which has also been adapted for use in Design and Digital Media.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rod Burstall: Programming Languages Achievement Award

Congratulations to Rod Burstall

Rod has made deep, seminal contributions to the design of programming languages and the field of program verification. These contributions, which many of us now take for granted, include the introduction of algebraic datatypes coupled with pattern-matching clausal function definitions as found in Hope, ML, Haskell and Coq; the generalization and use of structural induction for proving properties of programs; the fold-unfold method for deriving efficient, provably-correct programs from easy to understand prototypes; mechanisms for reasoning about pointer-based, imperative programs that directly led to the development of separation logic; proof techniques and connections to modal logic for reasoning about concurrent programs; and the use of dependent types and algebraic specifications for constructing module systems that directly influenced SML and OCaml. Through these amazing contributions and his collaborations and mentorship, he helped build one of the most important centers of programming research at Edinburgh, which was eventually institutionalized as the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nothing but the Best

Best Building in Scotland

It's official: we have the best building in Scotland
— a building fit for informatics@edinburgh

RIAS Andrew Doolan Award

A spokeswoman for Bennets Associates said judges were impressed by how the Potterrow building encouraged communication between experts from different fields in its communal spaces.

She said: "There are dedicated drop-in spaces, with bean bags and comfy chairs, for staff from other campuses and departments to filter in their research. This is an unprecedented approach in academic architecture that demonstrates a real effort to create spaces that endorse the cross-fertilisation of ideas."

Joint Winners:

Potterrow, Edinburgh by Bennetts Associates
Castlemilk House Stables Block, Glasgow by Elder & Cannon Architects

Special Mention:

Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, Inverness by Gareth Hoskins Architects Ltd

Potterrow Development, Bristo Square, University of Edinburgh
Bennetts Associates
This mix of buildings, courtyards and reinstated street lines is designed to form a new hub for the University. Faced in natural stone and quartz-aggregate polished concrete this range of new buildings house the School of Infomatics, the Infomatics Forum (housing over five hundred researchers) and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

The buildings’ facades are aligned along the principal streets to reinstate the area’s historic urban grain. Two interlocking ribbons of accommodation face each other across an open courtyard, orientated to receive sunshine through the seasons.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hui Sun - Young Software Engineer of the Year

Congratulations to Hui Sun, BEng., who graduated this summer with First-class Honours in Software Engineering. Hui has won The 2007 Young Software Engineer of the Year Award, presented at a ceremony organised by the trade association ScotlandIS in Edinburgh.

This award, which includes a cheque for £1500, presented by Ann Budge of Sopra Group, and the ScotlandIS Young Software Engineer of the year trophy, is given to the student who has undertaken the best final year software engineering project from amongst all Scottish universities.

Hui Sun’s project Face Recognition on J2ME-enabled mobile phone was supervised by Dr. Gillian Hayes of the Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour. The judges considered his work to be exceptional, with a clear commercial application.

Hui Sun is the sixth Informatics student to win one of these prestigious awards:
2007First prizeHui SunBEng. Hons. Software Engineering 1st class
2006First prizeNicholas O’SheaBSc. Hons. Computer Science1st class
2003First prizeTim AngusBSc. Hons. Computer Science 1st class
2000First prizeWill BrysonBSc. Hons. Computer Science 1st class
1999First prizeEdward KnoweldenBSc. Hons. Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science1st class
1998Second prizeHugh LeatherBSc. Hons. Computer Science1st class

Labels: , , , , ,