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.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

£5M DTC Renewal

Congratulations to all those responsible for the DTC renewal.

The EPSRC/MRC funded Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) in Neuroinformatics and Computational Neuroscience offers an innovative 4 year PhD programme, unique to the UK.

The DTC is now half-way to its first century. Starting in 2002, it has already awarded some fifty studentships. The £5M of new funding just announced will support fifty more studentships—around ten new PhD entrants per annum until 2012.

The renewal follows a successful external review, the review committee commenting particularly on the excellence of the students.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Iain Whiteside: most enterprising student in UK

Congratulations to Iain, currently in third year, just over half-way through the CS&Maths degree. He has been named the UK's most enterprising student.

On his summer placement under the Shell Step programme, with Martin Energy Limited: Flexitricity, Iain wrote a program that is expected to generate a £4.3M revenue stream.


The program will remotely turn off air-conditioning and other non-essential systems during spikes of peak domestic demand. Firms that sign up to use the program—Tesco are the first customer—will be rewarded through cheaper tariffs. The savings are projected to total £4.3M over the next year.

Work experience student brings in £4.3m
Scotsman, United Kingdom - Oct 11, 2007
Award for £4.3m work experience student
Director of Finance online, UK - Oct 11, 2007
Student controls ac with £4.3m energy-saving idea, UK - Oct 11, 2007
Blame it on the work experience kid, UK - Oct 11, 2007

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Professor C M Bishop FREng FRSE
Professor J Hillston FRSE


Congratulations to Chris Bishop and Jane Hillston on their election as Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sethu Vijayakumar wins Senior Research Fellowship

We have just received the welcome news that Sethu Vijayakumar, Director of the Institute for Perception, Action, and Behaviour, will be awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship, co-funded by Microsoft Research.

Congratulations to Sethu, and many thanks to Microsoft Research and the Royal Academy of Engineering for their generous support.

One of the central issues of 21st Century Informatics will be how to link, in theory and in practice, computational perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to external worlds. Motor control, translating purpose into action, is a key example. Humans and other biological systems are very adept at performing fast, complicated control tasks in spite of large sensorimotor delays while being fairly robust to noise and perturbations.

Sethu will use his Fellowship to develop the Statistical Machine Learning and Motor Control group, working on techniques that will allow robots to do the same.
He proposes to develop machine learning techniques to solve outstanding problems in autonomous systems in the areas of adaptive sensing and sensorimotor control, to integrate and test these techniques on an anthropomorphic robotic platform, and to develop controllers that can generate accurate and fast movements, while ensuring safety in a human-machine interaction scenario.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Academia Europæa

The Council of the Academia Europæa, at their meeting held in Budapest, on 20 April 2006, unanimously agreed to invite Professor Mark Steedman, of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh to accept membership of the Academy. Belated congratulations to Mark!

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