Recording Programming Activities in the Classroom

Background

Before I detail how I video record in-class programming activities I want to provide some context. I’ve been teaching introductory programming courses for close to 10 years and  most recently I instructed a first-year first-semester course called CSCI 1060U: Programming Workshop I. My general philosophy on teaching programming is based on two simple rules:

  1. Learning programming should occur through doing not through seeing. In my experience active programming activities are a much more effective way to teaching then passively showing already written code on a PowerPoint slide.
  2. Never teach an example that you can’t program yourself in the classroom. This rule helps me avoid the use of overly complex examples that maybe difficult to follow (which is an easy way to demotivate students who are new to programming).

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Top Reasons to Study Computer Science at UOIT

[Undergraduate Edition]

5 years ago I wrote a blog post titled Top 4 Reasons to Study Computer Science at UOIT. Since then a lot has changed and I thought it was time to write an updated post!

I have participated in UOIT recruitment events for the past 10 years and I have answered a lot of questions from potential students and their parents. One of the most common questions that I get asked every year is:

Why should I choose to study Computer Science at UOIT?

In my opinion here are the benefits of UOIT’s Computer Science undergraduate program:

1. Reputation and national ranking.
In the 2017 Maclean’s university program rankings, Computer Science at UOIT was listed nationally as a top 10 Computer Science program (4th in Ontario). Started in 2005, UOIT Computer Science was the youngest program included in the rankings and UOIT was also the smallest university to be ranked as a top Computer Science institution. It’s often easier at a smaller university to receive a more personalized educational experience – one where you know your classmates and your professors. Continue reading

Adaptive Serious Games for Computer Science Education

PhD student and SQR Lab member Michael Miljanovic was selected as a finalist in the  2017 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition at UOIT. Michael’s 3MT talk discussed his PhD research into the use of adaptive serious games to improve Computer Science education. The goal of his research is to adapt games to an individual player in an effort to improve learning and engagement.

Using Slack in the Classroom

This semester I decided to try using Slack as an alternative communication channel in an upper-year university course that I teach. I’d already been using Slack in my research lab and I was familiar with the features and I thought it might translate well to the university class setting. The one disclaimer I would offer to anybody considering using Slack is to make sure that you use any technology to improve learning don’t just use technology for the sake of it.
Slack logo
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A Canadian Guide to the Heartbleed Bug

What is the Heartbleed Bug?

Heartbleed Bug

The Heartbleed bug is a recently identified bug in the OpenSSL security protocol toolkit. OpenSSL is widely used on web servers to encrypt user data.In general, software bugs are computer program error that cause the software to behave in an unexpected way (e.g., crash, produce a wrong output). Security bugs are a special kind of bug that can lead to a security vulnerability which allows the software system or the data stored in the system to be accessed in a way that was unintended.

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What’s New for Concurrency in Java SE 8?

Java SE 8 Java logo was officially released yesterday (March 18th) and given the fact that Java 7 was released back in 2012, there are definitely lots of updates and new features. These updates include improvements to the Java language itself, Java security, Java tools and more. Although a lot of these updates are interesting and important I am specifically interesting in exploring: What’s new for concurrency?

Based on the release notes the concurrency-related additions are: Continue reading

A Computer Science Professor’s Backpack

Every morning I read through my favourite technology blogs and one series of blog posts that I confess to enjoying are the Featured Bag posts on Lifehacker. These are basically a series of posts where different people from different jobs/walks of life describe the kind of bag they use and what they keep inside it. I find this interesting because I’m always looking for ways to ensure that what I carry to and from work, to research meetings, and to conferences is lightweight and maximizes functionality. A collection of user submitted bags/backpacks can be found on the Lifehacker Go Bag Show and Tell (hosted on Flickr).

So with that said here is my backpack:

My Backpack Continue reading

Advice on Finding Relevant Research Papers

One of the questions I often get asked by new research students in my lab is how can they find research papers that are relevant to their thesis. For a student new to research this can be a very daunting task and doing a straight Google, Bing or Yahoo search generates a lot of noise (i.e. irrelevant content, non peer-reviewed papers, etc.).

The first advice I usually give is where to start searching. There are a number of academic-specific search engines that provide good results from a wide variety of researcher, publisher and academic websites. For example: Continue reading

Interesting Quotes from AMD Canada Event

Quote

On March 7th of last year I attended an OCE event called the “AMD HSA and Heterogeneous Computing Research Showcase.” I recently came across my notes from the event and I thought a few quotes from the keynote speaker, Phil Rogers from AMD Canada,  were worth sharing.

Phil Rogers on AMD’s commitment to open industry standards:

“open standards always win over time.” 

Phil Rogers on programming with threads:

“An expert can get two threads right. An expert can sometimes get three threads right… but cannot get all of the test cases right… doesn’t scale (to 100s of threads).”