Disciplinary Commons: Participants

"Another one of those ventures in the general direction of the unknown"

Frank Lloyd Wright, The Architectural Forum, January 1948

Richard Cooper (University of Glasgow)
I've been teaching database courses for about twenty years, currently to masters students. I've also increasingly taught on courses about internet applications, currently to masters and third year students. My approach is incremental introduction of material, attempting to clarify the obscurity of SQL and to try to integrate the dizzy array of technologies required to produce even the simplest internet application.
My research is in models for internet applications, information extraction and teaching tools for software engineering.
Les Ball(University of Abertay)
Fate had it that I was born in Hull. Despite this, I have managed to specialise in database technologies both in industry and academia and have inherited some very abnormalised data models in my time! As key IT skills I am passionate about imparting database design and SQL knowledge to the students and I find it puzzling sometimes why these skills are often difficult to acquire. My research interests in databases are focussed on techniques that make them intelligent. Intelligent Tutoring Systems are one example of this and releveant to my participation in the Disciplinary Database Commons.
Shiela Baron (Southampton Solent University)
I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at Southampton Solent University. I have been teaching databases since I joined SSU in 1996, and also teach Requirements Engineering and Systems for Enterprise Effectiveness. The Database Commons project comes at a particularly good time for me because, following a recent revalidation of our computing programmes, I will be extending the areas of study for my level 2 database course in 2009-10 to include new material on use of stored procedures, custom built functions, database triggers, and XML integration in Oracle. New ideas on delivery, assessment and evaluation approaches, as well as peer review of my own ideas will therefore be particularly valuable to me at this time. I also see this as an excellent opportunity to develop longer term relationships with other practitioners outside my institution."
Charles Boisvert (Norwich City College)
I am interested in the disciplinary commons as a way to get in touch with a community of practice. In colleges and the "HE in FE" context, opportunities to network and exchange ideas with colleagues are rare; I try to maximise the opportunities I have by developing in domains where I teach and applying my extending knowledge to support my colleagues.
One of the most difficult problems in teaching is that when students struggle, their poorer work can result in lower expectations on our (my!) part. Regular contact with colleagues helps me fight that vicious cycle.
Tugrul Essendal (De Montfort University)
I currently take a practitioner's approach; giving students pre-designed and, often, pre-populated databases. Using these databases, students solve a range of business-related problems. The medium is web-based applications development, using the ASP.NET environment. Our current DBMS is Access. All teaching and learning is interactive. Assessment is by a mixture of hands-on and paper-based methods, to cover both the theoretical understanding and practical mastery of the syllabus.
Tony Jenkins (Leeds)
I am currently a Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Computing at the University of Leeds. I have been teaching introductory programming since about 1995, first using Pascal, then C++ and now Python and Java. I have spent a fair bit of time thinking and writing about various aspects of introductory programming teaching including motivational issues, the impact of platform and language, the difficulty of the subject and gender-related issues. Recently I have pioneered the use of Python as an introductory language. Much of this work has been reported at SIGCSE and HEA events. I am quite often invited to other institutions to talk about programming and more general retention and motivation issues.
Petra Leimich (University of Abertay)
I am currently Director of Academic Programmes in the School of Computing and Engineering Systems at Abertay and look after our whole portfolio of programmes. I have been a lecturer in Computing, with a focus on databases, for about 10 years. I teach introductory and more advanced modules in databases at all levels from first year to masters, and to a diverse group of students including school leavers, mature students, and many international students. I enjoy teaching and continuing to develop and enhance the modules I teach and introduce and evaluate innovative methods most years. I have been active in the annual HEA Teaching Learning and Assessment in Databases conference since its inception and presented 3 papers so far: Online Learning and Fun with Databases (2003, with Les Ball), Practice And Theory: Mixing Labs And Small Group Tutorials (2004) and Contemporary Database Topics: Learning By Teaching (2008, with Les Ball). My interest in developing teaching, and in e-learning, is also reflected in many of the masters projects I supervise, which include blended and e-learning and assessment in databases and other areas, particularly language learning.
Al Monger (Southampton Solent University)
I am an academic leader in our School of Computing and Communications with three main areas of responsibility - managing a small computing group, external industrial and academic development and teaching database systems. Apart from database systems, my main areas of interest are elearning and internationalisation. These responsibilities and interests have converged in recent years (out of necessity) as we have a large number of German students taking the final year of our courses.
Essentially, the reason I am participating in the Disciplinary Commons project for databases is a long and strongly held belief in the potential efficacy and benefits to all of sharing practice and resources and working with colleagues from other institutions in developing the (and my) LTA of databases.
David Nelson (University of Sunderland)
I have been a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland since 1999. Since then I have led modules in databases at level two, level three, and generalist and advanced Masters level. This year I will be teaching databases at level one, as well as level three and Masters. My specific research interest is in data models, which was the subject of my PhD research, and my advanced modules tend to have a significant focus in this area. I have much involvement in the UK database community, having organised BNCOD in 2005 and my continuing as an active member of both the programme and steering committees. My teaching and learning activities have been extensive, being a PC member of TLAD since the beginning, presenting papers, being an invited panel member and for the last few years being organising chair or co-chair. I am also chair of the newly formed HE Academy Special Interest Group in Databases.
Thomas Neligwa (Keele University)
I have been a Lecturer in Computing at Keele University since September 2001 and I have held various departmental roles. I am currently the Course Director for our BSc(Hons) in IT Management for Business. I am also an academic liaison for computing infrastructure and services in the school. I am currently teaching core database courses for computing students and for ITMB students. I also teach and advanced database and applications course, as well as one on Communications and Networks.
James Paterson (Glasgow Caledonian University)
I lead database and programming modules within the within the Division of Computing and Creative Technology at Glasgow Caledonian University. My database teaching in recent years has been focused at the introductory level, where our curriculum emphasises the ways in which specific topics and skills, such as analysis and design, databases, programming and web authoring, contribute to the overall implementation of a computer system. My module focuses on the practical implementation of fundamental database concepts while taking care to discuss these ideas in the context of their usage in real systems. I have a strong interest in the interface between databases and object oriented software, and I led a discussion group on this topic at the TLAD workshop in 2008. I have an interest in alternative databases, and have co-authored a technical book on the db4o object database system. I am involved in the development of an advanced database module for delivery in 2010/11, which will include as part of its content an exploration of different types of databases and the mapping of data between models.
Clare Stanier (Staffordshire University)
I am currently the award leader for the Computing Science/Computer Science/ Software Engineering group of awards at Staffordshire University. I am the module leader for 2 level 3 (level H) Database Modules and for a masters database module. I also teach on other database modules and usually supervise final year database projects. I have been teaching in the database area for a few years now and believe there is an need to ensure that the course content remains up to date and relevant. I recently completed a database focussed PhD and am looking for ways to extend the range and depth of database knowledge taught to students.
What I would hope to achieve from the Commons is an opportunity to explore the content of database teaching and to review database teaching approaches. A bonus would be the opportunity to share expertise � my specialist area, for example is data modelling and metamodels applied to data models.
The modules I teach contribute to the Computing Science/Computer Science BSc and other BSc courses; to the Database Masters course and to other Computing Masters courses. I am module leader for Advanced Database Systems Level 3, Management of Database Systems Level 3, Database Management and Security Masters
Tony Valsamidis (University of Greenwich)
I have been a senior lecturer at Greenwich for nine years. Before that, I worked at the School of Informatics at City University, where I started teaching database-related courses on Masters programmes soon after I had completed the MSc there myself. I initially concentrated on using Oracle to teach introductory second year database courses here, but more recently I have been using other platforms like MySQL and Microsoft Access for first year students and considering using SQLServer for more advanced classes.
I'm starting from the position that good database design and implementation has to stem from good requirements analysis and conceptualisation including the use of a rich graphical representation like Chen's and of interesting case studies. I have been converted to the usefulness of tools like Access, which, if used in a principled way with little use of wizards, can provide an excellent introduction to many of the concepts required in database development.
What do I hope to get from the commons? Well, obviously a completed portfolio, but more importantly, the opportunity to discuss database teaching related questions with colleagues and exchange ideas.
John Wilson (Strathclyde University)
Since 2004, I have been a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences at the University of Strathclyde. I am a member of the Software Systems Group. My teaching and research centre on database systems technology.
My research focuses on approaches to the representation of large data collections. This has developed into to two main themes: improving XML processing in small mobile devices and locating patterns in protein data. John looks after four PhD students working in XML partitioning and bioinformatics
At Strathclyde we teach the main undergraduate databases class to our second year students and I organise and present this material. In addition,I also teach Database Systems Development at Master�s level. For MEng students I conduct classes in Distributed Information Management, which provide an in-depth study of Semantic Web technologies.
My main responsibility is the co-ordinator of examinations. CIS manages the increasingly complex pattern of course assessments by a MySQL-based system that uses PEAR Excel writer to produce spreadsheet reports.