SICSA Workshop on Learning Analytics in Education

Event details

  • When: 6th August 2018 09:30 - 15:30
  • Where: Gateway Bldg
  • Format: Workshop

The Higher Education Research Group is happy to announce the SICSA-sponsored workshop on learning analytics on Aug 6th 2018.


The purpose of this SICSA-sponsored workshop is to encourage an evidence-based approach to teaching by leveraging quantitative and qualitative data available to CS schools. Most importantly, we plan to organise a multi-institution study on using machine learning and AI-based techniques on existing data to improve learning outcomes across multiple universities. The workshop will serve to formulate the goals of such a study and forge the necessary collaborations to make this happen.


We are very happy to announce that the chief regulatory adviser at Jisc Technologies Andrew Cormack will give an invited talk about the legal and ethical framework for learning analytics. In addition to the invited talk, the workshop will consist of a set of breakout sessions and a final discussion dedicated to preparing a follow-up study. The breakout sessions will involve discussions about existing quantitative and qualitative data available to educators, how these data influence teaching, what (statistical and other) data procesisng is useful for driving decisions, and which algorithmic approaches could be applied across institutions.


Evidence-based teaching is of particular importance in fast-moving fields like Computer Science, and is therefore of interest to many higher education institutions. We have more data on students and courses than ever before including grades, entry requirements, qualitative and quantitative feedback, and career paths after leaving the university, and as computer scientists we are well equipped to process such data. It is important to measure the positive and negative impact of changes to the delivery (e.g. lecture capture, different lecturers) and content (slides, supporting material, organisation) in order to maintain and hopefully improve learning outcomes over time.

However, measuring how teaching approaches affect learning outcomes can be challenging because of issues such as data protection, small numbers of students, changes in the curriculum, or changes in admission procedures. Measuring differences between institutions is even harder because of differences in course structure, class sizes and marking scales. We believe that computer science techniques such as data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence will become increasingly important in this field, and would like to set up an ambitious study across several universities based on the findings of this workshop. Such a study is only possible if coordinated well across institutions and this workshop aims to provide the basis for such collaboration.

Target Audience

The workshop will involve 24 academics, mainly from SICSA-affiliated institutions, aiming to foster an exchange of ideas and best practice. While the central topic is CS education, we hope to also appeal to CS academics engaged in data ethics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (e.g. for processing data in natural text form) because the topic provides an important application of CS, and has great potential for impact.

To register, contact Kasim at, or go to the Eventbrite page:

SCONE (SCOttish Networking Event)

Event details

  • When: 26th April 2017 12:00 - 18:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33
  • Format: Workshop

The 18th SCONE (SCOttish Networking Event) meeting will be held in St Andrews on 26th April. These are informal gatherings of networks and systems researchers and have taken place in a number of Scottish institutions since 2008. The meeting will comprise a small number of talks, including one invited speaker (Mirco Musolesi from UCL), followed by various networking activities for PhD students. We will then retire to the pub to continue our conversations. More details can be found at Attendance is free; if you are interested in coming then please contact Tristan.

We are thankful to the SICSA Networking and Systems theme for their support.

Distinguished Lecture: ‘Scalability and Fault-tolerance, are they the same?’ by Joe Armstrong

Event details

  • When: 16th November 2015 09:15 - 15:30
  • Where: Byre Theatre
  • Series: Distinguished Lectures Series
  • Format: Distinguished lecture

The first of this academic year’s distinguished lectures will be given by Professor Joe Armstrong, co-inventor of Erlang, on Monday 16th November 2015 at The Byre Theatre.Joe Armstrong


To build a scalable system the important thing is to make small isolated independent units. To scale up we just add more units. To build a fault-tolerant system the important thing to do is make small isolated independent units…. Does that sound familiar? Haven’t I seen that somewhere before? Oh yes, in the first paragraph! So maybe scalability and fault tolerance are really different names for the same thing.

This property of systems, namely that fault-tolerant systems were also scalable, was noticed years ago, notably in the design of the Tandem computer system. The Tandem was design for fault tolerance but rapidly became a leading supplier of scalable computer platforms. Thus it was with Erlang.

Erlang followed  a lot of the Tandem design, it was built for fault-tolerance but some of the most successful applications  (such as WhatsApp) use it for its scalability.

In this lecture I’ll talk about the intimate relationship between scalability and fault-tolerance and why they are architecturally the same thing.

I’ll talk about the design of Erlang and why scalable systems have to be built on non-shared memory abstractions.


Joe Armstrong has been programming since 1967. He invented the programming language Erlang. He has worked as a programmer, founded a few successful companies and written a few books. He has a PHD in Computer Science from KTH. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

SICSA Summer School on Practical Types

Event details

  • When: 3rd August 2015 11:00 - 5th August 2015 17:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33
  • Format: Summer School

The SICSA Summer School on Practical Types will give participants an overview of how types can be used in practice. Types have provided numerous benefits in programming language research, including language design and compiler construction, over the years and this trend looks set to continue into the future. But types have also found much wider practical application, e.g. in areas such as programme verification, termination checking, security, concurrency, software testing, resource analysis, systems biology, semi-structured data formats, databases, linguistics etc.

The school will consist of a series of 2-3 hour lectures covering introductory topics (e.g. type checking, domain specific languages, dependently typed programming), and more advanced topics such as those mentioned above. Thus we aim to cover how can types be used to classify and enhance our knowledge within specific domains of human activity, and how we can use modern functional programming languages to implement programs which take advantage of that type structure.

There will also be time in the program for participants, especially students, to present short talks about their own experience and works in progress.

Full details

DVF: Professor David Kaufman

Professor David Kaufman of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver will be visiting the School between May 7th and May 21st.
Prof. Kaufman is a world leading expert on Computer Supported Education, Educational Technologies and Digital StoryTelling.

He will be hosted by Ishbel and working with the Virtual Worlds research group. Prof. Kaufman will be giving several talks and workshops across Scotland.

The schedule is:
1.In Stirling on Tuesday 12th at 11am in 4B108 Cottrell Building, Prof. Kaufman will be talking about Digital Games and Simulations in HE

2. On Thursday 14th at 11am at GCU, in the George Moore Building, M625, 11am he will also be talking about Digital Games and Simulations in HE

3. On Monday 18th in Abertay, at 11am in rm 2521, he will discuss Ageing Well : Can Digital games help older adults.

4. He will be in Edinburgh on May 15th if anyone wishes to meet up with him that day.

Short UG internship: Athena Swan repository

A required project for the SICSA Athena SWAN initiative is to create a repository (website, resource centre, database of statistics) for the SICSA universities ASWAN submissions. The Athena SWAN awards are to do with encouraging more women into the CS area from schools up to senior staff. This work will help CS Schools gather statistics on student numbers and staff numbers as well as good practice events, talks or resources. A notional £500 is associated with the work, 60 hours work.

Please contact Ishbel if you are interested.

SICSA Seminar: “From rats to robot navigation and beyond” by Dr Michael Milford

Event details

  • When: 14th April 2015 14:30 - 17:00
  • Where: Cole 1.33b
  • Format: Seminar

The School of Computer Science welcomes Dr Michael Milford from Queensland University of Technology, Australia who is meantime visiting Scotland. MichaelMilford

Abstract: The brain circuitry involved in encoding space in rodents has been extensively tested over the past forty years, with an ever increasing body of knowledge about the components and wiring involved in navigation tasks. The learning and recall of spatial features is known to take place in and around the hippocampus of the rodent, where there is clear evidence of cells that encode the rodent’s position and heading. RatSLAM is a primarily vision-based robotic navigation system based on current models of the rodent hippocampus, which has achieved several significant outcomes in vision-based Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM), including mapping of an entire suburb using only a low cost webcam, and navigation continuously over a period of two weeks in a delivery robot experiment. This research led to recent experiments demonstrating that impressive feats of vision-based navigation can be achieved at any time of day or night, during any weather, and in any season using visual images as small as 2 pixels in size. In our current research we are investigating the problem of place recognition and visual navigation from two angles. The first is from a neuroscience-inspired perspective, modelling the multi-scale neuronal map of space found in the mammalian brain and the variably tolerant and selective visual recognition process in the primate and human brain. The second is from an algorithmic perspective, utilizing state of the art deep learning techniques. I will discuss the insights from this research, as well as current and future areas of study with the aim of stimulating discussion and collaboration.

Bio: I hold a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Mechanical and Space Engineering from the University of Queensland (UQ), awarded in 2006 and 2002 respectively. After a brief postdoc in robotics at UQ, I worked for three years at the Queensland Brain Institute as a Research Fellow on the Thinking Systems Project. In 2010 I moved to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to finish off my Thinking Systems postdoc, and then was appointed as a Lecturer in 2011. In 2012 I was awarded an inaugural Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, which provides me with a research-intensive fellowship salary and extra funding support for 3 years. In 2013 I became a Microsoft Faculty Fellow and lived in Boston on sabbatical working with Harvard and Boston University. I am currently a Senior Lecturer and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at QUT with a research focus, although I continue to teach Introduction to Robotics every year. From 2014 to 2020 I am a Chief Investigator on a $19,000,000 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.

My research interests include vision-based mapping and navigation, computational modelling of the rodent hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, especially with respect to mapping and navigation, computational modelling of human visual recognition, biologically inspired robot navigation and computer vision and Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping (SLAM).


Google Scholar:

May 19th: An Introduction to NoSQL and MongoDB – SICSA CSE Workshop

An Introduction to NoSQL and MongoDB – SICSA CSE Workshop

Speaker: Joe Drumgoole Director, Partner Technical Services @MongoDB

Joe is a product development expert with over 20 years experience in the field. An expert in cloud computing and one of the first users of Amazon cloud in Europe. An outstanding team builder who has created successful product teams in both small and large companies.

Brief details:

Joe Drumgoole

Joe Drumgoole from MongoDB

NoSQL, NewSQL, BigData, Hadoop Oh My! Why is NoSQL all the rage all of a sudden? why should I care? When should I use it? How should is use it? In this workshop Joe will demystify NoSQL and put it in its proper context. He will show you how and when to use it. In complex Systems engineering our new systems must be engineered to meet the needs of industry and society, operating robustly. How can NoSQL help and when should you consider SQL? Finally he will allow you to throw your weight around in NoSQL conversations down the pub or when next at a SICSA event!