4.7 How C&C supports the professional development of tutors

As explored in the previous sections, an important part of the tutor role is to interpret the module material in the light of recent developments and appropriate contexts for the student such as their workplace.

The school runs regular seminars on Thursday afternoon that highlight research the school has undertaken or where invited speakers present on interesting subjects. These are available to join online live and are recorded to watch later.

Tutors have access to the OU library, which provides a wide variety of books, professional and academic journals online. This includes the excellent Safari Books Online with access to a wide variety of books and videos on computing and communications subjects.

Tutors have the opportunity to get involved in Scholarship through eSTEeM [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . This is the faculty’s programme to develop our understanding of the most effective teaching methods. By taking part in projects, tutors can not only steer how we develop our teaching, but also attend conferences to present their research and see what others in the field are doing.

Investigating the perceived benefits to computing students of remote pair programming

A lot of published literature has confirmed that there are benefits to be gained from pair programming, whereby two people work side by side at the same computer to solve programming problems.   A current Computing and Communications eSTEeM project is investigating whether pair programming can help OU students who are learning to program remotely and whether there are employability and social/community benefits to OU students who perform pair programming online. We are running this project with the (very welcome) support of two tutors.

In the first phase volunteer students watch a video of our two tutors pair programming.  The students can watch or listen to the tutor pair attempting to solve the problem – and that includes coming up against issues, talking aloud about how to solve these, discussing different approaches, watching how they tackle debugging when there are e.g. compilation errors and so on. 

In the second phase volunteer students watch the tutors pair programming “live”, using Adobe Connect.  Students can ask questions of the programmers either during the programming or at the end.

In the third phase students to do pair programming work themselves, using Adobe Connect. 

The project explores if our students benefit from watching and/or interacting with pair programmers solving problems, and/or pair programming themselves. 

(Source: An example of an eSTEeM project linked to TM112 our Introduction to Computing module)

Activity 8

What continual professional development (CPD) activities have you participated in recently?

Reflect briefly on the professional development activities that you have completed in the last year. They may be formal events organised by your employer, training, volunteering or a book you have read.

How have these helped you keep up to date with the field of computing and communications? Have you put any of the things you learned into practice?

Write a short reflection that you could share with a student based on what you have learnt and post it to the discussion forum.

Review two other posts, and consider how might you take the reflection of the other poster and integrate it into a tutorial? Put your ideas up as a reply.

Part 6.3 of this course explores continual professional development (CPD) in more detail.

4.6.4 The Computing and IT Project (TM470) – helping to shape a dissertation