Late 2017 saw the Digital Skills Partnership deliver the first in a series of industry engagement events across Scotland. Eighty-nine lecturers from 9 colleges and 12 universities attended workshops in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Aimed specifically at lecturers delivering HNC, HND and undergraduate Computer Science and Software Engineering courses, the events were designed to:

  • support CPD for lecturers;
  • assist with curriculum development and
  • improve local level partnerships between industry and education.

Delivered by industry speakers, the events outlined current industry practice in the areas of Agile, DevOps, TDD and Test, and Data Science, Machine Learning and AI.  Delegates also had the opportunity to discuss curriculum provision with colleagues from other academic institutions and industry.

The feedback from academic colleagues was overwhelmingly positive, with 94% commenting that the industry presentations were relevant to their needs and 84% advising they would use the information from the workshops in their teaching.

The Agile, DevOps, TDD and Test workshops were led by industry speakers from Cognitive Geology, Royal London and Verint and discussed the following:

  • why Agile is a preferred methodology;
  • how organisations use Agile, with practical examples to illustrate this;
  • how DevOps enables organisations to scale up delivery;
  • how continuous delivery can be achieved by using DevOps and
  • TDD (test driven development), with speakers explaining why their organisations had adopted it, how it was introduced and how it works in practice.

The Data Science, Machine Learning and AI Workshops were delivered by Aridhia Informatics Ltd, Canon Medical Systems Ltd and Wood Plc.  These sessions covered:

  • the Taxonomy of Machine Learning methods;
  • the importance of baseline models and the danger of over fitting;
  • decision trees and forests;
  • natural language processing;
  • artificial Neural Networks;
  • deep learning from images – the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN);
  • tools for machine learning and
  • applications of Machine Learning within their businesses.

 

Outcomes from the Events

Academic delegates were asked to identify the most useful aspects from the events and how these elements could inform curriculum delivery.  As a result, a number of lecturers stated that they would undertake the following actions as a result of the workshops:

  • introduce the teaching of Python at undergraduate level, as this has emerged as the preferred language for machine learning development;
  • integrate time critical Agile methodologies into modules at undergraduate level;
  • engage in further dialogue with the speakers to source more realistic projects for formative assessment;
  • learn about some of the tools for machine learning, such as R Shiny, Jupyter notebooks and Pandas;
  • source raw datasets which can be used in student projects at undergraduate level;
  • create sessions to introduce learners within college-based settings to AI and machine learning;
  • introduce peer review of code, peer testing and peer review in assessment;
  • change the theme for an HND group project;
  • use real life examples from the events to illustrate learning points in lectures;
  • explore resources outlined by the speakers to enhance their own learning, such as SonarQube and
  • introduce TDD in to the Data Structure unit of the HND Computing: Software Development.

The presentations from each of the events were recorded and will shortly be available to attendees and lecturers across Scotland.