Margin notes from the life of Professor Arosha K. Bandara, MEng ACGI PhD DIC
Educating the IoT Generation
The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming a reality with ever increasing numbers of network connected devices that have on board processing capabilities being integrated into everyday objects. Additionally, the rise of cloud computing platforms have moved more of our data into the network, practically removing limits on data storage and offering new ways of using this data. A few years ago, colleagues at the Open University set about re-imagining how computing should be taught in the face of this radical shift in computing technology. The result was called 'My Digital Life' (TU100) and I was lucky enough to join the OU in time to be able to contribute to this effort. In particular I worked on the design of a digital interface board and programming language that would allow students to gain hands on experience with the Internet of Things, building their own IoT devices in their very first foray into learning computing. We called this platform Sense - comprising the Sense Board and Sense programming environment. We've described this work, together with the experience of teaching 'My Digital Life' to almost 2000 students in the first presentation of the module, in a paper that will appear in a special issue of IEEE Computer. The paper is now available as a pre-print version and can be accessed at the following link:
As part of the Introduction to Cyber Security MOOC, we asked learners to review their computer security practices at the start of their learning by completing a simple online survey / self-audit. Over 9100 learners completed the survey in Week 1 of the course, highlighting some interesting findings.
For example, although 84% of respondents had configured their computers to require a password on startup, 30% did not 'lock' their computer so that it required the password to be re-entered if they left it unattended.
With regard to password management, 55% of respondents depended on their memory for storing passwords, whereas 26% used software (password manager / web browser) to manage their passwords. It is noteworthy that 18% reported that they write their passwords down and 59% reuse the same username / password across multiple websites.
It was reassuring to note that 90% of learners who completed the survey reported that they use anti-virus software on their computer, and 9…
Normally, when writing this end of year reflection I have focussed on all the successes that I have experienced and not mentioned any of the challenges or failures that always punctuate academic life. From the missed deadlines for research papers or grant applications, to the seemingly inevitable rejections that follow those that do get submitted, and the sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work - these are common experiences to all of us in academia and indeed versions of these experiences are common to everyone.
It is not a revelation that challenging experiences and failures in life are important learning opportunities - indeed more important than the successes in some respects. Reflecting on both types of experience to reinforce positive behaviours and identify areas to adapt ones behaviour when needed, but it is not necessarily a given that this learning happens. My own practice in this regard has been inconsistent, which I now think is a contributory factor to t…
There is a proliferation of devices being developed to form the building blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT), from Internet-connected power sockets and light bulbs to kettles, toasters and washing machines. However, to realise the full potential of the IoT, it will be necessary to allow these devices to interconnect and share data with each other to deliver the functionalities required by end-users. In recent research on end-user programming for the IoT, my colleagues Pierre Akiki, Yijun Yu and myself have proposed the notion of Visual Simple Transformations (ViSiT), that provides a visual programming paradigm for users to wire together IoT devices. The video above shows a demonstration of the ViSiT solution and full details of the approach will appear in an upcoming special issue of the ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ToCHI).