This page provides a few details on some smaller projects that I have been involved in. I will be adding to it occasionally, when I have time.
Initially I was just a follower with an interest, but I reached out to the excellent team putting together the first ever Digital Heroisms symposium at Glasgow to ask if they wanted a website. From that point, my involvement grew until they insisted that I add myself to the committee! Really I think I was little more than glorified tech support, but I was very happy to be involved and found the experience incredibly enriching. It was eye-opening to step out of my research comfort zone and hear the very impressive work of some of my peers in other schools.
Digital Heroisms explored the nature of heroism in the digital sphere, taking cues largely from games and novels, particularly with a nod to the ways in which the world's current circumstances have reshaped and redefined how we recognise heroism, particularly online. The talks were fascinating, ranging from Aloy and FemShep to Kratos and Junkrat, approaching some really interesting and diverse ideas through a shared lens of heroism. The symposium was funded by the Games and Gaming Lab at the University of Glasgow and delivered in partnership with Press Start.
I certainly hope to keep involved with this excellent group of people in future events and communications.
OutsideXbox and OutsideXtra are a pair of YouTube channels dedicated to gaming. As someone who often plays video games, is interested in their development (particularly older games which got very creative with their development to make the most of memory and storage constraints - I find this fascinating) and also their potential for use in education, I have relied on OutsideXbox and OutsideXtra for a reliable and entertaining stream of news and opinions on new releases.
After becoming involved in the community I decided to use my skills to give a little back to them. I developed and populated the soundboard, a collection of community favourite quotes in an easily searchable and playable format, and currently maintain it, adding new clips by popular request when I have time.
In addition to the soundboard itself, I have been involved in developing a Discord.js bot for use in a community Discord server. The bot is designed to make referencing and linking sounds easier, with the ultimate goal of being able to play sounds within Discord.
Very similar to the above, when Dicebreaker launched in 2019 I saw an opportunity to do something sinilar, and within weeks I had launched the Dicebreaker Soundboard.
Is Jack in a Meeting?
I recall seeing that someone had a website like this on Stack Overflow, so can't claim credit for the idea! When visiting the site isjackinameeting.com, you'll be greeted with a big, one-word answer, plus a short description of what I might be doing. Initially this site fed off my Outlook calendar, but Microsoft have changed their API and I'd require further permisisons from our IT team to make it work, which I haven't gotten around to asking for. So currently it's synced with a mobile app and widget combo which I threw together consisting of a simple toggle to let the server know what I'm doing.
I thought that a site like this would be perfect for me: I see many people only briefly and if I want to give them something less formal than a business card for them to keep in touch, I give them this URL. It has all my contact details on it, it indicates whether or not I'm available and it's a memorable gimmick.
Investigating the Relationship Between Spatial Skills and Computer Science
For my Master's research project I worked with Professor Quintin Cutts to examine the relationship between spatial skills and computing science. In this context, spatial skills denote the ability to visualise and manipulate structures mentally. Other researchers have identified a connection between the two before, so I aimed to solidify these studies.
The project involved two large scale experiments, one of which requiring the introduction of a training course for some first year students, and the production of a theoretical model. Note that the theoretical model was not validated, but was deemed a reasonable step to take in light of the lack of other theories.
The dissertation I submitted received an award for most outstanding project of the MSci cohort. I also presented a variation of this work at ICER 2018 which won the Chair's Award.
Gamifying Concurrency Teaching
Concurrency is a concept in computing that many students struggle the learn and may teachers struggle to teach. It appears to be one of these tricky subjects which once you have learned cannot properly recall what it was like to have not previously had this information, making it a difficult topic for both parties.
In an attempt to remedy this, I took a project assigned by Dr John Williamson to build and evaluate a game which was designed to teach concurrency concepts. The game itself is not currently available online but the dissertation I submitted on the project is available via the link below.
Looking back on this with the knowledge I have now, there are many things about this project I would change. First of all, I would have spent less time building the game and more time evaluating, as over time doing more research I have come to appreciate extremely rigorous formal experimentational practice and feel that this project does not fully conform to this. The evaluation is somewhat weak and doesn't indicate a particularly strong result.