Workshop: Teaching & Learning with the Web

Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre

Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre was established during 1990 as a focus for the University of Edinburgh's work in high performance parallel computing during the previous decade. The Centre's task is to accelerate the effective exploitation of high performance parallel computing systems throughout academia, industry and commerce. It houses an exceptional range of parallel computers, with some 50 full-time staff committed to the solution of real-world problems. The Centre's goal is achieved through a range of activities spanning undergraduate and advanced training programmes, service provision, industrial affiliation and contract work, and participation in European and UK government funded collaborations.

Education and Training at EPCC

At present EPCC supports four full time staff in education and training. We are engaged in producing and presenting course material on parallel computing, covering a range of languages and techniques on a variety of platforms for a number of different audiences.

EPCC offers local and national services on a range of parallel computing platforms, and training is provided to users of these services. Training also plays a part in the Centre's technology transfer activities, offering potential users of parallel computing in both academia and industry the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the technology. The education and training group also have a role in internal training for the Centre's staff. As a Large Scale Facility under the European Human Capital and Mobility programme, EPCC hosts researchers from around Europe for periods ranging from a few weeks to several months. EPCC's Summer Scholarship Programme, established in 1987, brings around 20 students from around the world to the Centre to work on research projects for ten weeks during the summer vacation.

Recently, EPCC's educational activities have become focused on ``training the trainers'': teaching lecturing staff in UK universities about high performance computing, and providing course materials which they can integrate with their existing curricula. In order to tailor our material to the needs of the users we intend to work in collaboration with lecturers in a field to produce course material which customised for a particular group.

In addition to the courses we currently have available, we are currently working to produce courses for users of the new Cray T3D which is currently being installed at EPCC, and will be the fastest supercomputer in Europe.

Why are interested in the Web?

At present most of the courses that we run are tutorial/lecture based. However we are very interested in the possibilities that the Web can offer us. We see at least these advantages in Web based course material: The possibilities are very exciting and we are investing significant time and effort into building up experience with the Web and its facilities. These include:

Areas of interest

Though we have a great deal of experience in production of tutorial/lecture based course material, we are very interested in methodologies for approaching the problem of composing hypertext based courses. It would appear that whilst hypertext provides an enormously powerful, and user friendly information service it also holds the potential for serious disaster, particularly in a self-help course. Modifying an existing tutorial based course is not enough a different approach is needed. We are in the first stages of considering hypertext courses and are interested in the following questions: We hope that participating in this workshop will allow us to discuss these, and other relevant issues with other groups with similar interests.