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28 February 2018

Inaugural Lecture – Professor Michael Kölling

On Tuesday 13 February 2018, Professor Michael Kölling gave his Inaugural Lecture on Tools and Techniques for Teaching Programming to Novices.

Professor Nicola Phillips, Professor Michael Kölling and Professor Michael Luck
Professor Nicola Phillips, Professor Michael Kölling and Professor Michael Luck

The lecture covered the evolution of the challenges of teaching programming to beginners the past decades. Originally seen as a specialist subject taught at universities, its target group has slowly become younger and it is increasingly being taught in schools. Initially offered as a specialist elective, it is now often taught to all pupils. In some countries, including England, computing teaching now starts in primary school.

The tools and pedagogical approaches, however, have not kept up. Often, tools are being used that were developed many years ago for professional software engineers, resulting in ineffective teaching that puts students off computer science as a field of study. In this lecture, Michael talked about his work over the last 20 years on the development of software tools to support the teaching of programming to beginners, looking at programming language design, software tool design, HCI and pedagogy.

Michael Kölling is a Professor at the Department of Informatics at King’s College London and Vice Dean for Education in the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences. He is a member of the Software Systems group. As Vice Dean for Education, Michael is working on improving the quality of teaching, and the student experience in general. In his role as a member of the Department of Informatics he is teaching the first year introductory programming course (PPA).

Michael’s research interests are in the areas of object-oriented systems, programming languages, software tools, computing education and HCI. He has published numerous papers on object-orientation and computing education topics and is the author and co-author of two Java textbooks.

Michael is the lead developer of BlueJ and Greenfoot, two educational programming environments. In 2013, he received the ACM SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education. Michael is a founding member of 'Computing At School', a UK organisation furthering computing teaching at school level. He has active research projects, in which he develops software tools for teaching and learning of programming, funded by Oracle.

Michael explained he is interested in software development and programming languages, and also in teaching, and finds both of these areas exciting to work in. He believes that software development is a creative, stimulating area that allows programmers to invent and build their own inventions; part science, part engineering and part art. Michael described how he finds teaching students a very rewarding, fulfilling activity and sees making a difference in students’ lives as the most rewarding outcome of his work. As a result, he considers being able to combine both software development and teaching into his daily work a wonderful opportunity.

Michael says: “I am excited to have started working here at King’s. We have very bright, engaged students who are a pleasure to teach, and I have great colleagues who do impressive work here. There are so many exciting things happening here that I am proud to now be a part of.”

In this story

Michael Kölling

Vice-Dean (Education) and Professor of Computer Science