Photo of Niall Barr sitting at a desk. I am a software developer specialising in Learning Technology and Educational Interoperability specifications, in particular IMS QTI 2. My background is in Engineering and Life Sciences, and I have degrees in Aeronautical Engineering, Bioengineering and Natural Sciences, however I have been working as a Learning Technology Developer for almost 30 years. The majority of my development work is currently done in PHP and JavaScript, however I also do some programming in C#, C++, Python or Java when one of these languages is most appropriate.

Would you like to employ me?

Although I'm currently working full time, after 11 years in the same job I feel it's time for a change, and I'd be interested in hearing about interesting opportunities. I'm happy to work either in Central Scotland or by teleworking for an employer elsewhere.

My ideal job

Some of the types of activity and projects that that might be included in my ideal job are:

  • Advising senior staff on policy in relation to e-learning, and providing the necessary technical expertise to guide properly informed decisions on the future directions of education related IT policy at faculty and University level.
  • Take a lead on identifying gaps in Learning Technology Provision, and work with teaching staff to research, develop, evaluate and refine new tools that address current challenges, including supporting an increase in blended and distance learning provision. This might include:
    • Developing authoring tools for structured interactive content, making use of a simple markdown-based language to ensure that the content can be quickly optimised for different delivery platforms.
    • Development of tools to improve the efficiency of the production of engaging online teaching videos.
  • Publish and support open source Learning Technology to help enhance the reputation of the University, and develop a consultancy model for providing support to other institutions using these tools.
  • Develop techniques, libraries and tools to support an efficient approach to developing Learning Technology (including components for a NGDLE) using modern Software Engineering techniques such as Product Family Engineering and Generative Programming.
    • This would lead to a prototype distributed VLE, based on IMS LTI (with extensions as needed), which would demonstrate the feasibility of an evolutionary approach to moving from the current monolithic VLEs such as Moodle, to a more flexible modular NGLMS system. One of the key issues in this evolutionary step is ensuring that the essential but unexciting features, such as backup, replicating courses etc. function.
  • Develop and run an educational technology and multimedia module, with alternative pathways appropriate for CPD for university lecturers and for use as module in a Masters in Information Technology.
  • Participate in IMS Global working groups, evolving the next generation of interoperability standards for educational software. This might also include prototyping new ideas.
  • Researching and developing ways to make assessment more scalable and reliable using Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ).
  • Exploring the potential of new technologyfor education, e.g. The potential use of WebAssembly and WebGL to provide advanced simulations for teaching, and rich interactive courseware within the web browser, and potentially developing a scripting language that compiles to WebAssembly compatible C++ to make it accessible to a wider range of developers.