Francis Wright's CMALT ePortfolio


CMALT ePortfolio – Introduction and contextual statement

This ePortfolio covers the requirements in the Guidelines for CMALT candidates and assessors [updated April 2016]. I joined ALT on 30 January 2016 and submitted this portfolio on 28 September 2016 for the 1 October 2016 submission window.

Profile information

Francis Wright's profile picture

I have been a member of academic staff in (what is now) the School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) at Queen Mary, University of London, since 1979, Reader in Mathematics since 1989 and Director of Undergraduate Studies since 2007. I was one of the first users in SMS of a formal VLE (Blackboard) from around 2009 and of QMplus (Moodle) from 2012. I led the introduction of widespread use of QMplus by SMS from 2013 and I have been the SMS QMplus Administrator since the role was introduced in 2015. Some of my main interests are mathematical computation, especially computer algebra, and web technology.

Education history

  • BA in Natural Sciences (Theoretical Physics), St. John's College, University of Cambridge, 1973
  • PhD in Theoretical Physics, H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, 1978
  • European Computer Driving Licence, 1999
  • Microsoft Office Specialist Excel 2013 Core Certification, 2015

Contextual Statement

I have been interested in computing for a long time and a significant component of my PhD research involved numerical computation and graphical display of diffraction integrals. I have taught a number of computer-based modules, starting with a numerical computing module using FORTRAN 77. I was director of an MSc programme in mathematical computing, for which I also taught a range of programming languages including FORTRAN, PASCAL and BASIC. In the mid-1980s I co-developed a third-year BSc module in algebraic computing using REDUCE, which led to the publication of my first (co-authored) textbook in 1991. In the early 1990s I developed a new first-year BSc module in mathematical computing using Maple, which led to the publication of my second (solo) textbook in 2001. The module I currently teach is a distant descendant of that module, which focusses more on mathematics and less on computing, and makes much more use of recent developments in the Maple GUI.

I have been enthusiastic about the use of the world-wide web since it became available in the early 1990s. For a long time, the School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS) used its own web server to provide teaching materials to its students and for about the last ten years I had primary responsibility for maintaining our undergraduate web pages. For around ten years, I ran my own web server on my desktop computer, initially to serve information and an online interactive differential equation solver as part of a European computer algebra research project (CATHODE), and I now maintain the web site for the Open Source REDUCE project on SourceForge. Since around 2009 I have been involved with the Queen Mary virtual/online learning environments and the progressive move of SMS undergraduate student information from conventional web sites to managed learning environments.

I am applying for CMALT accreditation to professionalize the e-learning aspects of my work and to acknowledge what I have learnt and accomplished. Academic staff are now required to have professional teaching accreditation and CMALT looks like an interesting and appropriate accreditation for me. I hope it will encourage other staff in SMS to become more involved in e-learning. It will also give me a basis and some credentials to continue to work in e-learning and possibly move into learning-related software development (such as apps for mobile devices) in future.