PhD Graduation

I am very proud to have graduated from Ulster University with a PhD from the Faculty of Computing and Engineering.

PhD Title: Intelligent Assessment and Learner Personalisation in Adaptive Educational Systems for STEM Education

PhD Abstract: The work presented in this thesis focuses on the design, development, implementation and evaluation of an Adaptive Educational Systems (AES) named IPAL. Drawing on fields of education, psychology and computer science IPAL is introduced as a supplementary and complementary course tool in higher education, which facilitates teaching and learning in STEM education. This thesis addresses associated challenges with AES and specifically investigates dynamic user modelling by offering a two-step approach in determining learning styles. An initial primary learning style is first established explicitly, addressing the cold start issue which occurs when the information required to determine a student’s learning style is not available (Popescu, 2009), (Buncle, Anane, & Nakayama, 2013). A secondary learning style is then determined implicitly from student engagement, using educational data mining. In addition, the thesis extends the personalisation of theoretical content by supporting complex, practical STEM education, by extending the two-step learning style approach within IPAL to an integrated Game Based Learning (GBL) environment. GBL aims to present, complex concepts or theories in new and innovative ways, providing highly engaging learning experiences through, for example 3D and avatar-based interactions. This approach explores learning style adaption in GBL for STEM education.

A mixed method research approach was employed whereby quantitative and qualitative data was obtained from over 100 participants using STEM content to determine the effectiveness of IPAL. The results in this thesis demonstrate that IPAL is an effective AES in STEM education which improves the learning outcomes of students.


New Publication: “Icons of Educational Apps as Media Artifacts: Understanding EdTech Apps via Cultural Analytics”

My latest publication, co authored with Evangelos Kapros  is now available, a summary is provided below

While cultural analytics has become a well-established visualization method for big image and video data, the domains in which it has been used have focused on traditional media. Magazine covers, photography, manga, and video frames have been the main domains of exploration so far. In this paper, we propose cultural analytics as a means to analyze icons from software applications—these are not traditionally analyzed as media artifacts; however, new and interesting results may occur from treating them as traditional media. The aim is to better understand an application domain by analyzing the icons of its software applications.

As a case study, we visualized and analyzed the icons of 158,200 educational apps that were uploaded to Apple’s App Store from July 2008 to November 2014. The contribution of this project is twofold. Firstly, we demonstrate how analysing the software icons of an application domain (in our case, education) can help researchers gain insights into the domain. Secondly, within cultural analytics we developed a visualization technique (“time-freeze” timeline) that helps follow a trail of an app’s icon through its updates. We anticipate the “time-freeze” timeline visualization to be useful for cultural analytics at large, as a way to present imagery that is updated, and not specifically for visualizing icons.

To access the full paper click here

App Store

New Job: Research Fellow, Technology Lead at the Learnovate Centre

I am delighted to be the latest addition to the Learnovate team.

The Learnovate Centre is an Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland funded industry-led centre of excellence for innovation and research in technology-enhanced learning. The centre is hosted in Trinity College and includes other academic partners from UCD, WIT and DERI at NUI Galway.

With this new job comes the opportunity for a transition from my maiden surname McCusker to my married surname of McCrory.

Keynote Presentation at the first ‘Computing at School’ Conference in Northern Ireland

I am delighted to announce my participation at the first computing at School Conference in Northern Ireland.

Having retuned from  an intensive two week program through a U.S Embassy EdTech exchange program, I will be delivering the keynote jointly with Gareth McAleese (GoBeserk) and Roisin Crawford (STEM Aware). With a focus on STEM and Educational Technology we will report on our insights and vision for the future of EdTech in Northern Ireland.

The conference will be a mixture of keynote presentations and workshops especially tailored for both primary and post-primary teachers.

For more information visit,446201,en.pdf or to register


Accepted Conference Paper

I have recently had  a conference paper “Using Learning Analytics and Learning Styles to Personalise Content in an Adaptive Educational System” accepted for the 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies which will be held in Barcelona – 7th – 9th of July 2014. For more information see 


Big Video Challenge

I was just at the launch of the exciting Big Video Challenge which is a creative educational competition for young people, designed to help them develop creative and digital media skills whilst engaging with core subjects in new ways. The challenge is all about students creating videos about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics / (STEM). Open to all schools and youth groups in Northern Ireland. Suitable for Key Stage 2-5. Free workshops are available.  Continue reading


NMC Horizon Report – 2014 Higher Education Edition

The NMC Horizon Report  is a collaborative effort between the NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), an EDUCAUSE Program.This eleventh edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education.  Continue reading


U.S. Professional Exchange Program: EdTech

I am delighted to announce that I have been awarded a place on a professional development leadership program in the United States which will look at EdTech: Games, Apps and STEM education.

The program will run January 11 – 25, 2013 and will include meetings in Washington DC, New York, Seattle and Boston with developers and start ups, science and tech organizations, institutions working on STEM outreach, educators, policy makers, researchers and school.

I look forward to a busy (and cold) two weeks gaining knowledge from key people and organisations in the EdTech field.

EdTech Day 1 Continue reading

Adaptive, personalised learning services comparison
Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics