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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Big History

Courtesy:  (onedayuniverse.org)

bh-timeline-960

Reforming Education

Courtesy: Forbes.com

America’s last competitive advantage — its ability to innovate — is at risk as a result of the country’s lackluster education system, according to research by Harvard Innovation Education Fellow Tony Wagner.

Taking the stage at Skillshare’s Penny Conference, Wagner pointed out the skills it takes to become an innovator, the downfalls of America’s current education system, and how parents, teachers, mentors, and employers can band together to create innovators.

American schools educate to fill children with knowledge — instead they should be focusing on developing students’ innovation skills and motivation to succeed, he says:

“Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”

Knowledge that children are encouraged to soak up in American schools — the memorization of planets, state capitals, the Periodic Table of Elements — can only take students so far. But “skill and will” determine a child’s ability to think outside of the box, he says.

Over two year of research involving interviews with executives, college teachers, community leaders, and recent graduates, Wagner defined the skills needed for Americans to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized workforce. As lined out in his book, “The Global Achievement Gap,” that set of core competencies that every student must master before the end of high school is:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)
  • Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • Accessing and analyzing information
  • Effective written and oral communication
  • Curiosity and imagination

For his latest book, “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World,” Wagner has extended his studies to address the problem of how we teach students these skills. He has come to the conclusion that our country’s economic problems are based in its education system.

“We’ve created an economy based on people spending money they do not have to buy things they may not need, threatening the planet in the process,” he says. “We have to transition from a consumer-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy.”

In an effort to discern teaching and parenting patterns, Wagner interviewed innovators in their 20s, followed by interviews with their parents and the influential teachers and mentors in the students’ lives. He found stunning similarities between the teaching styles and goals he encountered with these influential teachers at all levels of education and concludes, “The culture of schooling as we all know it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He identified five ways in which America’s education system is stunting innovation:

1. Individual achievement is the focus: Students spend a bulk of their time focusing on improving their GPAs — school is a competition among peers. “But innovation is a team sport,” says Wagner. “Yes, it requires some solitude and reflection, but fundamentally problems are too complex to innovate or solve by oneself.”

2. Specialization is celebrated and rewarded: High school curriculum is structured using Carnegie units, a system that is 125 years old, says Wagner. He says the director of talent at Google once told him, “If there’s one thing that educators need to understand, it’s that you can neither understand nor solve problems within the context and bright lines of subject content.” Wagner declares, “Learning to be an innovator is about learning to cross disciplinary boundaries and exploring problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.”

3. Risk aversion is the norm: “We penalize mistakes,” says Wagner. “The whole challenge in schooling is to figure out what the teacher wants. And the teachers have to figure out what the superintendent wants or the state wants. It’s a compliance-driven, risk-averse culture.” Innovation, on the other hand, is grounded in taking risks and learning via trial and error. Educators could take a note from design firm IDEO with its mantra of “Fail early, fail often,” says Wagner. And at Stanford’s Institute of Design, he says they are considering ideas like, “We’re thinking F is the new A.” Without failure, there is no innovation.

4. Learning is profoundly passive: For 12 to 16 years, we learn to consume information while in school, says Wagner. He suspects that our schooling culture has actually turned us into the “good little consumers” that we are. Innovative learning cultures teach about creating, not consuming, he says.

5. Extrinsic incentives drive learning: “Carrots and sticks, As and Fs,” Wagner remarks. Young innovators are intrinsically motivated, he says. They aren’t interested in grading scales and petty reward systems. Parents and teachers can encourage innovative thinking by nurturing the curiosity and inquisitiveness of young people, Wagner says. As he describes it, it’s a pattern of “play to passion to purpose.” Parents of innovators encouraged their children to play in more exploratory ways, he says. “Fewer toys, more toys without batteries, more unstructured time in their day.” Those children grow up to find passions, not just academic achievement, he says. “And that passion matures to a profound sense of purpose. Every young person I interviewed wants to make a difference in the world, put a ding in the universe.”

“”We have to transition to an innovation-driven culture, an innovation-driven society,” says Wagner. “A consumer society is bankrupt — it’s not coming back. To do that, we’re going to have to work with young people — as parents, as teachers, as mentors, and as employers — in very different ways. They want to, you want to become innovators. And we as a country need the capacity to solve more different kinds of problems in more ways. It requires us to have a very different vision of education, of teaching and learning for the 21st century. It requires us to have a sense of urgency about the problem that needs to be solved.”

Wagner is not suggesting we change a few processes and update a few manuals. He says, “The system has become obsolete. It needs reinventing, not reforming.”

Learn How to Program

Computer programming is hard, especially if it’s not your code.

Well, if Khan Academy is any indication of this growing trend towards gamification of learning (read: badge system), we need to take into account that this is just one tool of learning. Khan Academy is centralized in that Salman Khan is the only one doing the video. There is no feedback system that can countercheck all of the videos he produced. It’s a one-way street instead of harnessing crowdsourcing.

On the other hand, there is Codecademy and its shortcomings:

But once you’re past that first lessons, then what? Codecademy offers an interesting UI, sure, but let’s not confuse interface and understanding, lessons and learning, engineering problems with education problems.

Audrey Watters basically points out the importance of context in solving problems. It is a valid concern, and should be addressed in Codecademy. Although not everything is negative. The good thing with Codecademy is that, you can create lessons that is subject to peer review and post it online. That is the power of crowdsourcing. For beginners or those who wonder how it’s like to program, Codecademy is a great start.

I wonder if Codecademy can use StackOverflow and GitHub as source of content for the programming lessons. That would make it triple awesome indeed.

For all naysayers about Codecademy or Khan Academy, put up or shut up.

Summer Engineering Institute

Courtesy:  LEAD Program

What is a LEAD Summer Engineering Institute?

During LEAD Summer Engineering Institutes, students reside and attend classes on-campus at 6 of the nation’s top engineering schools for 3 weeks. Summer Engineering Institutes provide diverse, high-achieving high school sophomores and juniors the opportunity to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers.

Students are empowered to confidently make better informed decisions when choosing their university and career through exposure to various fields of engineering, such as mechanical, chemical, biomedical, civil and environmental, and electrical and computer.

How can I benefit from a LEAD Summer Engineering Institute?

The goal is to immerse students early in their academic development to the innumerable career opportunities in engineering and computer science, and to equip them with knowledge and expertise from our nation’s leading universities and corporations, empowering students to confidently make better informed decisions when choosing their university and career.

What are the objectives of this program?

  • Engage students in an intense, hands-on curriculum comprised of engineering instruction, computer programming, problem solving, and data analysis.
  • Provide students with first-hand knowledge from engineering professionals through mentoring and corporate site visits.
  • Develop students’ presentation and public speaking skills.
  • Impart principles of responsible leadership.
  • Engage students in cultural and social activities.
  • Prepare students for college.

Intro to YouTube

Courtesy: Michael Wesch (Digital Ethnography)

presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008. This was tons of fun to present. I decided to forgo the PowerPoint and instead worked with students to prepare over 40 minutes of video for the 55 minute presentation. This is the result. more info: http://mediatedcultures.net

0:00 Introduction, YouTube’s Big Numbers
2:00 Numa Numa and the Celebration of Webcams
5:53 The Machine is Us/ing Us and the New Mediascape
12:16 Introducing our Research Team
12:56 Who is on YouTube?
13:25 What’s on Youtube? Charlie Bit My Finger, Soulja Boy, etc.
17:04 5% of vids are personal vlogs addressed to the YouTube community, Why?
17:30 YouTube in context. The loss of community and “networked individualism” (Wellman)
18:41 Cultural Inversion: individualism and community
19:15 Understanding new forms of community through Participant Observation
21:18 YouTube as a medium for community
23:00 Our first vlogs
25:00 The webcam: Everybody is watching where nobody is (“context collapse”)
26:05 Re-cognition and new forms of self-awareness (McLuhan)
27:58 The Anonymity of Watching YouTube: Haters and Lovers
29:53 Aesthetic Arrest
30:25 Connection without Constraint
32:35 Free Hugs: A hero for our mediated culture
34:02 YouTube Drama: Striving for popularity
34:55 An early star: emokid21ohio
36:55 YouTube’s Anthenticity Crisis: the story of LonelyGirl15
39:50 Reflections on Authenticity
41:54 Gaming the system / Exposing the System
43:37 Seriously Playful Participatory Media Culture (featuring Us by blimvisible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yxHKgQyGx0
47:32 Networked Production: The Collab. MadV’s “The Message” and the message of YouTube
49:29 Poem: The Little Glass Dot, The Eyes of the World
51:15 Conclusion by bnessel1973
52:50 Dedication and Credits (Our Numa Numa dance)

Objectivity and Subjectivity

Objective – what and how

Subjective – why

In education,

  • elementary – schools teach concepts, ideas, definitions (what)
  • high school – more concepts, ideas, definitions (what)
  • college – teach career, technical or entrepreneurship skills (how to earn money)

But the more important question is “Why?”

Why is subjective, hence the province of oneself, or at least the responsibility of your parents, your religion or your government.

So how do you reconcile the objective what and how with the subjective why?

The truth is, only you can decide. In life, you have to cultivate what your passion is.

Behavioral economics may teach us a thing or two:

  1. market norms – is focused on how (how to earn a living)
  2. social norms – is focused on why (altruism, human nature, existence, philosophical, spiritual)

Thomas Alva Edison once said:

Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Factors like family, religion, education, government and the economy are external factors that combine for just 1% of inspiration, the rest is one’s action.

As Jim Collins would say:

Whether you prevail or fail depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.

DevOps

Courtesy:  Jez Humble

DevOps is not…
* A certification
* A role
* A set of tools
* A prescriptive process

DevOps is…
* A philosophy that starts with passion
* A cultural, professional movement with attitude and values
* A reaction to poor communication
* About creating visibility between dev and ops
* About the symbiotic relationship between dev and ops
* Cross-functional teams over organizational silos
* Products, not projects
* Automation over documentation (and more automation… and more…)
* About creating self-service infrastructure for teams
* Knowing that good software doesn’t end with development / release
* Software that doesn’t require support
* Ensuring a continual feedback loop between development and operations
* Cross-functional teams over organizational silos
* Creating products that are owned by the delivery team
* Knowing that a project is only finished when it is retired from production
* Something you can do without doing agile

What we want to achieve

* Operations and development are skills, not roles. Delivery teams are composed of people with all the necessary skills.
* Delivery teams run software products – not projects – that run from inception to retirement

 

 

Courtesy:  dev2ops

http://dev2ops.org/blog/2010/11/7/devops-is-not-a-technology-problem-devops-is-a-business-prob.html

http://dev2ops.org/blog/2010/2/22/what-is-devops.html

 

Related negative posts:

DevOps is DOA

If you use iaas, saas, paas, this will only change the context. It will be another layer of abstraction. Great when it works, hard when it fails. The adagium that your SAAS provider will fix your stuff faster isn’t always true either. There is always a history and a context required to give good support, close constant collaboration can provide that better IMHO.

And because you rely on an external party, you will now have to monitor if it fails, check if you can switch to another paas provider, have a backup ready solution, need testing to avoid performance issues. So here come the operations/sysadmin tasks again, just in a different setting. You might say the developers can do it all themselves now, but in reality they are now taking on the sysadmin roles too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love *aas , but when the **** hits the fan, I’d favor someone I can really talk too, with options for my problem and not a generic problem. If you can get close to that level of collaboration with your SAAS provider, your saas has become another part of your devops team. (bridging collaboration). But my experiences are when things fails, communication often shuts down to a generic information level and isn’t focused on helping my specific issues. This can be done right, but if not, this will just be another silo you will have to bridge again.

DevOps is a Poorly Executed Scam

Since no methodology peddler ever wants to say this, I will: there’s a point where you’re simply fucked. Meaning, you can’t solve the problem with the tools available. Sometimes, you have to fire people who aren’t working out. Sometimes, you’re too deep in technical debt and too pressed for time to do it the “right way”. And sometimes, projects fail. It is what it is. This isn’t defeatist, it’s realist.

I am not trying to sell you a book, I am just being honest about the problems you face. None of this amounts to a methodology, as the Devops people would have you believe. If your developers and your sys admins are so culturally different that they can’t agree on a solution to a simple technical problem, then your organization will not be fixed by some sunshine-up-your-ass methodology you read about in a blog or hear about at a conference. You need to change the culture the hard way, or replace people as necessary until the culture works.