Showing posts from February, 2015

Looking for patterns in an otherwise absent medium ...

We love patterns; it is something inherent in the species. Encouraging our young to arrange objects. Qualifying, classifying and looking for a sense of form in what is otherwise may actually be random occurrences (or maybe not).
From numerologists, shamans to mathematicians there is a desire to see a symphony of form. We all create patterns, the food we eat, the time we leave for work. The clothes we wear. Influenced by instinct, season, prejudices and so much more.
So … a little test, you may comment if you wish I will be interested in garnering your opinion. Consider the following numeric pattern:
What does it tell you?
The next pattern is related to the first:
Why is this?
Finally we have:
The last number is linked to both sets of numbers, what is the meaning of the pattern?
If you are wondering why I am doing this, it is in part for intellectual reasons. Having been looking at large scale population statistics over the last couple of days; I am interest…

Academic reviewer dichotomy ...

I should not be surprised, two kind and very helpful colleagues also share that I shouldn't be surprised. Yet, you may have guessed it I am a little surprised, entertained and maybe amused.

Last April a good academic friend and I submitted a paper to a well known journal. Beginning to wonder if it had been lost in the chasm of infinite internet journal technology. I receive an email earlier this week.
"Your paper has been accepted, subject to minor revisions." Cue celebration, bunting and smiles.

Reading the reviewers feedback, from one reviewer we have:
Impact ... Significant; "There has been limited research into the effectiveness of ____ and the authors have accessed a very significant number of users." We also have from the other reviewer:
Recommendation "Author(s) Should Prepare A Major Revision For A Second Review" ... then the soul goes into a diatribe seemingly basing the entire paper on gaming simulation. Where the software in question is ba…

Perspective, its about PERSPECTIVE! ...

Getting that all essential external view is a must for many educators and academics alike. Yet it still appalls (and amuses) me when I discover education establishments who struggle with this. 
A conversation last week, recounts the experiences of one soul who encountered hostility from management and colleagues because they dared to work as an external for an awarding organisation. Another soul shared how a contact, would have to pull sick leave to attend verifier events.
Now if you think that it is bad that educators do these extra jobs, then maybe you are already a bigger fool.
The reality is, for many who enter this world. They get a better, meta view of what is occurring within their discipline. Enabling their colleagues and students to be marginally ahead of the game. 
Recalling a time at a well known FE college, we all dispersed into different awarding organisations. Becoming, authors, verifiers, unit writers, consultants etc. Primarily working with the big three, aiming to ha…

Dunning-Kruger Effect ...

Over the weekend I encountered a tweet that highlighted someones incompetence by likening their efforts to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Take the time to read the linked wikipedia article. It gives a great summary of other sites discussing this ego-centric condition.

Put simply, it describes individuals who are self deluded regarding their actual level of ability (namely their level of incompetence). Typically overestimating their competence in a given subject. I am sure we have all been mistaken at some point regarding our relative abilities. This effect, seems to promote the idea that someone who is within the terms of this effect:

persists in the idea that they are capableseems to be impervious to any external information to the contraryoperates at a relatively low level in relation to the actual skill in question
So ... now that you know about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and safely assuming that it applies to the author of this blog. Do you know anyone that should be credited for their…

Lost heroes in Further Education ...

Earlier this week I had a conversation with someone who I consider to be a hero of Computing in Further Education. An enthusiast who has had a notable impact in their inner city location for many years.
However, typical finesse and mismanagement abound, their line management have created an impossible situation which has served to kill any hope.
The result is that there is another soul lost to further education; another college probably doomed to mediocre IT rather than valid commercial computing.

Vinegar Valentines show trolling is nothing new ...

This article was originally published in the conversation on 13/02/15 ...

By Andrew Smith, The Open University

Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo recently admitted in a leaked memo to staff how serious a problem online abuse and trolling on Twitter was, one that the social network has so far failed to tackle.

Certainly the problem of online abuse has been exacerbated by the ease and anonymity of the internet and social networks. But it is not exactly new. Each new communication invention has always brought with it the possibility of carrying cruel as well as kind communiqu├ęs – even at this time of year, when tradition dictates the sending of amorous cards for Valentine’s Day.

Over 150 years ago, as literacy rates improved and a universal postal service arrived in many industrialised nations, letter writing and the sending of greetings cards flourished. But with post boxes appearing on street corners it took no great leap of thought to realise it was possible to send an unkind sentim…

My three minutes of radio fame ... in part due to @ConversationUK ...

One has been prolifically writing articles for The Conversation for almost a year having enjoyed a very positive readership. A recent personal whimsy article on Vinegar Valentines has produced an interesting result.

Exploring the idea that the notion of sending unkind love letters circa 200 years ago is akin to the modern phenomenon of trolling. BBC Radio 4 approached me lunchtime on Valentines Day to see if I was interested in being interviewed for a short slot on their Saturday edition of the PM programme.

Of course I said yes, sharing with amused wife, daughter, son and onlooking friend.

The show remains for around 30 days, it is not difficult to find. Also.a low quality version of the interview is available with full rights attributed to the BBC.

For academics looking to develop their public profiles; I will again share that The Conversation has the reach to help this happen. You have to be prepared to adjust to their style while maintaining academic credibility. You have to also…

Earwurm ...

Do you get annoying tunes that stick in your head, the kind that keep coming back. After listening to Alt-J ∆, it is clear that I am now victim to a pernicious form.

I will leave you with the following and see if it is infectious.

Seeing that @CiscoNetAcad Innovative thinking from @RNC_official comes in small steps ...

Working with the Royal National College for the Blind is inspirational. Not because of the clever high tech super wiz tech. Instead, learning how to make good use of low tech resources that can be easily sourced by anyone.

Based on some 3D printer templates shared, the souls at RNCB had a dilemma. Cost, replication and could others currently afford this technology.

Instead, after a search, one of the Cisco team found magnetic felt and got to work with different cutting tools and some tactile paint.

The first version is crude; they need to do some work on the full symbols. The shapes are there and you could easily duplicate the kind of network diagrams seen in many of the Cisco practical and packet tracer labs. In fact we could easily share these with visually impaired students at the Open University.

Colour is meaningful, even to the visually impaired. Total blindness is apparently not as common as us sighted souls believe. Many with visual impairment may have some peripheral vision …

Waking up at 03:30 ...

After a quilt based fight with a more capable territory asserting individual and already having enough sleep for my body clock to deem appropriate. One has been awake since a forsaken time of 03:30. Fortunately this is a rare occurrence, happy in the knowledge that I can wander off and find something to do.

Two cups of tea later, with two episodes of Stargate and a final edit of a couple of documents. It is now coming up to 07:00. Me thinks that coffee will be my friend and the hope that I may catch some zzz's later today. But knowing sleep and my rare need to nap; this may not be assured.

Now off to make cuppa x3.

Quality of enemies ...

You should know someone by the quality of their enemies. The Arabic proverb was a little bit more gender specific. But, to whomever, it still applies. If you have not acquired the occasional adversary then maybe you are not doing enough.
The trouble with low quality enemies, they lack the mettle to give you something to fight for. However, those who have a bit of bite tend to provide a fulcrum to push forward.

Adapting my writing style for Key Stage 3 ...

As some of you who occasionally potter around on my blog may know. Apart from writing articles in the conversation, I have written and contributed to (quite a few) text books over the last twelve years.

Currently a new 'technical' endeavor via my work at the Open University may mean that I could be adapting some content for a Key Stage 3 audience. In plain speak, school children aged 11-14.

Used to writing to a 16-19 and adult adult audience, the idea excites me, but also makes me shudder .... after all, it is a little daunting. Especially as I know which platform is going to be delivering this content.

With all of this in mind, for those who teach at this stage, still have offspring in this age range or just have some valid experience. What hints and tips could you offer?