Featuring Open Yale

open yale

Open Yale provides a selection of free and open intro courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Their courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.  Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

This month we are featuring their Literature courses:

 

Literature

Which courses will you choose?  Don’t forget to add them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 8

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

<< Week 7

Week 9 >>

Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

The Wonders of Firebase:  Before I build (or rebuild without the bugs!) the backend of myCard, I have been reworking the front-end and using Firebase to post and get my data.  Google recently acquired Firebase, and for very good reason – the product is amazing!  I understood how to use it easily and setting it up hasn’t been too difficult either.  Usually, the back-end has so many details and busy-work involved that its never my favorite thing to set up, but Firebase makes the storing-data-thing easy enough to leave me no excuse to stall on working on the app.

The Beauty of Yeoman:  Now, it isn’t that I’m completely obsessed with shortcuts.  Its just that starting a new project requires so much attention to detail in order to prepare for neat and organized code that it can be very tedious.  Yeoman works beautifully with what I’ve already written in Angular and essentially generates a template of files for me to work in.  It is pre-organized and ready for code – which is perfect for junior programmers who really just need to practice their programming!

Independence:  The past week or so have been pretty chilled out for us in terms of structure.  We have been working on this huge team project, of course, but outside of that, there has been full freedom to learn on our own.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m an incredibly independent learner and feel strongly that self-reliant learning is the most sustainable kind.  As a result, I have been more productive than usual this week and looking back at my checklist of completed tasks gives me warm fuzzies…which are, of course, attacked by ice pellets when I look at the rest of the list…

 

3 Lows:  

Buggy Back-ends:  Back to myCard – buggy code sucks.  It quits working randomly without any apparent reason and takes way too long to get going again.  As a result, I’ve had to make the difficult decision of scrapping my entire back-end code as it is and will be using Firebase instead to optimize the front end before messing with Node (or maybe Rails) again.  It was definitely a difficult decision considering the work that went into it all, but I also think its the right decision for the project!

Cold Emails:  Well, emails are a bit better than cold calling, but only marginally.  I do understand these emails are important to my job search, but sending busy start-up heads yet another email they have to sort through from someone they’ve never spoken to just hits a level of awkwardness that I’m not a fan of.  Lets just say there have been several cold emails this week sent from my address and I haven’t loved sending any of them…except for when I get an enthusiastic response.  I only email companies I really love, and getting a response that is just as excited about my excitement is great!

Issues with Terminal:  This has been a low throughout the bootcamp, but I’ve had more issues than normal with terminal this past week, which has made working on our group project difficult for me since I spend all my time working on figuring out why I’m getting a hundred lines of error messages.  Luckily, I have Samer to help me debug – but I definitely need to find a solid tutorial on best practices when using the terminal.

The Immersion:  

Hacking Spaces:  After the bootcamp ends, I need a place to continue to work on my projects and network.  I’ve been looking for a place where I can talk to other developers, but also have time to myself to work silently.  There are actually hacking spaces nearby like Hacker Dojo, but I have to keep the monthly fees in mind and the fact that I don’t have a car yet.  Any work space deserves some thought and consideration, so I’ve been spending some time each day finding the ideal place to set up shoppe!

Call for Nonprofits:  I’ve been heavily involved with nonprofits and my community my whole life, and have been able to bring this into my career as a developer as well.  Several nonprofits in my hometown have asked me to build them a simple, single page website that can get across the message of who they are and what they do without overwhelming the visitor with text.  This is great practice for me since I can practice with basic front-end development and build my portfolio and it doesn’t generally take more than a day’s work.  So I’ve decided to continue with this at least once a month on a Sunday, when I will dedicate the day to building something for a nonprofit organization.  Send me a message if you’re interested for your nonprofit!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Try new things – you’ll find invaluable shortcuts that will make your life infinitely easier!
  • Make writing clean code a goal from the very beginning, otherwise you will end up with buggy code that needs to be re-written from scratch anyway.
  • Take on personal projects and do them for free!  You will have a great way to give back to the community, build your portfolio, and get some great practice along the way!

<< Week 7

Week 9 >>

Exploits in Education: Week 6 and 7

EIE 844

Welcome Back!

One of the best things about MOOCs are their flexibility.  If life gets in the way one week, you pick up and continue on in the next.  Discovering Business in Society has been a thoroughly enjoyable course – but I feel like it deserves my best focus and attention and sometimes…a week slips by….

This week we are going to look at a few points from week 6 and 7.  There were a couple of points that I wanted to explore further : Just because it is legal, is it Ethical?, Tax Avoidance, Auditors: Who do they really work for?  Get settled and lets set off on this exploration together….

Just Because it is Legal, is it Ethical?

It is legal to pay minimum wage but is it ethical?  It is legal to not offer health/dental/RRSP (aka 401(k)s) benefits, but is it ethical?  It is legal to outsource jobs, but is it ethical?

Businesses operate within a set of rules, regulations and laws – but what happens when the rules aren’t legal rules, but societal mores?  By whose moral code should a business operate – especially if they are a multinational corporation?  Should Western standards prevail over non-Western standards?

On this, I have no firm answers.  In my youth, I would have said Western values mattered the most (let’s refer to those days as B.U. – before University). Now, I think there has to be a better balance.

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Is it a bribe or a gift?

A.U. I had the opportunity to work in an International Sales department of a local building supply chain.  I dealt with business people and home owners from all over the world – including Sudan, England, Bermuda, Iceland, Germany and Japan.  Each country had their own sets of values, rules and customs – some similar and some not so similar.  We had a business agent in Japan who came to visit us one time and he brought me this lovely figurine of a traditional Japanese house as a gift.  Luckily, I had read up on the customs ahead of time and knew from discussions with management about how to accept the gift and how it fit in within our own rules (we were not typically allowed to accept gifts).  Did the gift cause me to offer better deals on materials?  No, it didn’t.  Did it make me prioritize this person when I had two jobs to do and only time to complete one of them? Probably.  Was it a gift or a bribe?  Culturally, it was a gift…but it changed my POV so could it have been a bribe?  I don’t really know. (Yes, I still have that figurine, currently it is packed away or I would share an image of it).

Tax Avoidance: A Business Problem or Responsibility?

To start off with a reminder:

“Tax avoidance is not tax evasion. When a company is accused of tax avoidance, what has happened is that the company has chosen to enter into an arrangement or structure, which means there’s less taxes payable than would have been payable if a different arrangement or structure had been selected. It’s important to realise that if a company does make such a choice, then any tax liabilities that crystallised are satisfied. The company satisfies its tax liabilities. The company is not evading its tax liabilities. ” (Discovering Business In Society, Video 6.2)

Is it a problem when businesses avoid tax through the legal loopholes created by government?  Are companies avoiding the spirit of the law by taking advantage of these opportunities?  Who is responsible to minimize tax avoidance?

As a business operates within a set of rules, regulations and laws (referring back to Week 2), then the opportunities created within any of the rules, regulations and laws are the responsibility of those who create and enforce the rules, not those playing within them.  The players are responsible to know the rules of the game and apply as they see fit.

German_Monopoly_board_in_the_middle_of_a_game

If you’ve ever played a board game like Monopoly, you know that everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the rules, especially surrounding things like free parking, Houses and Hotels, Paying Rent if the owner fails to notice that you landed on their square, etc – they are not necessarily wrong in their view but it might not be in the spirit of the rules…

I think there is an argument to be made that businesses are responsible to their stakeholders to avoid tax as much as possible to become as profitable as possible.  Employees want hours and raises, infrastructure requires maintenance and updating, shareholders want the biggest return on their investments and consumers want the best prices possible.

Auditors: Who do They Really Work for?

Auditors.  The big 4.  The final gatekeeper between the board of directors/management and the shareholders. Who do they really work for?

In theory, they are independent.  But they are supposed to act on behalf of the shareholders, ensuring what is in the document to be fundamentally correct.  That everything appears to be true (not that it is true, just that it has the appearances of being true).

But they are paid by the board.

approved-29149_640

How can an auditor being paid by the board be completely unbiased towards those who pay him/her?  Would it not make more sense for the payment to be shared 50/50 by the board and shareholders? Or paid completely by the shareholders? Back in Week 3, we discussed how far we should trust businesses and things like annual reports – and how auditors just review and express opinions about the report being prepared in conformity with the standards.  We also talked about accounting scandals… I’m not convinced that external auditors hired by the board are any better than internal accountants – I think shareholders should be hiring an external auditor to review every line of every book and ensure the reports are accurate (I’m sure there is an ACCA Chartered Accountant out there who could take that project on).

In Summary

So this week we’ve come up on a few ethical dilemmas.  Should a business behave according to societies morals when making business decisions – and if so, which ones? If a business has the single responsibility of being profitable, should they take every opportunity to avoid paying more taxes?  Is this ethical? Or is it unethical to not do everything possible to ensure the highest ROI for each shareholder?  Are annual reports worth the paper they are written on?  Can auditors who are paid by the board do anything but rubber stamp the report ethically?  Is it smart to go against the hand that feeds you?

More questions that answers this week.  I hope you’ve had a chance to see something from a different perspective – or can share a different perspective below.  Next week is week 8 – time for strategies and storytelling.  It’s also time to decide if you want to write the exam and get the certificate for this course…

 

Featuring Open Yale

open yale

Open Yale provides a selection of free and open intro courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Their courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.  Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

This month we are featuring their History courses:

 

History

Which courses will you choose?  Don’t forget to add them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 7

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

<< Week 6

Week 8 >>

Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

Confidence:  I am a junior developer, which means that I have learned about 1% thus far of what there is to know about computer programming.  Still, there are several things that I can now contribute to a project!  Going from never having so much as written a simple HTML form to building apps (albeit simple ones) in the MEAN Stack within 8 week has been a bumpy, but satisfying ride.  Development in general is a field that requires constant learning to stay up to date.  This is one of the things I love about it and exactly what keeps me motivated to keep learning!  After all, not being able to do something is a lot better than not having the confidence to learn how to do it.

Refactoring:  We have been working on project as a group for a large telecommunications company that is due on Thursday to the client.  As one may assume, this requires a LOT of double-checking, error-hunting, and bug-fixing.  Programmers call this process ‘refactoring’ and it has been blessing for me in that it gives me the opportunity to review what we have done and make sure I understand it.  I’ve probably learned more while refactoring than I have in an actual lecture!

Getting Back into the World:  My isolation during my learning time has been very much self-imposed.  I did it because I needed to focus, and it isn’t a decision that I regret at all.  However, now that the core learning process (at this particular bootcamp, at least) is ending, its pretty nice to start breaking free of Stockholm Syndrome and getting back in touch with my friends and the outside world!  I’ve been talking to new people during the job search and am getting ready to go see more of the Bay Area!

 

3 Lows:  

Cover Letters:  Anybody who knows me knows that I love writing.  Blog articles, fiction, nonfiction – I write everything, and I really enjoy it.  Unfortunately this does not carry over to writing cover letters.  Traditional cover letters seem plastic and void of personality, but writing one with ‘too much personality’ looks unprofessional.  Getting the right tone down for the right company is basically a guessing game, and figuring out which companies want ‘buzzwords’ and which don’t is practically impossible.  So basically, the chances of winning at writing any given cover letter is very slim.  Being in the middle of a job search, however, I get to write several cover letters a day.  Yay…on the bright side, at least I get to write something every day!

Giving up the Marketing:  I moved into development after spending some time as a Digital Marketing Consultant, so pretty much all my work history and internships thus far (yes, I am fresh out of college so there isn’t a ton of it) is in business and marketing.  Getting rid of these things from my resume has been painful – almost like I’m erasing four years of hard work.  Luckily, I can retain a few things since several Digital Marketing skills are actually relevant to development – but the sheer amount work that must be deleted is awful!

Project Crunch Time: For those of your who have been reading this series for the past several weeks, you know that I have been working on several personal projects – including myCard.  You also know that I love working on my own on these projects and value this time as some of the best learning opportunities I’ve had.  However, being rushed to finish is never fun!  Fact is, I need to really begin building a portfolio and there isn’t much time left to get it done if I want a somewhat nice one before leaving the bootcamp, but rushing to get it done is still a frustrating process!  Check on me in two weeks to see if the final product was worth the hard work – hint: it probably will be!

 

The Immersion:  

Craigslist:  I come from the Midwest where Craigslist is not generally what one trusts to find an apartment or job.  Apparently, its perfectly trustworthy here in the Bay Area, though!  Several people have suggested I get on with my job search on Craigslist…which has been pretty awesome.  Learning something new every day!

Caffeine Overload:  I am overloaded on caffeine.  This is something I plan to completely get rid of after the end of my 9 Weeks here, so the process of detaching myself has begun.  Surprisingly enough, I’m not crankier or more tired than usual as a result – in fact, its amazing how much better I feel.  True, I get tired earlier, but I guess going to bed by midnight instead of 3 AM is more a good thing than a bad one.

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Be confident in whatever you do!  Not being able to do something is not nearly as bad as not having the confidence to learn how to do it.
  • Cover letters have always sucked and will continue to do so regardless of the industry in which you are applying for jobs.  Get used to it.
  • If you live in the Bay Area, Craiglist is awesome!  Make it your best friend!

<< Week 6

Week 8 >>

Exploits in Education: Week 5

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Grab a tall, refreshing drink, sit back, relax and settle in for a read!  This week we are looking at leadership.  What is a leader?  What is the role of women in leadership?  These are tough topics…

Before we begin, let’s clarify a few points for the sake of transparency.  I am a woman.  I am a woman who has been in leadership roles in business, in various organizations and at home.  I can’t give you a straight answer on what a leader is, what makes a good leader or how to get more women in visible leadership roles

I hope you noticed the word “visible”.  It’s an important term and we will come back to it later on.

What is a leader?

Yikes!  This is a tough one.  What makes a good leader isn’t the same as what makes a good manager.  I can only share my personal views on this, so here goes.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell who created the Scouting/Guiding movement that developed so many of our leaders today...

Sir Robert Baden-Powell who created the Scouting/Guiding movement that developed so many of our leaders today…

1) I don’t believe in the “Leaders are born, not created” mentality.  I think people become leaders when the situation requires it – for some, that may be daily, for others intermittently, and others still, next to never.  It’s those times we step outside of ourselves and our comfort zones to make sure that the right thing happens for the collective.

2) Charisma may come into play, but I think a sense of responsibility and fairness is more important.  An overly charismatic person comes across as slimy to me.  Confidence is important too.

3) A sense of common good and actually caring about the people around them.  Getting to know their team, their strengths and opportunities, finding ways to draw out the best in the people around them. Finding ways to develop a shared goal that creates win-win situations amongst the group. An interest in developing the people around them is key.

4) Position in a hierarchy may play a role, but isn’t the defining factor for me.  I’ve met new hires who were better able to rally the troops than the department manager.  One would hope that a manager would be a leader, but often promotions occur not because someone is a good leader or manager, but because they are good at doing a specific task.

Of course, these are just my opinions, please share yours in the comments below!

What is the role of women in leadership?

When I was a little girl, growing up in a small town on the east coast of Canada, my dream was to have a high powered executive job based in New York City or L.A. (Hey, it was the 80’s…big hair, big shoulder pads and Women’s Menswear…). I wanted the corner office with the good views, an assistant to bring me coffee and to make decisions for the multitudes.

Dynasty-Dynasty-TV-Series-014

 

Then I grew up. The dreams toned down a little – I no longer wanted the big shoulder pads or to live in a mega city, but I still wanted a managerial position that would lead to a corner office with views et al. So I climbed aboard that train and started the journey down the track.  Somewhere along the way, I changed trains and ended up on another track heading in a different direction.  It wasn’t the wrong direction and along the way I decided I liked this journey better, but it wasn’t taking me to the C-Suite – or at the very least not directly.

What happened?  The best thing ever.  Hands down.  Bar none.

But it wasn’t my original plan.  I wasn’t becoming the leader in business that I thought I would be.

And then it hit me.

I had become a leader.  I am the founder and CEO of a delightful start up that features 2 distinct products.  I am the CMO of this enterprise, showcasing all the reasons why these products fit into your life.  I am the CFO of this company, responsibly managing the financial resources. I am the CTO, ensuring all systems are up-to-date, working to specifications and determining innovative ways to improve anything and everything.

The product? My children.  That’s right, I became a Mom.

A Mom – the invisible leader who shapes the next generation.  I commented on this in a forum

“I was thinking along this line myself – Mothers will stand up for their children (Assertive, Confrontational), teach their children everything from morals to tying their laces to setting the table (Gurus, Motivational, Inspirational), assign jobs and provide feedback (Delegate, Manage, Evaluate), kiss every boo-boo (Strong in a crisis, able to handle any challenge that comes their way) and still do it with sensitivity (negotiate win-win terms, confidence, make you feel good about yourself). (I’ve not forgotten the ability to budget, minimize cost overruns, time manage projects, apply cost saving measures without compromising quality, etc – wanted to keep this “short”).

People often say women aren’t in leadership roles. Perhaps they should stop and consider their own mothers and then apologize for not realizing that women take on important (but slightly more invisible) leadership roles everyday.”

(By the way – I did end up getting my corner office with the great views and two assistants who brings me coffee.  My corner office might be in my dining room, but I get the best views ever of the backyard.  My assistants who bring me coffee are super cute (and I can say that without the fear of a lawsuit since they are my kids). The measurement of ones success are subjective at best and I realized that what I do at home is just as important as I what I did in business…)

In Summary

Defining leadership is tough because it is hard to separate leadership from management skills. Leadership is more about personal characteristics (I think – would love to hear your thoughts).  Visible and Invisible leadership was an interesting concept, especially in terms of Women in Leadership.  I would hate for anyone to read my bit on mothers as anti-feminist as that is not my intent.  I believe we sometimes undervalue the role of mothers in developing the leaders of the next generation – and who better to learn leadership skills from than another leader?  Quiet, behind the scenes leadership is still leadership and still valuable.

Next week we will be looking at ethics.  This is bound to be an intriguing week with many different viewpoints.  If the ACCA Fruit Stand game teaches us anything, it taught us that we could make ethical mistakes – even with the best intentions…so if we can in a inconsequential instance, what happens when it really counts???

 

 

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 6

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<< Week 5

Week 7 >>

Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

Social Media:  I’ve never been hugely involved with social media, but my later years in college and now my time at this bootcamp convinced me very quickly of the importance of Twitter and LinkedIn to my career.  I really only got a Twitter account at the beginning of the summer and didn’t particularly do anything with LinkedIn until then either.  After realizing that ignoring my social media accounts was probably a mistake, I began to make a few updates here and there and started interacting with people a bit.  Still, my cyber-life was pretty lame until this past week.  I had a whole bunch of awesome conversations with successful people in the industry and even got to schedule a couple of pair programming sessions!  I’ll be honest – I am not a fan of networking with random people who have no desire or need to speak to me; but that was pretty awesome!

myCard:  I’ve tentatively started calling my business card project (See Week 4) myCard and its been moving very slowly.  Fortunately, I’m also learning a lot and getting better with the backend as a result.  Repetition is the best way to remember something, and that’s exactly what I’m getting from working on myCard and my other personal projects.

Interview Assessments:   Week 6 came with a few emails and LinkedIn messages from potential employers.  Problem was, I’m still vastly under qualified for most of these since they wanted at least 2-3 years of experience in development.  I don’t have 2-3  years of experience in any profession, let alone development.  Still, I somehow managed to land a couple of Interview Assessments that needed to be completed before an in-person interview.  A lot of what I saw was way over my head.  The great part, though, was that I was actually able to do some of it.  Being able to look as something I had done that would have looked like gibberish to me a mere few weeks ago was a fantastic feeling!

 

3 Lows:  

Ruby on Rails:  Okay, so Ruby on Rails is not a low, per se.  I’ve actually been really excited to learn it because so many companies use it (and look for it in potential employees!), but the learning curve has definitely gotten steeper and steeper as the amount of material has increased.  Imagine learning Algebra, Geometry, and Trig all at once in high school – yup, it can get pretty crazy no matter how cool the material itself is. 

The Home-Stretch Rush:  When I started the bootcamp, multiple people told me that the first half would rush by and I would feel like I have all the time in the world to learn the material and do my job hunting.  Then, the second half would come and it would hit me like a sack of potatoes that I’m running out of time – fast!  I have to say, these were some pretty intelligent people because what they said is very true.  Bootcamps are hard work, but they also fly past in a flash.  Before I knew it, I was already in the home stretch.  Time to find a job (‘nudge nudge‘ if you know someone hiring)!

Perpetual Fatigue:  Realizing I’m running out of time has put me into overdrive which means I get even less sleep and have to work harder because its difficult to focus when I’m tired.  As a result, I’m pretty much always ready for bed.  Luckily, I’m planning to make up for lost REM time for about three days straight after I finish!

 

The Immersion:  

Hijacking the Kitchen:  Ethnically Indian, I have grown up around Indian food my whole life – so suddenly not having access to it can be saddening.  Luckily, the bay area is overflowing with Indian stores so I’ve been able to get some groceries and have pretty much hijacked the kitchen with my Indian stuff.  Our Food Director, Sarah, is an amazing cook herself who’s always trying something new in the kitchen herself.  I try not to get in her way, but nobody stands in the way of me and my samosas!

Dusting off that Resume:  I’d forgotten how time consuming it could be to write a resume.  As a business major in college, I spent a lot of time learning to write a solid business resume.  It is a lot harder to organize a techie’s resume, though, because of all the little skills (different languages, frameworks, technologies) that need to be communicated without crowding the single piece of paper.  Basically, I have to relearn how to write my resume and it is taking a looong time.  I also happen to be one of those people who love building a resume, though, so its really not so bad!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Even if you’re an introvert, don’t shy away from social media!  It is integral to making connections, especially if you have issues walking up to people and talking to them in person.
  • Starting your own project can be daunting, but all the mistakes you make will be your own and you will learn from them.  It is definitely worth the effort.
  • Not all resumes are made equal!  Make sure you learn about how to optimize your personal experiences on your personal resume.

<< Week 5

Week 7 >>

Welcome Back Hockey! Four Must See Courses for Couch Coaches!

NHL_Winter_Classic_2008

“Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.” – Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada.

Hello hockey fans around the world!  Welcome to the 2014-2015 NHL season – if you are a  fan, you are glued to the screen!  With four games scheduled for opening night, hopefully your favourite team is playing.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

You’ve probably studied your team’s stats from last year, know the details on the key players on your team and have your favourite blogs bookmarked to prepare you for the water cooler conversations that will start tomorrow at 9AM (to be clear, the trash talk started today, opinions peppered with “facts” chats start tomorrow!).  Accredible is “lucky enough” to have four Canadians on the team – two of whom are big fans for opposing Canadian teams (Go Habs Go!).

But maybe you haven’t been converted into the “Hockey is life, the rest is just details” lifestyle.  Maybe you become a “hockey widow” from October until June.  Maybe you would like to know enough about hockey or sports in general to take part in “Couch Coaching” (The act of coaching your favourite team from the sofa while yelling at your TV; Warning: This may also include throwing the remote at the TV in frustration – the area between you and the TV needs to be a designated “No Walking Zone”).  Perhaps you would like to better understand why your spouse gets so frustrated with the sports broadcasters. Well, we are here to help!

Here are a few sports MOOCs you just might want to check out…

Sports Broadcasting

A fun, exciting inside look into the sports broadcasting industry. We explore the many aspects of sports broadcasting and teach you how you can improve. We give you the nuts and bolts of how to break into this industry and succeed! For sports fans, this course will give you an enjoyable look “behind the scenes” at the life of a sports broadcaster. You will enjoy the game more because you will truly understand what real-life sportscasting is all about!

Sports Coaching

Coaches play a central role in promoting sport participation and enhancing the performance of athletes and teams This sports coaching course teaches students how to become a coach in all sport settings. This course aims to deliver all aspects of coaching to build a coach as a whole. Whether you are a beginner local youth coach or an experienced elite coach. This course will aim to teach you everything you need to know to be a successful coach regardless of previous experience. You will develop a basic understanding of all aspects in being a coach regardless of what sport you choose.

Sports and Recreation Management

Take the first step to exploring a career in sport and recreation by gaining an understanding of the different job roles within this industry. Pick up leadership and management skills and learn how to manage risks appropriately. You will also learn to plan and deliver a simple sport and recreation session focussed on your clients’ needs.

Intro to Sports Psychology

This sport psychology course teaches students how to apply sport psychology tools on themselves or others. Everything you need for the course will be provided, including Powerpoint slides and video. Students could reasonably be expected to complete this course over 4-8 weeks if working on 1-2 topics per week. The course is structured to be undertaken sequentially. This course would suit people wanting to learn more about themselves as athletes or coaches, or to see how sport psychologists work with athletes and coaches. The course gives you information, and an opportunity to use this information on yourself or others, but does not include assessment.

For those looking for a Hockey specific MOOC, there doesn’t appear to be one…so here are a few resources for beginners or those used to IIHL rules who need to learn about the NHL.

Welcome to the best season of the year – hockey!  Hopefully, these resources will help you develop a love for the game – or a better understanding of the hockey fan in your life.  Don’t forget to update your Accredible Profile for any course you opt to take.

Exploits in Education: Week 4

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Welcome back!

Congratulations on making it to the halfway point in the course!

This week we met David Boughey as we learned more about how large business functions, Rogue Traders and the Financial Crisis. Now, to clarify one point for any of us who grew up in the ’80s – we are learning from David Boughey not David Bowie – which to my Canadian ears sounds exactly the same…just saying (and yes, I did half wonder in a pre-coffee moment if I should be expecting eye-liner, wild hair and spandex and then I woke up…LOL).  Grab a beverage and let’s jump in…

Who Has The Biggest Business?

Time for more honesty…I started thinking about this solely based on brands and from a very North American outlook.  Walmart, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Apple were my top 4.  I wasn’t right.

And I’m glad of that.  It forces me to look at things differently.

Using the Forbes 500 list, I picked 4 of the top 18 (Apple #1, Coca-Cola #3, McDonald’s #6, and Walmart #18), but when using the UNCTAD by Foreign Assets report, I was very wrong (Apple #19, Walmart #31, Coca-Cola #90.  McDonald’s didn’t make the list).  While I recognized many of the company names, they were not companies that I talk about on a regular basis.  Six of the top 10 were petroleum explorers/refiners/distributors – other than to complain about the price of gas or to discuss the dismantling of a local refinery.

So what makes the “biggest business”?  Is it brand recognition?  Foreign Assets?  Number of employees located out of the home base country?  Global sales? Every report uses different methodology so no one answer is right.

But for me, I’ll stick with Brand Recognition!

Rogue Traders

This was a very well done video.  I actually had to just stop and listen the first time – no pencil in hand, no arguments forming in my head and really just listen. Then I watched again and took notes.

In the beginning of the video, Gary Abrahams talks about risk aversion/aversion to loss and that the way a question is worded influences our tolerances towards risks.  I suspect anyone who is “good” at scamming people (and by “good” I mean able to consistently perform and achieve his/her desired results) must have a fundamental understanding of the psychology at play and frame the scenarios in such a way as to maximize the potential gain and minimize the loss.

Add to that the reality that we (collectively) are lazy and don’t WANT to have to research the details make us likely to fall into the trap of available information and if we do any surface research, we look for what confirms our hopes. I’m not sure if it is “greed” as it is the belief we have that people will tell us the truth and not just what is in their best interest.

As I thought about it, it made more and more sense to me.  I often wonder why when playing poker, people will go all in and state they were “pot committed“.  That they “had” to take the chance to win big even though they could lose it all.   Their aversion to loss at that moment is more important than their risk aversion.  They just use their available info (their hand and the flop, maybe a River card) and jump in.

I saw the rogue trader as more of a Charlatan selling snake oil and the investors as the naive people who WANTED to believe in something so much that they failed to do their part, their responsibility in ensuring they were making smart, effective, reasonable decisions. But after finding this article, I’m left uncertain – while finding this article was not in the best interest of my arguments, I do like going beyond the “available information” and look for information that just agree with my hypothesis.

Technology, Business and Society

This week we had an assignment – to write a 300 word essay around a quote about technology, business and society.  Upon submission, we were assigned another essay to read and comment on.  I like peer assessments in online courses – I find it interesting to read and review and well as to be reviewed.

After thinking about it, I could have written it differently…but isn’t that always the way?  I thought I’d share it with you:

Jonathan Sacks once said, “Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”
Never has this been more true than today. Discussion forums, Twitter, blogs, instant messenger – each day there seems to be a new way to connect with people, new ways to connect with more people and build our networks, but for what? To have nothing to say?
In order to best take advantage of the communication technology available to us today, we need to put down said technology and open a book, our minds, our hearts and our mouths.
In order to have something to say, we need to have a topic to discuss, information on said topic and time to sort out our thoughts and feelings on a subject. We need to form opinions based on facts that we sometimes find while looking for something else. We need to stop worrying about having an unpopular opinion and use real facts and figures to back it up.
It takes courage to speak your mind and not the drivel that is spoon fed to us via editorials, talk radio and phone in talk shows like Nancy Grace. Whilst it is easy to jump on-board the latest thought train and agree with the message being spouted by the conductor, it is harder to point out that the train which should be travelling east, is actually travelling west.
And if they did point it out, would they use their mouth to say something or their fingers to tweet it?

In Summary

Well, I’ve shared my assignment (which will get uploaded to my Accredible profile soon!), we’ve talked about Rogue Traders, Poker, 80’s Rock Stars, and who has the biggest business and made it through the half way point!  Next week we are talking about Heroes, Villains and Leaders…now that sounds exciting!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 5

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Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

Angular.js:  I’ve been very interested in everything I’ve learned about the MEAN stack thus far, but with my focused interest in front-end development and how cool Angular is, it is definitely my favorite thus far.  There are just so many things that can be done with it and it makes my code dynamic without forcing me to really even think about it.

Autodidactism:  People in general learn in very different ways at very different speeds which can be frustrating at times – in fact, it was one of my lows last week.  This week, though, we switched gears a bit and had more freedom to break away from the group and learn on my own.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am very much an independent learner, so this was freeing for me.  I was able to slow down where I was confused and could speed through what I already knew, which resulted in a faster learning process.  I wish I had more time for this while learning Node, but am very glad to have had the opportunity with Angular; I have been learning it a lot faster and am able to use it pretty well in my projects as well.  Tip:  I also plan on putting all this stuff on my Accredible profile.  Employers definitely want to see what you have done, but if you’re new, it would also be nice to show them how you did it!

Individualized Projects:   Speaking of projects, working on my own idea and figuring out how to solve issues with the code without an instructor’s help can be frustrating, but for me it has been an amazing learning experience.  I am still working on the business card project I mentioned in last week’s update and have been incorporating Angular into it as I’ve been learning it.  As a result, the app is cooler and I’m much better at using the technology!  I figure having at least one major side project at all times will be my key to continuously learning the newest ‘hacks’ as a developer.

 

3 Lows:  

Cruise Control:  Learning and using a brand new skill has always been thrilling to me in some ways.  The process has its highs and lows, and I always end up on top when I have some new knowledge to show for it.  Unfortunately, sometimes I just fall into cruise control when I am really just practicing and the thrill disappears for a while.  This is an important part of mastering any skill, of course, but it is also a boring part.  Those side projects I’m working on still pack a pretty thrilling punch, though, so I’ve just been using that to balance things out a bit.

Editing Bootstrap:  Bootstrap provides customizable templates that make HTML and CSS much easier to use and as I have always said, it is one of my favorite development tools.  However, for someone new to programming, Bootstrap is awfully difficult to edit.  If it is in a minified file, it is pretty much impossible to find the right classes to append to the CSS file and even if it isn’t, BootStrap CSS is so big that finding the class one has been searching for is undeniably difficult.  As much as I love Bootstrap, it definitely has its own pain-in-the-neck moments.

No Time to Write:  Before I could write code, think about marketing strategy, or even use a computer properly, I was writing.  Writing everything – from nonfiction to fiction to blogs – has been not only a hobby, but also my way of learning something new.  Any time I want to learn a new concept, I write it down as a tutorial and end up teaching myself in the process.  Not having any time to do this has therefore been a bit disappointing and something I would like to get back to as soon as possible.  Needless to see, you guys will probably see a sudden flow of new blog posts after I’m done with these 9 weeks!

The Immersion:  

Living in the Bay Area:  is probably only a wise idea for a multi-millionaire.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration – but seriously, the hardest part of moving here to become a developer is trying to find a place to live after this bootcamp is over.  Apartments fly off listings literally hours after they are posted, everything of even decent quality is mind-bogglingly expensive, and I don’t have a car since I just moved here.   Solution?  I have no idea yet.

Weird Hours:  When I was in school, my average sleep schedule was 2-3 am to 7 am.  Then I jumped back to a more normal 12am to 8am when I was working as a Digital Marketing Consultant (and wasn’t studying day in and day out).  Then I decided to learn to code…and my average bedtime this week was 3:30 am.  Luckily, I know this will probably regulate when I have a job and a more regular work schedule, but the irregular sleep made me crave naps all week.  I actually made a mini-app that translates the word ‘nap’ into a whole bunch of different languages!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Programming is not easy, but you will probably find some language or framework that you really love.  Keep at it until you get there!
  • Know how you learn best and don’t be afraid to create that ideal environment for yourself.  You aren’t in grade school anymore where you have to do what the rest of your class does.
  • Document your advances!  Of course, post your projects to GitHub, but also put them on your personal website, LinkedIn profile, and on Accredible (where you can also post any supplementary MOOCs that you took and project a more well rounded view of your autodidactic education!).

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