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 9

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

<< 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.  

 

A Reflection on the Value of a Programming Bootcamp:

It is hard to believe over 2 months have flown by since I made the decision to transition my career from marketing to web development!  Starting out, I was extremely suspicious of the claim that I could spend 9 weeks at a bootcamp and come out as a marketable programmer.

So now, 9 weeks later, am I an amazing programmer capable of coding like a 5 year veteran?  Of course not – but I was never expecting to be.  I was expecting to leave Coding House with an understanding of the very basics of programming and and idea of the tools and direction I needed to continue to learn on my own.  I can confidently say that this expectation has been met.

Every time I tell a programmer that I am learning to code without a computer science background and have started this process by attending a bootcamp, I immediately get a link to and article called Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig.  Just to be clear, I agree with Dr. Norvig 100% – in fact, I don’t think one can even be a master programmer in ten years.  The technology just changes so quickly, that there is always much, much more left to learn.

In my eyes, this is the most important point to keep in mind.  Being a good programmer requires constant learning just to keep up with current industry standards.  In this situation, it seems like a hiring manager would put the most value not in the programmer who has the most years of experience, but in the programmer who has a history of learning and adapting the fastest.  The one thing every single programmer I know has said is that anyone can only become a better programmer by simply programming.  It goes back to the classic saying that practice makes perfect.  Being at a coding bootcamp has taught me how to practice – now I can plan on getting out there and really getting my hands dirty.

 

The last week of my time in my bootcamp has been devoted mainly to finishing up projects, getting ready for the job search, and tying up loose ends.  As such, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of the entire 9 weeks rather than just this past week.

 

3 Highs:  

Access to Resources:  Having access to all sorts of different learning resources and online tutorials has been fantastic!  Everyone has their own way of learning, and having the option to choose the best method from such a large selection has been of great value.

Freedom from Daily Life:  This is the most valuable thing being at a bootcamp has offered.  It is very difficult to carve out time from a busy schedule with a full time job to learn something as colossal as programming on the side.  Stepping away from the time consuming details of a busy life gave me the opportunity to step back and just learn.

Independence:  An autodidact to the core, I learn best when I am able to dictate my own learning path and schedule.  I had the flexibility to do that throughout this beginning of my learning process, which has been imperative to its success.  This has also allowed me to lay out plans for my continued learning after this week, and I am incredibly excited to get started!

3 Lows:  

The Frustration: Learning anything new can be difficult, but programming introduces a whole new way of thinking about logic – a new problem solving language, if you will.  Like I’ve said, I came into this bootcamp HTML illiterate.  I knew nothing about even the simplest markup language.  As such, diving headfirst into the programming material and trying to come out on top was ridiculously difficult and frustrating.  I began referring back to the edX course, CS50X from Harvard to help me out with many of the basic concepts – that was one of the best decision I ever made.  David Malan is a fantastic teacher with a very unique way of relating a topic to a student in a way that makes it easy to understand.

Fear of the Unknown: Before becoming a programmer, I had experience with writing business emails, drafting business resumes and cover letters, and writing business reports.  What I didn’t know how to do was accomplish all these tasks from the point of view of a technologist.  A developer’s resume requires different material formatted in a different way than a marketing consultant’s and programmers use unique jargon that I didn’t have any idea about at all.  It is human nature to fear the unknown, and I spent a good chunk of the first few weeks doing just that!

Falling into Step with the Structure:  Coding House has a very different way of teaching than all the other workshops, classes, and schools I’ve been a part of.  The schedule is extremely fluid and adaptive, and the curriculum follows in suit.  This is not a bad way of doing things, by any means, but it was not something I was used to, even when I taught myself as an autodidact.  I always set an objective for myself, researched and devised the steps I needed to complete to get there, and then followed my plan.  Falling into step with the way things were done at this bootcamp took some time, but I think it helped me become more flexible with my learning conditions as well. 

Takeaway Advice

  • Carve your own path.  What works for others may not work for you based on your skill level.  If you have to take a detour, like I did with CS50, you will only come out stronger for knowing to take it.
  • Practice really does make perfect.  10,000 is the accepted number of hours it takes to become pretty good at something, and programming is no different.  Just build something!
  • Be flexible.  You will usually not have your ideal environmental condition for learning.  The efficient answer to this shouldn’t be to change your environment – it should be told change your requirements.

Thank you for following my initial journey into programming!  I hope you learned something from my experiences and if there is any way I can be of help to you as you begin your own journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me at http://swati-kumar.com.  I’d love to help out a fellow Junior Developer!

<< Week 8

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!

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???

 

 

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

EIE 844

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

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

<< Week 4

Week 6 >>

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!).

<< Week 4

Week 6 >>

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 4

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

<< Week 3

Week 5 >>

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:  

Lightbulb Moments:  I came into this bootcamp with nothing but a small amount of HTML/CSS knowledge.  I had no programming background whatsoever and although I was quick with math as a kid, my career as an adult (albeit short) mainly focused on creativity and marketing strategy.  While this means that I have to work harder and still fall behind members of the group with Engineering degrees or previous programming experience, it also means that I get to have more lightbulb moments where I just get something after spending hours trying to figure it out.  Those are definitely the best part of any learning process and I had a few of them this week, which has been fantastic.

Hack-a-thon!   We went to the Health 2.0 Code-A-Thon in downtown San Francisco this weekend.  My best contributions were mainly on the front-end with designing pages and using the Google Maps API, so I didn’t get as much of a look into the back-end as I would have liked, but the entire process was intensive and we ended up with a working app within 24 hours of coding.  Check it out on in my portfolio on my website!

New Project:  Being a fairly fresh graduate, I have spent a lot of time job hunting and networking over the past year.  Meeting people for the first time, the questions I’m generally asked is where I went to school, what I majored in, and who else I knew at the event or in the industry.  This formulaic interaction would be followed up with a business card request and a promise to follow up (which would never happen because nothing in those conversations could really make me stand out).  This process has always been irritating to me for two reasons: nothing is conveyed about my capabilities, experiences, or really anything important, and the concept of paper business cards seems inefficient.  They’re easy to loose and having too many can make them annoying to sort through.  As a solution, I’m working on an app that allows users to make an ‘electronic business card’ that lists nothing but a person’s name, contact info, and a few of their most coveted skills.  These skills will be displayed as buttons linking to some sort of proof of the skill in question.  For example, if someone states HTML as a coveted skill, they can link it to their (Accredible!) portfolio of projects that have relied heavily on HTML.  I am really excited about building this thing – not only because I think it will solve a legitimate issue that people regularly face, but also because it will be an amazing learning experience to figure out how to make it all work!

 

3 Lows:  

Time Flies:  It almost induces a feeling of panic when a person comes closer to a deadline they have set for themselves and doesn’t have their goal accomplished ahead of schedule.  Obviously, a person can’t actually go from zero experience to programming genius in a matter of 9 weeks – and that wasn’t my goal to begin with.  I just wanted to bring myself to a point where I could be considered a junior developer and had the basics I need to teach myself the rest on the the job.  Learning the basics of programming isn’t as basic as the phrase indicates, however.  It requires time, effort, and practice – so naturally, I’m working hard and (understandably) am having my moments of panic.

Learning Styles:  People come into programming course with different skill-levels and learning styles, which is why I have always believed it is so important to set realistic expectations for the outcome of the program.  What I am also learning now, though, is that it is equally essential to set realistic expectations for the learning process itself.  We generally have lectures for the majority of the day during which everyone does the same thing.  Due to varying experiences with computer science, some people simply move faster than others which sets the pace out of whack for nearly everyone.  I am personally a better independent learner anyway, so my solution has been to follow along lecture topics and then learn it on my own afterwards.  This causes more time to be eaten up by each topic, but I’m able to learn the material significantly better so the trade-off has been worth it for me.

Portfolio:  Frankly, my portfolio is not as meaty as I wanted it to be by now.  I have several projects in the works that I hope to have up and running on my website pretty soon, but they’re not quite there just yet.  Having a portfolio is a validation of the time I have spent learning, so not having a great one is disappointing.  Luckily, I have enough projects in the works to expect to have some cool stuff within the next couple of weeks.

 

The Immersion:  

Sunday Funday:  I love having Sundays to catch up and learn completely on my own.  Like I said before, I am a very independent learning.  I love working in a team on projects and pair programming, but learning the tools themselves that I need to build the products have always been better learned when its just me and my computer.  Sundays, therefore, are my ticket to Progress Wonderland!

The Cold Plague:  Everyone got sick this week!  Literally everyone.  This has been literally the only disadvantage of living with my cohort – if one person contracts something, everyone gets it.  So learning Node.js while hacking up a storm in my lungs was fun (note the sarcasm).

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Build stuff that gets you excited – it makes the learning process far less tedious when facing a tough concept.
  • Continuously reflect on your timetable and plans.  Things will take different amounts of time than you planned for and it is worth readjusting everything to make sure you still accomplish what you set out to do.
  • Try not to panic if you are at a different place and learn differently from your classmates.  Just be prepared to do whatever you need to in order to keep your progress on track – even if that means stepping away from lecture and learning on your own from time to time.

<< Week 3

Week 5 >>

Featuring World Science U

World-Science-U-is-a-site-dedicated-to-making-science-education-open-and-accessible-to-all.

 

world-science-u-march-2014-672x372

World Science U is currently offering short courses (2-3 weeks in length), but with signs pointing to longer courses coming soon.  Using the best methods of classroom teaching and pushing them into the future, World Science U aims to make complex science understandable for all.  Check out their introduction video!

As mentioned, these courses are meant for anyone – from beginner to advanced learners.  The current courses are short and have no homework or exams but do  They provide non-technical explorations, which go beyond traditional science popularizations.  The first two courses are all about Einstein‘s Special Relativity as well as his theories on space, time and energies.  Designed for those with an interest in science – even those who don’t love math – anyone can walk away with a better understanding of

E=mc2-explication

 

Special Relativity
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Einstein’s Special Relativity upended our understanding of space time and energy. While the ideas are subtle they only require high school algebra so join this math-based introduction. For a conceptual introduction check out Space Time and Einstein.

 

Space Time and Einstein
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Join a visual and conceptual introduction to Einstein’s spectacular insights into space time and energy. For a mathematical introduction to Special Relativity check out Special Relativity.

Be sure to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile once you’ve selected your course and be sure to share your feedback on the course community page!

Coursera Courses Starting in October

Coursera Starting Soon

Once again Coursera has offered a wide array of courses.  Listed below are a sampling of the courses presented in English – with more available in other languages!  Whether you are looking for an education, business, science or social course, there is something for everyone!

 

October 1st – 4th

October 5th – 11th

October 12th – 18th

 

October 19th – 25th

 

 

October 26th – 31st

 

Whichever courses you opt to take, please remember to update them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile and to upload your supporting material as you work through the course!

If you are having trouble choosing, the Introduction to Marketing course is relevant to everyone who makes purchases – you can understand why you impulsively pick up certain items, why shampoo shelves are lined the way they are and why different colours effect your mood – among many other interesting topics (like being product or customer centric – would share more, but we can’t give the entire course away!).