::Posts of Interest

muraPOI: February 2, 2015

From Amin Torres’ comment on the AVC.com post, Hiring Mobile Engineers vs Training Engineers On Mobile on 2/1/15.

– Designers still think they are doing graphic design and not UI design.
– They have a hard time wrapping their head around designing for human interactions vs a computer mouse.
– They have a hard time understanding mobile web vs web.
They have a hard time understanding the mobile web vs mobile app ui, specially when it comes to dealing with multiple screen resolutions.
-They think that because it displays okay on mobile, that makes it a mobile design.
– They have a hard time understanding modularity and responsive.
– They do not preview their designs on a mobile screen enough during the design process.
– They do not work close enough with developers to streamline processes.
– They have a hard time understanding graceful degradations, specially when it comes to not having to rely on desktop specific interactions like mouse over.
– When dealing with element sizes, specially buttons and type sizes, most designers struggle to understand the implications of 1x vs 2x screen pixel density.
– Designers do not work close enough with copywriters to streamline content or make it mobile friendly… particularly when it comes to the use of progressive enhancement., same for media: mobile phones are often loading assets that are optimized for desktop screen and not for mobile which not only drives people crazy but consumes unnecessary resources.

By |2016-12-22T20:59:06+00:00February 2nd, 2015|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: February 2, 2015

muraPOI: February 1, 2015

A bit about the “magic” of MIT.

“The importance of deducing explanation of phenomena from root concepts and principles via mathematically empowered analysis appropriate to the task and of the power of such understanding in problem solving is a hallmark of the GIRs [General Institute Requirements, core general education requirements at MIT]. Internalizing this way of thinking presents a challenge to students who come to the Institute having learned the math and science as a collection of formulae to be applied through pattern matching and/or textbook lookup.

For many students, first year at MIT is like a “boot camp” – two semesters of intermittent stress, of problem sets that are impossible to complete in the time allowed, quizzes written to challenge the brightest in the class and classmates who, at least at first, all seem to be smarter than you are. So students do learn but what they learn, outside of what’s listed on the syllabus, is which assignments can be neglected or put off beyond their due date, when one can safely skip lecture, or how to appeal for a change in recitation section assignment, etc. This is not to devalue this kind of learning; it is essential that students learn to set priorities, that they can’t possibly do all that faculty “require,” and these skills will prove valuable at work, after graduation, as well as in their subsequent course work at MIT.”

(Remarks Occasioned by the Draft Report of the MITx Subcommittee of the FPC, June 15, 2014)

By |2015-02-01T21:41:24+00:00February 1st, 2015|Posts of Interest|Comments Off on muraPOI: February 1, 2015

muraPOI: December 29, 2014

  • What’s wrong with the movie industry’s release model? That artificial scarcity thing, is, well, artificial!

    “But what’s clear is that every other form of entertainment is getting easier and cheaper to consume, except theatrically released movies. And this is absolutely going to catch up to the industry sooner or later.”

    (Via @wfvanvalkenburg, Forbes, What ‘The Interview’ Accidentally Taught Us About Digital Film Distribution, December 27, 2014)

  • If the research in the IEEE Spectrum article titled “The STEM Crisis Is a Myth” by Robert N. Charette is to be believed, the “STEM Labor Shortage” is not one simply of numbers. There are more than enough graduates each year to cover the annual vacancies.
    Supply vs. Demand

    Source: IEEE Spectrum, used under fair use

    STEM Workforce Supply vs. Demand

    Unfortunately, after that clearly presented fact, the author wimps out and doesn’t draw the connections he probably should and inserts his personal opinion at the end of the article. If you combine the obvious number of vacancies (and assume that companies aren’t padding their openings for other reasons, which is possible), with radical change in the way companies do (or don’t as the case may be) provide training and try and retain employees the way they used to, I think it’s reasonable to understand the problem as that there is a shortage of the “right” STEM competencies. While the need to learn on one’s own has been an aspect of software development for at least the last twenty years, I’m beginning to understand more of the scope and scale of the problem in all other industries. I’ve been doing more work in engineering education again, and have been collaborating on community college and workforce development projects and see the efforts underway to address this lack of the “right” preparation.
    (Via IEEE Spectrum, The STEM Crisis Is a Myth, September 2013)

By |2017-01-28T19:40:56+00:00December 30th, 2014|Personal, Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 29, 2014
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muraPOI: December 28, 2014

  • Truly meeting a user’s needs:

    “The goal is to give people a solution that matches their reality.”

    (Via Fast Company, Tigo Helps Remittances Go Mobile, April 2012)

  • If we replace Facebook, with say “the next conference you host” or the next website you build, what does this mean for how we design?

    The biggest thing that’s different is that Facebook is not about human-computer interaction,” says Cox. Most designers in the computer industry have focused on helping humans interact with machines. But Facebook is about human-to-human interaction. “We don’t want people to remember their interactions with Facebook,” says director of design Kate Aronowitz. “We want them to remember their interactions with their friends and family.”

    (Via Fast Company, Thank Facebook’s Design Team For Every Warm And Fuzzy Moment You’ve Ever Had On The Social Network, April 2012)

  • My goal?

    “How many times in your career have you been told, ‘Go create your own team, your own plant, your own process—from scratch?’ How many times in your career do you get to do that?”

    (Via Fast Company, Why Tesla Motors Is Betting On The Model S, April 2012)

By |2015-05-27T17:59:50+00:00December 28th, 2014|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 28, 2014

muraPOI: August 5, 2014

So, it’s been awhile. Because of time pressures, I find I’m tweeting more than excerpting and highlighting blog posts and web pages. But this time, I find that I want to share more.

  • How to Fix a Broken Board: Javier Soltero highlights an important point, one that I think is relevant to meetings I’ve been having with senior managers recently. Go into a meeting with a big issue to discuss, and not just do an update.

    “What you should do is for every board meeting, have a question or some big issue in mind that is going to be the central topic of that board meeting and have that issue be something that is not an immediate issue. You don’t have the topic be the VP of marketing search. No that’s shit you’ve got to do.

    The topic is something bigger, something that is a few steps ahead of from where you are today that is going to help you as a management team be more disciplined, to anticipate the things that you’re going to have to do as you grow.”

    Plus, they have a great UI for watching the talk and reading the transcript.

    Screenshot of talk video and transcript

    How to Fix a Broken Board

    (Via Quibb, August 5, 2014)

By |2017-01-28T19:42:05+00:00August 5th, 2014|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: August 5, 2014

muraPOI: December 20, 2012

  • Do We Educate for Life?: This question raised by Nic Finelli is as relevant to my day job as it is to Common Core Standards:

    “How will the Common Core Standards help children to learn how to learn for themselves, to be persistent, to be creative thinkers, to be aware of their surroundings, their unique gifts and purposes, and their roles in situations and life? How are schools doing this, or not doing this, and will it be done better with this new set of standards?”

    And one of the things that frustrates me is that we’re going to copy and paste in the MOOCs we’re developing here and not rethinking what we’re doing for the medium and the outcome!

    “May I suggest that what may be needed is not a better list but rather a paradigm shift of how and why we ‘educate'”

    (Via +Esther Wojcicki, December 9, 2012)

  • Khan Academy: Great Idea- With One Glaring Hole: A great take on what’s “fashionable” (and “easy” to do). Daniel Rezac writes:

    “The Khan Academy is not teaching concepts and ideas. Khan Academy teaches answers. 1 + 1 = 2 . The concepts and the ideas are really what we want our students to understand, not the rote knowledge.”

    And then goes on to say:

    “But one glaring hole has yet to be undertaken: context.”

    Khan Academy cannot give my students the context they need to make most of the connections they need to fully engage in these videos, I believe. Context is key. Ever wonder why so many of those math videos are boring? You’re missing the context by which they occur in.”

    And that’s yet another reason why I’m enamored of context.

    (Via +Esther Wojcicki, December 9, 2012)

By |2012-12-20T10:30:39+00:00December 20th, 2012|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 20, 2012

muraPOI: December 19, 2012

  • The Five Success Secrets Of Silicon Valley Women: It’s not just for women. I wonder if I might learn something from this…

    “With all of the hubris that comes with excelling in Silicon Valley comes the humility to ask for exactly what you need.”

    (Via +Esther Wojcicki, December 9, 2012)

  • Developer Time: It’s not just developers. I find that I have to go out of my way to set aside time so I can achieve focus. (As I write this, I’m doing it right now!)

    What am I doing? “Makers Day”: I was successful for a bit doing this on Fridays. In the last year, I’ve had much less success :(. “Blocks of Time”: This is my current strategy. Scheduling time to do deep thinking/writing. “New Desk Location”: I do this by working at home, or working in one of the conference rooms at work.

    (Via StartupDigest, December 10, 2012)

  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Academia…: Aria Haghighi relates his founder’s story. I find it interesting for what it says about the application of computer science to learning.

    I’ll admit, that what I’ve said about the need for bringing machine learning, natural language processing and the like into our projects might be interpreted in this light,

    [The] view of ML was that it was some kind of ‘magic sauce’ they could sprinkle on an idea to make a product.”

    But I think I’m doing this to even bring it into the conversation. We have terabytes of data about how users use OpenCourseWare, and even data about how students are using our learning management system. And we’ve just “redesigned” our OpenCourseWare, but did we do so in light of analytics and what these techniques might help us do?

    If I were to take the thesis of the article directly we should ask the question, “What or how might [insert technique here] be the heart of supporting student learning, and not an afterthought?”

    (Via StartupDigest, December 10, 2012)

  • Listen to Your Community, But Don’t Let Them Tell You What to Do: Some thoughts about how to integrate community feedback into a product by Jeff Atwood of StackOverflow.

    “Community feedback is great, but it should never be used as a crutch, a substitute for thinking deeply about what you’re building and why.”

    (Via StartupDigest, December 10, 2012)

By |2016-12-22T20:59:07+00:00December 19th, 2012|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 19, 2012

muraPOI: December 17, 2012

  • Designing Assignments that Accomplish Course Goals: Wait, shouldn’t all assignments do that? We all know that isn’t true. I’ve claimed all along in this MOOC-craze (and even standardized testing), it’s all about the quality of the assessments. Maryellen Weimer writes:

    “You might think a bit about your course goals. Is this particular assignment helping students accomplish them? Are there ways you could change the design that might align it more tightly to course goals? There’s great opportunity for creativity and innovation in the design of assignments and more faculty are taking advantage of that.”

    (Via Faculty Focus, December 5, 2012)

  • Grades and Assessing Learning: Can’t We Get Along?: A few paragraphs in, the author Mark Salisbury writes:

    “This brings me back to what I perceive to be an odd disconnect between grading and outcomes assessment on most campuses. It seems to me that if grading and assessment are both intent on measuring learning, then there ought to be a way to bring them closer together. Moreover, if we want assessment to be truly sustainable (i.e., not kill our faculty), then we need to find ways to link, if not unify, these two practices.”

    Learning is more about transmitting and acquiring content. Hence, our assessments should be doing more than just focusing on content.

    (Aside: I think the article loses some of it’s value because it’s easy to get caught up in the “Doing more work will kill the faculty” sentiment at the beginning and end of the article.)

    (Via Inside Higher Ed, December 4, 2012)

  • Getting Over Learning Styles: Learning styles, hogwash! Wait, maybe not. Larry Spence writes:

    We haven’t figured out how to deal with this diversity in learning. We decide what to do in the classroom based on crude averages or on the techniques that we like or do best, leaving many students to flounder or figure out how to learn on their own.


    Since the research on learning styles has failed to confirm that how we present material can improve student learning, maybe we should focus on what students do with course materials and think of our role more as managing a work team than transmitting metaphorical “content.”

    Move from content to context. One of my new favorite phrases.

    (Via Faculty Focus, December 6, 2012)

By |2016-12-22T20:59:07+00:00December 17th, 2012|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 17, 2012

muraPOI: December 13, 2012


  • The Future of Digital: Look through this slide deck. +Esther Wojcicki made a post pointing out “As mobile increases, all other media decreases”, which is true. But that’s not the only thing to be gleaned from this slide deck, step through to the end.

    (+Esther Wojcicki, November 29, 2012)

  • Are you where your customers are? New data from Europe: Links to a McKinsey report on consumer use of mobile and Internet for purchasing items in Europe. While I don’t know the U.S. stats, I’ve always figured Europe would lag behind what I personally do in the U.S. I believed that the cultural aspects of shopping, city centers, and such would mean a slower adoption rate. But apparently even Europe is coming along to Internet shopping; I’ve already seen a bigger move to big box stores and malls in the last decade+ of traveling to Europe.

    (LinkedIn, November 9, 2012)

By |2016-12-22T20:59:07+00:00December 13th, 2012|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 13, 2012

muraPOI: December 12, 2012

  • How to Succeed in Education Technology:

    “Most of today’s education technology startups are doomed to fail…”

    • They’re chasing a trendy space without true, lasting passion for education;
    • They lack a business model that works in education and are afraid to charge their customers;
    • Their investors have consumer Internet expectations in a market with completely different dynamics;
    • It’s easier to build novel technology than to deeply engage with students and teachers to understand their fundamental needs.

    (EdSurge, November 28, 2012)

  • Working with Online Teaching Assistants: Melissa A. Venable writes:

    “The list of duties of these online assistants

    [in addition to those covered traditional TAs] is expanding to involve tracking student progress and providing encouragement toward course completion.”

    Encouragement and motivation is an important consideration in online classes. Depending on the discipline and individual, this might not play a role for a traditional TA. But in the online world, where students may be working in isolation, providing this sort of support can be crucial in supporting student success. (And we probably should be doing it more offline as well!)

    (Faculty Focus, November 29, 2012)

By |2016-12-22T20:59:07+00:00December 12th, 2012|Posts of Interest, Professional|Comments Off on muraPOI: December 12, 2012
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