Using Concept Map as an Assessment Tool

I am currently building a learning portal and a few courses. Our motto is Learning by Doing. So the courses do not have a lot of material. A set of projects and the skill requirements for each project. We point to some good sources of information – tutorials, documents, wikis, videos on the web. Our core value addition is the mentoring and guiding students with a set of challenging projects. We plan to turn some of those implementations into open source products ultimately.

To do well, students need to understand the core concepts and how they are inter-related. They also need to associate each feature with modules that implement features. A typical assessment may consist of a quiz, a test, asking students to write some text.

I have been toying around with the idea of asking the students to draw a map of concepts and associations. After each lesson the student would develop a concept map using an open source tool made available. This will not only tell us what they thought the major concepts were, but also find what most of them missed. Will help tune the content a bit or add more examples.

I wonder whether any one tried this. Any input, thoughts, comments will be greatly appreciated.

Thinking Like a Computer Scientist

A gripping and exhilarating read for anyone who likes to spend time Thinking About Thinking.

What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. Computational thinking is thinking in terms of abstractions, invariably multiple layers of abstraction at once.

It represents a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use.

Computational thinking:

  • is reformulating a seemingly difficult problem into one we know how to solve, perhaps by reduction, embedding, transformation, or simulation.
  • is thinking recursively. It is parallel processing.
  • is using abstraction and decomposition when attacking a large complex task or designing a large complex system. It is separation of concerns.
  • is thinking in terms of prevention, protection, and recovery from worst-case scenarios through redundancy, damage containment, and error correction.
  • is using heuristic reasoning to discover a solution. It is planning, learning, and scheduling in the presence of uncertainty.

Thanks to Jon for this link. Computational Thinking by Jeannette Wing.

The challenge is to make Computational Thinking an integral part of education – like reading and writing.

Go Where The Bloggers Go

Steve Rubel tracks the meme behind the success of The Four hour Work Week,  by Tim Ferris. A meme is  a “unit of cultural information” which can propagate from one mind to another in a manner analogous to genes (i.e., the units of genetic information).

  • Go where bloggers go
  • Be there with a message and a story that will appeal to their interests, not yours
  • Build and maintain those relationships through your own blog too


Clean Technology Bigger Than Internet?

 Clean Technology Bigger Than Internet? At least Bill Joy, thinks so.

A global response to climate change will spur a business revolution bigger than the internet, said co-founder of Sun Microsystems Bill Joy.

“Solar cells are semiconductors, heat to electricity is semiconductors, software to manage systems comes out of Silicon Valley,” said Joy, who is now a partner at venture capital investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

A global race is on to be first to commercialize breakthrough technologies which could make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

You can already see some activity in this space like California Clean Tech Open.

The California Clean Tech Open is an independent effort by entrepreneurs, researchers, environmentalists, investors and others to create economic growth and environmental sustainability by sparking a clean technology cluster in California.

Gleaning Trends from Future Jobs

One of the ways to track trends is to see what kind of people industries are hiring. From Networks World: Five cool future IT positions:

1. Information steward

2. Service delivery manager

3. Technology-business relationship manager

4. Outsourcing relationship manager

5. Mobile-application developer

Jobs in Information definitely seems like a trend. This makes me happy since we are in the business of selling Information Discovery Tools.

The last one “Mobile Application Developer” makes me think. A friend has been telling me (even though I was not willing to listen) that mobile application development is the thing to watch. It has very different challenges that Web Application Development (which is our current focus). But look at all the recent announcements of JavaFX Mobile.

Cool Tools/Resources – May 5th 2007

I changed the title from Cool Tools for the web to broaden it a bit and include the date in the title.

Wink – Tutorial and Presentation Creation Software
Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.
People Search
This is a great way to search for people. If you want to know more about them, check out ZoomInfo too. I only wish they added another field to the search where you can add keywords in addition to name, city etc.

listible – list of web 2.0 products and services
They call it a complete list. I would say “comprehensive list”. Some of the resources listed here come from this list.

Rolobiz – link to your contact information
Make your business cards as vcard to work for you and be remembered by your peers. Your business cards will not go wasted anymore. I like the idea of creating one card and keeping links to it everywhere. vcard is a good choice since it can also be imported/exported from/to several popular address books. But then there is FOAF which in addition to getting your contact information, can also provide a friends network.

a Wikimedia project that was started on July 10, 2003 with the mission to create a free collection of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit. Since our founding, volunteers have written about 25,219 modules in a multitude of textbooks.

Link Blog: What is the Greatest Software Ever Written?

Your opinion may vary. But here is a thought provoking list from Information Week. I will give you the partial list but will let you get the top 5 from the original post.

12. The Morris worm
11. Google search rank
10. Apollo guidance system
9. Excel spreadsheet
8. Macintosh OS
7. Sabre system
6. Mosaic browser

My opinions are slightly different:

I would move Mosaic browser up

I would give the top spot to the original web server written by Tim B for its impact.

Discory Path: ->Slashdot > Information Week Article

Triples and Congruence

Triples and the congruence of triples are recurring patterns in life. Here are a few ( a random collection).

Mother, Father and Teacher
In India there is a saying Mother, Father and Teacher are your visible Gods. They also happen to be your first teachers. I did not realize it at that time, but this is one of the earliest triples I recall learning about.

Subject, Predicate, Object
Subject, Predicate, Object are the components of a universal triple that form most of the statements.

Kartha, Karma, Kriya
In Sanskrit, Kartha – the doer of action, Karma – the action, and Kriya – the deed, are the basic components of a sentence too.

Heard in Yahoo Groups

About a month ago, some kind soul posted “Three Things” in a yahoo group called Fun and Fun Only.

Time, Words, Opportunity
Three things in life that, once gone, never come back. I understand the bit about time. Never seem to have enough of it now. Yet when I was younger there used to be endless summers of boredom. While time may not come back, you can actually go back in time in memories.

Love, Self-confidence, Friends

Three things in life that are most valuable. I tend to agree. But I am little surprised about the order.

Heard From a Friend

I heard from my friend Naren Kini, a couple of triples with congruence. From a comment on What Really Matters by Naren.

Thoughts that inspire, Actions we love, Results that give meaning to life
We need to be driven by congruence of 3 circles. Often these 3 may be different. When I carefully reflect on all these 3 what distills out is congruence of 3 which is enlightened me totally in JOY & AT PEACE.

Competence, Passion, Drivers
At an organizational level:

1. what is that in which we have competence to be world class.
2. what is that product/ process about which we are passionate.
3. what drives economic engine of organization.
Often these 3 may be different. When we carefully reflect on all these 3 what distills out is congruence of 3 which is enlightened ORGANISATION totally in JOY & AT PEACE which is roaring to go come what may.

The techie triples

The triples in a techie world (could not resist this one):

Simplicity, Predictability, Extensibility
Three qualities of software

Laziness, Impatience, Hubris
The virtues of a programmer from Larry Wall

Subject, Predicate, Object
These are called RDF Triples used in the framework for the Semantic Web