Limitations of the Fall, Possibly by Design

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot, reflecting back on the Fall term, is a conversation I’ve heard both at my own institution and in a number of online settings. It boils down to the observation that in a hybrid course setting, many students who in theory should be coming to class in person (are living on campus or have indicated they will be attending in-person in some manner) have settled into attending remotely as the semester progresses. A question that arises is: does this bode ill for in-person learning in the future? My opinion is – no. Or, at … Continue reading Limitations of the Fall, Possibly by Design

Wrapping up 19-20, launching into 20-21

As of today, we are one day out from Virtual Commencement 2020, 14 days out from our annual faculty retreat (format TBA!), 16 days out from Matriculation, and 17 days out from the first day of the Fall semester. My to-do list is getting increasingly specific “Revise HW1”, “Add video sharing policy to syllabus”, though with some terrifyingly broad items still remaining like “Determine tutoring format” and “Create lab access policy”. But I did my last trip to campus today to make sure all of the seating and tables in our open social/study spaces are appropriately distanced and hung some … Continue reading Wrapping up 19-20, launching into 20-21

Knit Lace Sampler: Pattern Six

I’m not thrilled with out pattern six turned out. Perhaps blocking with help, but my sinuous lines of eyelets seem uneven to me and overall the piece looks a bit messy. I’d suspect my tension needed to be tighter, but that would make the eyelets even less visible. But there is supposed to be a subtle shading difference in the way the stitches lay in the lower and upper portion of each curve, and that just isn’t coming through in my work. I am curious how this might look with a ribbon yarn. It might emphasize the lay of each … Continue reading Knit Lace Sampler: Pattern Six

Education at the Bauhaus

I started exploring the Bauhaus: Building the New Artist online exhibit (companion to a current live exhibit at the Getty Center) out of curiosity to learn more about the design principles that the interactive modules present. From the blurb I read promoting it I didn’t realize there would also be significant content about the educational vision of the Bauhaus. There were elements of how the exhibit discusses the blending of fine arts and applied arts that resonated with conversations I’ve had with colleagues about the goals of education – including outside the domain of the arts. In fact, I’m frequently … Continue reading Education at the Bauhaus

Reflections on Debugging Tips

I’ve had a copy of The Pragmatic Programmer (Hunt and Thomas) on my shelf for years but I’m finally reading through it in anticipation of teaching three programming-heavy courses this Fall. I just got to the section on Debugging and there are many tips in here that are helpful for reflecting on the mindset that novice programmers have as they start writing code and encountering bugs. A few of the tips are classics: “Don’t panic” and “Don’t say it’s impossible” – I think of student queries about whether the compiler might be broken as off-shoots of the later of these … Continue reading Reflections on Debugging Tips

The Other Reasons Small Classes Matter

A couple of weeks ago Inside Higher Ed briefly higlighted a BioScience paper, Do Small Classes in Higher Education Reduce Performance Gaps in STEM? The answer seems to be “perhaps for women”. It’s an interesting result but despite my interest in the topic what it really got me thinking about was how this is one more in a long string of “are small classes better” articles that talk about the question only from the perspective of whether students acquire particular knowledge or skills better. Obviously, this is important. But small class sizes permit a classroom experience where the outcomes for … Continue reading The Other Reasons Small Classes Matter

Finding a use for Twitter

As part of the obligatory year-end reflections, I have noticed that despite consistent good intentions, I haven’t been posting here regularly this fall. As always, I hope to remedy that as I don’t imagine ever entirely abandoning Screenshot. However, in my absence from this space, I have been somewhat more active in another corner of the internet. After some false starts and a general sense of apathy about the service, I have found a use for Twitter that seems to be working for me, mostly as a replacement for Delicious which I found became cumbersome at some point a few years ago … Continue reading Finding a use for Twitter

Next, they rise up and kill us all….

My most recent weblog post was on teaching ethics to self-driving cars, flippantly titled At least they’re not using GTA as a data source. Except…. Self-Driving Cars Can Learn a Lot by Playing Grand Theft Auto Let’s console ourselves that “there’s little chance of a computer learning bad behavior by playing violent computer games” and instead admire the clever efficiency of allowing them to get practice navigating the complexities of realistic roads. And, in this case, it does seem that they are just extracting photo-realistic screenshots rather than having to produce authentic training data, which is a cool trick. But the fact that the … Continue reading Next, they rise up and kill us all….

User Tracking Apps

There’s an interesting story out there about ads that play ultrasonic sounds that permit cross-device tracking. While this is being described as detecting devices that all belong to one user, it seems possible it would sometimes detect devices all belonging to the same family – a slightly different task but also one marketers are interested in solving. It likely depends on where and how frequently these linking ultrasonic sounds are emitted. And, as I’ve seen others note and is alluded to late in this article, the SilverPush software development kit that is largely being credited for current implementations of this technique … Continue reading User Tracking Apps

Security/Learning Linkdump

I’ve accumulated a big collection of links this summer that are roughly related to security and/or machine learning and mostly connected to personal identification or human characteristics that I’m intending to share with my senior students when they return to campus in a few weeks. Having just noticed quite how large the collection has grown, it seems kind to pull them together into a semi-organized structure, as compared to my original plan of hitting send on an email filled with URLs, for their sake as well as my own. Taken together, it’s a nice little reading list. How your smartphone’s battery life … Continue reading Security/Learning Linkdump