Tuesday Aug 18, 2009

A Prize Well-Deserved

Although in a dated announcement , it pleases me to see National Academy of Engineering Founders Award granted to UCSD's Stanford S. "Sol" Penner, "who made important advances in thermophysics, applied spectroscopy, combustion, propulsion, and energy."

Penner was my thermodynamics teacher when I was an applied engineering sciences (chemical engineering) undergraduate at UCSD. He was an excellent teacher and researcher and educated many engineers at JPL, UCSD and elsewhere. 

Sunday Jul 12, 2009

Ten Thousand Days

In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi writes:

No matter how many opponents you beat, as long as you do anything in contravention of training, it cannot be the true path. ... 

This is something that requires thorough examination, with a thousand days of practice for training and ten thousand days of practice for refinement.


Tuesday Jun 03, 2008

MIT Online Courseware

MIT Online Courseware has gotten better and better with time.

Friday Nov 24, 2006

State of US Education

Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post writes about U.S. educational institutions. The article summarizes findings in "Condition of Education" reports published by the U.S. Department of Education. There is a wealth of information in the original reports. For example, at the undergraduate level for every school year from 89-90 to 03-04, more business degrees were awarded than any other degrees.

Saturday Mar 25, 2006

Edutopia

I don't know what to say about his political writings, but MIT's Michael Schrage's has touched on some important issues in his recent opinion piece for Financial Times, written on a controversial topic in which he seems to possess some expertise ("The 'edutainers' merit a failing grade," FT, March 22, 206, p. 13):

Yes, the internet is wonderful. Yes, children are our future. Yes, state-run school systems require fundamental reform. Nevertheless, the shrewdest policy to improve public education while saving billions in government spending demands abstinence. Keep computers out of the classroom.

The "edutopian" belief that computers should be essential ingredients of classroom curricula is delusional. A quality education has virtually nothing to do with the technological endowment of the school. To the contrary, history confirms that schools are shockingly poor at successfully assimilating new technologies.

...Look instead, perhaps, to technology as a medium that creatively redefines relationships between schools and their communities. In South Korea, for example, Seoul educational administrators recently announced that they would expand a mobile phone service that let teachers text parents the grades, schedules and homework assignments for their children. Korean mothers and fathers were apparently very enthusastic about this innovation.

In this, I hear some echos of John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's The Social Life of Information but it seems to me Brown and Duguid have dug much deeper, and ultimately, it is best to just refer to Hubert Dreyfus' work, including Mind Over Machine.

 

Thursday Dec 08, 2005

Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning, and Identity

I've begun reading Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.

I ran into this book while reading John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's Social Life of Information, about which I've written here earlier. I've always been interested in how social groupings and organizations learn, evolve, prosper and survive, how we learn and work, and how we come to be who we are as individuals.

Wenger's book would be a good start for whoever wants to explore these topics. Wenger is also deeply interested in building the conceptual framework that will help with the design of organizations, artifacts and processes.

Wenger's ambitious enterprise suits the practitioner as much as it stimulates the theoretician. As the book plate says, the material "is presented with all the breadth, depth, and rigor necessary to address such a complex and yet profoundly human topic."

 

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