land your dream job

If you enroll for the Udacity Nanodegree Plus program, Udacity promise that “you’ll get hired within 6 months of graduating, or we’ll refund 100% of your tuition”. Which is a bold promise. But of course there are terms and conditions to this promise. But this is where is gets interesting to me.

The terms and conditions are so comprehensive that it seems to me that they should be required actions for anyone who is looking for a job!

This is what Udacity require you to do when looking for a job:

Graduate is active in their job search and demonstrates this activity by submitting a minimum of 5 [job] applications per week.

Graduate tracks all applications submitted and clearly organizes status of each such that next steps are clear.

  • Graduate is able to furnish details and communications relating to their job search
  • The application materials must be tailored to the role and company

Graduate continues to build their portfolio of work by regularly working on personal development projects.

  • [for developer roles] complete a minimum average of 6 GitHub commits per week resulting in at least 1 published application or website
  • [for analyst roles] complete a minimum average of 1 project or competition every 2 months resulting in a publicly published report/result

Graduate establishes meaningful connections with an average of 3 relevant industry professionals each week via email, LinkedIn or Twitter resulting in conversation about an open role.

Graduate schedules a 1:1 appointment with [a careers guidance person] if after 2 months they’re not having success in finding work.

You understand that your next job is one step closer to your dream job. To achieve your goal you should ensure that:

  • Applied positions meet the your skill level
  • You don’t reject any offers that match your ability and expectations

I think that everyone looking for a job should be doing these things – not just those in the Udacity Nanodegree program!

the assignment sandwich

The Assignment Sandwich

Sketchnotes from a talk by Mary Lea “Digital Literacies: Exploring textual practices in a digital higher education”

Teachers give an assignment and then grade the submission

But what about the stuff in the middle?

What happens between giving an assignment and grading the assignment? Do teachers see what happens? Do students share what happens? Do we talk about what happens during this process? do we know what is there? What is in the middle?

Very little attention is paid to the middle of the assignment sandwich!

So what can we do about it? Well we can make it visible. We can share it. We can talk about it. Maybe even get the students to submit it with their assignment.

What we must not do is marginalise the process.


my fifth clicker session – a quick poll of the students

This “blog” is just a place to document my clicker session and today I did my fifth one.

31st August 2010 at 11am

I wanted to use the clickers to see how the students found the Microsoft access practical session in the computer lab the previous day.  I have 103 students who are in there first year of university.

The practical session was on using Microsoft Access and the students had 5 queries to write.

The clicker questions were:

  • Did you attend the Microsoft Access tutorial in the labs yesterday? Yes / No
  • Did you complete it in time? Yes / No
  • Did you submit it to the LMS? Yes / No
  • Statement: The tutorial was difficult [Strongly Agree / Agree / Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree]
  • MCQ: Which of the following is a reason to use a select query?
  • MCQ: When you create a select query, where do you take data from?
  • MCQ: When you create a query, what does Microsoft Access save?
  • MCQ: The data returned by a query is called a:

What worked:

The countdown timer worked well and I set it to 10 seconds which I started when there were about 10 students left to answer

I stayed away from fancy templates and colours and just went with the standard white template that opens when you start TurningPoint.  This seem to work and displayed well although I did add a box around the question as it didn’t seem clear enough for me.  I went with the standard vertical bar chart that comes when you insert a four answer slide

What didn’t work:

There was a comment on one of my previous posts about changing from % to numbers and I thought I did this but it still showed percentages.  I need to get this nailed down as I want to know absolute numbers not percentages.  Eg and say “so 5 students selected  a as saying 3% is useless” etc.

Lessons Learnt:

The highlight of the session was when I asked the second last MCQ and there was an audible “Yes!” when I showed the correct answer.  I showed the question and then when polling closed and the graph showed 92% had selected answer b.  At this stage they don’t know if that is correct and I had added the little green arrow that goes up from the bottom and stops at the correct answer.  When it stopped at answer b, lots of them said “Yes!” which was nice.

My first experience of them seeing the benefit of immediate feedback.

my fourth clicker session

My fourth clicker session was on 23rd August 2010 at 11:00

The subject was the internet from Chapter 4 of the text book.

I used five clicker questions at the beginning and four questions at the end of the lecture. All content questions – no fun questions this time.

What worked:

I spent time on working out how the Real-time Registration Tool worked and so I used this for the first time. I downloaded the class list from the learning management system (a version of Sakai) into Excel and imported this into Turning Point. I made sure this time that the list was on my laptop ready to be used.

The registration tool shows 10 students at a time and asks them to press the number next to their name to register their clicker. Technically this worked well and they seemed to enjoy the process. It also reinforced that the session is not anonymous although I never explicitly explained this.

I also have worked out how to make a slide anonymous if required – by using a button on the tool-bar.

I added a normal slide before the clicker questions saying “Time to use you clickers” with a few pictures. I did this because I found last time that the students weren’t prepared if the next slide suddenly required then to answer using the clicker.

I used a different Microsoft PowerPoint template for the clicker questions than for the lecture slides.

What didn’t work:
The handing out of clickers and registration took 15 minutes. This cut into my lecture time and was a problem.

The on-line registration seemed to go on forever and I wasn’t sure how much time to show for each batch of 10 students. I also didn’t know when I had done all the students and I should have kept a tally somehow.

I didn’t really get the countdown tool right. Sometimes it appeared and sometimes not and I wasn’t sure why this happened. Also the timer was light red on dark red and the students couldn’t read it.

The projector I’m using still cuts off the top of the slide. I thought that I had compensated for this but not by enough it seems. So I had to read the question.

What would I change:

  • The students wanted a handout so that they could follow the lecture and use it to answer the questions
  • Timing needs to be rehearsed
  • I don’t like the graphs showing percentages. I need to change the default to number (not sure how)

Lessons learnt:

  • Have a printout of the slides so that you know what is coming.  I found myself saying “I think this is the last question” and it wasn’t
  • The Real-time Registration Tool is good – except not for big classes (big > 100?)
  • Have a slide before the questions to ask the students to get ready
  • Test your slides and colour schemes before hand it at all possible

Things to try

  • Show a video while handing out the clickers – could help to keep focus
  • Hand out the clickers as the students arrive
  • Set the default from percentages to number
  • Find an easy way to collect the clickers
  • I read the question and answers – maybe I shouldn’t do this

my third session teaching with clickers

My third clicker session was on 18th August 2010 at 11:00

The subject was E-Commerce from Chapter 5 of the text book

What worked:
For the first time I used a warm-up slide. I asked the question “How are you feeling today” with some normal answers and some funny ones. This was a fun way to start. I then used a few optical illusion slides and these went down well and the students seemed to enjoy the process. I also ended with a fun question about optical illusions.

What didn’t work:
I thought it would be easy to find warm-up slide questions but I couldn’t. I only decided to add this on the morning of the lecture and finding the right question took longer than I thought.

I added a countdown timer but it never really worked as I thought. It involves an extra click and that was confusing. I also didn’t use it on all slides so some ended too soon. I wanted to re-poll these but couldn’t remember the command to do this (I think it is F4)

Some of the slides had the same answer twice and this was just sloppy on my part. This obviously confused the students and it also changed the results. As some voted for say option 1 and others voted for option 5 when in fact they were the same answer.

I tried to use a participation list but realised that the list needs to be loaded on the computer doing the presentation. This seems obvious in hindsight, but I created the presentation on my work PC using a participation list and then copy the presentation to the laptop. The participation list is a standalone file in the Turning Point directory.

What would I change:

  • I would finalise my slide the day before. This would give my more time to run through the presentation
  • I had too much content and should have cut this down
  • I need to rehearse my timings

Lessons learnt:

  • Content lecture time is reduced when using Clickers (this sounds obvious but is true)
  • Using Clickers takes time to handout and time to collect
  • A Clicker lecture needs more precise time allocating than a normal lecture
  • I need to develop a bank of fun and amusing warm-up slides to be used at the beginning
  • Printout a list of TurningPoint shortcut keys and put it next to the laptop

Things to try

  • I must try to use the Registration Tool
  • I need to learn how the countdown timer actually works