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Comment: Re:Oy (Score 1) 683

by Morbid Curiosity (#46083803) Attached to: VC Likens Google Bus Backlash To Nazi Rampage

Strangely enough, New Zealand has just rolled out a new "digital technologies" curriculum for high schools that was developed by educators and academics in consultation with local industry bodies and the government, working to find a set of standards that everyone was happy with. The five "strands" of standards are written in a way that's vendor-agnostic: for the "digital media" strand, they don't care if you use Photoshop, GIMP, or any other program or suite of programs as long as students can demonstrate their abilities in that area.

Over in the "programming and computer science" strand... well, the name is a good start. Alongside the design and implementation of programs, there's a three year set of standards on computer science concepts. Rather than just code-monkeys, students end up with a "T-shaped" body of conceptual knowledge about the discipline: broadly touching on a lot of areas, and deeply drilling down into a few, based on the combination of personal motivations and teacher capability. They should come out the end with a good appreciation of what computer science is and does, outside of just simply programs.

In order to get this working well, educating teachers and developing their capabilities is the key. This is especially important considering that in New Zealand, "computing" evolved as a subject from typing and "office technology", and so there are a lot of teachers out there with no recent background in maths and CS. They're highly motivated to teach the subject for the opportunities it'll give their students, but they have some (sometimes huge) gaps to bridge in skill and confidence. And in a country economically recovering from massive earthquake damage, professional development funds are hard to find in the government budget.

Luckily, we've got private industry coming to the rescue for once: sponsoring professional development workshops and funding the creating of resources to allow teachers to teach the standards. Doing it in a hands-off way that encourages communities of practice - people who are actually doing the work - to lead the charge and decide for themselves the most effective way to teach subjects.

One of the most significant contributors in terms of cash money is Google, through their CS4HS programme. There's certainly something in it for them: for an investment of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in airfares and research funding, they get a larger pool of better-educated graduates that they can attempt to skim the cream from in another 5-10 years. Of course, all the rest of our local tech companies and our national economy benefit from that, too.

Comment: Re:I see the problem (Score 1) 265

by Morbid Curiosity (#42539383) Attached to: Does All of Science Really Move In 'Paradigm Shifts'?
Even inside of clinical psychology, there are whole countries where the treatment of Freud is "...this is what people who've watched too much American TV think of when they think of clinical psychology, so you may encounter people expecting this kind of stuff in the field, and now on to actual clinical psych..."

Comment: Re:It's like this. (Score 1) 878

by Morbid Curiosity (#40603103) Attached to: Does Grammar Matter Anymore?

You're completely missing the point. We should be talking about the quality of Google's tools here. If Microsoft's Word can help Google's CEO with grammar, then why the hell Google's tools cannot. It just means that Google (and cloud) is lacking behind and desktop apps still rule.

So you're saying that Google doesn't have enough butt to compete with Microsoft Word?

(Try "lagging behind". Idioms are fun!)

Comment: "Hack" means different things to different people. (Score 1) 215

by Morbid Curiosity (#34293952) Attached to: Microsoft Says Kinect Left Open By Design

The initial response was for the punters who might not want to buy a Kinect because "O NOES ITS BEEN HACKD!!11!". Because for people like that, it means that evil hax0rs can do things like watching you make an arse out of yourself waving your arms around in front of your TV (naked or otherwise).

The subsequent response is for the tech-savvy (dare I say it) hackers who might want to add value to their product by coming up with cool new uses for it, and who in turn misinterpreted their initial response as "O NOES M$ WANTS TO STOP U MAKIN COOL OPEN SAUCE KINECT HAX!!11!".

There's a disconnect between tech-driven communication and sale-driven communication from Microsoft, certainly, but in this case they're not saying incompatible things at all.

Comment: Oh please. (Score 1) 400

by Morbid Curiosity (#31949538) Attached to: Ubisoft Says No More Game Manuals

There have been relatively few manuals I've needed in any form for the last 20 years. Of those, probably 80% would be fine as PDFs. The remainder are useful, informative and/or entertaining artefacts that contribute well to playing a game. And of those, they still don't compare to most of the things I got with Infocom games back in the 1980s.

So for all the dead tree purists out there: if you really cared about good paper manuals, you shouldn't have stood for so many of them sucking their way into irrelevance over the last couple of decades.

Comment: Re:New Game idea (Score 1) 590

by Morbid Curiosity (#28961467) Attached to: Games Fail To Portray Gender and Ethnic Diversity
Being in New Zealand, I know which I'd hear the most about. Honestly though? It'd be more about how you applied the stereotypes. If you've got Custer in there, don't expect the Maori to be making do exclusively with taiaha and patu when there are perfectly good Snider-Enfields to be used.

Comment: Re:Not diverse? (Score 1) 590

by Morbid Curiosity (#28961063) Attached to: Games Fail To Portray Gender and Ethnic Diversity
Oddly enough, I played that game with a black female protagonist (and not so I could look at her butt all the time), despite being a white male myself. Playing through some of the romantic dialogues was interesting - exploring my character's developing relationship with a guy was actually kind of a refreshing experience compared to some of the "romantic" storylines in various other games I've played. There was a good degree of emotional connection and character establishment in the story. I'm not attracted to guys myself, but with the compelling story I could see why my character would be.

Comment: Re:Use Moodle instead of Blackboard or Desire2Lear (Score 2, Informative) 149

by Morbid Curiosity (#28845281) Attached to: How To Help With a University ICT Strategy?

I'm at a university that had WebCT, which then morphed into Blackboard and has just recently been replaced with Moodle. Having using those systems, both as a student and in teaching roles, I have to say that Moodle is just plain better. It's cheaper (TCO), more versatile and more usable. And much less prone to inducing rage :-)

Of course, that doesn't mean that it's invulnerable to screw-ups. If you lock it down from on high with One True Way of Using The System, then you're probably not going to suit the needs of different academic departments and their different kinds of students (CompSci versus English majors, for example). On the other hand, too little structure can lead to ongoing support problems in security, maintenance and training/helpdesk services. The trick is to find a balance that works across your institution.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke

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