What’s DevOps?

DevOps is a new , highly paid IT job but it’s a concept we all need to understand. It’s about smoothing the path between developers and users so that the software is better suited to the environment in which it works and the  people who use it can get the best out of it for what they want to do. In an economy it’s about making yourself the one who is seen, heard and used. ACADGILD explains it really well but then pushes its company. I have used the video by Sanjeev Sharma. He explains it really well and has a lot of experience in the field. The world has changed and the world is changing. We want to use technology in a way which suits us and we want it to be able to do what we want it to be able to do. Developers can come up with ideas and projects . Some of those now are launched as test/lite projects to gain valuable feedback for further development. We do not live in a static world. We now live in a world of communication, collaboration and constant improvement which is why the concept of DevOps has to be understood. Developers can create things but they may not suit the market, the audience or the environment. They may create software which is half way decent and then we need  input to get it to be the best software for the time and place. I sometimes contact developers because I can make suggestions as to how I think something can improve in its functionality or if the software works well on one device and has limitations on another. Software development is complex. Developers work hard and long hours. I don’t expect my changes to occur and I usually only offer suggestions if I am asked. TheAstronauts blog explains why developers are not really interested in your unsolicited ideas. The explanation hits home. The feedback loop is becoming part of most organisations and businesses now and needs to be a part of everything. I have given feedback and thought, well, that’s not going to help, because the feedback form is too limited or doesn’t actually allow you to pinpoint the problems or clearly make observations. That’s when I blog or tweet if I want to. If I think something needs to be changed I put it out there into the ether. It will be picked up. It will be read. It will be considered. People can only do what they do and we have to avoid swamping them. If I have used classroom software which doesn’t quite work in that situation I haven’t hesitated to contact someone who would be able to make the changes and have a conversation. Today that is essential. It is important to be pleasant, polite, concise and prepared to wait . Offering suggestions is part of the process now. I have been stunned by how quickly some things are changed for the better. I have been pleased to see how many sites now include that feedback loop. In the end we’ll all get good at this idea of DevOps. We are no longer a world of victims when it comes to development. We are now part of a collaborative process.

Visual planning

Habitica

Image: Habitica

There are so many visual planning apps and so much software these days for individual and collaborative use. Trello is one of the reliable, well known ones which also comes as an app from the Microsoft store for Windows 10. Techworld has a list of recommendations for worthwhile project planning tools to consider. It is  worth reading the comments too as they give other ideas about good visual planning tools people are using.
RealTimeBoard has a suite of tools for different purposes in terms of visual planning and they all have a free version as well as premium versions. My own favourite is MeisterTask which is good in that it breaks down the tasks for you so that you focus on the individual components and then there is room for collaboration if desired. Habitica adds a questing and gaming layer to increase motivation and achievement if that is what you like. All these planning tools allow you to see what you are doing and what you are achieving. You get sound visual feedback on progress and success so you don’t overlook the fact you have been working hard towards goals. You can see what has been done and what needs to be done very easily. That keeps you positive and motivated.

Personal Maps

Personal MapAs a teacher , you will be more than familiar with Mind Maps. They have been used in classrooms for quite some time and have been a great way to generate ideas, get students focussed, planning and ideas generation. I have used them a lot in languages to build vocabulary and expression and to deconstruct texts.  We are in the web 3.0 arena now where anyone can connect with others elsewhere with a specific task/project in mind. This video by Jurgen Appelo explains very clearly how you can use personal maps to break down barriers and create connections really quickly when you want unfamiliar groups of people to work together. I have also made a mental note to look up what software he is using to make that video because in terms of flexible learning it is very effective. The technique of the video presentation keeps the background uncluttered, it keeps the speaker in control and central and it allows the speaker to deliver a clean, clear message. In terms of UX (user experience) it means the viewer is always on task and always focussed. I have been using Freeplane, an open source mind mapping application. It’s colourful, useful and easy to use. It works on any platform but needs java installed. It creates very clear, uncluttered mind maps. I have done my own personal map which I am sharing with you.

Codr.tv

codr.tv

Image: Codr.tv

One of the advantages of Twitter is that others can introduce themselves to you easily. @codrtv did that just the other day and I have to say I am very appreciative. This site is real coders talking about real code but they want you to love it and understand it as much as they do. It is also a very real way of using the internet to reach out to others and make themselves known.  Currently they are working on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coders and the first episode is about pairing. That has such educational relevance for both teachers and students and a paradigm I have pushed on this blog. It is important to get peer review. It is important to do and share. It is important to throw your ideas and work out there and see what others think. In the end you become far more confident, competent and able to learn more effectively because the constant feedback keeps you thinking and in improvement mode. It also increases your network and so you have more resources to sustain you. My group assessment rubrics were exactly about that. Blogging and being on Twitter is always about that. This video frequently makes the point that you can be collaborating on code and embracing peer review but here are times where you just have to shut down and go into your own space and do it your own way. That is true too. There are times for learning by yourself and times for sharing and collaborating. The video also makes the point more than once that if you work collaboratively you are going to produce something far superior and more accurate than if you just work alone. Coders are working internationally because it’s about something which is high level and you work with whom you trust, who is at your level and who can help you. Codr.tv is not just about the code. It shows how coders work, think and how they approach a highly demanding task. As such it is very valuable insight into how you manage something which is very demanding learning and high level performance: the standard internet learning loop – create content, share, get feedback and improve. By having codr.tv we are now included in the loop.

Thinking Kit

Thinking KitThis  free Thinking Kit app is designed for iPads and for students to work in pairs to promote collaboration and some real thinking as they learn. It can be used solo. I have downloaded it onto my iPad and there are examples of what you can do with this app. I would imagine it would suit some subject areas better than others and some activities better than others. I was going to look at it to see if you could use it for language learning. The site for Thinking Kit provides a lot of support and what I like about his type of app is that it allows you to work your way through what it can do so that you learn as a teacher. You can try different things and see what the app can achieve. It is also a good app for getting student feedback so they are partners in learning. You can work with them to create better tasks and improved learning scenarios. You can create the activities in any browser on any device. Since this is a hands on app, I’ll let you look and explore.

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