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.

SlideShare revisited

SlideShareSlideShare has partnered with LinkedIn or vice versa and has a whole new look. It suits the new device environments better and has a very good visual interface. I originally used SlideShare to improve my presentation skills and then to produce content for my class room. It was also a place where I could get ready made content for my classroom. Slide presentations are perfect for flipped learning, for IWB presentations and for sharing detailed and well thought out information which uses the essential notion of progressive disclosure. I had a student who would automatically create her own slide presentations from information I was teaching and then she had a beautiful visual record of what she was learning. There is now a clipboard section which I shall have to find out about because I have only just discovered through an email that SlideShare has been resurrected. We live in a visual world. We need well thought out presentations to guide us through and an easy platform for sharing our information. The feedback I got from the SlideShare community really helped me to improve how I presented my information and the success of some of my presentations both in the classroom and on SlideShare is proof that feedback works in a powerful way.

Benefits of gaming

Let’s get this clear. It is not all gaming and it is not binge gaming. There has to be discernment and balance with gaming as there ought to be with other things in life. One of the unexpected benefits of gaming I have discovered in my research into gaming is that they are actually helpful to people undergoing treatments for cancer and for pain management therapy. Cancer treatment of America looks at the benefits of gaming for cancer patients. It has been particularly good for children because it reduces the amount of pain killers they have to be on. NCBI has published research on the use of video games for pain management. Psychology Today looks at the cognitive benefits of game playing which is what has mostly been picked up in the media. Dr. Mark Griffiths who is a professor at the Nottingham Trent University in the UK looks at the educational benefits of video games in his research. C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz have a very thorough look at the impact of gaming and which games are helpful and how they are helpful neurologically . It also makes clear that games have to be tailored to the individual in order for them to be having a positive impact on cognition, attention and neurological development:

“The effect of a game depends on how it is interacted
with—A key difference from the action of a drug is that the
impact of a video game depends on how that individual interacts
with the game, with individual differences in motivation,
personality, and nascent cognitive abilities leading to
completely different game experiences. At the extreme, it is
obvious that having a child with ADHD press random buttons
on the game controller will provide an ineffective learning
experience. Thus, the results of a given video game
intervention can vary widely across individuals. While we
have discussed data from many demographic groups (from
children to seniors; from those with mental health impairments
to athletes and surgeons), showing that video games
can positively influence many demographics, there are
numerous reasons why a game that helps one individual may
or may not have the same effects on another.”

Impact of gaming

Daphne Bavelier is a professor at the University of Geneva in the area of cognitive neuroscience. Her research is identifying the impact of gaming on brain plasticity and brain function in people who are gamers. She is looking at the effects gaming has on brain function and that is important. There also needs to be research by gamers who understand gaming from the inside to know what gaming is doing to cognitive abilities and function. Gaming will improve your vision, your capacity to think fast, your capacity to absorb fine detail. Anyone who games at the high end is processing text, audio, visuals and decision making at lightning speed. The comments under the video add another layer of understanding because they are largely comments by gamers. Her comment of gaming 15 hours a week is too conservative. People can play games for 10 to 15 hours a day. We need to understand all of these things. We need to see how the patterns are formed and how the thinking is developed and what exactly is happening when people game.

test goldfish to climb a tree Gamers are in their 30s. Children grow up in homes with parents who are gamers now. It is a part of our society. Daphne Bavelier observes that the  benefits of gaming can be used in all sorts of ways to improve cognitive and visual function in non gaming people and there is information  to follow up on.  Gaming is such a big part of life now there will be a problem with students who are tested using only static text based tests. This is not how many of them operate or process screen information. It’s the testing the goldfish to climb a tree meme so we need to be looking at better ways of finding out how people are learning through games and what exactly they are learning. Professor Bavelier’s work is throwing light onto that.

Make a vision board

Vision boards are actually about accountability and responsibility. When you create a vision board you are taking responsibility for who you are and what you represent and then you make yourself accountable for that because you are getting visual feedback about yourself and your ideas. Vision boards are a good way to look at your visual image and that is important in the digital world. You have to come to some kind of understanding of how you are representing yourself online and what that might mean and the impact that might have. Vision boards allow you to take control of visual imagery and , in particular, images which represent you . To do a now and future self is not such a bad idea. You can look at how you want to project yourself, how you want to be, what you want to be important. We relate very quickly to images and so do others. A vision board can sum us up in one view. That might be important in the digital world. How do I want others to view me? Why? Brand is built on images and action. You have to know what that entails and how to do it. I had a home group where we all made vision boards at the beginning of the year. We pinned them at the back of the class so we saw them every morning when we came in. The vision boards never failed to make an impact or a statement. Other students who came into the class room could see the ideas and inspiration. It had a positive snowball effect every day. The students who made them had a strong sense of self that year and were motivated to achieve what was there on the wall or to be clear why they didn’t want that in their life and thinking any more. The vision boards brought about a clarity of vision and inspiration and then a framework which acted as a personal guide and ideas generator for others. For me as a teacher it meant I became aware of things about my students I wouldn’t have known just by having home group. I could see their art skills, their ideas, their dreams and the fun . The choices you make to create a vision board is part of the cognitive process and along the way you learn a lot about technology if you do a digital one. It’s your vision board, you want it to be right.

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