Monday, August 27. 2007
In December of 2006 NJIT was awarded a grant to develop freely distributable course module curricula to support job-market specific training for the financial sector workforce. The New Jersey Regional Economic Innovation Alliance (NJEIA) and its associated industry partners have identified segments of the financial services industry that would benefit from potential employees who have certain enhanced skill sets when hired.
Developed to close the apparent gap between the skills that high-school, community college, and four year institution students were graduating and the needs of employers in the growing financial services workplace, the program, IPI Financial, is a collaboration among educators and IT professionals to develop and package effective training courseware archives.
At an IPI meeting last week, two NJIT professors from the School of Management, Asokan Anandarajan and Katia Passerini, presented their proposed training curriculum for the first of the financial training packages. Included in their presentations was commentary from financial institutions about the types of skills that were needed, but lacking, in potential employees and newly hired personnel.
Financial institutions such as commercial banks, the Federal Reserve, and Goldman Sachs, had no strong interest in requiring educational institutions to provide greater technical skills to potential employees. Those institutions provide their own technical training to master day-to-day job functions once an applicant is hired. The skills that those institutions were most interested in improving or establishing were employee "soft-skills," in the workplace. Focus groups identified the following needed areas of improvement:
1. Communication skills, both oral and written
Does this sound like the need for liberal arts education to anyone?
The IPI Financial group expects to produce these training curriculum archives in a freely available and downloadable form by Spring of 2008. These course archives are expected to complement and supplement the educational resources that already exist in schools and will include lecture and study materials generated by subject matter experts in the specific employment areas that are targeted. Each course archive will be a self-contained learning environment that will require a computer with an unzip utility, a web-browser, a PDF document viewer and a multimedia client program to study the curriculum content.
The format and type-content of the individual course archives for this financial services training model is expected to be applied to other targeted industries where similar learning skills enhancements are needed for the future workforce.
Sunday, July 29. 2007
I'm not the greatest proponent of Distance Learning coures as they have been developed and implented at many colleges and universities (including NJIT). The idea of expanding a student population without having to budget the expense of building additional classroom space drove administrators and academic departments to shoehorn existing course offerings into a web browser accessible format and register additional "online" students. A result of those efforts was to produce online enrollments that sported (especially for undergraduate studies) drop out rates of about 45%. Oher attempts at improving distance learning courses and content delivery soon produced blended learning (or hybrid) courses that required students to attend classroom sessions that supplemented their online studies. The drop out rates improved and adult-oriented programs like Weekend University began to pick up some academic steam.
The usual notion of distance learning is to have a professor/instructor at some central location teaching students at remote locations, but what if students remainined in a classroom, and the teacher taught from a remote location?
The well-accomplished Latin teacher at Bishop George Ahr High School was leaving for France before the start of the 2008 school year and, while they didn't want to replace that fine instructor, they needed a solution to provide four years of Latin educaton to their pupils. CPE at NJIT, using Moodle as a content delivery platform, provided detailed one-on-one staff training and course content conversion to place the curriculum materials in an effective distance learning format.
Beginning in the Fall of 2008, the Latin students at Bishop George Ahr High School will be able to view multimedia lectures from the classroom, home or any remote location, receive detailed feedback about their performance, participate in real-time chats with their instructor and take their examinations in a protected and proctored classroom environment. The administrators at Bishop Ahr tested this new program at the end of this school year and solicited feedback from students and parents and reported that everyone was excited and supportive of this new initiative for the start of the next school year.
If Web 2.0 technologies can usher in Latin instruction in a distance learning format, what could be next, English?
Friday, July 27. 2007
That's what the flyer (and webpage) called the KansasFest computer conference of July, 2007, a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the original Apple ][ computer.
The Personal Personal Computer
It takes an extraordinary group of people to convene (for the 19th consecutive time) to celebrate a computer platform and philosophy that the manufacturer abandoned in 1992, but the original promotion by Apple Computer touted the Apple ][ computer as the "personal, personal computer," and that idea resonated with millions of people worldwide.
The days of Apple IIe labs and Apple IIGS clusters nestled on Appletalk networks in grammar school computer labs ended in the mid 1990's with Apple's failure to provide an upgrade path from the aging ][ series to the Macintosh. Schools were left with thousands of dollars of terrific educational software and no computer on which they would run. Schools began to move to PC hardware and Microsoft based programs.
Those early Apple computers never stop appealing to a dedicated group of users. Unsupported by Apple Computer, User Groups were created on online services such as CompuServe and Genie and new third party hardware and software continued to be developed and sold.
KFest 2007 was a remarkable mixture of the new and old --both products and people. The conference has actually grown in size over the past few years with oldtimer attendees (like me) meeting and greeting teenage and twenty-something devotees who hadn't been around long (if at all) when the Apple ][ line had been born or discontinued. There were attendees for the US, Australia and Canada with one of the Canadian presenters making the trip to Kansas City from Toronto on a Vespa motorbike.
There were presentations on new software, old hardware and foundation operating systems, there was a keynote address by David Szetela, the first editor-in-chief of Nibble magazine and, later, Apple Computer executive. My own presentation "FreeBSD, the Macintosh Unix" was preceded by Geoff Weiss's excellent presentation of software mapping between Microsoft's Vista and the Apple operating systems.
The real joy of this conference,though - the real reason for attending-- wasn't to make a presentation or watch other talented presenters loose their expertise upon the attendees. The real joy was in hanging out in the dormitories at Rockhurst University where we were housed and watching brilliant people shine. There was non-stop software developing, hardware hacking and on-topic/off-topic discussing all night long. Then, when people needed a quick break, they piled into a 1973 Chevrolet school bus driven from Oklahoma to Kansas City by an attendee to make a 3 AM Denny's Restaurant run. After that fast refueling, everyone was back at it again, hacking and programming and opining until it was time to go to breakfast. The red-eyed stumble became, at least for me, the dance of every day.
The conference lasted about 5 days and it was a little sad to watch the attendees and presenters scatter on the last day. But, even before the end of the conference, Kansasfest 2008 was announced (specific dates pending) and, to a person, the attendees and presenters remaining to hear that announcement were eager to say they'd be back next year.
The old rallying cry of Apple ][ users was "Apple II Forever," now it might be "Apple II Users Forever." The convening of this group of remarkable people every year is now about who they are and who they may inspire to carry the banner of world-class independent software and hardware development to the 20th anniversary of the gathering next year.
Sunday, February 25. 2007
"Serendipity will get you through times of no Internet better than Internet will get you through times of no Serendipity" --Perfesser Pedagogue
Heeding those words of wisdom:while Serendipity35's code sorcerers update the magic spells that guide us through the cyberspace cloud (and may also knock us offline intermittently over the next 24 hours), we direct you to the current list of spammers and general e-mail bad guys for your reading pleasure.
If your socks drawer is already arranged, if you've already washed and waxed the cat, and if you know that even Spring Training baseball on TV is still a week away: there is no better time to update your spam filters to keep your e-mail Spring Cleaning right on track.
You might notice hotmail.com (still) on and yahoo.com (newly) on the banned e-mail spammers list. Hotmail.com has failed for years in preventing spammers from using their hostname; yahoo.com has had recent problems with spammers flooding the market with real and faked yahoo.com e-mail relays. It is likely that yahoo.com will far sooner have its current spam troubles solved than hotmail.com ever will.
And it is probable that the code warriors at Serendipity35 will have the blog back up and running, by the time any of us get this whole spam block thing figured out. It just might take a little (more) serendipity.
Tuesday, January 2. 2007
Hot stock tips, male enhancement patches and pills, replica high-end wristwatches, diet potions, pirated software (but at a Discount!), forged messages from financial institutions I've never even heard of, offers from the nephew of the president of Nigeria to share his multi-million dollar bank account, and on and on and on: I've Had Enough!
And my modified morning routine exists despite the installation of a (slightly) functional commercial content-based anti-spam program on NJIT's e-mail gateways.
Contact your ISP or your system administrator to ask about implementing server-side rule-based anti-spam measures.
Sell + Easy Link
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