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Archive for September, 2009

I just watched an interesting video of Bruce Schneier discussing the future of the IT Security industry. His arguments parallel Nick Carr’s discussion of trends toward utility computing. Schneier argues that as outsourcing trends continue, we’ll see the IT security become the focus of firms providing the outsourced services (like Facebook & Gmail) and security will become part of the bundle of services rather than a single product to be marketed to businesses / end users.  He bases his arguments on Tversky and Kanneman’s prospect theory, which indicates that individuals are more willing to accept a reward-based risky sale / option than a fear-based risky sale / option.

In addition to leading me to think more seriously about an important trend in the security industry, the long-term perspective, which Schneier builds by drawing on the past and projecting into the future of computing and IT security specifically, also reminds me of how important it is for me to educate my students for the demands they will face in the future rather than simply the skills they need today.

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After a very momentous new faculty training yesterday, I set out today to seriously begin my preparations for my fall semester courses. (Classes start on Thursday). I spent much of the day familiarizing myself with the textbook and other resources for my network services management (with Windows 2003) course. I’ve been very impressed by a book, that was given to me yesterday called What the Best College Teachers Do. The book discusses (among many other things) the perspective that classroom instruction is often most effective when teachers approach knowledge as something that is cocreated rather than transferred. In the spirit of that principle, I’m trying to set the class up so that we can have meaningful knowledge producing interactions rather than passive learning focused lectures. Admittedly, this is a hard task, particularly since I’m preparing this course for the first time. But I really want to interact with my students rather than repackaging the textbook material during class. And I really want them to learn to engage with the topic managing a network server in a way that will help them to both develop technical skills they can use in their future work, but also to understand the personal and leadership issues that are reflected in server configuration.

I’m also trying to find ways to make the classroom time more productive–pushing administrative activities like homework submissions outside of the class time, so that we can use our time together more effectively.  It’s going to require me to be even more prepared for class, but hopefully the Lord will magnify my efforts if my desires are right.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get my students to build more and become invested in their work and learn through experimentation. I think this video by John Seely Brown captures some of the things I’m trying to accomplish in the classroom. To me, however, the challenge appears to be that this kind of thinking requires a complete restructuring of class preparation and student assessment. Time is focused on building, sharing and critiquing things. In some classes, like Web Design and Programming, I can see this being more readily implemented. But what about courses with “softer” skill sets? Can we get students in an intro to MIS course to build, share, and critique things that get evaluated based on their functionality as well?

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