Highlights from July, 2022

As you probably know, I teach an Introduction to Data Science class, DS-100, which is geared to students with little or no computing background. The class borrows content, themes, examples, etc. from a class at UC Berkeley called Data 8. The Data 8 team has been running a National Workshop on Data Science Education for a number of years.

I attended the 2022 instance at the end of June/early July and got a LOT out of it. I was expecting the event to provide mostly theoretical support for my teaching. However, I came away with both theory and a number of tactical changes I plan to implement in the class this fall. In fact, I generated so many notes that the blog post is shaping up to be a series (else just the TL;DR; would be 5 pages).

Apparently, July was “strategy month” as I attended two events related to strategy planning for Spark! First was a meeting in Nantucket with Ziba and a founding member of Spark!. The trip was lovely and makes me want to make sure I get out to the harbor islands before the cold really sets in. While the scenery and the travel were nice, the strategy meeting was even better. We discussed a bunch of ways that we can help Spark! scale and deliver even more effectively on its mission. Not to mention ideas for how Spark! could more tightly integrate with CDS.

Next up was a 2.5 day strategy meeting with the Spark! core team which highlighted a number of opportunities for improvement. Our plans now include:

  • Adjusting the roles of Experts in Residence (EIRs) and Mentors to include a more direct hand in partner provided, student-led projects. We also expect to strengthen the community aspects of the programs to unify them and nurture relationships within the group(s). We also hope to increase the ability for EIRs and Mentors to play a direct part in the shaping of the implementation of Spark!
  • Finding ways to increase the role of students in the shaping of our strategy and mission
  • Improving our awareness of the status of all our projects, partners and students by implementing better tools

July has also been very focused on developing a new website (yeah, the one you are on). As you might imagine, the old pure blog won’t meet my present needs. As a result, I looked at a lot of “products” from Curriculum Planning tools to Learning Management systems. I also looked at custom solutions by some professors and regular websites created by professors. As part of that review, I also wrote up a pretty complete Information Architecture, Target Audience, and CTAs for the site. A friend has been helping me with kicking around ideas and implementing the UI. I also spent a fair amount of time on content (and have a long way to go).

Summer is also an important time for Spark. I spent a lot of time working on recruiting instructors for the practica in the fall and lecturers for workshops, etc. I have also been supporting the students on 2 projects (primarily), one for me to get http://data.buspark.io[1] productionalized and one for the Harvard Herbaria. July has also been an opportunity to identify and implement improvements to the Spark! technical infrastructure.

DevConf.US planning is also kicking in to high gear which has required more of my time. Can’t thank my co-chairs and steering committee enough for how much they have covered that I used to do pretty much myself.

As I do every month, I broadcast an episode of my streaming show, KBE Insider where we interviewed Travis Nielsen about Rook and Ceph.

On a more personal note, I finally managed to replace my broken Huawei MediaPad m5 8 with a Galaxy Tab A7 Lite. While the specs aren’t anywhere near as good, I am glad I found something. I can’t believe that nearly no company is making flagship 7-8″ tablets anymore.

[1]: I know, SSL is next :/

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