Monday, December 09, 2013

Inaugural ACAITA Google Hangout

The community building continues. Next week we have the inaugural ACAITA Google Hangout. This will be the first of many Google Hangouts with the focus this month being in how to build the community and how to reach-out to related professional associations within Atlantic Canada.

EVENT DETAILS:
Time: 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm NL time
Date: December 19th, 2013
Location: Online - https://plus.google.com/events/c3gcdv4qdefgbfjaljjmqg8cn0k

AGENDA:
  1. Welcome and brief introductions
  2. Architectural Groups and Frameworks
  3. Professional development opportunities
  4. Where do we want ACAITA to go?
  5. Community building approaches
  6. Reaching out to Atlantic Canadian IT Professionals
  7. Other (make suggestions)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

ACAITA Next Steps

Inaugural meeting of the ACAITA started with humble beginnings. I found myself in the Georgetown Pub all alone... Seriously, for a couple of minutes I was in the Pub all alone, even the bar maid went out for a smoke!

This free time being alone provided me an opportunity to reflect upon some of the amazing feedback I have received in starting an IT focused Architectural Association in Atlantic Canada. Here is a brief summary;
  • Have daytime meetings... Atlantic Canada IT professionals are much more likely to participate in professional type events during the day.
  • Don't start an association in December... The Atlantic Canadians are focused on family and December is a month of family and friends.
  • Use online tools like Google Hangouts more frequently... people are interested in participating, getting together face-to-face creates a huge barrier. Particularly for those who don't live downtown St. John's.
  • Be patient, people express interest... but actually getting them out to participate is difficult.
  • Some people are willing to put in considerable effort in supporting this idea. They will make introductions and reach out with very relevant resources. 
  • I have had 14 serious inquiries from three of four Atlantic Provinces and the traffic coming into my blog posts on the idea is well over 400 views.
Even though I am alone in the Georgetown Pub, I am still very encouraged by the interest I have had in the idea...

Next Steps;

  1. Continue to build community.
  2. Have face-to-face meetings downtown during the day.
  3. Prepare for online hangouts. Consider having themes with speakers.
  4. Reach-back to experts offering assistance.
  5. Keep the vision, hold the space!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Inaugural ACAITA meeting

On Thursday December 5th we have the inaugural meeting for the Atlantic Canada Association of IT Architects (ACAITA). We really are at the beginning of the formation of the group... so far I have been surprised by the response. We have five people committed to the first meeting at the Georgetown pub, and a whole lot of interest from Atlantic Canada. All counted over 10 people have contacted me expressing interest in and supporting the idea of Atlantic Canada Association of IT Architects (ACAITA). To get more details of the meeting look to the meetup invite. The meeting agenda covers the following themes;

Introductions
I hope we all take the time to introduce ourselves to each other. Reach out... enjoy the company of the others who are leaning toward IT architecture.

Frameworks
There are way more architecture frameworks than most people are aware of. The ISO Architecture group has put together an excellent list of frameworks which can be found here. The two frameworks I find most useful, are;
  • TOGAF - an Open Group Standard, is a proven Enterprise Architecture methodology and framework used by the world's leading organizations to improve business efficiency.
  • Zachman - The Zachman Framework™ is a schema best understood by reading many of the artifacts made available by Zachman International.
Groups
There are a number of groups, professional associations, etc. involved with developing and forwarding the practice of IT architecture. The ones I see most important to developing an IT Architecture association are as follows; (I am open to discussing more than these five groups when it comes to how we align the association, everything that deepens architectural understanding is good for all of us).
  1. IASA - An association for all IT Architects
  2. OpenGroup - Vendor neutral IT standards and certifications
  3. EAE - Association of Enterprise Architects
  4. EACOE - Enterprise Architecture Centre of Excellence
  5. FEAC - Training and Certification Institution for Enterprise Architects
  6. ISC - Vendor-neutral education products, career services, and Gold Standard credentials to professionals.
Roles of the Architect
There are many roles for the IT Architect. And they all have a place in getting projects to finished... When you read over the different group sites (above) you will begin to get a sense there are a lot of definitions for architects. Listed below are how I see the collection of different architecture role definitions.

  • Solution Architect - focused on the architecture for a particular solution built to meet a defined business need and / or business strategy.
  • Enterprise Architect - aligning IT architecture with business strategy. More focused on governance.
  • Application Architect - specifying the architecture for a particular software application. Differs from Solution Architect in that the application is for a specific business domain, where the solution architect is focused on a business need and evaluates many applications to fulfill the need.
  • Component Architect - designs and architects complex and mission critical software components.
  • Technical Architect - takes on the technically challenging aspects of engineering a software solution. Optimizes the design for reuse, performance, etc.
  • Database Architect - specializes in architecting data storage solutions.
  • Infrastructure Architect - focused on the server, networking and infrastructure architecture.
  • Security Architect - focused upon all things security within IT.
  • Information Architect - organizing and architecting information for usability.
  • Business Architect - plays a key part in shaping and fostering continuous improvement, business transformation business innovation initiatives.
Next Steps 
  1. Growing the Community. 
  2. Preparing for the Google Hangout.
  3. Other
See everyone at the Georgetown Pub, 8:00 pm, Thursday December 5th...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Atlantic Canada Association of IT Architects (ACAITA)

One of the things I wanted to get involved with once I settled in Atlantic Canada was to engage with the IT Architecture community. I wanted this engagement to be at the grass-roots level where the focus is with deepening the skills and knowledge of existing architects and encouraging senior developers to broaden there skills and knowledge into architecture. I see the group starting in St. John's and quickly reaching-out to other areas of Atlantic Canada. To facilitate the geographic distribution I believe we could use many of the on-line tools available to facilitate community engagement. My time with Mozilla, WikiEducator and CLE taught me much about facilitating online community and distributed work teams. I really don't want to build this on my own, so if others know of similar activities I would really appreciate being pointed in there direction.

I was thinking we could name the professional group the Atlantic Canada Association of  IT Architects (ACAITA). It would be very agnostic toward which of the existing professional IT groups it would align itself. The ACAITA would aspire to have associations with all related professional associations.


I also don't believe it should focus on any particular architectural framework or process. The group should work diligently toward building skills and knowledge of all frameworks and processes.

zachman framework togaf process

I believe the group should meet the 1st and 3rd Thursday evening of every month. Keep in mind that this is a Community of Practice with a focus on creating an association of architects, peer learning, mentorship and improving the quality of IT architecture within Atlantic Canada. I see there will be two different kinds of meetings;
  • 1st Thursday is a face-to-face meeting at a predetermined location
  • 3rd Thursday is using Google Hangouts and online social media
I am open to changing this schedule, maybe even having meetings during the day rather than in the evening. Or providing a mix of both. This is a collaborative effort and what the membership agrees to is what we could move forward with. All good.

Thursday December 5th - Kickoff and Introductions
Location: Georgetown Pub, Hayward Avenue, St. John's, Newfoundland
Agenda: Introductions, Frameworks and Groups, What are the different roles of the architect?

December 19th - Whats available for the Architect?
Location: Google Hangout
Agenda: Introductions, Certification Options, Online Architecture Resources

2014 and beyond - TBD

If you are interested in joining, participating, providing insight into what has gone on before, hanging with a bunch of other architectural geeks, learning more about IT architecture, etc... please get in contact with me. Comment here on this blog, message me, reach-out... I look forward to connecting...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What is Big Data?

I started my first winter book review with the book titled "Doing Data Science". I found the content very rich and to review the whole book in one post would have been too much to fit into my rule-of-thumb that a book review post should never be over 1000 words. All this goes back to how I review books and how each of my writing and reflection needs to stay to a reasonable amount of content.

I like how this book is written from the implementation of big data perspective, I like how this book is written from the teaching people about data science perspective, I like how this book is written from the hands-on getting it done perspective. I really like this book from the outset of its reading.

The preface and introductory chapter contained a valuable amount of information that helped put the whole data science subject into context. These two chapters each helped in the following ways;
  • Preface
    1. Origins - this fell into two main themes, the origins of the course the book was based upon and the origins of the book itself. What became clear is the book was written to bring clarity on the subject of data science and big data. And what is hype and what is concrete and historical. The book sees much of what is currently occurring within big data as hype; data science has existed for a while ( > 10 years ) and the current practices within big data have origins with traditional statistics against big data sets...
    2. Supplemental Reading - this is an amazing reading list and provides valuable insight into the breadth of the data science subject domain. The supplemental reading fell into the following six categories, these speak volumes about the domain of data science; 1. Math, 2. Coding, 3. Data Analysis and Statistical Inference, 4. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, 5. Experimental Design, and 6. Visualization. What surprised me was how a number of the books listed were a part of my statistics, visualization and collective intelligence readings from a few years back. 
  • Introduction
    1. The hype - the book acknowledges that the hype around big data and data science is extensive and there are a few drawbacks to all the hype;
      • Currently there is no common terminology around big data or data science.
      • It shows a disrespect to those working working in this field for many years.
      • Creates a noise-to-signal ratio that could turn people away the longer it continues
      • It simplifies the broadness of what is required to be successful in data science
      • Working with large volumes of data is as much a craft as a science
      There is also an amount of truth, and lessons to be learned, within all the hype. The important highlights are;
      • smart people with some of the required skills, should be able to develop the other skills they need to be data scientists
      • its the integration of both on-line and off-line real-time data that is different, we now have a culturally saturated feedback-loop.
      • there are ethical and technical responsibilities to be considered
    2. The role - of the data scientist or team doing the work requires the following skills. Though having these qualities in a team is better than an individual. (and it is difficult to find all these skills in one person).
      • Computer Science
      • Math
      • Statistics
      • Machine Learning
      • Domain Expertise
      • Communication and Presentation skills
      • Data Visualization
    3. Team structure - is well described in both the skills listed above and in figure 1-4 from the book. For me its a well balanced team with a variety of people from different fields working together in solving big data problems.
    4. Thought experiments - the introduction (and the whole book) uses well articulated thought experiments. These get the reader thinking about the current subject through questions and problems to solve.
Reflections:
My initial thoughts after skimming the whole book and considering the details of the first few chapters took me back to all my readings with very large databases (VLDB) a number of years back. The VLDB SIG has been around for close to 40 years and if you view some of the early conference agenda... big data hasn't changed that much in 40 years. Extracting, Cleansing, Transforming and Loading the data is as important as it ever was, and there are many well known practices in this domain. The heavy lifting isn't with the implementation of the technology; but with the nature of the content, the goals of the analysis effort, and with well designed reporting and visualizations. The statistics, and related approaches, are as important as ever.

So... what is big data?
In my opinion, it is the coalescing of many large (even humongous) data sources. These sources can be real-time, on-line, off-line and otherwise and the reporting and visualization should represent this dynamic nature of the data. Really smart analysis (statistical and other) should be available ASAP so intelligent and automated decisions can be made. Big data projects should have a balanced team where team members each possess a number of the skills required to make the team complete. The team should be given free reign to experiment and explore while staying rigorous to project management practices (Agile, Lean or otherwise).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A deliberate book review

I'm now an autodidact, and one of the ways I learn is to review books with a deliberate practice. The steps of my approach are as follows;
  1. kick-start the brain - this means I read the table of contents, skim each chapter (very quickly), and examine each image in detail. I believe constructivism is how many of us learn, I am no exception. So when I undertake a learning task (like reviewing a book) I need to allow my brain to retrieve as much related information it can conjure to assist in my learning and relate it back to my previous learnings and knowledge.
  2. read to seek understanding - every passage of text I read I develop an understanding of it. If this requires me to research the themes and topics in the passage of text, I do. I make notes, draw pictures, create concept maps to deepen my understanding...
  3. write and reflect - when I have covered a reasonable amount of content I will write about my understanding with the intention of publishing to my blog. I will reflect upon my learning and my writing, and then review it for completeness and understandability.
  4. edit then publish - I will usually leave the related blog post(s) unedited for a few days as I continue to reflect upon its content. I will the return to the post and make edits in preparation for its publishing. 
  5. review - I will read most new blog posts a few times after their publishing. I will often make further edits where appropriate. During this review I will think about how its content relates to other reading I have since completed.
  6. iterate - I will continue to read with purpose and continue with similar practices until the book is finished. Often I will have multiple blog posts underway as I read a book for the purpose of review.
For me this approach allows me to develop a deep understanding of a books content while contributing to the collective publishing platform known as the internet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2. Begin a creative project or concept map about the subject domain

This where the work of learning within a new subject domain becomes increasingly fun. Begin a creative project centered around the word or concept that you have chosen as your domain of study. The project should be as fun and creative as you can imagine, or the project could be completely pragmatic and capture details of the learning journey. The main purpose is to fire-up the mind from many different perspectives in relation to the domain of study. The project should be able to grow and change through the full duration of your researching your subject domain. Essentially, the creative project becomes a personal learning portfolio that ties the project together. As you learn more about your chosen subject through your research, reading, creativity, play and discussion it is important that you add to your creative project. A few ideas for creative or pragmatic projects includes (but not limited to);
Build on your idea
  • a daily or weekly diary about your subject
  • an ever expanding concept map dedicated to your subject
  • a learning portfolio with weekly updates
  • a wall size collage with images, articles, writings
  • the authoring poetry and songs
  • a blog reflecting about your learning (include images, photos, references, etc.)
  • create your own maker project with an accompanying video blog
  • write a play of short story including your subject as a theme or character
The inclusion of the creative project is about play and creating rituals around your study. It really is about the play, about the broadness, and about the engagement. Learning should be about play, with an amount of discipline built in. Why play? Why broadness? Why engagement? Why discipline? Each of these attributes of your self-determined study has a rationale;

The play - is about enjoying what you are doing so you return to do it again and again. It is also about not allowing yourself to be restrained to follow up on related themes or threads within your chosen subject domain. It allows one to learn with reckless abandon, and to be at play.
The broadness - is about exploring the subject in its entirety and allowing yourself to follow-up with related, or seemingly unconnected, ideas and subjects you stumble upon as you deepen your understanding of the subject domain. It's important to remember that learning a subject domain is also about learning how the subject domain relates to others. When constructing knowledge review the learning in different contexts and against other subjects is an important part of learning. It deepens your understanding.
The engagement - is about reaching out to others with similar interests who can provide insight into your subject domain, or you could provide insight into their subject domain. This is about engaging the community or communities in and around your subject domain. It is about adding content, resources, opinions, value, energy, good-faith... its becoming a member of, and engaging, the community of experts who are all attracted to the same subject domain as yourself.
Where to engage? engagement can happen in many places, both online and off. It is strongly encouraged that you find a variety of places to meet with people who are also interested in your chosen domain of study. A list of places includes, and is not limited to;
  • everywhere - seek out your peers and mentors, you will be surprised where you find them. Tell people what you are doing ask for assistance.
  • online collaborative spaces - different subject communities hang out in different online spaces... find them!
  • conferences - attend conferences on your chosen subject.
  • the library - go to the library and hang out in the section related to your subject.
  • at colleges and universities - yes, you can still learn by taking courses and hanging out with like minded people.
  • social media - follow hashtags, join groups, engage in online discussions, find related RSS feeds.
The discipline - is about committing the time to exploring and playing within your chosen subject domain. It is about follow-through and completing tasks related to your understanding. Learning something in-depth takes effort, time and a deliberate practice. And don't think learning is any different because the subjects you have chosen are self-determined, mastery takes time and commitment. Some say mastery of any subject takes over 10000 hours, so be disciplined and enjoy yourself.

Creativity, fun and discipline will get you to finished when choosing to pursue self-determined learning. It will be the amount of personal commitment you make, and how much fun you find the subject and activities. What will it take for you to be attracted, on a regular basis, to study and spend time with your chosen subject domain. A creative project will assist greatly in being attracted to your subject, and it will open your approach to learning to being outside the traditional.

Related searches and references
Learning in depth
Learning portfolio
Maker faire
Learning through play

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Big data, winter reading and book reviews

Totally chuffed! I just lined up three books on big data and am looking forward to their being my winter tech reading and related book reviews. The theme for the collection of books is big data. I have been working with data (big and small) for all of my career, and my 1996 undergrad degree is in database management systems (DBMS). Recent projects have exposed me to big data, enterprise environments, global internet standards and open source deployments. A few years back I did a bunch of work with building online learning communities, mobile web and collective intelligence. I even found the time for a bunch of reading in the subject, and wrote reviews for the books I read. So with the acquisition of these three books I look forward to sharing my data experience through three book reviews. Stay tuned!

Data Science for Business - I particularly like how this book focuses on big data in the business environment, and how it relates it back to the traditional terms of data-mining and data-analytics. Its the business focus that really attracts me, event though I find myself with more of a socialist bent, I still see the value of competitive advantage, ROI, analytics feeding strategy, etc. This book looks to focus on all this, with the addition of the technical and algorithmic details of big data in the business environment.

Doing Data Science - I particularly like how this book focuses on the hands-on front line of data science. It has a great amount of focus on implementation and the use of the big data technologies and approaches, all of the keywords floating around in big data and present within this book. If you are thinking about Machine Learning, Naive Bayes, Modeling, MapReduce, Hadoop, etc. The number of case studies that are present in the book look to provide good reflective activities to deepen understanding.

Agile Data Science - I particularly like how this book brings together agile approaches, big data, analytics and hadoop. If you've been following my blog for any length of time you know my experiences and belief with agile approaches, so I am happy to see an agile approach to data emerging. I am also looking forward to how the following technologies are folded into the process of running an agile project for data science; SQL NoSQL, Apache Pig, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, GitHub, AWS, etc.


Sunday, November 03, 2013

1. Identify and commit to learning a subject domain

Identifying and committing to learning a subject domain can begin in many ways. One way to start is with a single word or picture drawn in the middle of a page, the back of a napkin or in a blog or social media site. Once the learning has been initiated by the small event of writing a word or drawing a picture, it can grow and deepen by continuing your reading, researching, drawing, painting, playing with, and discussing the word or drawing as a concept. The fun begins as you continue your commitment and move into the next step of learning, which will deepen and provide insight into your approach to learning your chosen subject domain.

Begin it now!
Identifying and committing to your subject domain is not always an easy task. There are so many things to learn and filtering the choices to a focused subject which you are willing to commit a period of time learning can be difficult. This commitment is often influenced by your motivations behind wanting to learn the subject. And why people want to learn a subject often varies as much as there are different people learning subjects. Fortunately, there is no shortage of exceptional resources and people that can assist in focusing your domain of study. How, and why, you focus is a part of your committing to learning the subject. The focus may be due to a financial need, or the desire for change, or wanting to complete a level of study, to become familiar with a genre of music, or to learn a new cooking style, or commit to a graduate level of knowledge is a subject domain. Self- reflection and engaging others can assist greatly in the activities in identifying and committing to your domain of study. As you increase your self-determined learning you will find it is your self-reflection and personal network of people and learning objects than help in deepening your knowledge.

Do not hesitate to jump into any approach or method when developing your commitment to and finding the subject of your study. Do keep in mind, in the end, it is this level of commitment that will get you to completing your learning. And in most situations, this needs to be an internal commitment. It is more difficult for external motivations to help you get to completion of self-directed studies. 
On occasion  I remember a significant conversation when I was developing my ideas around completing an Open and Networked PhD and in being a self-determined learner. In particular, the idea of getting to finished takes a lot of effort and doing it without mentorship is near to impossible. This discussion was mostly about the importance of doing graduate level work at a traditional institution being the only way to complete graduate studies. I disagreed, but what became important is that I needed to be very committed to my chosen subject domain without any external motivation. I need to be committed to completion through mostly internal motivators.
This gets into thinking about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Where Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself. Where Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, whether or not that activity is also intrinsically motivated. Focusing on the knowledge domains that you would be intrinsically motivated will go a long way to deepening your learning of most subjects. So it would make the most sense to choose subjects that you are intrinsically motivated.

When choosing a domain of study allow yourself to consider both large and small subject domains. The self-determined learner can pursue learning activities and journey's that are both large and small. The approach may differ due to amount of learning and length of of the commitment, but the amount of learning does not dictate the success a learner can achieve. Throughout this chapter we discuss approaches to self-determined learning and they should be considered a part of your learning toolkit and they can be used for both small and large learning endeavours.

When beginning a self-determined learning journey the concept of schedule changes from the traditional models of learning. Self-determined learning isn't about a schedule, other than a self-imposed schedule. Having to get things done within a semester, term or school year does not apply. It is about life-long learning and if it takes a lifetime to achieve your life learning goals that's the point. It may assist greatly in developing a schedule that would self-motivate, but it only has the follow what works best for the learner themselves. This self-determined schedule only adds to the importance of following your own learning schedule, path and motivation.

Related searches;
Autodidactism
Heutaogogy
Transformative Learning
What colour is your parachute?
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A call to others and my 5 professional personas

Atlantic Canada
The call: if you are interested in collaborating with the growth of the Atlantic Canada IT architecture community, please reach-out to me. I look forward to connecting with others who are already building Atlantic Canada's IT community. Let's build Atlantic Canada into one of the planets best places to bring technology projects!

A little about me and my current professional focus: (I hope this encourages you to connect)
As my journey to settling in as an exemplary IT professional in St. John's NL continues, I find my focus deepens in how I can best assist the Atlantic Canada IT sector. As I continue to utilize my experience within enterprise environments and in management and team lead positions, I believe my hands-on technical skills are where I can be of best assistance. Where I used to see my technical skills as a part of my enterprise architect toolkit, I am flipping this around to see my enterprise skills as a part of my database designer / technical lead / project manager toolkit. In other words, I can provide great assistance with the technical side of getting projects finished and if you need some strategic or enterprise assistance I can also help out within that capacity. The five main roles I can see myself most effective, are as follows;
  1. Database Administrator / Data Architect with 20 years experience in database design, implementation and administration.
  2. Solution Architect / Senior Software Developer with considerable industry experience in Microsoft Technologies, Open Source, and their integration.
  3. Technical and Team Lead with experience leading small to medium size teams to on-time on-budget, within technically challenging projects.
  4. Project Manager / Manager of IT with experience in managing all attributes of IT focused multi-stakeholder projects.
  5. Faculty and Online Educator with 15 years part-time experience teaching in colleges and universities. My teaching role has included online, face-to-face, and blended approaches. My work as a teacher has also included being the instructional designer for many online courses.
My next steps are to continue to provide exemplary IT consulting services while focusing on assisting the growth of the technology architecture community within Atlantic Canada. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Defense in Depth within the Enterprise

A Technical and Solution Architecture perspective at implementing Defense in Depth within the Enterprise and Large Organizations.

I'm preparing a slide deck for my coming lightning talk on Defense in Depth within the Enterprise. The theme of the talk is what to expect when introducing a defense in depth approach into existing enterprise environments and how to respond to the issues that will arise from many different stakeholders. My reference points for this talk are from two primary enterprise level clients and a collection of smaller internet facing projects. As a solution or technical architect my perspective is mostly toward protecting personal information and how to design the solution to reduce the opportunity for an information security breach.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc512681.aspx
The AGENDA:
My talk is limited to 20 minutes so I need to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly. Being succinct is my strategy to completeness.
  1. Description of Defense in Depth
    A brief description of the Defense in Depth security strategy. This is mostly to confirm understanding, set the shared vocabulary, and define the terms.
  2. Defense in Depth within the Enterprise
    Provide a holistic view of Defense in Depth within the enterprise environment, while also providing examples of implemented solution architectures. A technical and solution architect perspective will be used in this review. The talk wants to focus more on the how-to rather that the strategic.
  3. Issues toward implementation
    There are a plethora of issues that can arise when implementing defense in depth into the enterprise environment. These are not only technical and security related, but also operational and administrative or related to governance and compliance.
  4. Getting to finished
    Given the plethora of issues and their related stakeholders (sometimes tasked with conflicting missions), it is possible to find agreement on the architectural decisions required to deploy a defense in depth approach. During this talk I will discuss approaches to reaching agreement, and provide a few project examples of how we got to finished with resolving different issues.
If you are interested in attending this talk feel free to join us at our St. John's BSides event on October 18th.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shepparding multi-stakeholder architectural decisions

What fun. I recently moved with my Family from an island off the west coast of Canada to as far east as you can get in North America; St. John's, Newfoundland. One of the benefits of this is I can become more involved in the technology community. My previous island life made it prohibitive to participate in social and technology events in the city. Now that I can participate, I will.

St. John's has a number of technology conferences (or events) in the fall. And one of these is aligned with the bsides security conference. I decided to participate by proposing a lightning talk, fortunately my talk was selected... what fun. The title and abstract of my talk is as follows; and will allow me to discuss my experience with shepparding multi-stakeholder architectural decisions to agreement.

Title: Defence in Depth: Approaches and Importance of Enterprise Architecture Security Decisions
Abstract: In this lightning talk we will explore one approach to getting multi-stakeholder agreement on Enterprise Architecture decisions focused on a defence in depth security model. Corporate enterprise technology environments can be large and complicated. And when it comes to making changes to the internet facing security environment both rigorousness and resistance to change increase. These increased challenges can be overcome with good project / process management, solid end-to-end architecture, and a comprehensive decision making template. In a nutshell, this talk explores the enterprise architecture decision.

Defence in depth is an age old practice.

Fortunately, over the last 15 years many of the projects I have worked on were internet facing and had security and privacy issues baked into the project. The bigger the project the more technical stakeholders were involved in designing, building and deploying the solution(s). utilizing all these technical people can make for a stronger and more comprehensive and well engineered solution. Coming to agreement across all the stakeholders can be difficult, for they sometimes have opposing tasks and responsibilities that are counter to another. With good process and a strong engineering mindset it is possible to find the common ground and build a solution where all stakeholders technical constraints can be met. This talk explores this process in the context of altering an existing network infrastructure and related governance groups to deepen defence in depth approaches to enterprise security.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

My curriculum models chapter proposal

I was asked to submit a chapter proposal into a coming book focused upon "Open Learning and Formal Credentialing in Higher Education: Curriculum Models and Institutional Policies." The writing of this chapter fits very well into my OnPhD work; in particular, my skills and knowledge development and my increased commitment to publishing my work.

Curriculum models that incorporate credentials for open and lifelong learning
My understanding of open is that anyone can gain entry; like an open door. Openness also means there is no barrier, other than identifying yourself. Even then, you may still enter a truly open space anonymously. This means that an open environment has no fee for entry and no security guard checking you on the way in. I believe open learning is no different, people should be able to learn wherever, whenever, with any and all resources (copyrighted or otherwise) they choose. Having a more knowledgeable and skilled population, makes open learning good for all communities, regions, countries, and the planet as a whole.
I believe life-long learning encourages people to acknowledge that they will learn for their whole lives. People need to commit to learning new things to assist and encourage them in being better friends, neighbors, community members, employees, bosses and more engaged in their own lives. Life-long learning encourages people to pursue life-long passions and interests.
Given this understanding of open and the belief in life-long learning, people should drive toward entering into their own learning with reckless abandon with a disregard for conventional restraints toward accessing the people, materials and resources available for their learning. Life-long learners should be bold and create their own personal curriculum and attach open credentials to their learning whenever milestones are achieved within their learning journey.
This book chapter will explore a model for mapping out a personalized curriculum, creating learning plans and attaching digital badges into this curriculum and learning plans. The topic of focus for this chapter will be "Curriculum models that incorporate credentials for open and lifelong learning". The curriculum development model it will follow is described in this blogs previous post titled "The self-determined learner".

A growing list of references for the writing of this book chapter are;

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Self-Determined Learner

Most of what I do is toward deepening my abilities as a self-determined learner. I believe any adult learner can develop their own curriculum, attach accreditation to this curriculum and work towards the tasks and learning to fulfill the curriculum and earn the credentials. I believe we need to teach people to teach themselves, and these abilities should enter the education system at age fourteen (or grade 10). I believe these skills and knowledge can and do enter the education system earlier. The one big challenge is that teaching people to teach themselves is a big change from our current social order around education.

An example concept map: Learning to play the pipe and tabor.
My approach to self-determined learning has a number of basic steps
  1. Identify and commit to learning a subject domain
    And all this can start with a single word or picture written in the middle of a page. And all you have to do is start reading, researching, playing with and discussing this concept and move into step 2.
  2. Begin a creative project or concept map about the subject domain
    This where it becomes even fun, begin a creative project of some kind around the word or concept. As you learn more about your chosen subject domain through your research, reading, play and discussion, add to your creative project.
  3. Research (in detail) items or themes within the subject domain
    Identify words, concepts and themes that can be researched. Choose the ones that excite you the most, research these in detail. Invest considerable time and effort in this research.
  4. Add to your creative project or concept map as your understanding deepens
    Update your existing creative works, continue to build the concept maps and creative works. Write about your research (reflect upon all that you have done), create, publish, do your work in the open.
  5. Seek out peers and experts within your subject domain, engage these people
    Engage your learning community. Invest time in seeking out the communities of learning (both online and off), consider building your own community if ones don't exist. Seek mentorship, become a mentor.
  6. Build and utilize a personal learning ecology
    The personal learning ecology consists of the people and learning objects within reach. Connected learning works best when it is blended with learning and resources that can be found within close proximity (online , virtual and otherwise). Create and nurture your personal learning ecology.
  7. Build a personal curriculum map of how the subject would best be learned
    The personal curriculum map provides the map and learning pathways for your personalized learning journey. It is taking your concept map or creative work and identifying learning pathways and fitting them all into a personalized curriculum. This development of a personalized curriculum is an amazing way to deepen your understanding of your chosen subject.
  8. Reconcile and align your personal curriculum map with other existing curriculum
    To further deepen your understanding of your chosen subject domain try reconciling and aligning your personalized curriculum map with other related curriculum (institutional or otherwise). Other curriculum may not exactly match your personal curriculum map or your subject domain may not fall into a realm where curriculum has never been developed. This should keep you from trying an
  9. Create learning plans for items within your identified personal curriculum
    Choose items from within your personal curriculum to build learning plans. Always choose the item or items that interest you the most. Items may come in clusters, or they may stand alone. Create learning plans which describe the details and scope of the learning, make it all up if you have to, confirm it with existing learning plans. Include a schedule for your learning, make a commitment, put all this in your learning plan. If you are wondering how to create a learning plan, there are many references on the internet to help. You may even find that creating your own learning approach and related learning plan works best for you. This is how you will develop skills and approaches for how you learn best. You may even consider developing your own learning methodology, one that works best for you.
  10. Create badge systems that align with learning plans and the curriculum
    Once you have your first learning plan, be sure you have identified the learning objectives you are wanting to achieve with your learning. Be sure to describe identifiable criteria as on outcome of your learning. Publish your learning plans to the internet. Create an open badge for your learning and have the criteria linked to the badge. Invest some time in developing a badge system that is aligned with your personal curriculum.

    It may seem like a large investment of time and a lot of effort to create learning plans; The creation of these plans deepens your understanding of your chosen subject. This goes back to the idea; the best way to learn something is to have to teach it.

  11. Continuously engage your learning network, ask for feedback
    Whenever you create new learning plans or make updates to your concept map or create work, contact your learning network. Ask for feedback frequently and continuously. Be sure you have others review your learning plans and how they tie to your personal curriculum. Get feedback on your badge or badge system.
  12. Assist and provide feedback to others within the subject domain
    Practice reciprocity, engage your learning community by assisting others on their learning journeys. The more you help other who are learning similar subjects as yourself, the more you will learn about your own subject, the more you will get help.
  13. Complete learning tasks from your learning plans, earn badges
    Focus your efforts, keep to your schedule, complete tasks within your learning plans. Be sure to publish all the evidence you have in completing tasks. This evidence may come as short videos, published papers, songs, photographs, etc. Just do all you can to provide evidence of what you have done. Create blog posts about your learning and the steps you took to complete a task. Once you have gather together all your evidence of a completed task, added information about your learning journey, and summarized it all with a blog post; award yourself the related badge, or have another in your learning community award you the badge. Complete learning tasks and earn badges.
  14. Return to step 1. recommit to the subject domain, iterate. The completeness of your work will come through time and the learning will deepen and become more extensive with each iteration. Keep working on developing your learning, don't allow yourself to see this work as too much or have you stop because of effort. Small steps of progress and small iterations of learning are also very powerful through time. Life-long learning takes a life-time!
Note: an important part of this learning approach is to do it in the open. Being public and open helps others, increases the quality of your work, and deepens your own understanding.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

auto-delete all email

My life has offered me an opportunity to go off the digital grid for an extended period of time; five weeks, or 36 days to be exact. On July 27th I fly to Calgary to join my Family as we move from Vancouver, BC to St. John's NL. On August 31st I arrive in St. John's to start a new life adventure.

How I define off the digital grid:
  • No social media - No Google+, No facebook, No linkedIn, No Twitter! Essentially, I never open a browser on any device. I will post a status update to my being off the grid, so people know to contact me on or after September 1st.
  • No email -I will not check my email ever, on any device. I will set-up an out of the office notice, and I'm going one step further; I will auto-delete all my incoming email.
  • No browsing - The only reason I will ever open a browser is to research travel details, book accommodations, or to get further information regarding a site we will be visiting. If I need to leave contact details with a booking or something, I will use my cell phone number.
Why I am auto-deleting my email?

Because I don't think there is anything so important that could be in an email. Most important information in my life is face to face or a voice conversation. But why auto-delete and not read my email when I am back on-line? Because its the past... its forever gone. If something matters to someone so much and it can't wait a few weeks, they can call me or send me a text. I also want not to have a a massive email box to go through at the beginning of September, and I don't want the possibility of thinking about the build-up of email and think about getting a jump on emptying the email box at any point in my vacation.

The morning we departed Bowen Island
I believe this gets into a conversation about mindfulness and being present. As I grow older I find that being present within a situation provides the most success for everyone involved. What I mean by present is I am not distracted by tasks and/or information from another context or situation.This holds true for when I am with my children, being with my spouse or family, when I am at work, and just going through my day. So really, why should I be concerned about an email that was sent a few weeks back. In a way, all email is spam.

What is my fear? Well not really...

That I will miss an email that is really important. If it is important they can call me or send a text. What about a work opportunity or a life opportunity that I will regret having missed. Honestly, I don't believe that these kind of opportunities come from a single unsolicited email. If it is important, it needs to be important to all involved, and therefore the others involved will honour my vacation and get back to me in September. If the opportunity is gone, then it wasn't an opportunity that would have interested me.

What is my preparation?

The two weeks leading up to my going off-line I will make status updates across all my social media, so people know of my being unresponsive. And if they want to contact me before my departure they are given an opportunity.

Why am I doing this?

Because I have five weeks with my wife and children, and I want to enjoy every moment. I don't want to find myself wondering off into some other context or perceived obligation. I don't want to be distracted by something other than exploring the amazing country of Canada, every moment. I don't want to miss something in my immediate proximity by an information thread from somewhere else. I also want to read a few paperback books... which has eluded me over the last while. I want to play in the immediate and enjoy all that my five senses have to offer. I believe all this will be more available without a digital connection to my past or my future.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Assignments, Assessment and Badges

I was asked to quickly put some video resources together to provide an overview of my work with assignments, assessment and open badges. There is a day-long conference happening at La Trobe University in Bundoora and given I enjoy putting together resources for the work I am doing toward open education I was happy to take the time.

Deep apology for the quality of these resources. The moving trucks come tomorrow and I'm down to working off my five year old netbook. All these resources are issued with a CC-BY so feel free to use them as you will; edit them, mash them up. I believe these three videos cover the why, what and how of assignments, peer assessment and open badges.

Open Badges and Peer Assessment
Quick discussion of open badges, their meta-data and how they can be utilised within courses where peer assessment is a part of overall assessment.


Flipped Assessment
Flipped assessment has people earlier in a learning journey assess the work of someone further down the learning journey. This creates an environment where people currently involved with a subject reach-out to assist others who are also involved. This encourages peer involvement and adds to assessment.


Flipped Assessment Implemented
So this is what we did to implement flipped assessment and how the assessment criteria was grounded in the rubric that the course was based upon.


Relevant References



Creative Commons Licence
This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Canada License.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Agile Learner Design

My focus on an Agile Learner Design methodology for creating and determining your own curriculum got a renewed focus over the past 18 months. It all started with my last post of 2011 where I revisited and summarized Agile Instructional Design. I have come to the conclusion that what I am doing isn't focused on instruction, but upon the self-directed learner. Therefore, what I am doing is developing an Agile Learner Design methodology, not an Agile Instructional Design methodology. An important distinction in the fundamental focus of the methodology. To build upon my last post of 2011 I kicked off the year by looking at some of the existing research and approaches to self-directed learning. And looked at some of the approaches that I would consider similar to ALD. I also considered some of the people and approaches within my inspired learner series of posts, because it is these inspired learners that drive me to further develop ALD. Listed below is a summary of Agile Learner Design implemented.

The Agile Learner Design (ALD) Methodology
ALD Reference Materials
ALD Examples and Inspirations

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

OnPhD: Skill and Knowledge Development

What areas do I want, and need, to deepen my skills and knowledge in relation to my identified areas of study? These areas fall into three domains; Heutagogy, Educational Technology, and Solution Architecture.  With each identified item I will include a brief description of how skills and knowledge will be developed. The completion of this activity is to fulfill the requirements of the related OnPhD candidacy task.

Heutagogy
  • Deepen my involvement with the Heutagogy community
    This will involve my engaging the communities of practice in and around heutagogy and autodidactism.
  • Read extensively about heutagogy and autodidactism (readings list)
  • Write about my approaches to self-determined learning (publish in the open)
Educational Technology
  • Continue development of School of Badges and focus my efforts on Badge System Design and the technical courses on integrating Open Badges with open source learning platforms (Drupal, Moodle, Wordpress, MediaWiki, etc)
  • Deepen my technical understanding (from a solutions architecture perspective) of available open source learning platforms and approaches.
  • Keep learning about Open Badges technology including alternative methods of assessment an accreditation.
  • Investigate and develop mobile learning applications with particular focus on video.
Solution Architecture

Monday, June 24, 2013

Badge System Design Reboot

So four weeks back I kicked off the Badge System Design course within the school of badges. We had some outstanding participants and introductions. The related discussions were thought provoking, but like many free and on-line courses participation falls off after the first few weeks. This course has been no different, and the learning was deep (at least for me, and I hope a few others). As the course designer, three main themes came from this past four weeks;
  1. the rubric designed as the foundation of the course needs to be broken into three rubrics, collectively still being the foundation. And also offering rubrics to what I now see as the three main types of badge systems.
    • for traditional education
    • for informal learning
    • for events and community
  2. the webmaker badge system should be used as the example badge system for the sample solution within the course.
  3. the first release of many things get thrown away always. This also applies to course development.
Even though the course had strong participation at the beginning and fell off quickly, I still it as a very important course. The success of open badges is dependent upon people developing skills in badge system design, and any way I can assist in this effort is time well spent. This is how I see rebooting the Badge System Design course.
  1. Create a schoolofbadges google group which will be used as a shared discussion forum for all courses within the School of Badges.
  2. Create three new badge system design rubrics, one for each of the three identified badge system design realms.
  3. Invite others to assist in the development of the three different rubrics
  4. reach out to people who have developed badge systems in each of the areas and ask for participation, assistance, and insights
  5. Alter the P2Pu Badge System Design course to utilize the three different rubrics
  6. Try running the course again in the fall of 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Three badge system design domains

The ultimate autodidact.
I've been on this badge system design journey for a while. I've been engaged with the Open Badges movement for over a year, with daily thoughts and efforts in moving this initiative forward. My commitment Open Access Accreditation (Open Badges) started five years ago during a discussion about Open Educational Resources. Recently my efforts have been in building the School of Badges on the P2Pu, with particular focus on Badge System Design. I am basing all of this design work on the things I learned while working with the open badges team and the success of a similar workshop with Scope the end of last year. When I started to build the P2Pu course it became apparent that we needed a badge system design "tool" or approach to base the course around. I came up with the idea of creating a rubric as a guide to building badge systems. The idea met with a good amount of success and a small group iterated around its development over a couple of months. The previous link shows our results. One aspect of the rubric that I have struggled with is how it was being influenced by traditional methods of curriculum development and accreditation, or that the rubric was trying to work for many different badging contexts. It seemed we were trying to build a single rubric for all badge system design domains. Too me it felt strained...

This morning during discussion within the P2Pu Badge System Design course I came to the realization that there are three domains for badge system design. These three domains are;
  1. Badge System Design for traditional curriculum
    This is really a mapping of existing curriculum to badges with the addition of co-curricular activities. There is a lot of room for innovation here, in the end all badges are associated with traditional education and related activities. The traditional could also include badges within scouting organizations or other legacy based institutions that have been issuing merit badges for a period of time before digital and open badges.
  2. Badge System Design for informal learning
    This is learning outside of the traditional curriculum. In particular, self-directed learners, autodidacts, heutagogues, and small groups engaged in informal learning. This is where people have the opportunity to develop their own badge systems.
  3. Badge System Design for events and community
    This is everything else where you would want to issue badges; participation in conferences, recognition for involvement with communities, accomplishments of merit, fun activities where tasks or activities have been achieved or participated in, this list could be anything that could be dreamed up where a badge could be issued.
The hacker scouts have brought together the tradition of scouting, with the freedom of the hacker community, the resources of adafruit, the venue and innovation of the maker movement, with open badges. This image is the hacker scouts badge system design.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quick issuing and organization of Badges

Working through some of the comments within the Quick Issuing course within the P2Pu School of Badges. One discussion item prompted me to answer a bunch of questions that I believe are really important. These are the questions and related answers;

Are all my badges tiered?
No not all my badges or tiered. I do believe some of my arrangements are a star or a network. I do think badge organization should follow the organization of the knowledge domain. I do think it would be more of a network of related subjects, skills, events... that as they are earned would form clusters or groupings. I organized as a tiered approach for I was wanting to relate the categorization like the color scheme of the martial arts belt system.

I do believe the work Mozilla has been doing around badge system design is excellent and I believe they are wanting to stay away from the tiered or hierarchical approach. But I do think many humans organize in hierarchies...
Mozilla Webmaker is also becoming the exemplary badge system design. Kudo's for creating a great example!

Do I create a table for all my badges, or just tiered badges?
No, I don't create a table for all my badge systems. I do believe it is important to provide some way to organize, display and describe the badge system. A table is one way... and due to my using wikiversity for the mobile app dev course, the table seemed like the best way to go.

Do I have a giant table for all badges in one course?
I don't see creating one giant table to describe all the badges. There does need to be some way of describing the badge system as a whole. I believe it would help people understand the learning pathways within the badge system if there was a "curriculum" or "learning journey" map. I do see that Mozilla Webmaker is doing great work here as an example. See Erin Knights post; http://erinknight.com/post/29830945702/webmaker-badges
I also see the badge system and approach created by the Khan academy is also an interesting example of displaying a whole badge system.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Badge System Design Performance Levels

It was suggested I add descriptions for each performance level within the Badge System Design rubric. This is what I came up with...
  • Exemplary
    The example for an outstanding badge system. Badge systems should aspire to be as comprehensive and as well designed.
  • Notable
    A badge system that should be reviewed for their approach toward design and implementation.
  • Working
    A badge system that is working and consist of a few badges that collectively represent an accomplishment beyond a single badge.
  • Introductory
    The minimum for a badge system.

Badge endorsement is important

During the sixth task of the Badge System Design course the participant is asked to compare and contrast three adjacent cells from within the rubric. I have chosen the three rightmost adjacent cells from the Endorsement criteria row.

the three rightmost cells from the endorsement criteria of the badge system design rubric.

Endorsement: The badge system is recognized by other organizations, communities, individuals and/or systems. It fits or is aligned with previous badge and credentialing systems of similar subject areas.

I will break my compare and contrast into three sections;
  1. how I understand each cell
    • within the introductory cell endorsement is not applicable as this performance level is about having a simple badge or badge system being issued. Having endorsements for the badge or system is not required. If a badge or badge system begins to receive endorsements it would move into the working performance level.
    • the working cell needs a couple of endorsements, and these can come from anywhere. It is that people, groups, communities or institutions have put in the effort to endorse a badge that adds the value and puts the badge or badge system into the working performance level.
    • the notable cell needs endorsements from multiple sources, it is preferable these endorsements come from different subject areas and different contexts. The people, groups, communities or organizations need to resolve back to proven entities of reputation. How the reputation is provided will vary, it needs to exist.
  2. how each cell compares to the other
    It makes sense the introductory cell does not require endorsement. The idea is to quickly create a badge or badge system and endorsement would add effort and require a third party to provide the endorsement, this would slow down release of the badge. A working system needs endorsement from a few parties, the effort of a few parties providing endorsement is adequate to move an introductory system into being a working system.The notable system is like the working system in that it has endorsements from multiple sources. These endorsements will come from across industries and subject areas.
  3. and where do the cells contrast and what is the value in their differences
    The three different cells contrast in that the introductory cell requires no endorsement, the working cell has endorsements, and the notable cell has endorsements from multiple sources from within different industries and / or subject areas.
Improvement:
I believe these three performance cells for the endorsement criteria work well together and they build toward more comprehensive endorsement. I would suggest adding that some of the sources of endorsement for the notable performance level come from organizations, communities or individuals of proven reputation. How reputation is proven becomes another issue for discussion.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The minimum for a badge system

If I was to list through all the criteria of an introductory badge from the Badge System Design Rubric I would end up with the following list of attributes. And honestly I believe this is the minimum a badge or badge system requires to be considered a starter or basic badge system.

  • Badge is awarded for accomplishing a simple task, attending an event, or participating in a community.
  • Badge has simple design, with little brand or curriculum affiliation. Mono-color badge with simple graphical themes. No integration with other internal or external badge systems. Services the basic graphical needs of a png or svg file.
  • A single badge system, where the badge is well designed from a graphical perspective. It is easily identified in how it can be earned on its own, and within other learning, achievement or recognition journeys.
  • The criteria to earn the badge is well articulated and easily understood. Criteria attribute within the badge meta-data resolves to internet location (URL).
  • Badges are issued from a 3rd party public and open badge issuing platform. Little integration with the course, community of practice, or participants sites are present. All associated URL's resolve back to working and open URL's where no login is required.
  • Each badge fits well within its own badge system and related curriculum. Standards applied are local to the organization, community, group or an individuals badge system.
  • Assertions resolve back to valid URL's.
  • The evidence of an earned badge represents the learning, achievement or recognition criteria of the badge.
  • All skills and knowledge for building the badge system reside within one to three people.

Strength: I believe the main strength of the introductory performance level for badge system design is in its simplicity. The basic levels of performance to introduce a new badge system are well articulated and easily understood.

Opportunity: The description what is a learning, achievement or recognition journey is vague. Providing some concrete examples of these three badge worthy journeys needs more explanation.