Landing : Athabascau University


  • "Who does not know the problems with the driving test or studies testing? You have not time to learn and have more important things to do! And suddenly, the date for the exam or test in a few days.If your exam is important to you and you do not know...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked JavaScript Is Eating The World in the group COMP 266 August 25, 2017 - 1:38pm
    Welcome news for students of COMP266 - skills in JavaScript are becoming more and more valuable every day, albeit driven mainly by NodeJS, the dominant server-side variant of JavaScript that is not (yet) addressed in the course.  JavaScript...
    • A few things. C# is open source. The design repo is here It is also an open ECMA standard. 10 years ago you may have been right, but Microsoft has been moving in the direction of making it open source for quite some time.

      The other thing is that I don't see JavaScript supplanting compiled languages any time soon because JavaScript is terrible to maintain the larger the project gets. Lack of strong typing is a big drawback for me, though there are tools to help with this such as TypeScript and Flow.

      In the article you mentioned, most of the large companies you mentioned are still using traditional server side languages for the backend. For example NetFlix is only using JavaScript on the front end only. The back end is still Java. Most large scale apps would not trust their business logic to JavaScript.

      One reason JavaScript is so popular is because it is the only front end language available. For backend we can choose PHP, C#, Python, Java, Ruby ... the list goes on, but for front end there's only JavaScript.

      I'm not knocking JavaScript or anything, but I don't plan on using it for anything more than front end.

      - Louise Eggleton

      Anonymous March 6, 2018 - 3:20am

    • Good points, Louise, thanks - I was certainly being unfair on C#, though I still think it is a redundant and pointless (and largely pointerless!) language that was more a result of marketing than genuine need.

      I guess the big thing I like about JavaScript is its flexibility: not so much technically, as in the way it is embedded in practice. It's like Wordpress - at best so-so architecturally, and nothing like as good as much of the competition when looked at from an objective design perspective, whether in terms of learnability, ease of development, speed, reliability, maintainability, scalability or whatever. However, the overwhelmingly vast number of developers, trainers, administrators and sources, not to mention an enormous range of extensions/plugins/libraries/frameworks to fill in any gaps, mean that it can do pretty much any job at least as well as anything else (often better), with the huge benefits that come from sheer scale. You'd not pick it as a backend if all else were equal, but all else is not equal because we are, as you say, pretty much forced to use it on the Web front end (for now - wasm may change that). Why struggle to stay fluent in two languages (and deal with the hiring, training, maintenance, and other associated costs)  when one will do? I still struggle unnecessarily with different curly bracket languages because I constantly forget which slight syntax variants and constructs matter in which language: I'd rather focus on depth than breadth. Useful, too, that it is increasingly embedded into many native apps and operating systems. Mind you, much of this was once true of BASIC too, which is barely a rounding error in the statistics any more, so who knows?

      It's too early to tell whether wasm will significantly impact JS growth. It makes it much easier to write front end stuff in other languages, and to run code at nearly native speeds, and it has a very powerful consortium behind it, so it's hard to ignore. However, the Web browser is not quite the driver that it once was, and JS has a lot of momentum across the field. My suspicion is that whether it affects JS growth will hinge as much on libraries and frameworks as on the languages themselves. Personally, I'd like to see Python replace JS - not perfect by any means, but it has the best balance I can see between ease of learning, power, elegance, maintainability, maturity, and developer community.

      Jon Dron March 6, 2018 - 10:49am

    • C# may have started as a marketing thing, ie as Microsoft's version of Java, but has some features beyond what Java has such as LINQ, Asnyc/Await, Nullable types. I come from a web programming background (Perl,PHP,VB Script, Cold Fusion) and switching to C# was the best thing I ever did. I love the C style snyntax. I can't tell you how much I dislike Basic style syntax like Visual Basic. I love the Visual Studio IDE and I love strong typing and objected oriented programming. I sound like a Microsoft fanboy (girl in this case), but actally I have been won over to C# despite healthy scepticism about Microsoft.

      The reason I decided on C# is because I can reuse the code in multiple applications. We have a web application, but also several scheduled console applications and soon a smartphone app, all of which can be done in C#.

      I suspect Java would have also provided many of the benefits over the interpreted languages I used in the past, though my understanding is that it is a liitle more invloved to port Java to web applications.

      I don't mind having to use different tools for different things, though I do also get mixed up at times with different sytaxes for different languages. That's when a good editor/IDE comes in really handy.

      Haven't learned Python yet, but am familar with its syntax and understand its appeal.

      I am very interested in learning TypeScript as it addresses a lot of issues I have with JavaScript.

      wasm sounds very interesting. I had a look at the link you sent. Coud be a while before it comes to fruition.

      Louise Nicoll March 8, 2018 - 4:04am

  • Jon Dron commented on the file EdD 'about me' presentation, 2017 August 23, 2017 - 10:29am
    Thanks Oscar! I know very little indeed about quite a lot of stuff, and not very much about anything. Worse, the older I get, the less I seem to know. I'm fairly sure that is not how it is supposed to work.
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file EdD 'about me' presentation, 2017 August 22, 2017 - 1:01pm
    A few slides giving an overview of some of my more notable research activities and interests, including book-writing, tool-building, and model/theory building, presented as part of the EdD DE induction week, August 2017.
    • Great, Jon! You are an interdiscipinary talent and expert!

      Oscar Lin August 23, 2017 - 8:30am

    • Thanks Oscar! I know very little indeed about quite a lot of stuff, and not very much about anything. Worse, the older I get, the less I seem to know. I'm fairly sure that is not how it is supposed to work.

      Jon Dron August 23, 2017 - 10:29am

  • Jon Dron published a blog post Strategies for successful learning at AU August 15, 2017 - 7:01pm
    Earlier today I responded to a prospective student who was, amongst other things, seeking advice on strategies for success on a couple of our self-paced programming courses. My response was just a stream of consciousness off the top of my head but...
    • Thanks Viet!

      My suggestions just scratch the surface.  COMP602 is quite different from COMP266, for which I originally wrote this, but there are nonetheless consistent concerns that the courses share. Those central issues of motivation - autonomy, relatedness, and competence - are (I think) the biggest ones, but it's important to remember that motivation is complex, multi-faceted, and situated. i'm a big fan of self-determination theory, on which I based my concluding comments, which (amongst other things) identifies those three aspects as the fundamental prerequisites of intrinsic motivation. However, most of us hit roadblocks now and then, even when we love most of what we are doing, and intrinsic motivation is seldom sustainable all the time. I deeply hate the worst form of extrinsic motivatlon, external regulation (the typical way we teach, that relies on rewards and punishments to push people along), and will do all that I can to limit that in COMP02, but there are forms of internal regulation that, though technically extrinsic, are self-directed, and can really help. See for a nice, straightforward overview.

      I look forward to greeting you on COMP602!


      Jon Dron December 3, 2017 - 10:37pm

  • Jon Dron commented on the blog SCIS makes a great showing at HCI 2017, Vancouver July 24, 2017 - 4:51pm
    Click to see full size file.... (nb. only available to members of the SCIS group)
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Professor Jon Dron | Beyond Busy July 13, 2017 - 2:14pm
    An interview with me by Graham Allcott, author of the bestselling How to be a productivity ninja and other books, for his podcast series Beyond Busy, and as part of the research for his next book. In it I ramble a lot about issues like social media,...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post SCIS makes a great showing at HCI 2017, Vancouver July 12, 2017 - 8:47pm
     I had the pleasure today to gatecrash the HCI 2017 conference in Vancouver, which gave me the chance to see Dr Ali Dewan present three excellent papers (two with his name on them) on a variety of themes, as well as a great paper written...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Jon Dron and Ali Dewan at HCI 2017 July 12, 2017 - 8:42pm
    A selfie of Jon Dron and Ali Dewan at the Vancouver Conference Centre
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Ali Dewan presenting at HCI 2017 July 12, 2017 - 8:34pm
    Ali Dewan presenting at HCI 2017
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Miao-Han Chang presenting July 12, 2017 - 8:30pm
    Miao-Han presenting at HCI 2017, Vancouver
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Ali Dewan presenting July 12, 2017 - 8:28pm
    Ali at HCI 2017
  • What a wonderful quote! I had to look it up - it was Shimon Schocken, in a TED talk about his very cool bottom-up hands-on failure-driven self-guided approaches to learning:  The whole thing is worth...
  • The always wonderful Alfie Kohn describes an airline survey that sought to find out how it compared with others, which he chose not to answer because the airline was thus signalling no interest in providing the best quality experience possible,...
    • To quote someone whose name I don't recall, "Grading takes the fun out of failing."

      Mary Pringle July 5, 2017 - 9:57am

    • What a wonderful quote! I had to look it up - it was Shimon Schocken, in a TED talk about his very cool bottom-up hands-on failure-driven self-guided approaches to learning: 

      The whole thing is worth watching, but I love this bit at about 10 minutes in:

      "I'd like to say a few words about traditional college grading. I'm sick of it. We are obsessed with grades because we are obsessed with data, and yet grading takes away all the fun from failing, and a huge part of education is about failing. Courage, according to Churchill, is the ability to go from one defeat to another without losing enthusiasm. And [Joyce] said that mistakes are the portals of discovery. And yet we don't tolerate mistakes, and we worship grades. So we collect your B pluses and your A minuses and we aggregate them into a number like 3.4, which is stamped on your forehead and sums up who you are. Well, in my opinion, we went too far with this nonsense, and grading became degrading."

      Jon Dron July 5, 2017 - 10:26am

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Wrong Way sign July 4, 2017 - 5:04pm
    Wrong way sign
  • Great critique by Tom Worthington of an alleged for-credit MOOC from MIT that was anything but a MOOC. As Tom rightly points out, two instructors, 31 students, and online materials from EdX do not a MOOC make. As he notes, this kind of instructional...
    • Edex courses about promotion of Microsoft tools as UI. Re: Java/JavaScipt/C++..    Why the students should use  tools instead of writing own code??

      - anonymous

      Anonymous June 30, 2017 - 7:20pm

  • I suspect everyone on Athabasca University's staff will be very interested in these posts by Matthew Prineas, who we will welcome on September 5th as our new provost and VPA, that show a great understanding of at least some of the benefits and...
  • Jon Dron commented on the blog Athabasca's bright future June 23, 2017 - 5:49pm
    Thanks Mary, thanks Caroline! I hope my remarks did not come across as critical of the town or its people, Mary - they were not meant that way. I, too, very much want Athabasca to thrive and I do appreciate its charms. Those well tended gardens,...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post Athabasca's bright future June 21, 2017 - 8:46pm
    The always excellent Tony Bates provides a clear summary of Ken Coates's Independent Third-Party Review of Athabasca University released last week and, as usual, provides a great critical commentary and useful advice on next steps.I am much...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Landing logo medium resolution June 21, 2017 - 4:38pm
    long version of the Landing logo showing the river it represents a little more clearly than the one usually seen on the site