Experience over preparation
2020 October 14 Wednesday 19:36
This term has been noticeably busier: more classes of the same course; more students. The result has been less of a collection of lessons plans thoughtfully prepared in advance and more of an ad hoc adaption to what needs to be done on the hour, on the day. Thankfully the practical experience gained so far and helped avoid any feelings of panic and instead an acceptance of flexibility; after all, there will always be slight variations due to students themselves. A slight regret so far has been the lack of time to read more around the subject in general (the rss has barely been touched so far this term, but hopefully with a half-term imminent that will change...
Freedom software failure rant (again)
Usually around this time of year, kinetics is taught to gce a students. Also usual is the annoyance that to date, still unable to find a decent data visualisation tool suitable to introduce simple statistics to pre-university students (school, college age). What would be the criteria of such a good software?
- Open source licence
- Does not require personal data to be submitted (goodbye Google, Micro$oft spreadsheets)
- Does not require software to be downloaded
- Allows data import via csv
- Allows students to export statistical data (e.g. similar to functions in 'R') in plain text and graphs in various image formats (e.g. png
- Simple syntax of commands (again like 'R') that teachers can save in simple text format for distribution to students to amend
Familiar balance between public safety and private profit
2020 October 29 Thursday 18:20
Since the start of term, have pretty much failed to read a single article in 'Chemistry World'; unless effort is made, the annual subscription becomes wasteful. So, with a "rainy afternoon" (actually the entirety of daylight hours) in effect, finally achieved something to read of interest.
The Chemical safety library, claims to be a "crowd-sourced" repository of hazardous chemical reactions, but the "crowd" appears to be only one entity (American Chemical Society). What caught the eye was the reticence of industry (no surprise) to see "trade-secret reactions" published into the public domain, but how else is public safety to be maximised without such knowledge. Reminds of the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry, where commercial interests demand litigation immunity instead of the wider, future benefit of the pursuit of truth. Also of interest is the requirement for those that submit information to provide personal and institutional data. Is this really necessary? It would be better if information and communication was conducted anonymously; there are plenty of software tools to achieve this. However, initiatives such as 'Open Malaria' (rss feed) demonstrate that public domain collaboration is still possible. Chemical industry remains notoriously conservative, but it's a capital-intensive business. Time for shared investments, profits, licenced manufacture without the
vultureventure capitalists' excessive profits?