dinsdag 16 november 2010

The best way to fail for a student

Today we will finish our project for Datema with demo's, presentation and prizegiving. We had five groups working on a web app, Android app and iPad app. In general the results are satisfactory.
Pete* however had not been up to the task. He never got his hands on the keyboard and learning objective C was too difficult for him. I had noticed that and the peerassessment confirmed it. I invited Pete over for an individual examination which he probably wouldn't pass.
When Pete entered the room I asked him if we should go through with it, or rather discuss his issues. We ended up talking about his problems, possible solution, his future ambitions and his choices for the rest of his studies. This was much more valuable to him than doing the individual test. When he left he had a new vision about what he wanted to do and how to get there. If you fail for a subject, make sure you get something out of it.

dinsdag 28 september 2010


Blogging about Twitter, ehhh... right. I've looked into Twitter for the Datema-project (www.wikipilot.org) and think I have the hang of it now. But the big question is: will it be really useful? I'll give it some time to find out.
I see a great use case for Twitter in the chess world. If every player or captain gave some tweets after the game, you'd have a really nice way of following all the matches. But I'm afraid I'm probably the only member of our club who has a clue about Twitter.

zondag 12 september 2010


Last week I went to a seminar on research. Boring? Dry? No! The seminar was titled "Research in professional education, there's more possible than you think" and was run by Bas Haring and Maarten Lamers. Bas Haring is best known of the two, but they make a great couple and complement eachother seamlessly.

The angle of the seminar was that the universities of applied science (which in the Netherlands are just getting started with research) shouldn't try to emulate what the research universities are doing for centuries. Instead we should make use of our own strengths to find new subjects and research them in creative new ways.

For me the biggest takeaway however was an enhanced vision of what research is, separated from how it's done. Another big point we kind of discovered as a group is the confusion between "uitzoeken" and "onderzoeken". (Trying to translate these in English doesn't resolve the confusion.) Probably a lot of activities which are called 'onderzoek' in reality are 'uitzoeken'.
Finally I also have some ideas about how to integrate research in our curriculum. That might be useful because the rest of the organisation is kinda struggling with that. :-)

woensdag 1 september 2010

A new project for Agile Software Development

For years we used the Cab Dispatcher as the standard project in our Agile Software Development course. It still is a great (fictional) case study but it was time for a change. Last year we experimented with the case study on monitoring mentally handicapped people. Doing a new case poses a number of challenges to the lecturers, but it was closer to the real world.
This year we're taking it a step further by doing a real-life project with a client in the business of shippingnavigation. I think it will be very interesting. Let's see what the students think about it.

maandag 23 augustus 2010

Summertime & mobile devices

It has been a long summer which I have used to study a lot of stuff, both professional and private. One of the things we did was buy a Nintendo for the kids and find out how to (...).

What amazes me is the amount of game- and userexperience comes from such a small device, i.e. in a nice game like Picross3D. Compare this to the new HTC smartphone (Windows mobile) I got from my office a while ago. It looks cool but has the size of a refridgerator, the powerconsumption of a SUV and I'm not enjoying the usability.

When is Nintendo developing a mobile phone?

vrijdag 23 juli 2010

Lean architecture

Just before the summer holiday started I went to a NLJUG university session by Xebia. The evening was about their concept of "lean architecture". Lean architecture means applying lean principles like "eliminate waste" to the architecting process. And there is quite some waste to eliminate at most companies :)
After presenting their principles (http://www.slideshare.net/xebia/lean-architecture-university-session-for-nljug-at-xebia-on-july-8th-2010 ) we quickly got to work on a case study. And maybe this was the most instructive part for me. Getting a fuzzy assignment, too little time and a bunch of people. "Go and do it." As an outsider I would say that there were way too much degrees of freedom in the workshop (I counted 8). While you were working on 1 or 2, you would be interrupted about one of the others. Never mind, my take away point is to keep this in mind when I set my students to work.
At the questions at the end they put on their "process" slide. I felt a bit uneasy with it. Agile was al about keeping things simple. But now the scrum process was extended with a productbacklog kanban and an architecture kanban and relationships between the three. Oh well, when you need to choose between changing people or processes, maybe changing processes is easier?

woensdag 30 juni 2010


After about 8 years of trying (not fulltime ;-), I FINALLY got an RMI example to work. And with that I mean working as it should by transferring classfiles, not cheating by putting the classfiles of the server on the clientside.

In 2002 I understood the concepts in about 15 minutes and the rest of years was pure frustration on crappy tutorials and technical details (trailing slashes, classpaths, codebases, security policies). I tried to find my original 2002 posts on the Sun developer forums but they are either archived or banned. My point was then and still is now: if you can't get a HelloWorld working in 15 minutes (ok, 1 hour) then the technology won't catch on. I've seen plenty of students give it a try and I couldn't blame them when they quit.

Glad I can put this one behind me, let's move on to other things now. I have a whole list for the coming holiday ;-)

Update: : http://java.sun.com/docs/books/tutorial/rmi/index.html was the most useful tutorial

vrijdag 21 mei 2010

Karlstad university

I visited Karlstad university (Sweden) with some colleagues last week. It's a former Högskule that has transformed itself into a university with a lot of research activities (and funding!). This took a long term effort however. I can imagine this is the vision our rector Henk Pijlman has of the direction the Hanze should move into. My estimate is that it would take 10-15 years of concentrated effort, a lot of it on the personnelmanagement side.

We met some nice and interesting colleagues (Anna Brunstrum, Donald Ross, Martin Blom) and discussed collaboration possibilities on agile among other things. I got a nice idea about the coding dojo which I would like to give a spin next year. Finally we also went to the Compare Testlab and met Sven Wedemalm.

dinsdag 30 maart 2010

Universidad Polytecnica Madrid

Last week I did my first Erasmus lectures. I was invited at the Universidad Polytecnica Madrid to give four lectures. As the topic I chose agile software development. This obligation had as an effect that I prepared pretty hard, developing new teaching material and learning even more about scrum, kanban and lean in the process. I now have a new case study which I really like and I hope I can reuse in on other occasions. UPM would probably like me to come back next year, I'll have to check with my boss and the internationalisation officer if that's feasible. Once you go international, there are so many places to choose from.

What more can I say about the experience? Madrid is nice, the spanish people are friendly, the country doesn't differ that much with the Netherlands, except for their eating schedule. The students were about as I expected: stronger on the theoretical issues, not very experienced on the practical side and they need to work on their English.

Thus I have finished another challenge to myself. The hardest part was the preparation. But you know what they say: "Train hard, win easy" :-)

maandag 18 januari 2010

Busy times...

These are busy times, I need a lot of time just to keep my todo-list up-to-date. So Keeping up with IT is more Learning on the job at the moment.

  • Tomas Gustavsson from Karlstad University is coming over to give a workshop on Scrum, with the emphasis on starting up a project.
  • A delegation of Fachgymnasium Papenburg is coming over to discuss whether our studies are interesting for their students.
  • In March I'll go to Universidad Polytecnica de Madrid for a week to give some lectures on agile software development. I combine this with mentoring Hanzestudents who are doing their graduation work there (on the subject of Google wave).
Research? Not really research yet in my opinion. I'm involved in the NOVO-project (see earlier posts) but at this point it's about system development. Requirements, use cases and architecture are starting for real now. The build team (Q3+Q4) will consist of 3 students and we'll be using Scrum.

Curriculum Development
  • I'll need to update our 2nd year software engineering course with more multithreading because of the "multi-core revolution". Also, our strategy of intensifying the 1st year has led to material going from 2nd to 1st year. This creates room for some other topics!
  • Software architecture will be added to our 4th year, a non-trivial job.
For the accreditation our institute will be visited by Hobeon in the fall. This means there's a lot of work for us to get ready.

I'm participating in the project group that's developing a honours course for excellent students. After some brainstorming we've got the right ideas. Now we have to see if we can match them with the 'guidelines' that came down from Hanze central.

And I still have a buildtool/continuous integration server on my wishlist. But I'm afraid it will have to wait some more...