#SSSE2013: If You’re Wondering When It Will Be the Right Time to Start Programming…

…that time is now. The youngsters are catching up to the Zuckerbergs and Gates’ of their elder generations and they will leave stragglers in their dust. This week, Seidenberg hosted a camp for high-acheiving students who are interested in programming. The goal of the program was to assist these high schoolers in creating their own computing projects from scratch and giving them a chance to work as a team to present their completed project, in this case a mobile app, to a panel of experts and professors in hopes to prepare them for a time when they will professionally create apps on their own. The genre of this year’s mobile apps was our favorite subject, STEM. Each group (4-5 students and 2 mentors) was required to program an app that would aid other individuals of whatever age group they chose to learn about STEM related topics. These included games, questionnaires, flash-card based apps, and new ways to allow people to actively participate in learning about STEM.

The Summer Scholars were kept busy in hackathon sessions, led by our friends Andrew Clutterbuck and Peter Tapio from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, and a few of our top professors, including Dr. Richard Kline and Dr. Christelle Scharff.  Dr. Kline is, as we know, heavily invested in robotics yet also an expert in teaching usability. On top of this, Dr. Scharff added her knowledge of mobile programming to the lectures provided for the scholars. However, the scholars were also given the chance to explore the ins and outs of NYC. They came from all over the USA and many had not seen the city before in their lives. The scholars visited the usual spots: the American Museum of Natural History, Times Square, Seaport, Central Park, and China Town. Along with the tourist hits, students also got exclusive visits to startup companies and larger corporations; these included Codecademy, StreetEasy, AppFigures, Microsoft, and the crowd favorite: Google. The students were able to ask questions about programming and the computing field as it’s been growing and what it will become when this new generation of programmers hits the ground running. Each company was welcoming and informational; the students left each place with a burst of inspiration that they  were able to incorporate into their projects.

The final presentations were exceptional; the students proved that they had an excellent foundation for an app as well as a foundation in computing for any other apps they may come up with in their future. Leaving the camp after only a week was a bitter end, but well worth it. Students reached out to each other on their own social media, intending to keep in touch long after the camp has passed. Other comments from the students after the session ended included, “Who’s gonna have Post Trip Depression?” from Californian scholar, Ruiqi Mao, and a from a few others, confirmation that Pace is their choice school (whoop whoop!) after going through this program.

The Women Have Taken Over Seidenberg HQ!

The three-day event, Write/Speak/Code has filled Seidenberg’s HQ with women eager to learn more and improve their skills in writing, speaking, and coding. Each day of the event focuses on one of the topics and after the three days, the participants should have a deepened understanding as well as an augmented skill and comfort level in each category.

Participants work together on projects during the Write/Speak/Code event.

The speakers for the event range from software engineers to presentation experts, data-analysts to user-experience strategists, and philanthropists to freelance developers. Each speaker has offered expert advice especially curated for this audience. The attendees focused on writing on the first day, Thursday, June 20th. Speakers introduced tactics used for writing Op-Ed pieces and forming an audible voice through text.
For Friday’s session on ‘Speak,’ I sat in for a bit, and within 10 minutes I learned some basic techniques that improve public speaking. An organizer of the event as well as a Ruby and Javascript developer, Rebecca Miller- Webster spoke of the importance of hand gestures when speaking to an audience. She demonstrated how holding your words in your hands is effective in getting the message to listeners. If one is speaking on a small topic, hands should carry an imaginary tennis-ball sized object, but if the topic has more weight and importance, the speaker should increase their gestures to the likes of holding a basketball in their hands (as demonstrated by the drawing below). Miller-Webster pointed out that famous speakers, namely President Obama, often execute this exact practice.

The size of your hand gestures should reflect the importance of your topic.

On day three, the women learned important coding techniques that they could then apply to their own projects.

Participants actively engaged with the speakers and one another to increase productivity, efficiency, and creativity not only in their personal initiatives but also within the feminist movement. To have a large group of women supporting each other in their path through the conceivably male-dominated world of computing is hugely effective and it is clear that the event has been a success in that area.

For more of the live feed on twitter, take a look at @writespeakcode

This Weekend’s STEM Conference at Pace Featured Exceptional Guests to Discuss Technology’s Role in Education

We just had an eventful and exciting weekend here at Seidenberg! The much anticipated two-day STEM conference has now come and gone, but in its wake remains many new things to discuss, mobile apps to use, plants to tend to, and ZOOBs to play with.

Pictures from the STEM Conference
Pictured clockwise from top, Douglas Rushkoff speaks to the attendees about technology and education; Seidenberg students run final checks on their mobile apps before presenting them to the crowd; Rushkoff and Jonathan Hill have a discussion during Friday’s luncheon; Teachers, professors, and other attendees enjoy food and drinks at Friday’s rooftop mixer.

The two-day event consisted of a VIP luncheon, an evening mixer, and a collaboratory conference. The main topics discussed included technology’s role in educational settings, the importance of approaching technology critically, and how computing should be interdisciplinary but also stand as a full, separate subject.

Our keynote speaker was PhD Media Theorist, Author, and Codecademy’s Evangelist, Douglas Rushkoff. Well-spoken, energetic, and clearly passionate about the day’s topic, Rushkoff had a lot to say about the relationship between technology and education from its past to its trajectory. A main point in his discussion was how programming should be approached as literacy. Students should be as well-rounded in computing as they are expected to be in other subjects. As he mentions in his book Program or Be Programmed, it is not okay to be a mere passenger in the technological world; students should be focused on learning less about basic skills in user-oriented program packages, such as Microsoft Office, and more about the programming skills that give us those packages in the first place. Rushkoff stated that he prefers to approach computing as a liberal art and a science–a type of engineering that he likened to cooking. Cooking is hugely scientific. The chemistry of the elements and how they blend is essential to the task yet cooking can be creative and artful and requires the capacity to multitask as well.

Rushkoff is also a big advocate for experiential education, as described by a mantra, “see one, do one, teach one,” which is part of Codecademy’s teaching process.

When Rushkoff asked the audience for feedback, many of the teachers in the crowd (not all of whom come from a computing or STEM subject) agreed with his stance on the matter. The questions that arose were those of what to do next. One teacher asked how to find a suitable entry point when teaching computing, to which Rushkoff responded that questioning, comparison, and critique are the first steps of learning. To begin, students must approach programming as a liberal art, then they may delve deeper into technical learning.

With that much said, Rushkoff bid the conference farewell and Michael Joaquin Grey, an artist and inventor, stepped up to show everyone his invention: ZOOBs. Disguised as a toy for kids, like Legos or Tinkertoys, ZOOBs are building blocks for all kinds of structures. The unique thing about them is that they are modeled after anatomical and naturally occurring joints and connectors, so the structures that form are mobile and can be close to actual anatomies. Grey presented to the audience a model of a DNA helix that was flexible. From that model, one could see how the DNA can wrap up into different shapes, as it does in living cells. There are five different pieces, which are five different colors, just as there are five vowels, five fingers, five base pairs, five joints. ‘ZOOB’ itself is an acronym for Zoology, Ontology, Ontogeny, and Botany. Grey is now working on projects related to sensory integration issues and computational cinema.

After everyone got their share of playtime with the all-too-addictive ZOOBs, students, professors, and teachers who have been working on their own mobile apps presented their respective programs to the rest of the group. Each app was one geared towards educating and could eventually be used in a classroom setting. The apps, created from scratch, ranged from chemistry rummy to an app for measurements in biology to an app that hosts a virtual patient.

To open back up to the topic of the day, there was a panel discussion that continued off of Douglas Rushkoff’s conversation. The panel featured Steve Ettlinger, author of Twinkie, Deconstructed, Brian Evans and Tom Lynch, both of whom are professors in the School of Education here at Pace, Lou Lahana, a teacher at The Island School, and PhD Meghan Groome, the Executive Director of Education & Public Programs at New York Academy of Science. The moderator was Ben Esner, Director of K-12 STEM Education at Polytechnic Institute at New York University. The discussion flowed through the vision for STEM Education, to techniques and examples in curricula, to publicizing it all to generate a larger discussion across the globe. Audience members were also able to add their two-cents when the time came. One teacher in particular expressed her views that teachers in Pace as well as teachers in any other institute should be able to access curated advice on technology, since no one will have to time to keep up with technology as new devices appear while obtaining the necessary skill levels to teach with each new device. Instead, this teacher hoped that a forum would open up either online or in the form of an association that will produce reputable advice on which technologies are the best in a classroom environment and when it is necessary to update.

Pictures from the STEM Conference
Pictured clockwise from top, Michael Joaquin Grey lays out his ZOOB structures before talking about their conception; Attendees tune in to Grey as he explains ZOOBs; Boswyck Farms displays different devices for Hydroponic farming; Jonathan Hill introduces the students and teachers who have all created mobile apps to share.



“Are Social Media and Community Management the Same Thing?” –What We Learned from the AOL Social Media Salon

In case you missed out on the AOL Social Media Salon at AOL’s Headquarters on 770 Broadway on May 21st, we’re here for you. Seidenberg had a group of enthusiastic attendees, pictured above, and here you’ll find out the most interesting bits of the night including the helpful information that the panel of guests had to offer.

In case you missed out on the AOL Social Media Salon at AOL’s Headquarters on 770 Broadway on May 21st, we’re here for you. Seidenberg had a group of enthusiastic attendees, pictured above, and here you’ll find out the most interesting bits of the night including the helpful information that the panel of guests had to offer.

Our host, Matthew Knell, AOL’s social media director and a graduate of Pace’s School of CSIS (class of 2000), presented for us the panel:

The Panel from AOLSocialMediaSalon

From left to right we have Katie Morse, the social marketing manager at Billboard, Matthew Knell himself, Devin Desjarlais, the social media director at Omaze, Tim McDonald, the community manager at HuffPost Live, and Meg Peters, the community director at Mashable.

The event was held as part of Internet Week New York (#iwny), a festival devoted to exploration of how business, technology, and culture intersect. The goal of this event in particular was to clarify the differences between Social Media and Community Management. After singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Devin Desjarlais, the panel tackled the initial question of “Are social media and community management the same thing?” The overall response was a resounding ‘no,’ the two are not equivalent or interchangeable, but work together, as Devin put it, “like best friends.” The differences were described in terms of proactivity and reactivity. Social Media gets the message out, and Community Management draws people in.

With that said, the panel then discussed how their work is organized around Social Media and Community Management, and whether there is a distinct line of division between the two fronts or if that line is undetectable. They all agreed that there was no distinguishing line, and Meg Peters added that the end goal for both Social Media and Community Management is to allow the readers’ voices to be heard. The readers offer important criticism and advice and it is always important to listen to those comments in order to best improve the readers’ experience.
When the panel was asked about brands’ access to their audiences, it was clear that there usually is a line. Katie Morse said she is “like the gate-keeper.” She will allow sponsored tweets but there is a maximum amount per week and the tweets must always coincide with what Billboard envisions and wants. They use benchmarks to track the success of sponsored tweets in relation to Billboard.

So then, can a Social Media channel have a community? Most of the panel answered ‘yes,’ stating that the channels allow people to connect to one another, generating a community of sorts via threads. Tim McDonald answered ‘no,’ and clarified that “community is community,” and that social media is a way of accessing that community rather than generating it.

The panel then talked about how they measure the success of their Social Media and Community Management forces. Tim claimed to not focus on hard numbers to measure success and instead worry about increasing productivity while overall figuring out how to gain easy access to the information of willing participants. Meg and Katie both shared that they were inclined to use metric data to measure the success of their initiatives, but were mostly concerned with the engagement of their audiences.

For anyone involved in business, Social Media and Community Management are unavoidable in this day in age. Not even are they just unavoidable, but they are crucial as a business stimulus (or detriment, if handled poorly). Students of Seidenberg (and even Lubin and Dyson) are encouraged to hone their skills in managing community affairs and social media forces.

A few students from Seidenberg were able to reserve a spot at the event. Julie Gauthier, a rising junior, Computer Science major, says she learned a lot about large business management via social media. She states “It’s closely tied into marketing, but it’s a far more interpersonal relationship with a fanbase, or a variety of fan-bases.” She also claimed that the information is directly relatable to her position as a digital marketer for a small company in Connecticut. Another student, Sabiya Bacchus, also a rising junior, Computer Science major, after attending the panel discussion, learned that “it’s imperative to understand your target audience/readers, because only then can you maximize their experience, which will inevitably help you achieve your goal (whatever it may be).”

After taking all this new information in, we (the bloggers, social media controllers, and community managers in Seidenberg) have started to wonder about other branches that may be less obvious forms of community management. For example, the Student Government Association. Are positions within SGA considered to be Community Management positions? If so, how are these officers using Social Media to amplify their information to the right audiences? Not only SGA, but how are clubs, greek houses, or any other groups keen on keeping a specific group of students involved, informed, and engaged using technology to their advantage?

As a side note, other tips for Social Media channels include:
– Be aware of the fine balance between entertaining posts and posts that advertise.
– People will tune out repetitive posts; keep your feed interesting and lively.
– Do not buy likes (companies will try to sell 10,000 likes/followers for $500, for example). They are neither genuine nor interactive, and when the number of followers/likes of a page does not correspond with the likes of popular posts, those numbers will reflect poorly on the brand/company/group.



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