Category Archives: Week 13

Apprenticeship Pattern: Record What You Learn

This week I also read the pattern “Record What You Learn”, and this is a pattern that I am not anywhere near doing correctly. I think that this problem is useful, and though not as significantly as the others, still one worth implementing. This pattern is essentially asking you to take notes and record all of the things that you’ve learned throughout your journey. Taking notes does help in learning, but its real power comes when you actually go back and review these notes. The author alludes to the previously mentioned by suggesting that we keep our notes in a medium that we are more likely to access and interact with. Often times notes are taken in a subject specific notebook or application, the problem with this can be actually going back to this material to review it since it may lack that personal touch. This problem can be alleviated by storing your notes in a personal wiki, journal, or blog, the key being that this medium is personal and that it is something we interact with often.

The author emphasized the idea that your notes should be a “nursery, not a graveyard”, meaning that these notes should be a source of progress and growth and not stagnation. Even if you go through your notes daily, if you are only trying to memorize what is in your notes rather than trying to gain new insights and making new connections with them your time could be better spent doing something else. The other great benefit of having these notes is the fact that they act as some sort of wiki for you. The author mentions this and I have seen the truth in that myself. There have been times when there was a problem/bug that I could not figure out and the solution required multiple different things to be done, when I originally learned to solve the problem it may have taken me hours to gather all of the resources and information, but after storing all of those steps in my notes, I do it in minutes. Taking notes can often be too mundane and boring to actually want to do but this pattern has really showed me that it’s worth powering through it. By recording what you learn you have a detailed history of your grown, your own personal archive, and source of future ideas and innovations and because of this I will definitely try to apply this pattern as well throughout my career.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Site Title by lphilippeau and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Pattern: Practice, Practice, Practice

This week I read the pattern “Practice, Practice, Practice” and the focus of this pattern is pretty obvious. An expected theme that I came across when reading this pattern was the importance of practice itself, but the author went beyond that and specified the type of practice that is most valuable. The technique of practice that is optimal is said to be “deliberate practice” in which “ a mentor would assign you an exercise based on her understanding of your strengths and weaknesses…”. This method of practice is good because the exercises that you are practicing with match your skill level and most important of all, you are receiving feedback. Depending on your performance, this mentor would then decide whether or not increase the difficulty of the exercises. I can see the value in practicing like this, a big thing stopping me and many others from going back and practicing is how boring and mundane it is and this method ensures that you are amply challenged.

Another aspect of practice that the author mentions that you don’t often hear about is relaxation. The author says “if you aren’t relaxed you’re not going to learn from the practice”, in my experience this could not be anymore true. The practice that you are doing should be relaxing, it should be done without a deadline in an environment where you can break things without consequence.That brings me back to the level of challenge once again, this is because the practice should be done at a difficulty where you can learn but not too difficult that you get frustrated. Having learn how much being relaxed helps in the learning process I intend to use this going forward. The goal is to get to the point where you enjoy your practice sessions if you do not then you should likely change how you are practicing, and if that still fails then it could be because you don’t really enjoy the thing you are practicing.

The other major point that the author hit upon was feedback, this topic has been addressed in other patterns throughout the book and this is because of how important it really is. Yes it is true that practice makes you better, but practicing the wrong this will make you better at the wrong thing. Feedback is important because it makes sure that while you are practicing you are doing things right and developing good habits.

This pattern has reinforced to me the importance of practice, but more than that it’s showed me the importance of CORRECT practice. I plan on implementing this pattern not only throughout my software career, but on any skill that I want to develop in the future.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Site Title by lphilippeau and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Dig Deeper

Dig deeper is a very important apprenticeship pattern to remember throughout your career and especially one to pay close attention to early on in your career.  It stresses that just writing a solution that you found online or just guessed until it worked is not good enough. It is important to know why the code solved the problem that you were having.  You should also look as to why was this the chosen solution, why code A over code B. This will help you stand out at work as someone who is a more effective problem solver. This will also help so you don’t submit a project that is only half complete; maybe the question that was answered on stack overflow did not include a test that was specific to your work.  If you do not dig deeper into your solution you may not realize this and turn in an unfinished project. When you only scratch the surface and just barely do enough to get by or even less than that work falls to others. There is a set amount of work that needs to be done for each project. Just because you do less doesn’t mean less work needs to be done, it just means that you are putting a bigger burden on the rest of your team that needs to complete their own work and pick up your slack as well.

When moving on from school I intend to make it a point to set aside time to review all the work that I complete as well as try to fully understand other parts of the program that I have a chance to see before submitting my work.  I think this will be beneficial for a few different reasons. First it will help set an impression with both my peers and superiors that I am a thorough worker who puts extra effort into my code. More importantly though it will allow me to expand my knowledge and provide the best possible solution for the problem that I am presented with.  It will help a well rounded tool kit that I may not only use immediately but could be applied in the future too. Doing this early on will create a solid foundation to build on for the foreseeable future.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Tim's Blog by nbhc24 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Expose Your Ignorance

This week I read the section called Expose Your Ignorance. This sections is something i can relate to very well. I am a senior in college and by that time many people would think that you would be able to program thing by yourself.  You should know about at least 2-3 languages by now and have the knowledge to work in the real world however just like the section “White Belt” there are always going to be people better than you and you don’t know everything yet. It is still a learning experience and for me in the class that we are taking now the section we are doing for the project. Which is encryption services is still something I don’t know much about at all. Just saying that you know nothing about something would be better then you hiding and saying nothing. That is what a team is about. To help and encourage each other to do what you can do and that way you can help them when they need help. During hackatons that i go to when meeting new people if we wanna work on a project we all have to introduce ourselves to each other. We also have to tell people what we can and can’t do because if we depend on someone to the most important part of the project and they don’t have the knowledge to do it in the end we would not have a project to present. Also just because you don’t have the knowledge to work on the project you should not just sit around and do nothing. Take this time to learn a new language, download the library’s needed to work on the project, watch videos, and work with a project partner to see if there is anything you can do. Just like the section says people are more inclined to make themselves look competent then just to tell others that you don’t know what you are doing because there are people looking up to you for advice or employers looking to you for the knowledge. That is why this section teaches you that you that lying about knowledge inst worth it and to accept your faults and work on them another day.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Road of CS by Henry_Tang_blog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Use the Source

Problem

Without exemplars of good practice to study and emulate, the Practice, Practice, Practice pattern only entrenches the bad habits you don’t know you have. If you never walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, you may come to believe that all shoes are meant to have stones in them. So how do you find out if your work is any good, given that those around you may not have the ability to tell good code from bad?

Solution

The solution the text offers is to seek out other people’s code and read it. Start looking into applications and tools you use every day. It allows to you to learn how other professionals write code, and the thought process behind creating the infrastructure you’re using. When examining open source projects, it’s best to download the most recent version and preferably from the direct source so you can inspect the history of commits and track future updates. Learn the codebase and how the files are structured. Think about how you would have done things differently, and if maybe you should rethink the way you do something because someone might have a better solution.

This pattern has good tips on learning from the source. I liked the idea of starting with tools and applications you work with every day, I think starting with open source projects is a great way to learn how current professionals are writing code and what practices they are utilizing. You may find things you disagree with and things that make you re-think how to approach a problem. I think it’s also good advice to seek out others to read code you’ve written and have them offer feedback. It refreshing to know that so much content is available open source, and it can give people like me access to real working programs that I can learn and possible contribute to in the future. I like the idea of looking into sites like Git, Subversion, and Mercurial and learning how these projects work, and what design patterns and algorithms they are using. I believe reading and understanding open source projects will make me a better programmer, and will help me greatly in my professional career as I continue to add to my toolbox of best practices.

The post Use the Source appeared first on code friendly.

From the blog CS@Worcester – code friendly by erik and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Sustainable Motivations

From the blog CS@Worcester – BenLag's Blog by benlagblog and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns – Find Mentors

This is probably the most important pattern I have checked out in the book by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye. The entire pattern is about finding a mentor/master that helps you walk “The Long Road” with more ease. Allowing you to grow and cultivate your skills into tools that will be used for the rest of your life. The authors make sure to note that since our profession is still relatively young, there aren’t many recognized “masters” of the art. However, your masters don’t have to be physically available to you at all times. Maybe you read a book about someone’s life who really interested you and you begin to develop a passion for the things the author enjoyed, that author will be your master regardless of whether you talked to them or not. They may even be deceased!

The authors go on to emphasize that just because you are the apprentice and your master is the master, doesn’t mean that they are the one and all-knowing god of coding.  No one knows everything. Be free to opportunities and don’t only talk to your master, learn from other masters and expand your mind with knowledge. Lastly, this chapter reassures you that there is no real risk to looking for mentors. While it may be difficult, the payoff would be huge for you. The only risk is getting rejected, which really is not that big of a deal. Most top-notch developers had memorable mentors to help them along the way.

This pattern will certainly affect how I go about things in the future. I had never really thought about going up to someone and asking to be their apprentice or “assistant” but I could actually see it working. I could see someone at a new job being a mentor to me but I could also see myself going to volunteer on a separate project outside of work just to get extra practice and that sense of apprenticeship. I really enjoy the thought of having a mentor, so that may be one of my next steps.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Rookey Mistake by Shane Rookey and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.