Checking out Groovy…

It’s a quite typical architecture for Java webapp to have Apache Velocity as templating engine that handles the View part of your MVC.

Well, having worked for a while with it and checking out Groovy now I immediately felt it’s be very interesting to have Groovy there instead of Velocity.

Velocity is sensibly weak in working with arrays and lists. But Groovy on contrary adds more power and convenience in this aspect. And doesn’t seem to be lacking in any other.

It seems someone in 2007 already though about this:

And even more – Grails, the Groovy framework, is actually based on Spring MVC, although this is a bit too much compared to just having Groovy scripts as “views” in Spring MVC.

All in all, it sounds like a good ting to try out.

Few simple/obvious ideas on education

I’ve got a few rough idealistic “SCI-FI kind” ideas on education that I somehow would like to share.
If you find them obvious or… ehm… even a bit silly – well, you might be right (-:


# University lectures generally don’t change much, and thus can be re-used over time by using recordings (that are updated when necessary) – like Berkeley University did.
Also they can be re-used “in space” by using video-conferencing technologies.

Of-course, some theories are refined etc etc, but in general physics and mathematical analysis lectures remain mostly the same, thus making it reasonable to re-use them over time.
Also physics and math are same, no matter which university (or not even necessarily university) they’re told in.

I see no compelling reason why lectures from one university cannot be re-used in another 10 or 10 000 universities (DRY principle for real world).

Berkeley recordings IMO are a good example how not to make recorded lectures BTW: these should be more presentation/screencast-like I think, certainly not a videotaping of typical lectures in front of live auditory with all the outcoming timewaste (that blabber about attending labs etc is especially annoying in it’s distracting irrelevance).
Also Berkeley 2006 recordings look like early 90-es (-: – a bit weak sound (sometimes problems with it), bleak colours, all this chalk and dusty blackboards etc etc – even whiteboards + coloured markers would be a noticeable improvement.Compare Berkeley recordings to Google Tech Talks for instance, and you’ll know which is the direction to improve as I see it.

There are many different ways to modernize it – think of PowerPoint-like presentations, screencasts, iPad magazines ADs (-; (and flipboard app, heh) etc etc. Lots of space for imagination and experiments.

# Videoconferencing for lectures can be particularly interesting if organized as cooperative lectures, performed by several lecturers from different universities together.

Imagine two (three, four, five…) best specialists/teachers in a field lead a lecture for auditory of millions of students, distributed over multiple universities all around the country/globe, at which local teachers (or professors, title doesn’t matter) are taking over when it comes the time for Q&A (questions & answers) – after cooperative lecture is over.

Of-course, practical part (labs etc) remain local, though can also be performed cooperatively, having, say, groups from 2 universities working together, having different universities each time – that’d be somewhat refreshing and help distributing ideas quicker I reckon.
There are many variants here also – only sky is the limit.

# It’s many years now since video-recording and video-conferencing have become common and quite inexpensive. Unlike it was in 80-es or early 90-es, there’s no need for any special equipment to make (let alone playback) video recordings, or even organize a video conference – every student now has a mobile phone now that can record video, and some smartphones can actually stream it to web where anyone can watch it (see and the like).
So there should be no problem experimenting with those until best working practices would be found.

Same/similar practices can be applied to schools and other educational facilities.

# Outro: when my parents were young, television was something new and amazing. When I was younger, Internet was new and amazing. I sincerely envy subsequent generations (-: