By now, all of you know that Google is THE company where bright people want to work. Just look at what Peter Norvig, (arguably) the best AI expert in the world, says in his rÃ©sumÃ©:
Note to recruiters: Please don’t offer me a job. I already have the best job in the world at the best company in the world.
While reading Steve Yegge’s blog today on Good Agile, Bad Agile, I came across his description of how software developers work at Google:
There are managers, sort of, but most of them code at least half-time, making them more like tech leads.
Developers can switch teams and/or projects any time they want, no questions asked; just say the word and the movers will show up the next day to put you in your new office with your new team.
Google has a philosophy of not ever telling developers what to work on, and they take it pretty seriously.
Developers are strongly encouraged to spend 20% of their time (and I mean their M-F, 8-5 time, not weekends or personal time) working on whatever they want, as long as it’s not their main project.
There aren’t very many meetings. I’d say an average developer attends perhaps 3 meetings a week, including their 1:1 with their lead.
It’s quiet. Engineers are quietly focused on their work, as individuals or sometimes in little groups or 2 to 5.
There aren’t Gantt charts or date-task-owner spreadsheets or any other visible project-management artifacts in evidence, not that I’ve ever seen.
Even during the relatively rare crunch periods, people still go get lunch and dinner, which are (famously) always free and tasty, and they don’t work insane hours unless they want to.
… which I summarise by saying that at Google, software developers are treated as intelligent human beings and are encouraged to create and have fun at the same time.
Now I understand why the brightest want to want there!
As a Lecturer, I find it rather disturbing that we tend to train students otherwise. Could we
- Act as tech leads who actually participate in the software development process together with the students?
- Let students move from project to project until they feel comfortable?
- Let the students come up themselves with interesting projects to do?
- Encourage them to use 20% of their time to work on something personal?
- Socialise more?
Can this work? Or will the students just take us all for a ride? Will students stop respecting us if we socialise too much? Will students be able to come up with interesting projects to do? Or will they just Google up something already done and copy paste from that?
Are we ready to act as intelligent people?
Asvin Balloo says
I don’t know if you watched M6 recently, there was a Google “reportage” in Capital and if I recall correctly, there was a graphic designer who said that when he enters the GooglePlex, it’s like he’s entering heaven! But definitely Google IS the place to be! HEAVEN! ;-)
Eddy Young says
Look up the work of the Pyre. It’s some kind of project at the university where Olivier Yip Tong studied. I think he was on it.
as a student, i think an initiative or our lecturers to socialise a bit with us would b most welcomed. i’ve done 3 modules (still doing 2) with you, and i might say that those classes are much more interesting, surtout les parentheses.. ;-) not all lecturers take the time to share a tits and bits of things they come across (btw i’ve tried ruby on rails!!)..some only stick to the lecture notes and 3 hrs of lectures can sometimes b very boring, specially when its only a monologue of the lecturer. some lecturers sometimes seem so distant that u even hesitant to ask them smtg..and some careless just do their lecture so as to finish on time..another thing as well..hw many students have had a decent conversation with their lecturer that they happen to cross in the corridors? or at the supermarket or kot james ;p most of the conversations with the lecturer happen during lectures or just after the lectures..
as u said, it might b a good idea if lecturers acted as the tech leads of google for say modules like algo/pl. In one of your lectures u went through the famous Quicksort algo, and i can assure you, that many didnt understand the algo as well wen they were actually having a 2 hrs lecture on that particular algo.
bt the problem is not only with the lecturer of uom..in the previous weeks i was involved in a national level children health survey under the initiative of the university of london and our own uom, for this purpose i had to visit primary schools, i explained the kids (5th standard btw..) wht the survey was about in a very friendly way and in creole to b sure that they would all understand. as soon as i finished i was shocked that the teacher of the class explained the kids the same thing in a more serious manner, sounding almost like he was trying to scare the kids so that they were bound to understand wht he meant..
wht am trying to say..is that, it is not always respect that the kids have for their teachers..sometimes its fear..i believe that instead of adopting a “am-your-teacher-and-u-r-my-student” behaviour, if the teacher adopted a more friendly and warm behaviour, it might perhaps work differently. i have 2 nephews attending a private primary school in vacoas. they are in standard 4, and their teachers are somewhat more student friendly. having seen the performance of my nephews and that of those students of standard 5, there is definitely a major difference..
you also mentioned that students might just take u all for a ride..indeed, it is a possible scenario..still..being student friendly doesnt mean that the teacher is no longer a student..besides, i believe that by now, students of university level are adult and mature enough to understand that the lecturers are as u urself mentioned, a scarce resource..so y not make the most of it?
to get the answers to ur questions, y not try?
Well said Sundeep.
Let’s think about how we could do that in our ‘Parallel Processing’ lecture. Any idea apart from the obvious ‘I give you a labsheet and I stay to help you find a solution’…
Do you have any additional URL on Pyre?
u r the great mind :p
still i find the labs be it in OS or PP pretty interesting..more than some of the labs we’ve had before elsewhere..which were more like “just do what u’ve been told to dnt bother abt the rest..” or were bunked..
Actually that was my idea of university before I got in UoM. (since i used to find a lot of projects online of e.g US universities making great discoveries with lecturers combined with students)
I was quickly brought back to reality as soon as i got in UoM.. that this is not always the case.. that whatever we do.. the college and school type of ways are just deep rooted in univ also. :(
I always wanted to organise a design and programming contest ÃƒÂ la ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest or the Google Programming Contest.
Who is interested?
That wouldnt b a bad idea
You have to bear in mind that the people working at Google are self motivated and love doing what they are doing. Applying this to a typical university class might be a challenge. I find that a lot of IT students aren’t really into programming, nor technology. A lot of people think of it as a resonably paid career, and not something they want to do because they are really into it.
However, if you are passionate about what you are teaching, you might just be able to pull it off. Just remember to come down hard on those that try to take advantage of the more open approach to slack off ;)
I’ll talk to my colleagues. And we’ll talk in class the next time we meet.
True. Some students are not motivated. But they are not dumb. If they understand that this is being done for their own good then there is a possibility that it might work…
you bet i am interested, amd there must be others in the class who0 is interested.. its like giving em a reason to learn :p
By coincidence, one of the items on the agenda for our next departmental meeting on Monday is the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest!!! I’ll keep you posted!
One thing that i appreciate with the famous guy Sundeep is that he is telling something true. One problem that i see is that many students do not understand anything : They only aprane par coeur and then succeed in exams. One idea would be to put more emphasise on projects. I have found that it is a concept not to pay attention to projects (assignments) being done. Particular attention should be made since many student perform the assignment, projects by themselves (Not copy and paste ) as it is said by Mr Avinash. I have done a module with you last year. Feed Back :MARI TOP, pli bon qui sa pane gagner. Today someone has encouraged me to read those articles. Perhaps Mr Avinash will know who i am. Surely. Well Done. keep it up. Hoping that all the knowledge that you want and idea that you have in mind will come up and chage those bad habits. Sticking to the notes are not a good idea. Somethng that I will not forget is the knowledge that you shared in class. To have a good feedback,its perhaps the time to try it.
“They only aprane par coeur and then succeed in exams”
Can I ask why? Don’t they like Computer Science? Don’t they want to learn more than what is strictly required by the syllabus?
well said j000000, one important problem is “aprane par coeur”
as a result some students are able get good results using this method yet when it comes to applying those things in a practical environment, they get stuck
maybe if point weightage change instead of 70% for written exams and 30% for assignments
we could at least try a 50- 50
Students also tend to learn by heart maybe because of the way the papers are set
Instead of asking “what is…..”, “define ……” if we asked them to apply what they’ve learn in a given situation would be nicer
Btw i’ve work the “Burger question ” last year in OS which was really nice
we were asked to apply all the concepts we’ve learn throughout the year in a single program
To be clear and concise, those students can learn something exactly as it is in the lecture notes. When exams approach they are able to answer only what they know (since they only learn by books, lecture notes). I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what the importance of exams is. Does a 3hr paper show that a student is more intelligent that other one?
As you have said one day, why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we all students come to university and leave with an equal degree in hand.
No competition, No exams
No 1st class, No Second class firstÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..
It is as if we are coming to university, fighting as an army in order to know who the best is.
Surely I know some special cases where students are both good at exams and in writing codes. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel that copy and paste assignment is a good solution since plagiarism is severely punished at university (Is it so?)
The pleasure that I had last year was for the assignment. Mr. Avinash took all his time to analyze our project. The question that was asked at the end was. What do you feel about this program?
Do you feel you are doing programming?
For this academic year, while one lecture was being delivered (Not with Mr Avinash), the lecturer asked one question.
Do you know what virtual memory (VM) is?
Students in my class did not respond to the question?
Finally the lecturer asked someone to explain the meaning of VM.
Surely I think that you guess in advance.
The student was unable to explain. Why?
The student did not even know the answer. However that student is good in exams.
Thus, is learning only through lecture notes good for that student.
In my opinion, as you said in one of the lecture last year. THE LECTURE IS ONLY HERE TO BE A GUIDE FOR US.
THE QUESTION I ASK MYSELF IS.
DO THOSE STUDENT LIKE COMPUTER SCIENCE REALLY OR ONLY LECTURE NOTES.
Hoping that Mr. Avinash will be able to give me a solution to this question.
Thanks in advance
I can only guess some students like their lectures notes more than they actually like Computer Science ;-)
In a way, I don’t really blame them as they are not (and will not ever become great) computer scientists. They have chosen CSE or IS just because of hype. I sincerely hope they manage to do what they really like afterwards…
It’s true also that a lot depends on year 1 courses. If a lecturer can transmit his/her enthusiasm for Computer Science, for problem solving and for programming to students, then things may be much better.
hmm this discussion is getting more n more interesting :)
well about the ranks at uom, first class, second class.. etc
Nowadays companies before recruiting perform some sort of written test,
so those who want to learn by heart and pass an exams go ahead..BUT how would you cope when attending those entrance exams?? There won’t be any lecture notes to learn by heart!!!
i don’t really care about my CPA, don’t even know how they calculate it!!! :P
well well, there’s a lot of activity over here huh..
i do really much agree with the fact that some students, like their lecture notes more than computer science..wht happens outside doesnt seem to interest them,want a proof? i know some ppl, doing computer science at university level..who dont know how to use google(yups, there are some specimens like that..not from uom though..or so i hope..). they are either lazy, or are not interested at all in it..they enrolled coz they heard that there would be a cybercity and they would get a job there..bt, will they get the job? well even if they do, will they love it? i know many students who joined they course caused they thought they’d secure a job in the cybercity easy, bt what they didnt think perhaps, it that they would perhaps b spending the rest of their lives sitting in front of a pc writing codes..some of them already find programming a pain, they do their assignments only coz they have to do it..and some will even learn the code by heart mind u..
well many students also think that wht they learn at uni is enough..well, real life is far from being an assignment, i did 2 month training in an offshore website development company, well, let me tell u guys, trust me, in real life, much of the thing u need to know is not taught in class..so u better b prepared..
i think the programming contest might help, since it will force the students to look for things that are not taught in class..and perhaps come up with smtg nice in the end(or not..) but atleast they will try(some might get the opportunity to use google :p btw i hope that some of them have ever clicked on the more link of google..)
well this has been an interesting article it seems,let’s c the outcome at uni..
Yes Vicks and Sundeep,
Real life is very different from University life. Schooling is supposed to teach adaptability and not some facts that are true at time t but which WILL BE IRRELEVANT at time t+1.
IMHO, Intelligence = adaptability.
Asvin Balloo says
A friend from UoM even told me once that some students ‘ti p aprane ban algorithm par coeur’, I didn’t really believed him, but now…;-)
Well said Mr Avinash, Sundeep, Vicks
I appreciate that you agree with me. I myself know that when anyone joins a company, what we have learned at university is only a drop of water in an ocean. It is there that you have to work and prove your performance (idea supported by Sundeep). I think as it is confirmed by Vicks that APRANE PAR COEUR pas pou capave servi la bas.
Seki to p dire la Asvin Balloo (Pa menti sa) ena p aprane sa par coeur. Nek demane zote explique toi sa apres lexamen, zote fini blier (head disk crashed : algorithm can not boot from head disk)
As Mr. Avinash said learning by heart is not a good thing.Not from the part of a Computer scientist.Ene prof dan HSC ti p fatiguer dire nou sa. Aprane par coeur pas pou servi zote nanier. Hoping that all of us together with Mr Avinash, we could Ã¢â‚¬Å“faire bane la comprend qui sa pa pou servi nanierÃ¢â‚¬?.
As Vicks said why not segment the percentage of project and exams 50:50.
No exams at all.
Can be the case of a 3 year course submitting a project (a Computer Scientist one) at the end of each year (1 & 2).
A more serious and complete project for the final year.
Without the idea of COPY AND PASTE AS MANY STUDENT DO!!!!!!!!!
I think sa ti pou pli bon.
What do you think.
wow, mr avinash u really got quite a debate going in here… personally, i think more interaction between students and lecturers will be beneficial…
A programming contest could prove quite nice too… why not invite the lecturers to participate in the contest too? histoire de se marrer un bon coup et “d’augmenter” le niveau :>
and yeah, as far as students are concerned, its a pity to see that most student are there only to be able to get a high paying job and nothing else… personally i like computers and thats why i’m in the CSE dept, but i may rightfully say that in the whole 600 students in the CSE dept at UOM there might be a max of 20 students who can be considered at computer enthusiasts.
Hoping to see some change at school soon:P
these are the kinds of students who most of the times gets the first class :p
The whole educational system gives those ddues the advantage.. yet these will be the ones who will not understand anything in a real life situation.
Come on be realistic.. there are lots of sys admins/programmers/IT managers out there who have got ‘first class’ at univ, but who are not great sys admins/programmers/IT Managers because they just know everything by the book.
They are basically just exploiting the bug in our educational system.. but i guess this is FAR beyond our control.
indeed csyke!! more interaction with lecturers can prove be quite enlightening!!
well i remember last year while working with Mr Meetoo, we would take the last 15 mins to talk about stuffs other than the lecture matter, what things about computers that we might not have understood etc
was a nice initiative
most students are doign CSE just to get a high pay??
Well A great man told us that
“our pay is proportional to how profitable we prove to be for the company”
Coming back to interaction between lecturers and students, a FORUM will be great!!
Since earlier in here we have been talking about lecturers supervising students on a projet.. hehe the implementation of the forum will be a good start :P (implemented by students for students)