What to Make of the High-Tech Layoffs

To my disconcerted students:

Sadly, the massive layoffs in Silicon Valley and around the world that we are currently observing are a low-frequency yet business-as-usual event. Let me tease apart the different components and draw some conclusions for your career.

First of all, you may have observed how they are all happening at once. This is no coincidence: Layoffs are bad press and so companies will try to make it go over as smoothly as possible. Once one company got going, others will hurry up and take the opportunity to jump in.

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An Illustration of How Chat AIs Might Disrupt Teaching

With the recent general availability of chat AIs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, teachers have to ask themselves how to deal with student homework potentially created using these tools. In the following ten minute video I provide a short illustration from my own teaching how students might use such chat AIs in creating homework, and I discuss how a teacher might react to it.

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Lecturing is getting increasingly bipolar

In this fifth semester of the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t help but predict that teaching by way of lectures will be getting more bipolar. I foresee two main modes of lecturing:

  1. Increased use of videos in online lecturing rather than live performances
  2. Traditional in-person lecturing without serious online presence

This may hardly sound surprising, but some of the underlying mechanics that are leading me to this prediction may. There are two noteworthy developments:

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Good Use of Ancient SD Cards

I finally was able to find a good for of those old (ancient!) SD cards I have flying around. The ministry of education in Bavaria requires that I send exam questions to them before use, by mail (the one without an e-). I can burn the questions to a CD, or put them onto a USB stick, but I presume I can also use my old SD cards. Yay for reuse!

How Not to Organize Written Exams

The traditional and efficient way for setting up and grading written exams is to have a professorship create the exam, supervise the actual exam, and then also have them grade it. They will usually use a team in the supervision of the exam and the grading, where work is split by exam question: One person (or a team in the case of a large exam) gets to grade one question across all exams. This ensures fairness, consistency, and speed.

Enter the Bavarian Ministry of Education. It invented a wholly different approach to creating and grading written exams. Here, it applies to students aiming to become informatics high school teachers.

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The Downside of College Teaching

“Teaching young minds is great and keeps you young!”

There is some truth to this made-up quote. Growing older, you might get set in your ways, but younger people will most certainly challenge you to rethink those. While there is a lot of positive things to say, I want to discuss two difficult but critical issues that a new college teacher needs to be aware of, in particular if they are coming in from industry.

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