Syndicate content

Tanya Gupta's blog

Bill Gates did it, will.i.am did it, Mayor Bloomberg did it and even the POTUS did it. Shouldn't you? An hour of Code for *you* the Busy Development Professionals

Tanya Gupta's picture

Computer Science Education Week has already kicked off (December 5 - 11, 2016) and it is a pretty big deal. One hour of code for everyone (no experience needed) is a part of that. The focus is on getting children involved. But what about busy professionals? Can it be useful for them, too? We think the answer to that is yes. This blog will teach you to code in Google Apps Script (GAS for short) in sixty minutes or less. There are two main reasons we chose GAS.

One, GAS is an easy to use scripting language that can help you write programs to solve common coding problems. We chose GAS because it is very easy to get started and offers some great features for saving your files in the cloud and working with different kinds of files. You need to be able to use Google Drive to write basic scripts in GAS.

Secondly, as our regular readers may know, this is the seventh blog of the technology aided gut (TAG) checks series. So far in this series, we have focused on the tools and techniques of a just-in-time learning strategy, and how to use TAG checks to make conclusions about data. In this blog we wanted to focus on some basic programming that will help illustrate how powerful (and easy!) just a little code education can be. GAS is perfect for this purpose.

N.B. You can do some pretty nifty stuff in GAS and here is the result of more professional code we have written entirely in GAS. This is an Add-On for Google Docs to create word clouds

Now -- all you need is a gmail account to get started.

(͡• ͜ʖ ͡•) GET SET AND START YOUR CLOCK
MINUTE TO MINUTE
While logged into Gmail, go to https://drive.google.com/. If this is your first time, you will see something like this:


 

Think you know who the manager's favorite is? You may be right: Technology Aided Gut Checks

Tanya Gupta's picture

Welcome to the sixth blog of the technology aided gut (TAG) checks series. So far in this series, we have focused on the tools and techniques of a just-in-time learning strategy. We will now switch gears and show how, with very little effort, we can use TAG checks to make simple yet (occasionally) profound conclusions about data - big and small.

As we delve into the details of TAG checks in the next several blogs, we will be using web programming tools and techniques to gather, process and analyze data. While we will try to be as comprehensive as possible in our explanations, it may not be always as detailed as we would like it to be. This forum, after all, is a blog and not a training tutorial. We hope by applying the just-in-time learning strategy that we have discussed so far in the series, you will be able to supplement what we miss in our explanations. Our goal for the overall series has been to empower you. We hope the first part of the series has made you an empowered self-learner.

The second part of the series will make you an empowered and savvy data consumer, a development professional who can confidently rely on the story the data tells to accomplish her tasks.

For the readers who are just joining in, we suggest that you become somewhat familiar with the just-in-time learning strategy by skimming the series so far.

Netflixing learning: How to select a good learning video?

Tanya Gupta's picture

Welcome to the fifth blog of the technology aided gut (TAG) checks series where we use a just-in-time learning strategy to help you learn to do TAG checks on your data.  Our last post talked about web videos as a learning tool. We shared five questions one should ask before choosing a video source over text, audio or other media. Once you have decided that video is the most suitable format for your particular learning task - the next question is finding the right video for you to watch. This is the focus of this blog. When it comes to learning videos, one size does not fit all. A highly rated learning video on YouTube may not necessarily suit your needs. The two key determinants of a good match are the type of learning you need to do and your familiarity with the subject matter.
 

What and How-To learning types

When it comes to learning something, most belong to the What category or the How-To category.

Ask before you watch: How to get the most out of learning videos

Tanya Gupta's picture
Welcome to the fourth blog of the technology aided gut (TAG) checks series. In our last post we showed you how to be reasonably confident that the information you find from an online resource is accurate, especially when you do not have the subject matter expertise to ascertain its correctness. In the next two blogs, we will take a closer look at educationational videos - arguably the “hottest” format for knowledge exchange.
 
This is a pragmatic blog for providing technical knowledge to adult professionals. So we are not going to address big questions like: The debate rages on while the trillion dollar online education industry blossoms.
 
No matter which side of the aisle you are on in this big debate, if you are in the need to learn something useful (quickly) and you are choosing a web source to learn from- remember these five critical factors - and then decide whether to use a video or some other source. These factors may not guarantee the success of a learning session but ignoring them will most likely ensure the session’s failure.

Knowing what we don’t know (on the web)

Tanya Gupta's picture
Welcome to the third blog of the technology aided gut (TAG) checks series. In this year long skills transfer blog series we use an interactive and just-in-time learning strategy to help you learn to do TAG checks on your data.
 
In our last posting we talked about six techniques to make our questions more precise so as to get the best answers from the Web. In this blog, we look at the other side of the equation: how can we be reasonably confident that the answers we get from an online resource are correct? How can we know that the web has given us the right answer when we do not have the subject matter expertise ourselves?


Path to “Confucian” wisdom

How to know what you don’t know

The adage “True wisdom is knowing what you don't know” has been attributed to Confucius. While addressing this philosophical statement is beyond the scope of this blog, it is appropriate to title a pragmatic article borrowing from ancient wisdom. Knowing what you do not  know is the essential problem of learning in the modern era. Legacy learning depends on teachers and textbooks who you can rely on to be correct. However, for contemporary learning - how can you tell the correct from the incorrect if you don’t have sufficient knowledge of a domain?
 
We describe a four step process one can use to eliminate the really bad answers and get a decent idea of which ones are very good.
 
The process may not be able guarantee the answers we got are absolutely correct, but the level of accuracy of the answers we will get by following the process will be useful in most cases.

Devel-APP-ment - The Top 5 Lessons from the App Industry

Tanya Gupta's picture

The big 5 multilateral development banks(MDBs) (World Bank Group, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Inter-American Development Bank) collectively provided close to $100 billion in concessional and non-concessional lending in 2012 or FY13. Of late, their size, traditionally an advantage, has become something of a disadvantage. The MDBs are facing intense challenges in at least three major ways. One - criticism from academics, developing nations and others that foreign aid is detrimental for a country’s growth. Two - technology has diluted the monopolistic advantages they had (knowledge, networks, access to funding) and is leading to new models of development.  As echoed by World Bank President Jim Kim, there is a "need for alignment" for development institutions in "a rapidly changing world."  Three - more and more countries are shifting from demanding traditional loans to demanding knowledge and knowledge products, and development institutions are only now starting to respond to this challenge.

Assessments: The "art" of Performance Measurement: How We Can Implement Best Practice Assessments (from the medical profession) in Development

Tanya Gupta's picture

In our last two blogs, we spoke about why measurement is key for development professionals and what should we measure? and about some take-aways from the medical profession on the measurement of competencies and performance. In this blog, we discuss specific ways we can use those lessons and apply them to the development sector.

As we discussed, in the medical world, lessons learned in competency and performance measurement relate to:

  • The focus on competencies, performance, and the space in between

  • Competence being specific to situations and existing on a continuum

  • Assessment as a program of activity that uses multi-source qualitative and quantitative information

  • The importance of the reproducibility of assessments

  • Encouraging the use of a portfolio.

But how can the above be specifically applied to development? Development practitioners can certainly take a page from the medical profession, as the stakes for getting measurement right are no less than bettering the lives of those who live on less than a dollar a day.

Assessments: The Art of Measurement of Performance: Lessons from the Medical Profession

Tanya Gupta's picture
In our last blog we talked about why measuring competency and performance is vital for development professionals.  In this blog, we talk about some take-aways from the medical profession on the measurement of competencies and performance.
 

The medical profession, by necessity, has hard requirements  (inflexible and critical requirements) for measuring competencies and performance. In fact, such measurement is mission critical. While the development profession does not have “hard” requirements, we can learn from their rigorous approach. Here are a few principles and rules that we could borrow:

Why Performance Measurement for Development Professionals is Critical: Learning from Miller’s Pyramid

Tanya Gupta's picture

According to a training report  no less than $55.4 billion in 2013 was spent on training, including payroll and external products and services, in the US alone. The US and other countries spend a significant amount of money on employee development with the implicit assumption that training is correlated to improved on- the- job performance.   However, what exactly should we measure to ensure that this money is well spent? What is it that we need to measure to determine that employees are performing as expected and thus benefitting from these training expenditures?

Two responses that we often get to this “what should be measured” question are “performance” and “competencies”. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the United States defines  performance measurement as the “ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward pre-established goals.”  Performance measures, therefore, help define what success at the workplace means (“accomplishments”), and attempt to quantify performance by tracking the achievement of goals. Competencies are generally viewed as “a cluster of related knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Parry 1996), and are thought to be measurable, correlated to performance, and can be improved through training.  While closely connected, they are not the same thing. Competencies are acquired skills, while performance is use of those competencies at work. Measurement of both is critical.

#5 from 2013: Using Twitter to Run Cities Better: Governance @SF311

Tanya Gupta's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on January 24, 2013


It will soon be nearly four years since then San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom visited Twitter headquarters.  He told Biz Stone (one of the Twitter founders) about how someone from the city had sent him a Twitter message about a pothole.  A discussion about "how we can get Twitter to be involved in advancing, streamlining, and supporting the governance of cities," led to the creation of @SF311 on Twitter that would allow live reporting by citizens of service needs, feedback, and other communication.  Perhaps the most innovative aspect at that time was that citizens would be able to communicate directly and transparently with the Government.  San Francisco was the first US city to roll out a major service such as this on Twitter.

Twitter offers several advantages over phonecalls or written requests made by citizens, some of which I have mentioned before:

Pages