Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Getting that end-of-semester feeling #vlog14

With just two weeks to go to the end of the semester, already I am getting that "end-of" feeling. Some more reflections on teaching a module on-line for the first time...

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving Sales Up in USA, but YouTube views down for Eugene #Analytics

According to an article "The Billion-Dollar Holiday" by Statista: Thanksgiving weekend has grown into a huge shopping event that begins with Thanksgiving on Thursday and ends with Cyber Monday. This year's Thanksgiving weekend is expected to shatter online shopping records yet again.  That record-breaking number is forecasted to be $7.8 billion in e-commerce revenue for the U.S. The embedded chart below shows the forecasted sales (in brown) for this year:

Infographic: The Billion-Dollar Holiday | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

I'm sure a similar trend would now be found in Ireland as the concept of Black Friday and Cyber Monday have firmly taken hold here. 

It's not all good news. As Americans are enjoying their holiday period, less of them are watching videos on my YouTube channel. The number of views rises slowly every week from about the beginning of September to the beginning of December. Thanksgiving always bucks this trend and views in the United States always goes down at this time of year - see chart below. If previous years' trends are to be followed, the number of views will climb again this week after the holiday.

Click/Tap Image to Enlarge.

The line chart above is for the USA only. It is my biggest "market" and Thanksgiving has the most dramatic change in the weekly number of views there. I suspect that as the rest of the World follows suit - views worldwide will decline at this time of year in future. Currently, while there is an overall fall off in Thanksgiving week, it is not as stark as it is in the USA.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Graduation Day at the National College of Ireland

It's that time of year again when students of NCI graduate at the National Convention Centre. Though I would love to be there, unfortunately a clash with classes (for next year's graduates) prevents me from attending.

Graduation marks achievement no matter what level the award is being made. Every single graduate today should be proud of this achievement. It takes hard work and dedication to get to this milestone in a student's life. Many of NCI's graduates are mature students, some who have come back to education after many years. Many have doubts at the beginning of their course as to whether they can complete it. But after many late nights, stress, anxiety, assignments, exams, study - they have finally arrived at the big day. It is no exaggeration to say that I have seen students' lives change over their education journey at NCI.

I would like to wish all NCI students graduating today many congratulations - especially students on the following programmes:
  • Higher Diploma in Data Analytics
  • BSc in Technology Management
  • BSc in Computing
  • BSc in Business Information Systems
  • Higher Certificate in Computing
  • MSc in Data Analytics

Have a great celebration today, and I hope that one day our paths will cross again.

Changing Lives Through Education

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

8 weeks done, 4 weeks to go #vlog13

At the two thirds way through the semester, here are some more reflections on teaching a module (Programming for Big Data) on-line for the first time:

Monday, November 12, 2018

YouTube Landmark #17000000 #Analytics

This morning I note that my YouTube channel has passed 17 million views (17,007,244 to be precise). As always, I am delighted and humbled whenever I hit a landmark figure like this and that so many people over the last 11 years have found my videos useful. 

The trend in growth of views is now firmly on an upward track following the disaster of May 2015 when I changed metadata for each video. If this trend continues, I can expect the number of daily views to continue to rise for about another 2-3 weeks, and then to drop sharply during the Christmas/New Year holiday period as in previous years. For 2018 the overall figure is approaching 3,000,000 for the year, which will be a first - last year the figure was 2,920,414 views.

My statistics videos have become more popular over the past two years, and this has undoubtedly helped growth. During this week I'll put up some more analytics from the channel - Google/YouTube are now providing more tools to gain insights into these figures.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Tribute to my Great-grandfather James Burns #PoppyDay

I wonder what my great-grandfather James Burns/Byrne was thinking this time 100 years ago. As far as we know in the family, he joined up in 1914, was gassed at the Somme in 1916, and survived the war to Armistice Day. We know that he probably had PTSD as he was apparently violent on returning home. He died in a mental asylum in 1925. However, despite lots of trawling through available records, and a professional search, - I have not been able to find his military record. It would have been easier to find him if he had been killed.

A hundred years ago there must have been great relief at being alive and that the war was over. For those like James, who had served throughout the war - the horrors were over at last. How was he perceived along with other returning soldiers to his home in Lorrha in North Tipperary? 

In the photo below I am holding a British Legion wooden cross purchased at the Thiepval Memorial shop in France last year. I brought it home and keep it as a memento of and a tribute to my great-grandfather. Rest in peace.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

New Data Analytics Certifications from @ainsdublin #analytics

At the National Analytics Conference held in the Mansion House this week, the Analytics Institute (of which I am a member) launched six new data analytics certifications:
  • Management Diploma in Data Analytics
  • Certified Data Scientist
  • Certified Data Application Engineer
  • Certified Business Data Analyst
  • Certified Data Analytics Professional
  • Certified Data Engineer
The Analytics Institute stated that they are definitely not in the training business. Training for each certification (if needed) is provided separately by Coursera. There is also the option to "Submit Qualifications & Experience", and to include "CV, Linked In Profile, Portfolio, Awards", instead of taking the Coursera courses. Coursera charge €42/month for their courses, and the Analytics Institute "Certification Fee" on top of this is €379. Once training and/or profile information is provided, the Analytics Institute "Certification Committee" will review each application to ensure its "standards are fully met". The Institute does point out that their certifications are not academic qualifications, but that it follows the EDISON Data Science Framework instead.

I wish this initiative well - anything that improves the standards of data analysis is most welcome by me. Partnering with Coursera sounds like a good idea, but why pay a second fee to to one body while training with another? It will be interesting to see how this works out. Data analysts/scientists who already have a qualification might see this as a useful add-on to their CVs. Others who are working or have a lot of experience in this space, but who do not have a formal qualification, are possibly the main audience for this initiative. 

Monday, November 05, 2018

Back in Action #vlog12

After a two week break since my last on-line class following the College-wide reading week, it is back to normal with my next online class. Today's reflective video is about some thoughts on the break and looking forward to the rest of the semester....

Friday, November 02, 2018

Reading Week

60 tests - today's work.
It's Friday of Reading Week - this year it is the 7th week and falls exactly half-way in the semester. Time to catch-up? Take a break? Do research? Plan for the remaining 6 weeks? Try something new? There's lots of things I could do during this time - so what did I use this break in the semester for?

The first thing to note is that our Reading Week always has a Bank Holiday in it - this time it's the October Monday. A four day week - 20% less time than normal. I have spent this week so far doing three things: grading continuous assessments, updating content for one of my modules, and preparing exam papers. These jobs will have had to have been done anyway this week - thank goodness I didn't have any classes to "get in the way". Today I have 60 tests to grade - I won't get through this lot in a day, but I hope to get a huge number done so that I can easily finish next week.

I have 12 hours of class contact time in a week. This leaves 23 hours left out of the theoretical 35 hours a week that I am supposed to work. I have met very few lecturers who work less than 35 hours a week - in this line of work, 40-45+ hours a week during term time is extremely common. I have 140+ students this semester - that's a lot of grading of continuous assessment to do. Classes have to be prepared, and student queries through email/phone/call to office have to be dealt with. Some colleagues use the opportunity to use up annual leave days. A Reading Week is most welcome to clear grading from the first 6 weeks, and to set up the second 6 weeks of the semester nicely.

I often wonder what use students put this Reading Week too. I'm sure there are some who welcome the break from classes - some of my students have 16 hours of classes every second week. I know that many work on projects, revise what has already been covered, and yes - take a break. The concept of taking a break in the middle of a long 12 week semester is a good one in my view - though I think calling it a "Reading Week" is a bit misleading. "Mid-term break" would be more accurate.