Emma Haak and David Lidsky interviewed scores of techies in the Valley to figure out their paths to success. An infographic of their interviews can be found on Cliff Kuang's blog which I found on Ben Robertson's Twitter page (always cite sources, right?). In sum, social connections matter and they happen in lots of ways, from being on each others' frisbee teams to being video game buddies...and to having planned dinners designed to connect innovators. The paths are often circuitous, e.g., from meeting at a wedding, to joining each others' broom ball team, to meeting others at those games, and so on (see the infographic and pick a random path). The big point is that Y-Combinator can be "manipulated" by arranging regular "connector meetings" in the form of weekly dinners and so on. In this way, individuals get to meet potential mentors in a more direct and guaranteed manner.
I am reminded of social media breakfasts which became popular, at least on the seacoast out this way (I'm actually tucked in the southwest corner of NH near VT...away from most happenings). But social media gatherings did not deliberately pair innovators with mentors, but instead were simply gathering places for social media types.
I'm thinking we should consider the "Y-Combinator" concept as we try to help out lots of folks, including graduating college students seeking jobs, internships, graduate opportunities; individuals with special skills but poor connecting skills, and so on.
Yesterday I posted some preliminary thoughts on my talk at the "Secret Revolution" tech conference on campus where I'll be talking about Twitter in the classroom. I'd like to add a couple of others:
9. I can provide up-to-date information on new research or controversies as they unfold. For example, I just passed on information about the raging controversy in changes in DSM criteria for Autism. The conversation can get started before we meet (at 2pm today).
10. Students can be encourage to use their phones or laptops during class at specified times: They can tweet comments and questions which can appear instantly on the screen next to the professor's powerpoint slides. These can help foster more detailed discussion in class (or later). Note: At least one Dept. in my college has done the opposite, banning phones and laptops in the classroom).
Interesting arguments are being made on both sides of the divide on whether to tighten up DSM criteria for Autism Specturm Disorders. Here's a message sent out by John Carley from GRASP which advocates for individuals with Asperger's:
I'll be giving a brief talk this friday at "The Secret Revolution" Tech/Ed conference at the College (1:50pm, Student Center). I'll discuss my experiment this year using Twitter in the classroom (you can check it out on Twitter at #kscabn (for my class in Abnormal Psychology) or #kscautism (for my Seminar in Autism). I'll show some student Tweets, talk about some cool surprises, and wonder about the future. I'll also exhibit my own neurosis by talking out of two sides of my mouth: The wonderful effects of using technology in the classroom and...my fears of losing the importance of in-class dialogue about ideas, reading books...and even walking in the woods without your iPhone.
A few emerging ideas from using Twitter in the classroom:
1. More college students (about 25%) are using Twitter for social reasons, a significant change in just one semester (my observation)
2. Students use Twitter primarily for social communication with small tribes of friends and for some silly reason: to follow movie stars and rock stars who may not even write their own tweets
3. Some students love it. Some hate it.
4. Some students use it effectively to exchange information about ideas related to class topics (e.g., in Abnormal Psychology and Autism)
5. People who are not in the class may "jump in" and join a conversation with my students.
6. I can reinforce thinking about new ideas in Psychology by responding to students' tweets
7. Some college students need to learn how to avoid leaving negative digital footprints if they hope to go to graduate school or get a job after graduation (my warning)
8. Faculty can use Twitter to archive material for class (articles, clips)
And, of course, we can't forget that teaching is really about ideas...Today I used a chalkboard to build a model (I had to turn the data projector light off so we could see the board):
And when I ran out of room on the Chalkboard, I surprised my students (and myself) by writing (with chalk) on the seminar table:
When the students asked for a copy, I simply snapped a pic with my phone and pop in to my blog (here it is). My blog posts are automatically tweeted, so they'll pick up the links there on their own phones or computers....my head is spinning...