Sunday, December 21, 2008

Comfort or immortal

What to pursue? That is the debate raging in my mind.  Some great ones might pursue both at the same with ease.  I can barely do one.  At the end of the day, it is a tug of war that tears me a part.  I might accomplish none.  When I read Yu Kwang-Zhong, listen to Yo-yo Ma, play Bach cello pieces, I felt so connected with the eternity and lasting beauty that I am overjoyed.  I can pursue, probably not achieve, some kind of greatness.  The sacrifice might be the time spend with Yuan and Fang, the upkeep of the big old red barn, the heavy mortgages that due every first day of the month.  Looking at a few shining new cars, they are tempting, yet I know the moment I were to acquire the impressive Porsche GT, the thrill will be most gone.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leadership and competitive advantage

When Alexdender was fighting the greek with 10 times of many fighters.  They evaluated their situation, and it looked greem.  "We have less people but each one of us is stronger, the harsh weather is punishing everyone but we can brave it better, " Alexdender said, "but I am absolutely sure we will win, because I am leading!"

That is the leadership confidence and leadership difference.  If a person does not believe the leadership has an impact, that person will not in the leadership position at all.

I have been listening to a few different books why jogging, which I try to do more in light of not able to swim much at all this semester.  I repeat the reading as much as I can.  At the end of each run, I felt both my phyisical and mental conditions is exercised and felt great.

Talked to a friend over Chrismas party, setting as -10% trigger of stock sell might be something I should try.  Since the worse in a game is that one lost everything.

Being looking at so called 3X ETF (and -3X) , it is really a gamble!   

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Being Clear

A strangly warm day close to the end of Nov.  It might be just Monterey Bay area.  Played tennis with the usual gang - Dennis, Murray and Joe and found everything very clear.  The sky with traces of silking cloubs, the waving tree top of Monterey cypresses, the tip of the distance houses.  The tennis ball flew to me feel so precise and SLOW, I could bend my knees, coil my trunk, assess the positions of the opponents, line-up my racket and execute my shots with time to spare.  All in a sharkingly vivid and clear way.  It is refreshing and enjoyable feeling.

Maybe because there is no high power meeting scheduled in the afternoon, maybe it is the gensen tea I had the previous night, maybe it the two consecutive good night sleep, maybe because of the strangly warm and clear day.  I felt good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Advising Model

Prescriptive Advising - tell student what are the requirements
Developmental Advising - personal grow and development
Intrusive Advising - Rober Glennen, focus on at-risk students
Mentoring Advising - mostly between faculty and students

Faculty and staff should be trained.
Q: outcomes of our advising?

Centralized - advisng center only
Faculty only model 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Successes, failures and risks

Successes are sweet.  Most people savor that and would like to achieve more of it.  However, sometimes people can not achieve more success because fear of failure.  Especially people have vivid memory of their failure in early ages.  

The tricky part is, without taking risks, there is no possibility of success. So how do we learn from the failure, and welling to continue to take calculated risks, is the challenge.

Reflect upon my past, great failures and successes abound. What have I learned?
- Have to take risks.   But only those risks that I can manage the worse consequences, and only the calculated risks that bring major rewards.
- Be careful of details.  My natural tendency is only focus on broad strokes.  I have to learn to pay attention to details and learn how to delegate those tasks to someone capable of detailed work.
- Spend time on followup.  When a duty is assigned, I don't check the result careful or frequent enough.

With that, let's move on!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Academic Building II Fund Raising Talking Points

What does your department do differently than similar departments in other universities?  Why is it better?

ITCD is not only an academic unit offering highly regarded programs, it is a mission driven organization. ITCD’s mission is to

Apply state-of-the-art information technology to solve communication problems in a socially responsible way.”

ITCD provides multidisciplinary instruction through innovative undergraduate and graduate programs covering computer science, information systems, communication design, technology management, and instructional technology. ITCD also conducts leading-edge applied research and development in these fields, which allows students to get hands-on experience while earning their degrees. In addition to the technical knowledge and skills they master, graduates of ITCD excel in communication, collaboration and innovative problem solving.

What will you be able to do in the new building that we were unable to do in the old?

The new building is unique in several ways: It is the first building, among all 33 public California universities, designed from the ground up to facilitate collaboration between business and technology.  Stronger collaboration between the two schools will enhance innovation, raise the level of student learning, faculty research and provide better service to the community that a single school cannot. For example, a marketing campaign for local non-profit organizations can work with a team of students that consists of both marking majors and graphic design majors. Joint courses and student projects will cultivate a new generation of young professionals who can create businesses utilizing the power of advanced technology.

The building, with many project labs and open space available to students when they are no in class, will facilitate the project-based, outcome-based collaborative learning CSUMB is known for.  Because CSUMB is a residential campus, more than 60 percent of our faculty, staff and faculty live on or around campus, we envision student will have ample opportunity to interact with faculty outside of classroom, a crucial part of education, because of the new building.

What are the most exciting things you see for your department in the future?  Anything cutting edge?  What will set us apart?

ITCD offers many courses in blended-learning mode: combining the best features of face-to-face and online learning.  ITCD is offering an innovative master degree in instructional technology, the largest graduate program on campus.  The degree is training students to be effective online teachers and e-learning course developer.  Many of the students in the program are helping the School designing innovative instructional modules that are highly interactive, multiple senses, and collaborative.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Institute for Innovation - a letter of support

Sep 18, 2008

A. L. S, Regional Director

Economic Development Administration

Dear Mr. S,

I am writing to support the proposal of a planning grant submitted by California State University Monterey Bay and the Monterey Business Council, led by Ms. V W, for an Institute of Innovation and Economic Development on CSUMB’s campus.

A geographical and culturally diverse area with global connections, Monterey Bay has lots of potential for economic successes. There are numerous research organizations, higher-ed institutes, talents and tremendous wealth in the region. Communities have identified oceanography, agriculture and learning technology as domains of opportunities. However, while many groups recognize the potential and have tried to garner the community effort in promoting economic growth in the regions, these efforts have been scattered and have never achieved a critical mass. One of the primary reasons, according to my observation, is lack of a focal point, a centralized location that can integrate the plethora of resources and talents within one place.

An Institute of Innovation and Economic Development can fulfill that gaping need. An Institute that provides systematic connection between intellectual property, entrepreneurs, professionals and venture funds can galvanize the region and create high-paid jobs and economical growth. The Institute can offer training, coaching, internships, technology assessment, market analysis, technology transfer, space and service for start-ups that will be invaluable to both the Monterey Bay communities and to the thousands of students and faculty at CSUMB, especially those in School of Information Technology and Communication Design. Many of them start successful ventures after graduation but have had to leave the Monterey area because of lack of support and resources.

I support the proposal to establish an Institute for Innovation and Economic Development wholeheartedly. It would be a wise investment that will bear plenty of fruits for Monterey Bay.


Eric Y. Tao, Ph.D.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer vacation + work

70 degrees. A warm day for Monterey's standard. Just came back from a Tahoe camping trip and cannot decide to make today a working day or a relaxing day.

It turned out to be both. I cleaned up the house a bit and amazed by how time consuming are the chores. Practiced cello, clean up and backup the computers, install the web cam that I might use for future teaching. Had a Korean instant noodle for lunch with some left over vegetable from the refrigerator. Took a nap – very cool and unusual.

There are over 400 emails piled up in the university account, social account and professional account, plus teaching the IST technology workshop class. Hours just passed away.

Watched a few minutes of Jack-Ass over dinner; horribly bad movie. When I returned to the study, it is still bright outside, I played the Bach's prelude to the cello suite, it is not difficult to play but so hard to play well. The other piece, Shindler's list, was much easier to express emotion, and it is a very sad piece. The first time I listen to the cello solo on I am hooked. I cannot find the music sheet anywhere so I have to go thru the trouble of finding a midi file, convert it to sheet music, remove the piano part, transcribe it an octave lower. But I am glad that I did it.

Walked around 8 PM in the Hatton field area and come back via Mission trail. It is peaceful and quiet, I did not see a single person for about 45 minutes. It felt like the whole world has retired. While I walked, I listened to Orwell's 1984, a disturbing novel with striking similarities to what happened in China during Culture Revolution. I arrived home around 9 PM, sit in the back yard in the dusk, the house seems overpowering, with the three –story tall wall painted red and dark, old windows. I think that is part of the Charm of old houses in Carmel.

Worked till almost 2 AM in the morning grading the student assignments, it is fun and rewarding to know students' inspirations, experience and goals.

A day ended. Surprised to find out even though I have total flexibility for a day, I choose the similar set of activities. I hope that is a good sign.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Resolve conflicts - a painful yet important leadership task

A recent letter that I decide to include in my blog

Dear all,

I am sorry that AAA is disappointed in me because there are difficulties with some members of the team. I believe we don’t have a problem in the team per se, we just have to communicate in the way that encourage everyone to share the same vision. When I ran a company, anyone who is not on board in time will be left on the side of the road, but this is a university. If we simply shed any faculty who has different opinion, not only we will soon have no one left in the team, even worse, student learning will suffer in an intangible yet significant way.

ITCD operates collectively. Over the year, we build a strong culture and practice, base on mutual trust, that are both effective and inclusive. I will work very hard to preserve it.

For the TTT project, I would encourage

- Set a clear ground rule of communication. Keep it open and constructive.

- The process and meetings should be open to anyone interested.

- Any faculty that does not share the vision does not have to be in the “team” but should not be excluded from meetings or training opportunities.

- TTT will focus on course redesign in order to make CCC more efficient for the university and more effective for students. However, teaching load, assignments, entitlement and academic freedom will not be affected as a result of the project.

I will consult both of you, M and K on my role in the project, since I am not the PI, I am enthusiastic in providing support and input, however, I don’t think I can make personnel decision.

With your talents and efforts, I have no doubt the project will deliver considerable outcomes, but if the project can further strengthen the collaborative culture and effective practice on campus, it will be a resounding success we all expect.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Music that speaks to me

Once in a while, such as this sunny breezy afternoon, music speaks to me. I listened to Ashokan Farewell by Unger and May it be by Enya. They brought both longing and encouragement to my heart.

It is telling that both of them are used as theme songs for heroic sad epics: one for the PBS series on American Civil war and the other for the movie Lord of the Ring. They filled my eyes with tears and my heart with drive to pursue the long and improbable journal of looking for my real self and in the mean time, conquer the world.

I sit at the piano and played both of them, even the tone is still not familiar to my fingers yet the music touched me again. Beautiful in an emotional way, quite different from Bach's cello solo that is beautiful in a exquisite, structured way.

Music speaks to me, I feel lucky to understand the many languages in it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break - a glorious day at Carmel home

A week-long Spring Break. First two days I decided to go to work to finish two major projects: overhaul of the ITCD website, we decided to use a sophisticated content management system: Joomla. It is part of the Open System Lab’s mission to promote open system software. Moodle and Joomla are two major systems that are on our list. The other project is the fundraising for the new ITCD building. The state promised 36 millions dollars with 2.5 already received by CSUMB. We plan to raise anther 10 million or so to make the building a great place for learning, teaching, research, development and services. Several dedicated faculty members showed up on campus also. I am very impressed by the group of young professors that joined the team in the last couple of years. They are intelligent, dedicated. Each one has a distinct charisma. CSUMB and I are lucky to have them. When they came in to my office and chat, they were surprised that as a tenured, full professor, I am working so hard. Especially no faculty gets paid in spring break. I joked about that often times when someone is abused for so long, he just got used to it and felt uncomfortable not receive the ill treatment.

Today is the first day I enjoyed the spring break. I got my car to the garage for maintenance, came home and played a full hour of cello. I am preparing for a recital June 1 in which I will play Dvorak’s Humoresque, a piece that attracted to cello in the first place. I will also play a cello quartet with Wendy Geiger, the cello teacher, and one other student. It is both exciting and frustrating: this will be my first solo recital but the piece is rather difficult. After the practice session, I walked to Carmel downtown to have lunch, Katy’s place is always pleasant. I had the blackened chicken sandwich with country fries. It is pretty good, the price, $14.95, however, is a bit steep for a no-frill lunch in a casual restaurant. I enjoyed the walk and the meal a lot, even the seasonal allergy bothers me more than last years.

I stayed in my study in the afternoon without anyone bothering me. It is a peaceful and beautiful Camel afternoon. I always believe the California coast is probably the best place in the world. And Carmel is probably one of the best coastal towns. Toward the end of the afternoon, as I prepare to go to my cello class, I start to worry again about all the tasks that yet to be finished, the stock market, the election, the global warming, the clashes of civilizations… Need to work hard.

I am glad I got at least one day for my Spring Break, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

95-year-old's Advises

95-year-old advises, according to Marshall Goldsmith, is the best advise any one can get. Imaging that a 95-year-old YOU, come back to give the younger some hard, warm, make-me-proud type of advise. What would it be?

Have more discipline! You have the talent, the opportunity, you even have the motivation. But when actions need to be taken, do it and do not procrastinate!

Aim high! Take calculated, meaningfully risks!

Keep yourself healthy! Watch the eating habits!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Critical thinking skills and capstone (Why all these presentation, discussion and feedbacks?)

One major goal of any higher-ed programs, especially graduate programs, is to cultivate student's critical thinking skills. The MBA program in Harvard business school, for example, dedicate the entire second year for this purpose, in the format of case studies. The case methods have become the mainstay of many business graduate program even till today. It is inefficient, bewildering and difficult. However, it is still perhaps the best pedagogy in teaching critical thinking and decision making.

In capstone classes, many times the faculty ask students to present their capstone idea and progress. We ask students to ask questions and provide feedbacks to one another both in class and online. What we are trying to achieve using students' capstones as case and conduct case studies. It is sometimes inefficient, bewildering and difficult. However, it is still, as least to me, the best way to enhance the critical thinking skills.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Learning Effectiveness

Participating the WASC Retreat on learning assessment in Irvine. Often the worry about things like this is that people spend enormous amount of time for fad that disappear in a couple of years. I believe the outcome/assessment/improvement process is here to stay. The fact that this process, if explained well, it is obvious and self evident. The OAI process is similar to many well-accepted and proven rule in business management. The teacher (or manager) should make the instructional process and goals clearly documented and communicated.

The challenge is how to A. convince all faculty to do it. B. do it effectively and efficiently. The major concern I have is that lack of quantitative research of the result. Or even more importantly, lack of culture in hard evidence.

I had a peculiar feeling coming back to Irvine, which I lived and enjoyed for many years. The weather is still perfect, the sky green. However, because of the stark difference between Carmel and Orange, I see all these well-manicured lawns, spotless high-rises, I feel out of place.

Living the dreams

I used to just nod politely saying "just fine", when people ask me "how are you doing?".  I decided to change that. ...