On Databases, Tattoos, and Teaching Philosophies

An approach to dealing with ever-shortening attention spans.

Building a database is like getting tattooed. You really want it to be correct the first time you do it. Changes are possible but they are painful. And, like tattooing, some changes are easier than others. Adding something extra is easier than trying to change something that has been in place for a couple of years.

Simon Allardice

Among the courses I’ll be teaching in my first year at the W. P. Carey School at ASU is “CIS 440: Systems Design and Electronic Commerce.” The course focuses on the design of organizational and electronic commerce systems. It also touches on the use of project management, systems analysis, and design tools. (I’ll also be teaching courses on business intelligence and enterprise analytics in the fall.)

Bringing My Personality to the Classroom

As I think about how I’ll present each course’s material, I know that there’s a fair degree of existing structure. Still, lectures aren’t scripted. Why leave my personality at the door? I’ll have plenty of time to be professional while infusing Rush, Marillion, and Breaking Bad references into my lectures—and for good reason. The most recent thinking and research on education reveals that professors who bring genuine enthusiasm into the classroom generally do better than those who mail it in.

Quotes such as the one above make me think and laugh—never a bad combination.

Quotes such as the one above make me think and laugh—never a bad combination. I’ve seen throughout my career that, as Craig Bruce has said, “Temporary solutions often become permanent problems.”

I could be wrong, but updating or complementing well-trodden maxims with colorful analogies may lengthen students’ ever-shortening attention spans.


My friend Rich Murnane inspired this post.

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