My New Year's resolutions for 2023
In this post, an outline is given of the yearly 2023 plans for both my professional and personal life.
Summary. Professionally, the main goals are the following. On June 1st, I want to finish writing my Ph.D. thesis. Then, until September 1st, I wish to work on new course notes for the Concepts of Programming Languages course that I teach. From then, I wish to work on new videos for that course. Personally, I'll focus more on actively creative pursuits and take up videography and writing, replacing my old habit of passively spending time as (on-line) consumer reading and watching. Hands on deck!
In November 2018, more than four years ago, I started as a Ph.D. researcher working on foundations of computer science. Part of that research work has culminated in, what I call, New Foundations for Separation Logic (that is the prospective title of my thesis). Most—if not all—of the discoveries have already been made in the past years, and the important results are almost finished and done. The last part of the project comprises the dissemination of interesting findings of the research, i.e. by writing a thesis. More details about separation logic, especially for a lay audience, will follow in later posts on this website.
Part of my professional goals for this year is to improve one of the courses that I'm teaching: Concepts of Programming Languages. Last year, I've worked with different people to collect ideas how I can improve this course. I was observed by a didactic expert and afterwards we discussed her findings—which was very helpful and insightful. Also, I commissioned a small research project to find out how I can approach digital education, or flipped classroom as it is called, and how to increase student engagement with on-line material. Now, this year, I can start reaping the fruits grown out of the insights of last year.
My approach to proceed with flipping the classroom is to better integrate on-line and off-line learning: to design and develop a course with a clear supporting structure (the central theme) and choose activities that make most sense asynchronously in on-line contexts (e.g. introducing topics, explaining concepts with examples, reading additional scientific literature, discovering resources for advanced study) and synchronously in off-line contexts (sharing inspiring stories, discussing contentious topics, mentoring, working on practical hands-on assignments, collaborating in teams).
With these aims in mind, I will write new course notes: not entirely from scratch, but taking in course notes of similar courses of others at other universities, and relevant books and other literature. These notes I can start after finishing my thesis. Finally, in the second part of this year I'll focus on producing high-quality videos for the course, that replace the videos used in the last two years, to complement the course notes.
Personally, I will change some of my habits with the credo: turn a passivity into an activity. I'm tired of spending pastime only consuming information, without doing anything with it. Sure, enjoying music, movies, and literature is all fine and dandy, but I wish to turn it over and enjoy creativity as well. My focus here will be on casual and informal writing, and amateur videography. In particular, my aims here are not high: as long as I personally enjoy the act of creating, I'm satisfied.
How do I envision this? Let me give an example. In the past months, I've been busy—on and off—investigating tools for editing video on Linux. Most of my investigation was limited to (passive) reading. As such, I did not keep a journal, nor try out different tools in different small projects. Now, for this year, let's turn it into an activity: keeping track of the tools I find, come up with a small video project, go out and shoot video, evaluate the tools, et cetera. Finally, this may end in a short video, or a tiny article, on my website.
To avoid overburdening myself with too much writing, in the first halve of the year I'll focus on videography for personal pleasure. Only in the second halve of the year, I'll have a throw at writing as a hobby. This nicely balances out my professional activities, where in the first halve of the year I spend most of my time writing, and in the second halve making videos.
That's the plan.