How many data center problems are caused by knowledge holes? Address the Swiss Cheese gaps in education-Salman Khan & Bill Gates

The top cause of data center outages are related to human action.  Part of the problem is caused by how our education system works which gives people the framework to think in the future.  What happens when you think differently of how education works? Salman Khan is reinventing education.  Bill Gates’s focus education has connected Bill to Salman.  Here is a video with Salman presenting at TED and Bill Gates discussing the Khan Academy.

Bill Gates: I've seen some things you're doing in the system that have to do with with motivation and feedback -- energy points, merit badges. Tell me what you're thinking there?

SK: Oh yeah. No, we have an awesome team working on it. And I have to make it clear, it's not just me anymore. I'm still doing all the videos, but we have a rockstar team doing the software. Yeah, we've put a bunch of game mechanics in there where you get these badges, we're going to start having leader boards by area, and you get points.It's actually been pretty interesting. Just the wording of the badging or how many points you get for doing something, we see on a system-wide basis, like tens of thousands of fifth graders or sixth graders going one direction or another, depending what badge you give them.

One of the things that caught my attention in Salman’s presentation is pointing out the swiss cheese problem in education.

In a traditional classroom, you have a couple of homework, homework, lecture, homework, lecture,and then you have a snapshot exam. And that exam, whether you get a 70 percent, an 80 percent,a 90 percent, or a 95 percent, the class moves on to the next topic. And even that 95 percent student,what was the five percent they didn't know? Maybe they didn't know what happens when you raise something to the zero power. And then you go build on that in the next concept. That's analogous to imagine learning to ride a bicycle, and maybe I give you a lecture ahead of time, and I give you that bicycle for two weeks. And then I come back after two weeks, and I say, "Well, let's see. You're having trouble taking left turns. You can't quite stop. You're an 80 percent bicyclist." So I put a big C stamp on your forehead and then I say, "Here's a unicycle."But as ridiculous as that sounds, that's exactly what's happening in our classrooms right now. And the idea is you fast forward and good students start failing algebra all of a sudden and start failing calculus all of a sudden, despite being smart, despite having good teachers. And it's usually because they have these Swiss cheese gaps that kept building throughout their foundation. So our model is learn math the way you'd learn anything,like the way you would learn a bicycle. Stay on that bicycle. Fall off that bicycle. Do it as long as necessary until you have mastery. The traditional model, it penalizes you for experimentation and failure, but it does not expect mastery. We encourage you to experiment. We encourage you to failure. But we do expect mastery.

Here are some of the key learning from Salman that gets you appreciate the different approach.  The worse question to ask when teaching “do you understand this?”

And as soon as I put those first YouTube videos up,something interesting happened -- actually a bunch of interesting things happened. The first was the feedback from my cousins. They told me that they preferred me on YouTube than in person.(Laughter) And once you get over the backhanded nature of that, there was actually something very profound there. They were saying that they preferred the automated version of their cousin to their cousin. At first, it's very unintuitive, but when you actually think about it from their point of view, it makes a ton of sense. You have this situation where now they can pause and repeat their cousin,without feeling like they're wasting my time. If they have to review something that they should have learned a couple of weeks ago, or maybe a couple of years ago, they don't have to be embarrassed and ask their cousin. They can just watch those videos. If they're bored they can go ahead. They can watch it at their own time, at their own pace.And probably the least appreciated aspect of this is the notion that the very first time, the very first time that you're trying to get your brain around a new concept, the very last thing you need is another human being saying, "Do you understand this?"And that's what was happening with the interaction with my cousins before. And now they can just do it in the intimacy of their own room.

What would happen if you apply Salman’s ideas to data center education and training?  Would data center outages decrease?  Would more projects happen on budget and on time?  I vote yes.