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Unread 07-05-2018, 05:49 PM
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FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

In part of the email sent out today, I noticed the following tidbit about an interesting new program FIRST appears to be implementing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRST Email
The Big Picture
We are launching the FIRST Ecosystems Project this month, which in its initial stages will focus on global data gathering and analysis of the current state of delivering our full progression of programs, including FIRST® LEGO® League Jr., FIRST® LEGO® League, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and the FIRST Robotics Competition. This analysis will lead to the development of a framework for building, supporting, and growing coherent local ecosystems to deliver FIRST programming to all children.

We will be seeking input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the FIRST community, which will inform any decisions that are made. Implementation of these changes will take place over many years, and no conclusions have been reached at this time. The outcome of the initial analysis will be shared with the subsequent decisions and implementation phases communicated directly by FIRST leadership.
Is this program specifically for research and development of new competition districts, such as the much debated WOW/FMA areas? Or is it for developing "local ecosystems" in general, to better prepare them for FIRST programs in the region? I'd be very curious to hear some more from FIRST on this, especially as it's launching sometime this month.

Also, if it is meant for general "ecosystem development", what will said framework consist of, and will it be public? Development of FIRST programs in different ecosystems is an endeavor frequently undertaken by different FRC or FTC teams, or even interested students wanting to participate in FIRST, and such a framework might prove extremely useful to their efforts to do so and lead to an even greater expansion of teams in untapped areas.

Finally, because the core participants of FIRST are students, and the intended purpose is to "develop ecosystems to deliver FIRST programming to children", will the opinions of students somehow also be taken into account? As of far FIRST HQ seems to only be surveying mentors, volunteers, etc, for opinions on different matters with what seems like little-to-no say from the students who will be the most impacted by changes, as the beneficiaries of the programs and the ones who most benefit from FIRST.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this new program, especially as it appears to possibly be the early stages of possible expansion of FIRST into new regions.
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Last edited by mikexcao : 07-05-2018 at 05:52 PM.
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Unread 07-05-2018, 06:13 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

Good find.

I look forward to seeing how this progresses but I don't have much hope. I suspect this is yet another attempt at data collection and analysis that will languish in obscurity - FIRST has had many.

As always, the crew at AndyMarkUp (ok, it's really just Andrew and I) are welcome to discussing the observed trends in FRC that we have encountered - we're slowly working on a revised and updated presentation to the community and our data and presentation are open and available now.
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Unread 07-05-2018, 07:35 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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the crew at AndyMarkUp
...is this the "I'm not touching you" of trademark infringement?
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Unread 07-05-2018, 08:18 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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...is this the "I'm not touching you" of trademark infringement?
It's a cry for attention.
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Unread 07-05-2018, 08:50 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

Recommended analysis steps for the FIRST Ecosystems Project.

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Unread 07-05-2018, 08:54 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikexcao View Post
Finally, because the core participants of FIRST are students, and the intended purpose is to "develop ecosystems to deliver FIRST programming to children", will the opinions of students somehow also be taken into account? As of far FIRST HQ seems to only be surveying mentors, volunteers, etc, for opinions on different matters with what seems like little-to-no say from the students who will be the most impacted by changes, as the beneficiaries of the programs and the ones who most benefit from FIRST.
Students have been included in every survey from FIRST, to my knowledge. I know the survey to western PA teams was sent to all our students and included the line "we would like to gather feedback from as many youth team members, mentors, and event volunteers as possible."

The post week-4 survey also included the line " For youth ages 13-17, your answers will be anonymous.", so I assume it was sent to students, too.

The kit of parts survey from a couple years ago said" We ask that no more than one student and one mentor from each team complete the survey." (they didn't specify who should fill it out the past two years).

Was your email registered with FIRST?
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Unread 07-05-2018, 08:59 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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Originally Posted by CarlosGJ View Post
...is this the "I'm not touching you" of trademark infringement?
Satire is strictly not infringement.
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Unread 07-05-2018, 09:26 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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Satire is strictly not infringement.
Additionally, Andy okayed the joke... well ok, he was a good sport about it.
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Unread 07-05-2018, 09:56 PM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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Originally Posted by Nate Laverdure View Post
Recommended analysis steps for the FIRST Ecosystems Project.
Test for screening new ideas: How will it play in Peoria? Will it make proud grandmothers on Guam?

This is no joking matter. A road map to sustainable FIRST Ecosystems will require some seriously creative thought. Much more creative than a cookie cutter shaped like New Hampshire, Epcot, Michigan, IRI, etc.

Thanks, Nate, for linking that thread. I hope Erica has already found it.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 08:49 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Laverdure View Post
Recommended analysis steps for the FIRST Ecosystems Project.

The first two lines are really key, I think. I haven't come across any real information on why teams fail - just anecdotes and speculation. It would be awesome if we could boil it down to a half dozen risk signs, even if some of them aren't necessarily obvious from readily available data. We could search stats to see teams that haven't made it to the playoffs in a while, or haven't won an award, and FIRST has information readily available that we don't have like the number of mentors and students per team. Harder to figure out from raw data, though - how reliant a team is on a single sponsor, how good of a relationship they have with their school, how involved each mentor really is, what sort of plan they have for potentially departing leadership. That sort of stuff teams could help each other with just by getting to know each other, and they can help point out those weaknesses if they see them. Plus having a "top 10 reasons teams fail" type of list would help teams look for weaknesses in their own structure.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 09:06 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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FIRST has information readily available that we don't have like the number of mentors and students per team.
This should be clarified a bit. I'm not going to publicly name sources but FIRST has some serious issues with this data and who has access to it. Ask three different FIRST employees and you'll get three separate answers about what they can and can't share along with what they can and can't access - most of which is still stored in FileMaker systems but some of which is being stored in SalesForce systems.

I do know that FIRST is actively trying to make it better but it seems like there is room for something like TBA to act as a conduit for communications between teams. We can share our CAD and code on TBA... why can't I share an email address or a way to send messages to team contacts? It won't be official but at least it is centralized and available - more than I can say for the FIRST dashboard.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 09:23 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

/offtopic
It does seem like there's room for a third party like TBA to step in, but it would have to be opt-in on an individual/team basis - FIRST doesn't have any way currently for a third party to obtain team/mentor contact information. From what I've heard, the relatively new GDPR over in the EU is driving a lot of it.

What I'd personally like to see is FIRST set up an auto-forward email system for teams. Let me send an email to frc900@firstinspires.org and have it forwarded to the two main contacts for the team. Their contact info remains secure, and my message gets across without me having to do additional digging into their website or social media to find contact info for them. Plus, contacting teams would then be standardized across all of FIRST.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 09:31 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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Originally Posted by Jon Stratis View Post
... FIRST has information readily available that we don't have like the number of mentors and students per team.
I'm not sure how accurate that information is. If they are relying on TIMS/STIMS it's way off for us. Even the paper roster at the event isn't an accurate view (as it only covers those students going to the event + those few on STIMS)

Because there is no one way to have a roster for HQ to track, the likelihood of data error is significant.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 09:31 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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What I'd personally like to see is FIRST set up an auto-forward email system for teams. Let me send an email to frc900@firstinspires.org and have it forwarded to the two main contacts for the team. Their contact info remains secure, and my message gets across without me having to do additional digging into their website or social media to find contact info for them. Plus, contacting teams would then be standardized across all of FIRST.
I'm down with that suggestion. That should tell someone that's a good idea. Jon and Marshall are in agreement about this.
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Unread 07-06-2018, 09:51 AM
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Re: FIRST Ecosystems Program - Development of "New Ecosystems"

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Originally Posted by Jon Stratis View Post
What I'd personally like to see is FIRST set up an auto-forward email system for teams. Let me send an email to frc900@firstinspires.org and have it forwarded to the two main contacts for the team. Their contact info remains secure, and my message gets across without me having to do additional digging into their website or social media to find contact info for them. Plus, contacting teams would then be standardized across all of FIRST.
Even if FIRST can't manage that, it doesn't seem like it would be very hard for FIRST to have an opt-in for sharing a contact email. Just add one more question for "public contact email (optional)" in the team info along with team nickname, sponsors, etc. Then make that data available through the FIRST team pages and API (so TBA can pull it). Obviously not all teams will put an email, but that should centralize the data for a large number of teams with very minimal effort on FIRST's part.
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