Archive for August, 2010

Location tagging – Facebook decides for you (again).

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Watch this video to determine how to manage the new location feature.

As usual with Facebook it assumes you know and trust all 45,000 people in your friends collection (I only have 12 on my personal site, I am such a loser) and the process to disable or even check the settings is stupidly convoluted.

Best bang for the buck – Note taking vs note availability

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I’m starting a new occasional theme on the blog focusing on simple and viable ways to improve our teaching outcomes.  The Best Bang for the Buck.

It’s easy to moan about the perceived underlying faults of the system and come up with grand solutions (usually prefaced with the statement “What they should do is..”).  It’s much harder to accept the practical realities of our situation and come up with flexible long term plans made up of losely connected little actions, and more than an occasional compromise.  Anyway, here is the first offering.

I think it would be useful to have lecture notes wikis attached to units.  Students could post up lecture notes and chapter summaries.  Students could provide a range of approaches to understanding difficult concepts.  The notes would build up over time and be added to or edited.  The lecturer could add a comment here and there to redirect wayward interpretations.  Most students won’t make an entry but that doesn’t matter, the good students will.  It would be good for there to be some kind of recognition for contributors (any ideas?  ‘Best Team Player’ trophy?).

We could dump the dodgey hybred powerpoint/lecture note slides which don’t adequately achieve either purpose.  There wouldn’t be the same pressure on academics to get the required quota of words out their mouths in a lecture.  The lecture could be based on issues, and cases, and real world application of principles.  There would be more time for group discusion and interaction.  Students could relax a little and not worry about missing a key point and getting lost in the lecture. 

On the other hand there is a bit of research around that shows that note taking improves the retention of information. I have a few problems with that.  

  • – Not all students take notes and there is no way to make them
  • – Retention of information and knowing how to apply it are different things. 
  • – Most students don’t read the entire text book  and certainly don’t summarize it.

What about attendance I hear you cry.  If your lecture is just another summary of the text book, then why should students show up.  Where is the value-add.  On the other hand if your time is freed up to deal with relevant, real world (and perhaps fun) applications of the information then you are likely to see an increase in attendance (regardless of wiki notes and lecture recordings).

I can think of half a dozen other advantages, not the least being there is no significant overhead.

Why not try it, what have you got lose.

Make Education Better

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Read this

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

“I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system.”

Watch this

TLHE Keynote Address 1 : How Assessment Can Support or Undermine Learning by Professor Graham Gibbs Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University. (It’s 52 minutes – save it and listen when you’re ready).

Have a think.


When good PBL can be annoying

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

 There are 2 external PBL (problem Based Learning) initiatives (UBS Investment Banking Challenge , CPA Big Break ) which really get on my goat, not because they are bad ideas, or badly implimented, or badly promoted, or badly thought of by the Faculty heirachy or students – no, my problem is they are external. 

We love it when our students do well (and they do very well) and while we encourage our student’s to participate we don’t take the next step and draw a link between this fantastic learning opportunity and our own teaching practice.

The obvious questions that should arise from these initiatives are:
“The student’s love this and it really pushes them – why can’t I do something like this in my unit? ”
“This project covers a big chunk of my curriculum why don’t I use it as the back bone of my unit?”

I think a useful first step would be to give an overview of these types of projects as part of the introduction on curriculum planning days.  Let’s give people a nudge in this direction.