Monthly Archives: November 2007

Shirley on ‘Undergraduates and wider reading’

Shirley

Shirley asks about reading:

  • What prompts students to read more relevant material?
  • Is there sufficient emphasis on appropriate wider reading in the module resources?
  • Are there sufficient opportunities for students to discuss their reading?
  • How can students make better use of libraries, both on and off line?
  • Is there a need for more help on assessing the credibility of reading material?

I would add:

  • How can students share the task of assessing the importance of an article?
  • How can students tackle the academic style and cultural background of articles?

I’m a strong believer in creating reading groups and structuring the responsibilities so that students take turns in presenting their analysis of articles and being critical friends to each other – a simple, but effective teaching organisation, which soon lifts mutual capability.

Why British universities are limiting the experience of secondary education. How can they be doing a better job?

 Haberdashers

This was the title of the Thirteenth Askes’s Education Lecture held in the Haberdasher’s Hall, West Smithfield, London, given by Dr Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College.

Anthony delivered an impassioned plea to sit up and take notice of the damage done by league tables and subject examinations to the notion of a broad education and the well-being of future citizens. He observed that education had improved markedly in each of the preceding three decades, but that the whole child was only being developed in few schools and without proper acknowledgement. Part of the blame was placed on the university system with its exam expectations, narrow academic focus and selection processes.

I asked Anthony (and others): where is innovation in higher education to spring from to improve the situation? Imaginative action is needed – I’m ready!

RSA Networks workshop

 RSA Networks

The objective of this workshop was to begin a new kind of RSA fellowship engagement ‘RSA networks’, and to discover what they might do and how they might work.

A stimulating ‘Open technology’ format was used to generate, discuss and refine over 70 ideas from the 260 fellows and staff present.

I proposed ‘What’s wrong with university” and “The University for Improvement” as ideas for debate and constructive thinking. The fellows who joined me were surprisingly gentle, compared to the RSA report “In from the cold- the rise of vocational education” written by Professor Sir Graham Hills in November 2004. Graham was project champion of the RSA’s Visions of a Capable Society programme in 2004, and he identified the following flaws in the qcademic ethos:

  • Fragmentation of knowledge
  • Internal referencing, peer review, cronyism and social corruption
  • Absence of context, flight from reality
  • Objectivity taken to extremes, dehumanisation of science
  • Authoritarian attitudes to knowledge and behaviour
  • Competition between knowledge bases leading to internal uniformity and external conformity

He continued to claim that the world of reality and technology, outside academia was:

  • Holistic, not reductionist
  • Context driven, not subject driven
  • Mission-oriented research, not blue skies
  • Teamwork, not individual scholar
  • Multi-authored publications, heteregeneous knowledge bases
  • Divergent not convergent thinking
  • Reflexive philosophy rather than objective statements
  • Decisive criterion: does it work?

Nevertheless I went away feeling that both business and academia (both well-represented in the session) were unhappy with the current state of affairs and the University for Improvement – an idea based on the Inter-Disciplinary Inquiry-Based Learning  project (IDIBL) I am working on at the University of Bolton -  was well received.

As Graham Hill put it: “The best way to connect the world of industry to  academia is to people it with students” – something IDIBL will be striving to do.

JISC CETIS conference 2007

 JISC CETIS conference diagram

Loads of enjoyable discursive sessions here, but I enjoyed Scott Wilson’s workshop ‘Co-ordination and Control of Business Processes’ most of all. We discussed which higher education processes could respond to development in the light of technology developments. Our group’s diagram, although untidy led to a neat table of processes we felt could benefit from development:

Process Driver Impact Readiness for change Interventions
1 Peer learning matching Learning productivity Better results, fulfilment Good As 4 below
2 Teaching workload move effort from presentation to facilitation, formative assessment Medium Business process concepts as 4 below
3 Marking / assessment Discomfort, hard work, fairness Lower costs, reliable results, happier staff Low Systems of peer ranking
4 Environmental Audit Environmentalism Planet saved Good Online support
5 Learn(ing)ed Societies, (Journals, peer-review, inter-institutional repositirys, joint bids Need for enhancement of academic society Better education Good Social software, intentional communities of practice, business process enabled

RSA talkaoke

RSA talkaoke

A fascinating evening sitting in the Star Trek-like environment of Talkaoke at the RSA. Discussing the development of an online environment for the RSA Fellows. A wide-ranging discussion which homed in on the confrontation between the trust and shared intent of a closed society and the creativity and diversity of open thinking. A chance to present the IDIBL project and consider its place in RSA developments to become a dynamic force for change by offering a route for those keen to embrace civic innovation in a disciplined and rigorous manner and gain academic qualification at the same time.

Ideas that can change the world

Ideas that can change the world

Went with Patrick to this excellent meeting of young and old minds. We spoke to Cameron (8) who told us his ideas for a “mp3 and mp4″ player so that he wouldn’t get bored when avoiding his younger brother! It reminded me that changing the world starts small, and visions of what’s important are close to home as well as global.

Royal College of Music and Royal Ballet School collaboration

RCMJD musicians and RBS dancers

I was privileged to attend this event at the Royal Ballet School. It was performed by musicians and dancers of their own joint works. I was most impressed by the sophistication in both music and dance and the articulate way they explained their own challenges in collaboration against real deadlines in the discussion afterwards.

I could never have imagined that this was what Sasha would be confidently doing in 2007, when, ten years earlier aged 5, he set out on a musical career.

The Owers Lecture 2007


Participants at the Owers Lecture 2007

When Stan Owers became Dr Stan Owers, this lecture was initiated.

It was to be held annually to address the issues surrounding manufacturing industry and education. This third in the series was a really challenging event with Jeff Roche, a 2nd year undergraduate giving us a frank review of his learning trajectory so far. Raj Rajagopal, IET trustee and long experienced in the world of manufacturing added his global perspective, pointing out that where the design and manufacture goes, the research and development follow.

A vibrant discussion ensued and a real sense of action required to improve the awareness amongst school students of how industry works.

See also

Conferencing with the Azores

Azores

Made a presentation today, based on my developing talk about ‘delight’ applied to the task of professional development of teachers and trainers. We used Marratech and although this provided a good sense of presence, my audio was not well heard.

Thanks to Antonio Reis for inviting me – it took only an hour out of my day to make some kind of impact in the Azores!

Adrian Mitchell at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Adrian Mitchell

A real pleasure to hear some outstanding poetry read by the poet in the intimate surroundings of this long-established theatre – a real credit to the town of Bolton. I am not well-read in poetry, but have come to enjoy it substantially in middle-age and Adrian’s material had me excited and tearful in short shrift. You can find him stubbornly reciting ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam’ from thirty years ago on Youtube, but this still scathing poem was scornfully delivered by an energetic 75-year old on Thursday night.