A short post right now from me, as I’m back to school for the day.
Elements of my family felt that I needed nothing more than cookery lessons, so I’m spending the day working on my cucina italiana, at a secret location in nearby countryside.
I think it was meant in a positive way.
In any case, I’m off and like any self-respecting pedagogue (pedagologist?) I’m wondering how one structures such classes.
Is the focus on techniques (ways of preparing food that are ‘Italian’), or on basic elements (key ‘Italian’ flavours), or some vaguer ‘Italian’ sensibility? Or perhaps I’ll be walked through a few dishes then I’m on my own?
Put differently, what am I going to get from the day that I couldn’t get from reading Marcella Hazan? Continue reading →
You’ll have noticed we haven’t talked TEF for some long time now (I did some posts a way back (here and here)).
That’s largely because there’s no much more to say.
For those of you outside the UK (and possibly for some of you in it), TEF is the Teaching Excellence Framework, the government’s bright idea to balance out the traditional focus on research with a more explicit evaluation of the teaching side of universities.
Reading this week’s Economist article on new algorithms for generating audio and video content, I was really struck by the speed with which the assumptions we teach our students have to be questioned.
As the techy types interviewed in the piece argue, it’s only a question of time before it will be possible for anyone to generate any content they like; to get anybody to say anything you want them to.
While that might have some benefits – the technology will allow us to identify such fake content more easily too – it’s also clear that our traditional reliance on content as a repository of ‘truth’ is under attack.
More prosaically, we all have enough trouble as it is with our students’ (and (sometimes) colleagues’) inability to make critical judgements about the veracity of sources: if you doubt me, come and spend an hour or two on Twitter.
It’s that strange, twinkling time in the academic year; that point when your acquaintances ask: “so now the students have gone, I guess you’re on your holidays too, right?”
I appreciate this will vary for colleagues in other countries, but here in the UK it’s a 12-month year and the summer is the time to ‘do all the stuff we didn’t do in the semesters.’
In several ways, this is almost an unilluminating as the queries about how you fill your summer, since everyone I know in academia is busy doing all kinds of things all the time.
Given that our workloads all all as unique as we are [sic], rather than try to generalise too much, I just want to share my reflections on how I’m passing the time until the end of September, when we get our academic year going again. Continue reading →
I’m coming back to the idea of soft ties and community building in education, having spent the weekend in Bruges, celebrating 20 years since my Masters degree.
For those of you not familiar with the College of Europe, it’s a Masters-only institution, teaching students on various aspects of European integration. It has a reputation as a training ground for those going to work in Brussels, in and around the European Union. Certainly, from my year, there are now many friends who are now senior people in European or national organisations, from ambassadors to heads of unit, professors to executive suite types.
I mention this not to brag – if anything, there’s a strong dissonance of seeing such people in such roles, when your lasting memory is of them having a food fight at a cheese fondue party – but to observe that our reunion was grounded in the very strong sense of community that we shared.
As students, the College insisted that we not only study together, but also live and eat together, in the various residences that they provided. At the time, I’m not sure I appreciated being given 21 meals a week – especially come ‘sandwich Sunday dinner’ – but it meant that we got to spend a lot of time together, learn more about each other as people, rather than just classmates. Continue reading →
As part of our guest post series, this piece by Samantha Cooke (Surrey) considers how to incorporate Twitter into seminar classes.
In 2014, I undertook a research project examining the use of social media in Higher Education, following experiences with lecturer and student engagement within a Security Studies module on which I was running seminars.
As someone who only had a Twitter account to keep up to date with the news, the regular use of Twitter alone was new to me. In this respect, the classroom served as a great environment for a newcomer to this social media platform as it provided a framework within which I was able to learn how everything worked. The findings of this project have since been published in Education and Information Technologies. Continue reading →
Reading Martin’s post yesterday, just as I’m finishing my duties as an external examiner, makes me think about assessment formats.
Too often, we fall into the essay-and-exam approach: it’s simple, and easy and hardly anyone questions it. Of course, as the institution I external at is about to find out, I’m one of the people who does question it.
Assessment has a terrible reputation to deal with: in essence, it’s a hassle to do as a student, a hassle to set and mark as an instructor and the source of more academic complaints than anything else. No-one has a good word to say about it, it seems.
In our hearts, we know that it matters and that there has to be some kind of means of evaluating student performance, for their sakes and ours. But surely there’s a better way of doing it. Continue reading →