New Contributors (and request for readers’ advice)

Hello, I’m Cathy Elliott and I am joining the ALPS blog as a regular contributor along with my friends and co-conspirators – JP, Kalina and John – from the UCL Centre for the Pedagogy of Politics. I’ve written for ALPS once before, which led to some really interesting conversations, so I’m very excited to be blogging more regularly about my favourite subject: active learning (or, as I prefer to call it, ‘learning’, since I very much doubt that passive learning is actually a thing.)

Student in Chelsea Physic Garden for my class last year

Despite that first post on simulations – which was very on-brand for ALPS – I don’t do so much with games and simulations in my teaching at the moment, though there is a always the chance that I might come back to them. However, with the start of the UK autumn term fast approaching, I have lots of exciting plans for my Politics of Nature module this term, which I hope to write about every week or two. In this class, we do outdoor learning, object-based learning, portfolio-based assessment with a strong focus on optionality and choice, and we make lots of use of technology including flipped classrooms, eportfolios and social annotation. So, there will be lots to say!

I’m also a Vice Dean Education at the moment, so it’s quite possible that I will stray into questions of policy and strategy every now and again. However, my heart will always be in the classrom and with my undergraduate students. I’m very happy to hear your thoughts if there’s anything you’d particularly like to read about.

Meanwhile, I have a new and hitherto unexpected problem. I am of an age where I have just acquired my first ever pair of glasses! This is all good news as it’s a miraculous treat to realise that I can see again! However, they are only for reading and everything from the middle distance outwards is hopelessly blurred when I wear them. So, how do I teach now? Luckily, I avoid lecturing as much as possible, but I have to do it sometimes. How will I look at my notes and my slides and the students’ faces? And in the seminar room or other settings, how will I switch from my notes to look at the students? Seasoned spectacle wearers, give me your best tips!

2 Replies to “New Contributors (and request for readers’ advice)”

  1. You just have to wear your specs on the end of your nose. I once had a discussion (I kid you not) with an optician over the possibility of bifocals: he said (without knowing what I did for a living), ‘You could either go for those or just standard lenses and push them forward when you need to look up. You know – the mad professor look.’

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