The IT Does Not Matter Debate

April 5, 2011

Its been a while since I last posted on this blog.  In some ways it seems as if the world is running away with me. However, I’m always up for a good fight. One of the basic decisions that I’ve made is that i need to introduce much more re-usability into my teaching activities. This strategy will see me creating some video resources for my courses. Below is the first… Read the rest of this entry »


Three writing lessons while learning from notes

February 24, 2011

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I did not get to Writing Wednesdays, although I did do a post about a rather impressive passionate presentation. This week I am attending a course and did not really have time for anything else. However, studying for my exam on Friday I did notice some irritations in the notes I was using. So three lessons from doing a bit of studying: Read the rest of this entry »

Learning about learning when you learn…?!

October 28, 2010


Thinking let the sparks flies

Do you think about thinking?

Oh boy, that sound confusing doesn’t it… Let me explain. One of the factors that some say distinguishes us human from the other animals in the animal kingdom is our ability to have meta-cognition.  Wow, big word, what’s that? It refers to a higher level of cognition, i.e. being able to think about your thinking.  As teachers/lecturers/professors we should stimulate our students to do this; not only to think about what they’ve learned directly, but also what they learned from the process of learning.

If you are a student, do YOU think about that? Or are you so worried about passing the exam that afterwards you hardly can remember a thing?  Thinking about your learning experience can help you with your next learning experience. So if you fail (or do badly) in something, should it not tell you something, not only about the material, but also how you approached the material?

If you are on the lecturing side, do YOU think about helping your students to do that? Or are you just worried about your little field of specialization? I actually think many people on the lecturing side does, but sadly some probably don’t.  Thinking about this reminded me of the very famous video of Randy Pausch‘s last lecture.  He uses the term “mind fake” to send a message behind a message… Should we not be thinking more about our “mind fakes”?

If you have experience mind fakes from your parents, your mentors, whoever, please share that with everybody in the comments.

Note: If you’re not one of the more than 12 million people who already watched this on YouTube, plan to. It is an hour and a quarter, but you will not regret making the time — if this doesn’t make you think, nothing probably will…

“On September 18, 2007, Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention.” (CMU) I think you should also pay attention. Randy died July 25, 2008, at the age of 47, but his legacy lives… forever.

A Random Rant on Bloom-ing Assessments

October 20, 2010

Bloom’s taxonomy is widely used in education circle to think about the classification of learning objectives. I thought liked it… that was until I start thinking about it, then it makes my head hurt and I’m wondering if I miss something.

So a quick overview for those that may not be too familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy… Essentially one moves from knowledge, to comprehension, to application, to analysis, to synthesis, to evaluation. And for those of you that’s too familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy, I realize there are criticisms, I realize their has been alternatives suggested etc., but let’s not complicated the issue.

My problem is not so much with the idea of his levels, but with the verbs that are often associated with the level.

So a question like “List the advantages of x” is generally considered to be just giving back knowledge…  fair enough, maybe…

What about a question “Compare y and z.” Ah, compare is analysis… or so I’m being brainwashed…

But, hey,  that does not make sense.  Think about it: if your lectures/class notes/whatever basically did the comparison, maybe it was a good way of “selling x to them”, what are you asking the student. I think you could as well have said “Recall the comparison between y and z, that you’ve memorized and write it down”  At which level are we now? Oops back at level 1: knowledge…

Having said this I realize the level of student may very well have an influence on the level: when a pre-schoolers works out how to divide the 10 pancakes between the five people its kind of right up at levels 5 or 6… Several things had to fall in place… Somehow if I do it, it is at best “application” and even that is for me a hard sell, and certainly would not make for a compelling exam question…

So you are welcome to criticize my thoughts! That would be level 6, evaluate, by the way, because I want you to actually think…

So what do you think? Am I missing the point? Please leave your thoughts and perspectives in the comments, I need your help!

Five lessons from doing a portfolio

September 11, 2010

I am writing this post in a break while working on a portfolio that I must submit for a module in the Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education that I am enrolled for. However having spent good time on the portfolio lately I have come to the some realization (again).  Here I am going to tell you what I did, and what I think I’ve learned over the years…
Read the rest of this entry »

Lecturers at your service…?

August 17, 2010

Does lecturers do students a service? Of course we may respond.  But I think it is worthwhile to consider the notion of services and why people would see something as a service.

Lets draw an analogy to buying say an Internet service.  When will you be happy? There is two aspects to it. Firstly it must allow us to do something new or better. Connecting to the Internet, maybe faster than before… Fine. Secondly it must be doing so in a way that you are happy.  For the Internet service we may be looking at is it available enough, fast enough, and secure enough…

So now consider what we offer students.  The first criteria is easily met (I hope): we will provide them with new knowledge and skills.  The second criteria, however, provides a challenge. Why, well we need to provide it in a way they (the student, the customer) wants…  Granted, we live in world of constraints (I would have liked a 100G Internet connection at my house, but it maybe for now a bit unreasonable).  So we need to think about what the students can reasonable want. This brings about some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are we consistent in our delivery to students, do all of them get the same treatment?
  • Do we make the information accessible enough? Are we available enough?
  • Do we provide enough avenues to the information? Do we make our expectations clear enough?
  • Do we provide the material in formats they want? Or do we talk and chalk and let them read.  (news flash: that is not how young people operate anymore)

What do you think?  Do lecturers in general serve the customer?

All presentations are sales presentations…

August 6, 2010

Why do we make presentations? The more I think about it, the more I realize that we do them because we want to sell something… maybe not a physical product, but something: maybe a viewpoint, some information, a concept, interest in your services,… whatever.  If you don’t want the audience to have “something” after your talk, why bother?

Next time you are doing a presentation, think about what you are selling…
and to whom you are selling…
only then can you decide on the perfect pitch, because you want to make that sale!!!