Nothing personal

For 12 months I’ve been working in a project team that’s been thrown together to support an institutional shift from one LMS to another, and I’ve learned a lot about what people think about academics. Listening to IT colleagues in particular it seems as though we either need monk-like protection from the realities of technology, or their technology needs protecting from us. That’s when we’re not huddled under our desks with our robes thrown over our heads, resisting change. But…

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Stuck in the middle

There’s something bothering me about the interesting project pulled together by Jeff Young at The Chronicle, intended to demonstrate that today’s college students are bored with yesterday’s lecturing tactics.  In January, Jeff asked students to video their thoughts on the traditional lecture experience.  Here’s his compilation of some of their responses: I don’t particularly disagree with anything the students say, and I really like that they took the trouble to video their thoughts and send them in.  Honestly, I think…

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Extraordinary company

Higher ed tech writers are chewing the cud over the not very surprising news that Blackboard is partnering up with major content publishers Cengage, Macmillan, Pearson, John Wiley & Sons and (last year) McGraw-Hill, and that McGraw-Hill itself is now friending everyone in the LMS world.  The language of this new set of deals is that of the soothing murmur: students will now be able to transition seamlessly from Anywhere U via their LMS to centralised content repositories managed by Big…

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Going forward

One of the challenges facing a higher education institution trying to choose a new learning management system is the blind taste test that passes for product demonstration. Typically this involves being hustled through a demo site that’s been populated with made-up students in imaginary classes exchanging imaginary one-liners with each other via a discussion board, while imaginary academics set up imaginary course content, and the whole thing flows through to imaginary gradebooks or generates imaginary tracking reports. Because the number…

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WTF

I’m still brooding on Ben Wildavsky’s review of his trip to Australia for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Whenever a visitor says “Aussie” like he does, there’s a risk of a Bill Bryson moment. But this time the issue isn’t our wacky fauna, our laid-back attitude, or the many ways that Australian nature can kill you—it’s our acronyms. In a post-AUQA world, how will TEQSA make sensible use of the AQF, the ERA, the CEQ, the AUSSE, and perhaps the…

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