Student Workload - They're still not lazy...

11 July 2010

Student Workload

The problem with modern media, I've come to realise, is that they are driven by a strong sense of narrative, rather than analysis. Once a particular narrative is established, its hard to get a shift in the commentary. Blogs are clearly also driven by the same perceptions. Sadly, two new articles reveal that the student workload decline story is just not going away.

Why I am no longer a Scientist

27 June 2010


One of the real pleasures I get from working in e-learning and academic development is the diversity of people I work with. Right now my colleagues include people with qualifications in English, Linguistics, Maori Studies and Statistics - while I have degrees in Molecular Biology and Computer Science. I have very few regrets about the path that has seen me end up in my current role, but from time to time I think about my formal training and wonder. Just recently Nature published articles on new ways in which DNA expression may be regulated and I was pricked briefly with the thought that I could have been involved in work like that - really advancing our understanding of the way the world works. Then I see posts like this one and remember why I am not a Scientist.

Student Workload

05 May 2010

Student Workload

Synchronicity is an interesting thing. At the IR Colloquium last week I shared some preliminary data from a project I have been conducting at Victoria looking at student workload. Today I wake up to hear National Radio talking about a supposed decline in student work on their studies - based on a recent analysis published in the US. The National Radio item appears to be based essentially on a post by Dave Guerin in Education Directions, which references an article on The Chronicle of Higher Education. The problem I have is that my data suggest that, rather than declining, student study workloads are consistent with the expectation that a full-time student will work a full-time week of 40-50 hours - just like any other professional.

Changing Realities

14 March 2010


An EDUCAUSE Review article late last year considered the impact that changing economic realities were having on universities, and more specifically the IT operations. In reading this article I was struck by the relevance of the advice when reformulated to address learning and teaching, not just technology.

Are Too Many Students Going to College?

13 November 2009


I've always been a supporter of a differentiated tertiary education system in New Zealand, designed to provide different educational experiences for different student needs and social outcomes. The current Government's approach of forcing differentiation by reducing access to University education is not one I would have chosen, driven as it is by cost reduction and a panic about school leaver unemployment. To date, the debate has been framed as one of encouraging the pursuit of higher qualifications - moving people from certificates to diplomas and then on to degrees, rather than gaining multiple low-value pieces of paper. A more fundamental challenge is whether the current sector is going to be able to change in ways that meet our social and economic needs for the future - rather than asking whether too many students are going to university, we should be asking whether any students need to be going to university?

Copyright's Moral Panics

31 October 2009


A moral panic is a type of mob hysteria that generates witch burning and idiotic laws banning paople from access to the Internet. Unless you buy into some serious conspiracy theories about organised religion, at least the witch burners have more basic integrity than the media distribution companies. France has recently made the serious error of trying to save a doomed industry's business model, the UK and New Zealand seem to be teetering on the edge of the same fatal mistake. Cory Doctorow, no friend of copyright maximisers, has just published his response to the UK Mandelson proposal in the Times, we in New Zealand need to be rehearsing these same arguments to get out politicians to listen to New Zealanders, not Sony, Viacom and others desperate to save their outdated businesses.

Intellectual Property Ownership

30 September 2009


One of the (pleasant) pecularities of employment as an Academic is the freedom to set my own research agenda and how and where I seek funds and publish the outcomes of my work. This freedom is fundamental to academic work and is consistent with the legislative expectation that universities "develop intellectual independence", employ people "who are active in advancing knowledge" and act as "critic and conscience of society (Education Act 1989, section 162(4)). A further freedom enjoyed by many (but not all) academics is that I own some (but also not all) of my intellectual property - something that may be changing significantly if recent Australian developments are followed through locally.

Rewriting the Past

18 July 2009


George Santayana's quote 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it' is familiar to many, as in the tale of Cassandra, princess of Troy, and doomed to foretell the future and never be believed. Recent events affecting Kindle owners make me think that Richard Stallman and Clifford Lynch must be feeling increasingly like Cassandra.

Clemson's Ranking Scandal

05 June 2009


My dislike of ranking lists of educational institutions has undoubtedly been apparent in other posts I've made and in the design philosophy underpinning the eMM. An example of why I take this position is rather clearly shown in the recent comments on the U.S. News and World Report rankings and the extent some institutions may go to influence their position on the list.

What Others are Doing with the eMM

09 May 2009


The eMM is still actively being applied down here in Australasia with projects following up on the ITP sector assessments and with ACODE applying the eMM in large Australian institutions. I also just spent last week in Perth presenting on some ideas for relating eMM assessment results to institutional frameworks and priorities (I'll post the link to the paper as soon as its online, you can find the abstract on the conference site at the moment). Paul Basich has also drawn my attention to the recent publication of the University of London eMM report, an extensive document that contains some very useful observations as well as a positive endorsement of their use of the model. I thought however, that I'd talk about some of the work that others are doing with model. These are projects and papers that I'm completely uninvolved with. Its great to see others taking the ideas and making them their own.

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