higher ed

  • digital implications,  digital scholarship,  higher ed

    Wanted – Frontier psychiatrists

    Back when the internet (or at least the web) was still relatively new, it caused a lot of reaction. People dismissed it (it’s the new CB fad), pointed out it’s limitations (it’s so slow), or decried it as the portent of doom (the end of universities). Treading between these predictions and prophecies was a tricky business. It seems obvious now that it would go on to impact almost every aspect of society, but that really wasn’t the case back in the late 90s. Any, none, or a mixture of the futures so confidently outlined by detractors and evangelists seemed possible on any given day. This is fairly normal for any…

  • Asides,  higher ed,  Music

    Niceness is nice

    I watched some of Glastonbury on the BBC last weekend, and like many people one of my favourite acts was Rick Astley and the Blossoms doing a whole Smiths set. It’s difficult to explain to people who have grown up in an internet age, how important groups like the Smiths were in the brash, money obsessed 80s. But then Morrissey has become increasingly right wing and it just means there is a shadow hanging over any listening experience now. But it’s impossible not to love Rick Astley, and so you could enjoy this set guilt-free and marvel at just how good those sings were. This is not a Smiths post…

  • general education,  higher ed,  Television

    The radical Ted Lasso lesson for education

    I know, I know. There are few things more tedious than taking a popular TV show and applying it to a sector – there have been “Manage the Ted Lasso Way” and “The Ted Lasso method of Leadership” type posts aplenty. But hear me out. The angle here is more about the writing and how it relates to traditional TV than Lasso himself (and no, you don’t have to be a fan of the show). So Ted Lasso ended last week, amidst a wave of pieces declaring that it was about time and it had in fact, been rubbish all along. I think TV critics sometimes fall in love with…

  • higher ed,  Music

    Yankee Shed Foxtrot

    Partly in response to the existential implications of AI, I have been pondering aspects of what humans are good at recently, and then how our society, institutions and infrastructure need to facilitate these. In essence, getting humans to do repetitive, formulaic work is done for, AI will do that (whether we think that’s good or not is probably not going to stop it happening). Maybe that’s ok, we were forcing people to become more uniform in their outputs and that isn’t playing to our strengths. Humans are messy, inefficient, unpredictable and often wrong. Well, at least this human is. But most of what we really value comes from this process…

  • assessment,  GO-GN,  higher ed

    10 PhD Viva tips from an examiner

    I did a mock viva for someone recently, and I shared lots of my views on a successful viva based ion examining around 50 PhDs over the years, so I thought I’d share them here. This relates to the UK viva system, which is usually an open-ended defence, with two examiners discussing the thesis with the candidate. Things vary quite differently elsewhere. These are obviously just my views, and I’m generally a ‘nice’ examiner, I want people to enjoy the experience and to pass. Most examiners I’ve met are the same, but one does hear the occasional horror story. So here’s my top ten tips: Just my experience of course,…

  • AI,  edtech,  higher ed

    Generative AI & the taste of sweet surrender

    I’ve attended a lot of AI talks recently (I mean, even if I tried to avoid them I would still have racked up a few). And here’s my hot take for education – just go for it. I don’t say this as an AI enthusiast, I find it quite boring and kind of soul sucking, but shouting loudly and hoping it will go away isn’t a viable strategy. As I argued in my last post, it has a strong inevitability factor, and lack of engagement risks doing ourselves and our students a disservice. That’s not to say we shouldn’t fight to make it open, to avoid bias in datasets, and…

  • comics,  higher ed

    The Cursed Earth of Ed Tech

    I’ve decided to get back to using this blog for doing things that I think are fun. This isn’t the same as them actually being fun, so I accept it may get rather self-indulgent at times. But that’s the joy of blogs, right? In that spirit, I was inspired by a book I read recently, called I Am The Law, by Michael Molcher. The author takes stories from the 2000AD character Judge Dredd to explore the changing political use of ‘law and order’ and increasing politicisation of policing. It’s very well written and researched, and the use of the Dredd perspective is a useful lens even if you’re not a…

  • higher ed,  JIME

    My kingdom for a reviewer #2

    As much as I like a challenging TV series or film, I also sometimes prefer to watch “cosy TV”, ie something largely without menace, tension or requiring thought. It was in the search of such a viewing snack that I came across Professor T on ITV. It features Ben Miller as a Cambridge Prof who aids the police in solving crime. You can probably write the episodes yourself (or get an AI tool to do it). It features laugh out loud representations of academic life – the Prof only teaches one class it seems, who he treats disdainfully and can create random assessment for, he occupies a huge office of…

  • higher ed,  identity,  podcast,  Weblogs

    An online presence health check

    In my earlier post I was trying to sell the idea that (higher ed related) blogging is experiencing a resurgence. This is partly a justification for myself (and to my line managers), because I’ve been on study leave for 2 weeks. Study leave basically means you have a reason to say no to about 50% of the usual meetings. I’ve been writing a research bid, but I’ve also been using that clearer space in the calendar to update my online presence. This has included: I’m not sure if any of these make much difference, but I would argue (vigorously even) that it is a good use of anyone’s time in…

  • higher ed

    Rough(y) times at Athabasca

    As someone who works at the UK Open University, I feel an affinity with other distance and open ed institutions globally. I have a particular affection and respect for Athabasca University, Canada’s version of the OU. I have known many smart people who work there, and admired their innovation in undertakings such as challenge exams, Athabasca University Press and IRRODL. So it has been particularly galling to see the political overreach of the Alberta Advanced Education Minister, Demetrios Nicolaides in demanding staff relocate to Athabasca and they reverse their online mode of working. That was bad enough, but was eventually settled, but this week with a callousness Alex Jones would…

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