19 December 2011

Reflections on ASCILITE 2011 Hobart

Hobart from Mt Wellington

This year’s ASCILITE conference in Hobart was very well attended, with nearly 500 participants from 90+ institutions. I certainly took away at least two new ideas and several other things to think about.

The keynote speakers were:

• Gilly Salmon, who reprised her books on “e-moderating”

• Simon Buckingham Shum, who delivered an extremely important presentation on learning analytics by videoconference from the UK, suggesting that we need to move on from counting clicks to looking at data that will actually inform – evidence of critical curiosity, meaning making, changing and learning, learning relationships, strategic awareness amongst the students, resilience, and creativity

Mt Wellington viewing shelter doors

• Sharon Kerr, who spoke on the way new technologies and easy-to-use devices like the iPad are reshaping our view of assistive technologies for students with disabilities, and may actually be re-defining our concept of “disability” in the learning context
Tasmanian wildflowers

The paper co-authored by our colleagues from CECS – Lauren Thompson, Kim Blackmore and Malcolm Pettigrove – was one of two papers selected as Best of Conference. The paper – Leading change: applying change management approaches to engage students in blended learning – reports on one aspect of the ANU-UniSA Hubs and Spokes Project. The other Best of Conference paper was Linda Corrin’s paper entitled Exploring medical students’ use of technology. The refereed conference proceedings are available online. In the pre-conference workshop I attended, there was considerable discussion about TEQSA, assessment strategies and practices, and issues of curriculum alignment.

Among the other presentations of interest (to me, at least) were these:

1. Kennedy, Jones, Chambers & Peacock’s study examining the reasons academics use – or don’t use – university-endorsed (and unendorsed) learning technologies

2. Ryan, Hinton & Lamont Mills’ presentation of the finding of their investigation into the impact of learning technologies on academic workload, where they found

Yoni Ryan, Leone Hinton and Andrea Lamont-Mills

a. that a distance education model of curriculum design brings with it an increase in academic workload before the beginning of the study session, but often a reduced workload during the semester,

b. that there isn't a clear workload model in the universities they visited that takes account of changing practice in the light of increased use across the sector of learning technologies, and

c. that while academic staff understand that teaching online has become a requirement, they are often unwilling to reduce face-to-face contact because they believe that to reduce face-to-face contact, even when they have increased online contact, they would adversely affect the quality of teaching and learning
3. Karanicolas, Green, Willis & Snelling’s reflections on the relative value added by their own curriculum innovations, including those supported by learning technologies

4. Allen & Coleman’s paper on the ways they are cultivating and assessing creativity with the help of an e-portfolio tool

5. Palmer’s confronting findings that demonstrate that without thoughtful curriculum re-design, when courses are taught online, student satisfaction scores drop significantly; that is, it’s not enough merely to add some online aspect to a traditionally-designed course, the lecturer has to re-think and re-design

6. Lever, Gluga & Kay’s presentation about a University of Sydney curriculum documentation database that will provide reports on curriculum alignment, and the issues that arose during the building of the database

7. Dolan’s moving presentation about the impact of the earthquake on the use of online learning technologies in the short-term and in the long-term at the University of Canterbury, where higher usage – driven by necessity in the early days – has persisted even as the buildings and face-to-face systems have been rebuilt

There were many other valuable papers, I am sure, but of the sessions I attended, these were the speakers who caught my attention.
Shane Evans and Kathy Savige from UNSW@ADFA

This annual conference is increasingly providing a forum for those who are interested in more than online tools. Those who attend are examining changing practice in among university teachers, looking at the ways institutions are dealing with these changes through policies, institutional policies and procedures, and the implications of these changes for the kinds of teacher education preparation, professional development programs, and professional support that universities need to be putting in place to ensure that their teaching staff have not only the discipline knowledge required of a university teacher, but also a thoughtful, informed, reflective approach to their teaching practice.

Alex Knight, Marina Lobastov and Yvonne Wisby
nearly at the top of the University of Tasmania

After the conference, Marina Lobastov from the University of Tasmania gave a small group of us a private tour of some of their new teaching facilities, where some of the more recent ideas about learning spaces are being put into practice.

Then I explored the Huon Valley - what an amazing place that is ...

The backyard for my Huon Valley forest dwelling friends

Dale the Dog decides that swimming isn't for him

15 December 2011

Teaching the language of the disciplines

Earlier this week, I attended the launch of a book. The people around me are constantly publishing monographs and scholarly articles. Some of them are good, some of them are mind-boggling boring (to me ... not to everyone). Some of them deal with narrow academic studies, some are the result of years of focused attention on a PhD topic, and some of them emerge from wide, cross-disciplinary thinking. Many are predictable, if worthy. Few are unexpected, if you know the people involved.

This one took me by surprise, perhaps because I didn't really think about what would be likely to emerge from a meeting between an energetic teacher of Chinese and a thoughtful, quiet scientist with research interests in virology, innate immunity and bio-statistics over a cup of coffee in a seminar about university teaching.

This pair are both committed teachers. Their book came about because of a discussion about how the scientist might best teach the language of his discipline to his students, and because there was a very practical problem to solve. Brett knows the language of his discipline, but was having trouble teaching it to his students. Felicia knows how to teach languages, but didn't know the language of Brett's discipline. They set about learning about each other's areas of expertise. Felicia attended every class Brett taught for a whole semester. Brett spent hours learning about the language teaching techniques that Felicia uses.

Dr Felicia Zhang, the teacher of Chinese, suggested to Dr Brett Lidbury, the scientist, that he incorporate language teaching techniques and practices in his biology classes. Then they brought in Dr Alice Richardson, a statistician, to check the results. They invited a whole raft of other people to think about the issues and to contribute their tips and tricks ... and came up with the script for the book.

It seems like a pretty good idea to me. After all, one of the first things that discipline novices have to conquer is the language of their new discipline.  If you don't sound like a physicist or a biologist when you talk about physics or biology, you probably aren't one, right?

from left to right: Dr Brett Lidbury, Dr Felicia Zhang, and Dr Alice Richardson

Take a look. The book is full of concrete suggestions about how to teach the language of science. I'm pretty sure most of the ideas could be adapted to other other disciplines as well.

Zhang, F., Lidbury, B., Richardson, A., Yates, B., Gardiner, M., Bridgeman A., Schutte, J., Rodger, C., and Mate, K. (2011). Sustainable Language Support Practices in Science Education: technologies and solutions. US: Business Science Reference. See http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sustainable-Language-Support-Practices-Education/dp/1613500629

Isn't it great when the people you know teach you something unexpected, unexpectedly?

29 November 2011

Pessimist or realist?

Maybe it's just because it's the festive season, and maybe there's a change in the air, but this week I have come across two articles dealing with similar issues - one serious, one very silly. Both gave me comfort.

I have long lamented the tendency among those of my tribe who proselytize, touting the bright-shiny things in a firm belief, unquestioned and unqualified, that more technology in education is the thing. These colleagues are people I love dearly for their passion and their knowledge about the detail of the code and the finickity specifications of the widgets. These colleagues know, deep in their hearts and in every atom of their being, that they hold the key to better student engagement and much higher quality learning - and that the key is digital technologies in teaching and learning.

I'm not so sure. I'm the one on the side, asking questions like "Is there another, simpler way to achieve the end? Is this new bright-shiny absolutely robust and reliable? Where do the less confident go if they can't figure out how to work it?" and "Which is the best tool for the task I have on the table right now?".

Now I have a label for myself.  Neil Selwyn calls me 'pessimistic'. In defining the term, he writes: "... pessimism ... is not "a dogmatic blanket negativity towards education and technology", but while it "allows room for an acceptance that specific things are getting better", the "pessimistic educational technologist ... accepts that digital technology is not bringing about the changes and transformations that many people would like to believe".

And so it is, here in the world I live in, embedded as I am in an academic organizational unit that is responsible for teaching the business disciplines in a research-intensive university. That is why I am sometimes perceived to be anti-technology: I do not adhere to the belief that increased use of digital technologies in education is automatically followed by an improvement in quality in teaching and learning, even if the technologies are wielded expertly. I would call myself cynical rather than pessimistic, but the idea is the same.

Selwyn writes:
"Surely, there is nothing wrong with attempting to develop realistic and honest ways of working with digital technologies in education that involve thinking the worst (rather than the best) of them. Of course, that would mean reorienting the educational technology mindset so that it is accepting the social world as it is and is comfortable in its inability to offer definite technological answers to what are indefinite problems. This would therefore mean refocusing the imaginations of educational technologists away from some of the wilder 'science fictions' of their particular areas of education, technology and society."
Fabulous thinking. His editorial is in the latest edition of the British Journal of Educational Technology (see below for the full citation).

The other academic piece that has made my day is Jon Baggaley's article in Distance Education: "Flexible learning: a Luddite view" (full reference below). Tongue in cheek, he writes:
"... I confidently look forward to the day when inflexibility, and its by-products IL [inflexible learning] and OM [obduracy maintenance], will be lauded as redeeming educational solutions. In anticipating that future, it is recommended that educators should celebrate the inherent inflexibility of their colleagues rather than lamenting it, and should stimulate inflexibility in teaching and learning by the development of IL centres, intervention programmes, journals, profeissional associations, and events."
He goes on to remind us of the motto for the new Society for Inflexible Learning: non inflexibilitas sed constantia ("not inflexibility but regularity").

I like it. I plan to order a badge for Christmas.

Baggaley, J (2011). Flexible learning: a Luddite view. Distance Education, 32(3), 457-462.
(Thanks to Tony Bates for mentioning this one in his regular blog at http://www.tonybates.ca/.)

Selwyn, N. (2011). Editorial: In praise of pessimism - the need for negativity in educational technology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 713-718.
(Thanks to my colleague James M. for bringing this one to my attention.)

27 November 2011

As 2011 comes to a close

Well, here I am at the end of November, and I really don't know where the second half of this year went.  Still, the year has gone well. Back on the home farm (in the university that buys most of my time), we've made some useful progress, tidying up our curriculum documentation and spreading ideas of clear learning outcomes and alignment with assessment. Some of my academic colleagues have been lucky enough to work on their lecturing skills in the lecturing as performance courses run by the wonderful Amanda Burrell of Captivus. It looks as if she will be working with a couple of new groups next year, which is fabulous news. I had some success in introducing blended and flexible ways of teaching to the academic community in my hometown in a range of different ways, sometimes by pretending I'm going to run a training session on Moodle and surreptitiously sneaking in ideas of learning design and task sequency, and sometimes by focussing on the bright-shiny things that come labelled "Technology".

This three-pronged approach to the support of university teachers in my part of the University has prompted me to think about the current divides that exist, at least operationally, in most Australian universities: the divides between those who teach face-to-face and those who teach online, between the academic developers (often employed as academics) and the educational designers / developers (often employed as general staff), between those who attend the ASCILITE conference and those who attend the HERDSA conference ... and between - well, fill in the gap with your own example here.

This divide, it seems to me, is particularly obvious - and damaging to progress - in the Australian research-intensive universities. I haven't yet been able to think of a way to break down those barriers, but perhaps tomorrow, when the world has evolved, someone will find a way.

Most of the university teachers I encounter are so flat out working on their research that they barely get time to think about their teaching. If they do find time to think about their teaching, they don't know if they should be interested or good at it; if they are good at it, they don't know if they should be proud of the fact; if they are proud of their expertise, they don't know whether they should tell anyone or keep quiet about it for fear they'll be perceived as dilettante researchers.

That's a great shame ... and I suspect would come as a considerable shock to most parents of undergraduate students.

In the meantime, in the interests of getting on, I've prepared my draft operational plan for 2012, which is looking good.

I'm off to the ASCILITE conference in Hobart next week, so should have some new and exciting ideas to report from there - at least one or two, anyway.

I've started to build a Moodle site with some very practical ideas for unviersity teachers, but that hasn't progressed very far, so I have little to report on that. That should be available quite soon, but not just yet.  Access will be available on request, as I will need to create the user accounts and send interested parties a password. There's something very empowering about being Queen of my own Moodle nation, with the power to issue passports / passwords. If you want one, just ask.

I have a half-written paper on university teachers and professional judgement ... that will have to be finished next year now.

There are a few other things in the oven, too. More of those later.

29 September 2011

A new project

This week I’ve started working with a new group of Australian academics. As always, the first couple of days has been spent learning who they are, what their research interests are, what they think about teaching, and why they do the work they do.

As always, the group is fascinating.

This particular group is working on moving one of their face-to-face graduate programs online. They are working through the issues associated with changing the mode of delivery from a traditionally delivered blended model to an almost-completely online model.  To make things really interesting, they are doing this in the middle of a change of institutional Learning Management System. They have been using a vendor-supported, fairly mainstream LMS, and are in the process of moving across to one of the open source applications.

So … the group is learning how to use the new LMS, working out how to move their teaching artefacts from the old LMS to the new one in the most efficient way, and at the same time exploring the advantages and constraints of a new mode of teaching.

Fortunately for all of us, they are – by and large – open to new ideas, willing to discuss their concerns and expectations openly, and very intelligent.

The real reason I work with teachers, particularly in the higher education sector, is because the brains come in one size – hefty. Of course, along with the immense thinking power often comes the outsize egos … but that just makes life more interesting.

This project will give me an opportunity to try out some of my new ideas on a new audience – and a chance to refine my approach and my own teaching materials. I’m looking forward to it.

21 July 2011

Turnitin and cheats: what one lecturer did at the Stern School of Business of New York University

Stephen Downes wrote today about one lecturer's experience with plagiarism detection software.

The link, to a blog posting by Panos Ipeirotis, may not work because he has been asked to remove the entry by his employer for legal reasons. However, even if you can't get to his original posting, read the comments from others about his posting (on his blog). Also of interest are the remarks he posted on the Business Insider website. This lecturer has chosen to implement assessment strategies that make it difficult for his students to cheat, rather than relying on Turnitin to identify plagiarised assignments.

He wrote:
I doubt that I will be checking again for cheaters. This is a losing battle: as I use more advanced cheating detection schemes, the cheaters will adapt. I am not a policeman fighting crime. My role is to educate and teach, not to enforce honest behavior. This is a university, not a kindergarten.

Instead, I plan to use assignments that are inherently not amenable to cheating:

Public projects: The database projects that use the NYC Data Mine data is one type of an approach: the projects are public and it would be meaningless to copy a project from a past semester. The risk of public embarrassment is a significant deterrent.

Peer reviewing: The other successful project is one in which students research a new technology, and present their findings in class; the only grade they receive is from their peers in the class. The social pressure is so high that most of the presentations are of excellent quality. This year, the student presentation on augmented reality was so amazing that for an MBA class we decided to simply show to the MBA students the recorded presentation.

Competitions: In order to teach students how the web works, I ask them to create a web site and get at least 100 unique visitors. The student with the most visitors at the end of the semester gets an award (most often an iPod). I had some great results with this project (e.g., one student created a web site on "How to Kill Nefarian" and got 150,000 visitors over 8 weeks) and some highly entertaining incidents.

In other words, my theory is: Cheating (on a systematic level) happens because students try to get an edge over their peers/competitors. Even top-notch students cheat, in order to ensure a perfect grade. Fighting cheating is not something that professors can do well in the long run, and it is counterproductive by itself. By channeling this competitive energy into creative activities, in which you cannot cheat, everyone is better off.
I like his solutions.


17 July 2011

Thwarting the Shadow Scholar

Many of the academics I work with are very concerned about issues of plagiarism and academic dishonesty amongst their students. Many of their students speak English as a second or foreign language. These international students often struggle with everyday conversational interaction, let alone the difficulties associated with studying at a tertiary level in a borrowed language. The standard of English required by the institution of foreign students is quite low (an IELTS score of 6.5). Then there are the native speakers who just don’t know how to write, or to argue a case, or are apparently unfamiliar with academic discourse.

My academic colleagues know that at least some of these students submit work that isn't their own. They are concerned about the issue, and struggle - at times - to find a solution.

These academics fear most the paper mills manned by people like the Shadow Scholar, who took the time recently to outline his life and his contribution to higher education. For me, though, he isn’t the biggest threat to higher education. As I see it, the biggest threats are all the factors that prevent committed university teachers from implementing the solutions outlined by Mark Bauerlein – problems like under-funding, a high student:teacher ratio, poor teaching skills amongst university academics, a focus on disciplinary content at the expense of generic skills of communication, argument, synthesis, evaluation, and judgement, lack of institutional recognition of good teaching in the academic promotion game – those kinds of things.

“It’s simple, really,” Bauerlein says, “but laborious.”

Hmm-mm – sounds like good, solid, well-resourced, committed teaching to me. Now, if only there were more respect for that ...

10 July 2011

Digital Natives or Digital Learners?

One of my favourite Net  Gen Skeptic bloggers, Mark Bullen, has been in Lisbon at the 2011 ED-MEDIA conference. He has reported on some of the papers that support his view that takeup of digital technologies is not generational, but criticized the authors for using Prensky's terminology. Among the papers he references is one from the excellent team at Wollongong (this one authored by Corrin, Bennett and Lockyer).

Bullen argues that we shouldn't be talking about digital natives, but rather digital learners.

I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of the conference from some of the other Australians who attended - just as soon as they stop riding Segways around the cathedrals of Lisbon and come home (that would be Jenn Jones, Robert Fitzgerald, Mike Keppell, and several others).

07 July 2011

Why writing good learning outcomes isn't rocket science

I was recently asked to put together a one-page cheat sheet for highly intelligent university lecturers unused to writing learning outcomes for university courses (subjects).  Here's what I wrote.

Guidelines for those writing learning outcomes


1. The assessment strategy for a course is designed to provide evidence of how well students have achieved the learning outcomes.

2. The stated learning outcomes of a course align not only with the assessment design but also with the stated purpose and goals of the program/s into which the course fits.

3. Learning outcomes describe what students will be able to do once they have completed the course; they deal with functioning rather than declarative knowledge*.

4. Learning outcomes describe what all students will be able to do if they have passed the course; the assessment strategy will provide the evidence that allows the marker to differentiate between levels of performance.

5. Statements of learning outcomes include descriptions of how students will demonstrate both lower and higher order skills, with a focus on the latter**.


1. Each course needs 3-5 learning outcomes.

2. The statement about learning outcomes begins with the stem “Upon successful completion of the requirements for this course, students will be able to”.

3. Each learning outcome will describe a performance. Learning outcomes typically relate an action to the content taught in the course, describing how a student will demonstrate that he or she is able to apply the knowledge gained in the course, e.g. in solving a problem, completing a task, or analyzing or critiquing an issue or situation relevant to the course, the discipline and/or the profession.


Upon successful completion of the requirements for this course, students will be able to:

• Critique the notion of “alignment”,
• Compose statements of learning outcomes appropriate to the course, and
• Design an assessment strategy to collect evidence of how well students have achieved course learning outcomes.

* Declarative knowledge: "... propositional ... knowledge refers to knowing about things, or 'knowing-what': knowing what Freud said, knowing what the terms of an equation refer to, knowing what kinds of cloud formation can be distinguished, knowing what were the important events in Shakespeare's life. Such content knowledge accrues from research, not from personal experience. It is public knowledge, subject to rules of evidence that make it verifiable, replicable and logically consistent. It is what is in the libraries and textbooks and is what teachers 'declare' in lectures." Functioning knowledge: " ... based on the idea of performances of various kinds underpinned by understanding. This knowledge is within the experience of the learner, who can now put declarative knowledge to work by solving problems, designing buildings, planning teaching or performing surgery. Functioning knowledge requires a solid foundation of declarative knowledge." (Biggs & Tang, 2007, p 72)

**Lower order skills include those of knowing and understanding; higher order skills include those of applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. (cf Bloom's Taxonomy - for an interesting take on the Taxonomy, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blooms_rose.svg)

Biggs, J & Tang, C 2007, Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does, 3rd edn, McGrawHill, Maidenhead UK & New York USA.

15 April 2011

Conversations about technology in teaching

Many of the learning support people and technologists I work with are highly knowledgeable about the use of technology in education. They are amazed at the possibilities and very keen to share their interests. I learn from them all the time and I am inspired by their passion and enthusiasm – but they drive me nuts, too.

They know that our students all have multiple devices to access the web, and that they probably do their banking online, interact with their friends online, time-shift the television programs they watch, and do much of their research online. My technologist colleagues can’t understand why all academics teaching in modern Australian universities aren’t using these tools extensively; why they aren’t modifying their curriculum to deliver their course online; why they aren’t passionate and excited about the possibilities of the technology. Many of them think that the more our academic colleagues use technology in their teaching, the better they will be as teachers.

These learning support colleagues run proselytizing sessions where they demonstrate the new tools they have discovered or give the more adventurous of our academic colleagues opportunities to show off interesting innovations in their teaching practice. They have passionate conversations about the future of technology-enhanced teaching and learning.

Almost none of the academics from my side of the University – the business disciplines – have ever attended one of these sessions. They rarely attend formal training sessions run in their own Faculty. Nevertheless, my academic colleagues are also passionate and enthusiastic – about their discipline and their research. They, too, inspire me.

So, this is the context. Here’s my dilemma. Last week, I was invited to host one of these show-and-tell sessions in my own Faculty, where my technology-focussed colleagues hope to see my most adventurous academic colleagues demonstrating the amazing and interesting things they are doing with technology in the classroom.

The thing is – no one in my Faculty is using the technology in ground-breaking ways. Of course they use their LMS sites, and they record their lectures, and they run online quizzes (both those they have written themselves and those they have acquired from publishers). They pick the tools that assist them in their teaching.

They do this because they too are doing their banking online, and posting to social networking sites, and watching recorded television programs. Some of them even blog. They struggle to work the unreliable tools provided by the University especially when they have planned something that will add value to the learning experience for their students – but they aren’t focussed on the technology. They look past the technology to the reason for the learning activities.

I sit in the middle of this. My academic colleagues see me as the “technology” person; my learning support colleagues see me as recalcitrant, perhaps even Luddite in my approach to technologies in education.

Actually, I am neither. I use the technologies myself. I sit here typing on my laptop, connected to the Internet via my mobile phone connection, playing with my iPod, checking my Facebook page, typing a blog entry, tracking the delivery of my birthday present Kindle from Amazon. At work, I host a Sakai site, assist my academic colleagues to use their Moodle sites in more sophisticated ways, show people the possibilities of desktop conferencing software, and keep my supervisors informed about trends in the field. I don’t try to persuade my academic colleagues to spend more time using the educational technology, though. Rather, I assist those who have made up their own minds to move in that direction.

So, where amongst my very busy academic colleagues do I start to identify some who would be willing to put their technology-enhanced teaching practice on show? What benefit will they gain from participating in one of these sessions? What will my learning support colleagues learn beyond what I can already tell them about the way we use the technologies in the Faculty? Why should I convince them to spend time preparing a talk about the use of technology in teaching rather than on their latest research project?

I am passionate about education and hope for change in the way my academic colleagues go about that part of their job. This year, that means that I hope they will begin to think more creatively about the kinds of learning tasks they put in place, and shift the emphasis in their curriculum from declarative knowledge to functioning knowledge. With some - a very few - of them, I discuss my emerging qualms about the value of highly explicit marking criteria and the recent rejection by Bradley of the published ALTC-sponsored standards descriptors documents. These are the things I talk about rather than the LMS or lecture recording.

I do this because I do not think that technology answers any question of any worth in the context of learning. I do not adhere to the view that technology can be used as a Trojan Horse to bring about change in teaching practice. It bothers me that the online tools I am recommending to my academic colleagues are not as reliable as they could be.

That does not mean that I don’t think that technology is an essential part of the scene, that I think it is possible to teach in the higher education sector without using all kinds of technologies. I’m just not prepared to spend all that much time talking to academics about it. I’d rather be discussing learning.

03 April 2011

My preoccupation this week: academic standards

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the new Australian Academic Standards Statement for Accounting (AAS-Accounting) recently ... not something that will interest as many people, I suspect. I haven't quite worked out the purpose of this document. How will individual academics use it? How will it be used by the various quality assurance agencies and mechanisms in place in the Australian higher education sector? Will anyone care that it exists?  Maybe the Director of TEQSA will tell us once that agency is up and running.

It raises this question for me: What guides the judgements academics make about student (and peer) work at the artefact level, i.e. students' individual assignments or academic journal articles?

My reading of the literature suggests three possibilities:
  1. Commonly-agreed, explicit, published criteria (e.g. marking rubrics circulated amongst groups of markers or distributed to students, or the reviewers' guidelines used by academic journals)
  2. Discipline standards descriptors (like the AAS documents coming out of the ALTC Disciplines Setting Standards project)
  3. Personal understanding or interpretation of discipline-based, tacit, unpublished criteria gained from simply practicing as a member of an academic discipline community for a period of time
... or a mixture of all three.

If this is so, then how does a novice get better at the job?  Well, it depends on the quality of feedback and how that feedback is provided, I suppose.

Well, it's keeping me occupied anyway.

Here's another thing ... a great little tool for teachers or conference presenters struggling to think of an innovative way to present data: A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.

09 March 2011

The Net Gen Skeptic blog

Mark Bullen, who writes the Net Gen Skeptic blog, has found two more articles supporting his thesis that there is no such thing as the "net gen".

The blog was set up to "...  provide a balanced exploration of research and commentary on the impact of digital technologies on higher education. This blog is part of the research project, Digital Learners in Higher Education: Implications for Teaching, Learning & Technology, which aims to develop a deeper understanding of the role of digital technology in higher education, how learners use technology for academic, social and other purposes and how those uses are related."

Since April 2008, Bullen has been collecting the evidence that debunks the idea that "the young" are more competent or more avid users of technology.

He makes a convincing case.