Speculative Diction: Access Denied? – Considering SOPA and Higher Ed [January 23, 2012]

This post addresses the potential implications of US SOPA and PIPA bills for the larger higher ed landscape.



Inside Higher Ed: Lazy Higher Ed Journalism [January 17, 2012]

I started the piece that turned into this essay after reading one too many news items about the same themes in higher education. it’s amusing to read it now, since certain ed-tech themes have come to dominate the discussion so heavily throughout 2012 and 2013. But much of this I’d say is still the same, including the points about rankings, the obsession with whether higher education is “worth it” (and exactly what it’s worth–forms of proof), and the concern with competitive recruiting of (the best) international students.

Speculative Diction: Cracking the code for employment [January 13, 2012]

I wrote this post after reading one too many articles about how coding is the skill that leads to a job. It’s a skill all right, and a useful one, but will it definitely lead to a job? We come back again to the “purpose” of learning, or of education – and because of context so many people are fixated on the magic formula for employment, that other factors are diminished. Not only that, but we lose sight of the process by which people actually do end up with meaningful employment.

Speculative Diction: Posts on PhDs, depression, and attrition [December 14, 2011]

I wrote this post about depression and attrition among PhD students, thinking I’d probably chosen a topic that would only be of interest to a niche audience. To my surprise it became the most popular blog post I’d written (and still is). I still think this indicates that not enough public attention has been directed to the structural elements that contribute to mental health issues among PhDs and in other student groups as well.

In a follow-up post I addressed a number of the issues that had been raised in the comments on the initial piece. These include the role of the “ideal” for and of students; insecurity and isolation; lack of information before applying for the PhD, and the difficulty of accessing resources to help with mental health issues.

The first post was republished on World.com on January 3, 2012, and a summary appeared on The Scholarly Web on the Times Higher Education UK website on January 12, 2012.

Speculative Diction: Invention vs. innovation – Edison meets Tesla? [November 28, 2011]

We hear the word “innovation” regularly in discussions about the role of universities, and in particular in Canada where there is said to be an “innovation gap” in the economy. Building on a previous piece, in this blog post I raise the rivalry between Edison and Tesla, since those two figures are oft-cited in the discussion of how scientific advances happen and how they’re turned into commercial success. What is the key to “discovery”, and how can we best facilitate it? Can we move beyond these categories (invention, innovation) and find a more helpful way of thinking about how knowledge becomes “economised” in this way (turned into marketable objects)?

Speculative Diction: The aims of education? [November 18, 2011]

Sometimes (well, often) when we engage in debates about education, we take for granted the ways in which underlying concepts provide a basis for assumptions about education’s purpose – and thus a framing for the discussion. In this post I discuss the critiques of education that we often see in media coverage and political argumentation, and how education is perpetually “failing” because it’s assigned a task that can never be complete.