Speculative Diction: The Value of a Degree [December, 2010]

These two blog posts address the topic of how we understand the “value” of degrees. I started thinking about this not just because of the ongoing commentary in the media on this issue, but also because a friend asked me about whether I think “too many people” have degrees, and I think that question gets to the heart of a debate that has significant policy implications. In these posts I reflect on what we mean by “value” and how the different underlying assumptions about this idea have consequences for the imagined purpose of all education (not just PSE).

Part 1: Relative value.

Part 2: Inherent value.


Speculative Diction: Go on, Have a Laugh [December 10, 2010]

I don’t find I have many role models when it comes to giving a good lecture, or teaching in general. But I take inspiration where I can get it, and this post is about how I often think of favourite stand-up comedians when I’m trying to summon the confidence to speak in public (or to a class). I think humour can play a helpful role in teaching and learning.

Since the Bill Bailey link in the original post no longer works, I’ll include an excerpt from it here instead:

Speculative Diction: Creative Thinking [November 2, 2010]

I’m fascinated with the idea of “creativity” and I have been for a long time, probably because I’ve been labelled as “creative” my whole life (I started out in the fine arts and spent 2 years working on a BFA). However, I find I don’t identify much with the way creativity is so frequently discussed in economic terms. This post was the beginning of some thoughts on the issue. I later proposed a conference talk which was accepted after peer review, though unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the conference. I hope to publish something lengthier and more in-depth in the future.

Speculative Diction: The Down-Side of Technology? – On Class Time [October 13 2010]

Considering the distractions in which students indulge while in class, many of which involve smartphones and laptops: what’s the answer to dealing with a situation where students are more engaged with their friends online than with others in the same room? How different is this from the distractions of the past, before iPhone and Blackberry? Is this about technology, teaching, both or neither? And how should we deal with it “in the moment”, in the classroom?

Speculative Diction: Technology & Research, Part 1 & 2 [October, 2010]

The first of these two posts is about Delicious (which at the time was called del.icio.us), a social bookmarking tool that I used to use but which I’ve now replaced with Diigo. I switched sites when the original version was sold off and it was unclear if or when the site would be usable again.

The second post is about using Twitter as a research tool, which at the time I incorporated with del.icio.us but which I now use with Diigo, and Chrome instead of Firefox.

University of Venus: Places of Learning [October 5 2010]

I’ve always been very picky about physical spaces, so it’s no surprise my first post for University of Venus¬†at Inside Higher Ed was about the architecture and spatial arrangements in universities, and what they tell us about how we believe education should happen. It’s important to pay attention to the ways that such spaces allow some modes of exchange and communication, and make other modes difficult – including (for example) the informal interactions between faculty and students that promote integration of PhD students, which is crucial in facilitating their degree completion.

Speculative Diction: Writing It Out [October 4 2010]

Writer’s block may not be the most interesting topic, but it’s something most of us have dealt with at one time or another. How much formal and informal help with writing do graduate students find available, and how do they learn the process of writing as opposed to merely mimicking a particular (desired) outcome? In this post I looked at my own experiences with (lack of) writing assistance and how helping others to write can help bring one’s own process to light.