“Our vision is more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge.” Kristen Stendahl

Bolonha passed me by


Today is the deadline for all universities and polytechnics to hand in their proposals for the refomulation of courses. Some of us haven't had anything to do with the process. I don't know what decisions have been made about the discipline I teach, nor how it has been reformulated - or even if it is to be part of the curriculum. Nothing in my experience of life, learning, education and research would lead me to imagine that excluding people from a process in which they have something to offer and in which their lives are invested will be sustainable

Categories: Reflections


E-portfolio model


A great diagramme of an e-portfolio model by Jeremy Hiebert's HeadsPace. His e-portfolio is "a set of tools for collecting, reflecting, connecting and publishing". At our next portfolio session with teachers from the five IPS schools I have to think of a set of tools that people could be helpful for colleagues to use for their portfolio. But no-one is interested in electronic ones.

Keeping a portfolio that isn't electronic is like cycling up the Serra de Arrábida on a bicycle with no gears! I can't see the fun in it. But nevertheless, I'll have to think of some.

Categories: Artefacts, reflections

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Syndication for Higher Ed.


In the bubbles where I operate many people have trouble with email and having a Yahoo discussion group is regarded as innovative. That doesn't stop me from living vicariously through reading about other practices in Higher Ed. for RSS feeds etc. Here's a link to a blog called Syndication for Higher Ed. And it's not about FenProf or Snesup :-)

Categories: Artefacts

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Stephen Downes "retiring"


Stephen Downes of the OLDaily is "taking a pause" and that has taken the wind out of my sails. Stephen has been someone who has worked innovatively, openly, generously and tirelessly in Higher Education for many, many years. But as Nancy White says, "based on the tone of his message, I can't help but wonder what it costs him in his professional position". I'm getting a depressing message there.

Stephen's message:

"I have always tried to offer as much of myself as I could through this service and others in my work and in my own time. It has never been enough, which was made clear to me today, but I am tired and don't have anything more to give.

Accordingly, I am placing this newsletter and website on hiatus for an indefinite period. I will be back when I'm back.

Please know that I have always valued and held in the highest esteem the work that all of you are doing to try to make things better, especially for the young. My dedication toward your objectives, toward social justice and opportunity, toward a better life for all, is never wavering, will never waver.

It is time for a darkening of the light as I retreat and think about what I am going to do and how I am going to do it, but know that the light will never flicker and never fade. I wish you well in your endeavours, and I will be back to walk the long hard road alongside you."

(See where he was in September 2003...)


Diário de borda


It was really interesting to find Diário de borda by Marcelo Stein:
"Estas páginas formam o portfólio da tese de doutorado de Marcelo Stein de Lima Sousa, estudante de doutorado do Programa de Pós-Graducação em Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento (MADE) da Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPr) e professor da Universidade, Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (UTFPr)."

I see he's tagged dialogism, Latour, Wenger, learning, interdiscplinar, Web 2.0 and a whole load of other overlapping interests.

I love this blog world!

Categories: Productions, Reflections

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Que universidade? quotes from the Expresso:

O nosso ensino universitário é ainda largamente baseado no modelo da «infecção»: os estudantes são «infectados» nas aulas teóricas e práticas e os exames servem para testar a extensão da «infecção» com base em problemas convergentes. Este modelo não prepara os estudantes para os problemas abertos (e ambíguos) que são o quotidiano destes sectores. Não os habitua também ao stresse do trabalho diário: a maioria dos nossos estudantes estuda (porque só tem que estudar) na véspera dos exames. Tem ainda o efeito perverso de não permitir que os estudantes criativos e visionários se destaquem.

O modelo de «imersão» à alternativa: trabalho árduo avaliado diariamente e abertura a problemas divergentes, incluindo projectos exploratórios. Este é o modelo seguido nas principais universidades americanas com os resultados no sector tecnológico que se conhecem.
I think this is a really important observation. I don't see many people running the show prepared for open and ambiguous problems. What's more, anything open and ambiguous, let alone creative and visionary, has to be kept under the carpet in case it upsets the status quo. Even worse, if you are "caught" doing it, you can be sure that someone who thinks they knows will put you right and tell you how to run your discipline correctly. What's more, they'll tell you that you've now got to do it properly in line with Bolonha!

Category: Reflections

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Unlearning teaching


Yes, I have (un)-learned the same as Marshall McCluhen on blog for proximal development. I read my students' work as an interested reader, not just as a teacher giving a nota. Most, but not all, respond in just the same way as Marshall says. They are curious and interested to read my comments. I use symbols like smileys when their writing makes me me smile or a lightbulb when it's given me an idea. I ask them "why" they wrote or did something with genuine curiosity because I know I might find out something I didn't know before.

It doesn't take long (three weeks into the semester) for those ones who come to the classes to understand what I'm doing, which is amazing as they have to unlearn a whole education system they've been through which is about looking for mistakes and what you're doing wrong. As Marshall says:
when you comment on student writing as a reader, the students read your comments because they do not remind them of what they did wrong, or what they should have done, or what they need to do next time. Instead, they see comments that focus on ideas, that recognize the voice of the writer and the effort behind that voice.

The problem is those students who don't come to the class. They never get to find that out. I have piles of work that students never even collect. My comments, their learning in the dustbin!

Categories: Productions, Reflections


Getting critical reflection from students


I'm participating in a discussion about action research at the moment where Steve Cockerill from Leeds Metropolitan University shared how he uses "Critical Incident Questionnaires" with his students after every seminar. He did it after reading Stephen Brookfield's "Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher" (p115)

He tells us:
Not only does it give me feedback as it happens, rather than once a term or semester evaluation but it affected the students too. They read my weekly feedback to theirs so they realised I was sensitive to their learning AND they saw how common difficulties were followed up by alternative explanations by me, of their problematic experience. Additionally it has helped me deliver new material to the next cohort of students informed by the CIQ. I've copied and pasted it in below but leave much more white space than this suggests ..."
And this is his questionnaire (shared with permission):
A Critical Incident Questionnaire

Please take about 5 minutes to respond to each of the questions below about this week's class. Don't put your name on the form ~ your responses are anonymous ~ but agree an ID between you so you can collect the returned CIQs next week. When you have finished writing put your form on the table by the door. At the start of next week's class, I will be sharing the responses with the group. Thanks for taking the time to do this. What you will write will help me make the class more responsive to your concerns and you can place this in your portfolio as evidence of your ongoing learning.

1. At what moment in the session did you feel most engaged with what was happening?

2. At what moment did you feel most distanced from what was happening?

3. What action that anyone took did you find most affirming and helpful?

4. What action that anyone took did you find puzzling or confusing?

5. What, about the session this week, surprised you the most?

(this could be something about your own reactions to what went on, or
something that someone did, or anything else that occurs to you)

"Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher" (Stephen D. Brookfield)

Categories: Artifacts

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I couldn't have said it better myself. From Paulo Querido, Mas certamente que sim!
ESTADO DE CHOQUE «Gravar e imprimir um texto, aceder à Internet, fazer uma pesquisa ou enviar um e-mail são algumas das tarefas que os docentes terão de saber desempenhar» (dos jornais) e o Estado vai pagar os 5,3 milhões de euros às Escolas Superiores de Educação para a formação contínua em informática dos professores do primeiro ciclo. Das duas, uma. A notícia é falsa, é um engano, tudo bem. A notícia é verdadeira -- e acho melhor ficarmos MUITO preocupados.
Formação contínua -- e o objectivo final é saber gravar e imprimir e enviar um e-mail? Uáu. E para quê meter as Escolas Superiores (superiores? a ensinar a gravar e imprimir um texto? uáu... estou a-b-s-o-l-u-t-a-m-e-n-t-e siderado com a capacidade das ditas ESE... uáuu... ) a realizar uma tarefa que metade dos alunos de cada um dos citados professores adoraria fazer. E faria a custo zero.
But this isn't just an issue of knowing how to use the technology. It's about people not having an identity or being able to make sense of the Information and Knowledge Society. And that understanding would include having a critical undertanding of English as the lingua franca. While people are locked into a local identity, feeling accountable only to their "quinta" rather than to a wider professional or academic one (i.e. not just an Iberian one) then informâtica (and languages) will have no meaning to them outside the carrying out of their day-to-day tasks. So it's as much about having an identity of participation in the networked economy, as it is about knowing how to use new technologies.

What's more - while learning is seen as merely the acquisition of more information and knowledge (and nowadays competences) rather than an ongoing mix and remix of them, then how can formação continua help people to make sense of the world, which unbeknown to them (especially if they aren't reading much, nor in English) is changing faster than they can ever imagine?

Categories: Artifacts, Reflections

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Openness and innovation in Higher Education


David Wiley, a significant voice in Higher Education (in the US) summarises the testimony he gave the US Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education:
In summary, higher education has fallen out of step with business, science, and everyday life. In order to realign itself with changes in society and in its student base higher education must find the will to innovate in the area of openness, and then in connectedness, personalization, participation, and other key areas. Openness is the key to enabling other innovations and catalyzing improvements in the quality, accountability, affordability, and accessibility of higher education. The open infrastructure of the Internet has enabled a huge number of innovations at a speed and scale that could never have occurred if this infrastructure had been closed. I submit that content, faculty support, and peer support are the infrastructure of teaching and learning. To the extent that we open these, we can speed the adoption and scale of innovation in the teaching and learning space.
In a previous post he shares his full intervention.

Categories: Artifacts


Assessment for learning


Just in case this is ever helpful in the future from Assessment for Learning from Educause:
We are developing a plan of research on assessment for learning using eportfolios. We would like to hear from others doing similar research or interested in collaborating with us. We are focusing initially on using eportfolios to document and improve deep learning beyond the classroom: especially in the forms of undergraduate research, community service learning, and leadership experiences.

Categories: Artifacts


I'm following Alex Halavais blog who sometimes talks about student feedback of their lecturers. He's writing from New York in the USA (which is why student feedback is referred to as "student evaluations") but everything he says could apply to us in Setúbal.

He talks about the way your teaching practices don't count when it comes to joining the quadro:
In some places, and I’m sad to say my current institution is one of them, teaching doesn’t matter that much to tenure or promotion. There are some really excellent teachers, but they are excellent teachers in many ways in spite of the university. I’ve been told that the only way to have your teaching impact a tenure decision is if you bite the students. Another tenured faculty member said that students would have to picket the tenure proceedings in order for bad teaching to stop someone from getting tenure. In other words, excellent student evaluations don’t matter in my school. There is a move afoot to make evaluation reports more easily accessible to students, which I think will help them to choose classes more effectively. But if you are no good at teaching, you don’t mind if people decide not to take your classes.
And he reflects on the disadvantages of student feedback ("student evals.") and the ways the teacher, can maipulate them:
I have mixed feelings about student evals. I think they do roughly approximate the ability of the teacher. Unfortunately, I know exactly how to improve my evals. First, I raise the average grade in the class: there is a strong correlation between mean grade in a class and teacher evaluation. In fact, some schools (not UB) are now weighting these ratings by the average grade. That again raises problems, because in a small senior seminar or optional graduate class, I may have a dozen students, many of whom deserve the A. The efficacy of the class leads its evaluations to be discounted.
The other way I can improve ratings is to do something a faculty member at my graduate institution did, and build the evaluations into the syllabus, reminding students along the way the ways he was “effectively using information technology,” or “providing timely feedback.” Certainly, this “teaching to the test” in reverse probably led the course to do better in those categories, but he was also aiming (successfully) to manipulate his evaluations.
And then the question of when you do the feedback. How can students know now what will help them in the future?

The best suggestion I’ve heard—this from Tom Feeley, who has studied student evaluations, as well as from others—is that you give the student evaluations five years after the course is over. Yes, we tend to forget traumatic events as time passes ;) , but we also find that some of the teaching that we like at the time may not be the work that was really relevant to our lives and careers down the road. Deciding the worth of a class just before a looming final exam may not be the best timing.

Categories: Artifacts, Reflections


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  • I'm bev trayner
  • From Setubal, Portugal
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