Universities | Page 15

Inspiration Universities

Changing universities

The student strikes in Québec and the debate surrounding higher-education costs are but a single example of the pressures affecting universities. Here are some interesting takes on this issue:

TEDxRyersonU – Dr. Alan Shepard – Think Different: Why Universities Need to Change
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC7gJ3SmDJw&w=400&h=233]

You might like “Imagining the Future of the University” on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog by “Prof. Hacker” on March 15, 2012.

Also of interest, is this article by John Tagg in Change (the Magazine of higher learning) called Why Does the Faculty Resist Change?. The article presents the difficulties in managing and optimizing the curriculum in universities.

In my personal opinion, Universities are a complex ecosystem where a multitude of fauna and flora interact to create and foster a learning environment for individuals and society at large. It imposes itself a style constraint, where “democracy” is taken to a level of consensual decision-making with little regard to the end-result. Process over outcome. This is not bad in and of itself, just something one does not encounter in many places – I would assume the United Nations and perhaps (still) certain government agencies…

The problem is that everybody is involved in decisions, but it is hard to find someone responsible. Discussion is key and we all take a (small) step at the same time. Frustrating and inefficient for some, fascinating and collaborative for others. I haven’t yet figured out the key elements that can halt or hurry a project, but I assume humility and openness are key elements.

But trying to get a project to start is not obvious, but absolutely rewarding given the potential benefits for society!

Inspiration Open education

MOOCs and open education

MOOCs, MITx and Udacity. Should university education be open to all and free of cost? These and related questions are explored in two recent blog post on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog.

MITx is testing alternate delivery mechanism, with a low-cost course on electronics this semester (and more announced in the Fall). Also of note, Steven Schwartz‘s mention Sebastian Thrun’s Udacity, great examples of open education. But most interesting are the MOOCs.

Bonnie Stewart presents open online learning environments called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). For an introduction to Moocs, watch this video :

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc&amp]

Actually, the MOOC.ca initiative is housed at the University of Prince Edward Island – they’ve used the technology to launch a MOOC for new students called xpu.ca.

For more information, see this MOOC Guide Wiki.

Hat tips to Bonnie Stewart for her great post and to Steven Schwartz for his Universities leading the way with education technology, both on the (newly discovered) Higher Education Network blog on The Guardian.

Gamification K-12

Gamification in France – la “ludification”

The French blog OWNI proposes an interesting summary of the state of gamification in schools ( in French, bien sûr).

This post starts off with a mention of the report, submitted on April 3rd, by a member of parliament, Yvelines Jean-Michel Fourgous, called “Apprendre autrement à l’ère du numérique” – note that gamification in French is “ludification” – this kind of detail is important to this Montrealer 😉

This same MP (Jean-Michel Fourgous) penned a report 2 years ago entitled “Réussir l’école numérique” calling for an increase in computers in classrooms.

Also mentioned is the BBC game Angler, where a robot traverses a digital universe based on a player’s understanding of geometry, as well as the US-based schools Quest to Learn and finally the consultancy Ludoscience

Academic Integrity Copyright

Academic integrity and Copyright

Here is a talk I missed at the Canadian Library Association’s annual conference and trade show last May (from the program, over 4 MB in PDF) :

B9 – From Plagiarism to Copyright Infringement and Back Again: An Agony in Six Skits

Can I copy this? The question that arises every time someone wants to use information that was created by someone else. Through the use of mini-skits, this session will illustrate the issues that need to be considered when answering this question. It will help participants to distinguish between copyright infringement and plagiarism and suggest ways to make an appropriate decision.

Kathryn Arbuckle, Law Librarian & AUL Information Resources, University of Alberta
Margaret Law, AUL International Relations, University of Alberta

Rare to see copyright and Academic Integrity paired in the same session. I’ve come to wonder about the link between copyright and Academic Integrity, they both include aspects of the other. For example, Copyright, in Canada at least, includes a Moral Right, whereby one must correctly attribute a work to its creator or face sanctions. Academic Integrity, on the other hand, is all about “appropriate” uses of documentation – using, quoting, copying… they seem to intersect, maybe even overlap, but they are also very different.

Copyright is enshrined in law whereas Academic integrity is more akin to a moral code established by local communities (your university, your research group…), vaguely similar to that of other communities but slightly different.

I sometimes think about this during my long train rides to and from work… mostly because I compulsively blog about copyright on my other blog, www.culturelibre.ca (en Francçais).

Academic Integrity Concordia University

How many students cheat?

Interesting read about cheating:

Nouvelle recherche sur la probité intellectuelle – Peut-on éradiquer la tricherie chez les étudiants ? by Catherine Bolton, Mebs Kanji and Soheyla Salari in Le Devoir Oct. 24th 2011

The authors remark, about a recent study presented at the International Conference on Academic Integrity :

Jusqu’à présent, les données que nous avons recueillies sont plutôt encourageantes. La vaste majorité des étudiants obtiennent leur diplôme sans jamais être accusés de tricher — la plupart ne trichent pas, car ils souhaitent apprendre, travailler fort et réussir. Nous avons aussi constaté que l’Université Concordia applique les normes les plus rigoureuses en matière de probité intellectuelle.

Aussi préliminaires soient-elles, nos données révèlent cependant des tendances dont la constance justifie une attention particulière. Nous avons en effet constaté que la majorité des cas de fraude rapportés concernent des étudiants inscrits à des programmes de sciences sociales. Qui plus est, nos données laissent penser que ces fraudes surviennent habituellement dans le cadre de cours de première année.

Les fraudes ne sont par ailleurs rapportées que par un contingent relativement restreint de professeurs rattachés à quelques départements seulement. Se pourrait-il que les professeurs ne déclarent pas toutes les affaires de fraude? Le cas échéant, les universités vont devoir trouver un autre plan d’attaque. Nous devons mettre en place des mécanismes pour vérifier si des tricheurs parviennent bel et bien à passer entre les mailles du filet.

So, cases of academic misconduct stem mostly from the social sciences, from first year students, as reported by a small set of professors. Interesting !

Interesting – also because these are my colleagues at Concordia University !

I stumbled on this article in Le Devoir, a daily Montréal newspaper, via the ACFAS newsletter (the biggest learned society in Quebec).

Assessment Concordia University Guidelines - recommendations

AACSB Accreditation Standards

I am very lucky to be a business librarian at Concordia University – this is true on so many levels! Of all the reasons, the fact that the John Molson School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) may be a boon to work towards integrating information literacy in the curriculum.

As their website shows, the AACSB has Accreditation Standards to which JMSB must adhere to. These include the concept of total quality management – or making the most of the resources you have. It also assists in comparing business school together. Every so often, accredited schools must undergo a review process (audit), which serves as a nice entry point should you want to propose changes to how things are done – an external review fosters the feeling of continuous improvement.

For example, the “Assurance of Learning Standards” offers a few points where a library could have a positive impact… these are straightforward issues that school educators must report back on – so they are easily actionnable!

Blended Learning Information literacy Read Me

Case study on blended learning at McMaster U.

The most recent volume of the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CJSoTL) offers many interesting articles about new ways to teach and think about teaching. This one caught my eye:

Sana, Faria; Fenesi, Barbara; and Kim, Joseph A. (2011). A Case Study of the Introductory Psychology Blended Learning Model at McMaster University. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2 (1).
Retrieved from http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cjsotl_rcacea/vol2/iss1/6

It caught my eye not only because of the title and abstract, but because one of the authors has presented the paper in a TEDx conference and the video is posted on YouTube:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8vxpI5P4lM&w=560&h=315]

Bibliographies Information literacy Open education Videos

Flip’n library instruction

“To flip” is getting a new definition in the education setting: that of delivering lectures via video or other out-of-classroom vehicles and using class time for exercises and other active learning exercises. At least, that’s my sense for a series of articles discussing the developments around Kahn Academy.

First off, Clive Thompson provides a fascinating description of the initiative in August 2011’s Wired Magazine. In a nutshell, Kahn Academy provides free training videos and exercises mainly in the math, sciences or economics fields and has been deploying classroom “operating systems” or dashboards that allow teachers to monitor in real-time the progress of each student. As Thompson points out,

Khan’s videos are anything but sophisticated. He recorded many of them in a closet at home, his voice sounding muffled on his $25 Logitech headset. But some of his fans believe that Khan has stumbled onto the secret to solving education’s middle-of-the-class mediocrity. Most notable among them is Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested $1.5 million in Khan’s site. “I’d been looking for something like this—it’s so important,” Gates says. Khan’s approach, he argues, shows that education can truly be customized, with each student getting individualized help when needed.

Not everyone agrees. Critics argue that Khan’s videos and software encourage uncreative, repetitive drilling—and leave kids staring at screens instead of interacting with real live teachers. Even Khan will acknowledge that he’s not an educational professional; he’s just a nerd who improvised a cool way to teach people things. And for better or worse, this means that he doesn’t have a consistent, comprehensive plan for overhauling school curricula.

More recently, The Economist offers a few articles this week on the subject of education reform (The great schools revolution ), education theory (The horse before the cart) and Kahn Academy (Flipping the classroom).

I have to admit that Kahn Academy is the main inspiration behind the library training videos I’ve built for the John Molson School of Business (with the invaluable help of John Bentley, at Concordia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning).