Thursday, 22 November 2018

Stack 'em high!

Well known high street retailers, household names for generations, have been feeling the winds of change in consumer tastes.  They could teach Universities a thing or two about hoodwinking consumers.
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels
Retailers can  give lessons on their key drivers and their implications:
  • The rush to (low) quality - an insane focus on price which blinds consumers to the fact that they are buying rubbish.  Well, until the small child tells the truth about the "King's new clothes".
  • The focus on growth in profits, revenues, influence -which sees firms conspire with suppliers to purvey cheap goods.
  • The march of "science" and "marketing" - which sees consumers ready to fill themselves with chemicals masquerading as food.
  • The importance of "Brand" and image, at the cost of authenticity and trust.
  • The march of technology - which provides consumers with an almost painless shopping experience (until they see their bank statement).
But that's nothing to do with Higher Education, is it?

Thursday, 15 November 2018

The thicker the soup, the more difficult it is to stir

Most cuisines have their own style of soup: Broth soups; Consommes; Cream Soups; Veloute-based soups; Puree soups; Bisques and Chowders.

Some are thick with complex tastes and flavours, some are clear and simple in their recipe. Some are hot, whilst some are cold, some have great art and style and yet others are basic foods within reach of the poorest.

OK, so I'm not that interested in soup, I'm really talking about Business Schools.

The fact is that some Business Schools are so fixed in their traditional recipes that they miss the fact that everyone thinks that Scotch Broth actually looks like a bowl of sick.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Trust us- we're a top 1% Business School

Benjamin Disraeli once, famously, said:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics".


...and of course you want your degree to be from one of those prestigious institutions that is, actually, the cream, at the top of whichever league table you choose to trust (but do remember that most things that float rise to the top - picture not included).  However, some institutions should really be more careful about such claims since it is all too easy to ask for and evaluate the evidence behind the claim.

Take the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), for example: One University announced that it had come third!  Did it mean that it had received a bronze award?  Third place in Olympic terms but actually, 25 institutions received a bronze award in 2017, behind 66 receiving silver and 46 gold.  No, the answer is more prosaic.  The institution got Gold but then did its own analysis of the flawed metrics to calculate it's own position.

Or take written student "satisfaction" feedback.  What does a score of 95% satisfaction actually mean?  The course was easy, so we liked it?  The course was challenging, so we liked it?  The lecturers told lots of jokes, so we liked it?  Who knows?

So why do we take so much notice of statistics?

Thursday, 1 November 2018

I'm a practising Academic - I haven't got it right yet

It may be the Homer Simpson School of life that teaches: "If you don't try, you cannot fail" but it is a mantra adhered to by many academics teaching in Universities too.
Yes, if you try out new technology, a different assessment, changed teaching delivery, team-teaching (OMG!) it may all go horribly wrong.  But it is only by trying that we learn, and only by learning that we succeed.

So, how can you be innovative, try out different things, fail and still not look foolish or incompetent in front of your class (who are bound to remember it when module feedback is taken)?
  1. Keep it simple.  No need to have a fully functioning platform when a simple feedback wall such as PADLET will get classroom engagement instantly.
  2. With a little more planning any number of quiz tools - SOCRATIVE, MENTIMETER, KAHOOT will engage and test your students.
  3. With a lot more planning an interactive case study from IE PUBLISHING will wow the class.  (I can say that because IE do not own the copyright on the word "Wow").
As educators we have a lot to learn, not just about our favourite discipline and the latest research but also about the technologies and pedagogies that can make teaching and learning interesting, engaging and truly educational for teachers and for students alike.