Showing posts from April, 2013

All change (again it seems) ...

Now for one of my more obscure posts; some corporate news came my way today. Where it would seem that friends in my educational arena are going through the mill again.

For some of them I actually feel sorry that they are having to endure this and hope that they can eventually dig that tunnel.

Gove, what are you on about ...

Some paying attention to the media may be aware that the Secretary of State for Education; Gove, is looking to extend the school day and rethink holidays. If this is bypassed your media radar, more can be discovered here.
It would seem that maybe Gove is wrong, no surprise there, whilst i cannot be sure about the exact accuracy of these figures, I would be happy to consider that Gove is more on rhetoric than fact.
Even if he was to get his way and change the school day, the disruption would be far reaching and possibly not on his radar. The change in transport patterns, employment needs of parents, child care of teachers alone could cascade far and wide. Maybe major supermarkets and employers of parents won't mind how it affects their employees, maybe they will have an opinion that they must share with Mr Gove.
I am aware that some schools (sorry academies), have already changed their teaching patterns. But citing them as an example a practice it does not yet make. These are few …

Lobbing the occasional grenade ...

Last month whilst a hemisphere apart, a beverage based storm was brewing with a service provider for one of the modules I lead at my university.

Asking nicely; my email desired assurance from the department head. The sorta nice email you would like to see declaring that their error wouldn't happen again.

One of his team replied promptly, professionally and gave these assurances. Knowing the souls involved, the team member has more 'balls' than their boss. But alas days later there was still no response to the matter at hand.

So, using my literary talents, one well worded exocet was sent via the intermail.

About 1/2 an hour later I get an amusing text ... from someone who could see that the recipient of the missive was in full bounce.

Flapdoodle folly ...

There are some crowd behaviours that never cease to amuse me, especially when it comes to online forums and communities.
Having worked with (and then for) the Open University for the last eight years. There are still activities on different forums that give me pause for thought. Recently; a partner certification organisation changed their certification. If you are experienced; in their ways and the way of certification you will appreciate that this business as usual. The maintenance process ensures that their certification remains current.
Personal experience has enabled me to gauge that this happens every three to four years. Enough time to have seen the reaction of a few more than twice.
So, time comes around again, and the flapping begins, forum posts erupt my otherwise peaceful Easter break. The panic only subsides when we post a (not) news item and mass email.

Squeezed middle ...

In my role as a national senior examiner I have to keep a wary eye on the changes in funding. Whilst higher education moans considerably, our formula with changes is still less complex and fraught than that faced by our compatriots in post-compulsory education.

For a Higher Education Institution, we can 'develop' our own qualification, whilst there are regulatory hoops and barrels; the process is well known and understood.

Alas for post-compulsory, which includes further education, 6th forms, specialist colleges, community education, university technical colleges and a few assorted others. It is a veritable rats nest of different funding rules based on the whim and wisdom of two different funding bodies and the commercial interests of a variety of awarding bodies.

Many of these poor souls really want to teach X, but find that there is no funding for any specific qualification that sensibly contains X. Over the years, colleagues and I have been successful in embedding X into o…

Ghost in the machine ...

A few days ago, I received a LinkedIn message from a former work contact congratulating me on my five year anniversary at the Open University. Around the same time another LinkedIn contact who  recently deceased has clearly had no one consider that they may have a profile in this space; so would have a work anniversary.

It did not take much research to discover that to stop this, you switch on 'activity updates', but this is not an activity, more a state of inactivity has you are clearly doing nothing and 'staying' with some organisation.

I wonder if the family are aware and how would you broach this subject during their period of greif.

Countering the compensation culture in assessment ...

Is there a micro-economy in the decisions being made by students, if so, I have to wonder if it has been explored. Reading a couple of pop-science books on economics has tempered my mind to a different way of looking at some long known student behaviours.
Have you ever considered the notion of a tactical assignment submission? In a compensation based assessment structure, you could miss out key elements of study yet gain not too unreasonable grades.
At my university every year I see students; often on their last assignment make some key decisions on how they may leverage compensation against time available.
If the student has time, it is likely that no compensation decision is made, whilst this is an arbitrary notion. We often see full submissions of the final assignment.
If there is less time, other personal contributory factors at play, students aware of the rules will check their overall results and make a play for a lower grade average if it is still within the margin of reward t…

Pay perspective alert ...

Reading the online Gruniad I came across a job advertisement for a college that has passed by my radar more than once.

Apart from taking a pay cut (the depth i will leave to your imagination); I wonder if they are miss selling a few other features. By my last reckoning, the institution concerned has not been delivering one of the key areas mentioned for some considerable time. Unless they are reviving this, I still have mothballed access to their profile under an old login.

The post would seem appealing, but I feel that they may be asking too much for too little, alas the name of the game in further education aspiring towards higher things.

What decisions are actually made when choosing an educational programme ...

Writing short essays on pseudo-economics is not necessarily my bag; yet something deep inside this experienced educator. Continually sees a socio economic element to the programmes I run, and the aspirational nature of the decision to enrol in some of the programmes over the years.

Careful where you post ...

I have always maintained the stance that the Internet must come to me. Sometimes I am sure that I may annoy some who read my blog with some of my automated tweets, facebook posts etc. They serve a purpose, that may not always seem obvious. Anyway, I don't go searching the net for information as much as people may think, I have various devices to bring the net to me.

One of these devices is keeping me informed of a group of students chuntering about an assignment on a social media site. It was interesting to see who was having a mutter and taking little care over what they are posting.

My view is that you cannot stop any 'independent' groups forming and nor should we. But it does no harm by watching and occasionally offering sound advice as an equal participant, one can easily be seen in the list of members, in fact one is in plain sight.

So, in the case of the current thread; it looks as if it needs to unravel a little more before introductions are made.

Disagreement does not mean disliking someone ...

Sometimes I feel that the twittersphere and social media can be a general reflection of the lesser side of our society.

Today a pivotal leader has died, not everyones friend nor were they the enemy of everyone either. Whilst I did not agree with their entire political profile and the beliefs of their party at the time. I can see beyond personal perspective and see how they did do much to drag our nation out of other issues.

You do not have to agree with someone, or stand by their views to have a level of respect for their leadership and direction. But show some maturity and step beyond the childish rhetoric, there is time for reflection and humour, but today isn't it.

Indignant emails and my actual reaction ...

Occasionally we all get the indignant email; expressing a sensitive nature that only some brands of soap could cope with (or is it lavatory paper, its difficult to create a mental separation).

One character, who will remain nameless has been bombarding me with emails over the last month. I can only estimate their frustration as i can switch from verbose to taciturn whenever it suits.

They have asked a question, they have had the answer, one that is not entirely to their liking. So they continue to push and become more excited at their perceived slight.

Now they want to 'report me' ... cool, please do. They want to discuss me with someone more senior. This is the bit that is the most enjoyable. I have shared with them the route and let the destination know what is coming.

The indignant soul has not bothered to check that in the food chain, I am one of the final destinations. Excited by their own self importance, they have not checked where I fit in.

Ho hum, I am sure it will a…