17 August 2007

On fuzzy terminology

A few weeks ago, some colleagues (Peter, UK, Tony and Renee, US) were presenting at a conference in Sydney on how students learn to "think like" professionals or practitioners of disciplines. The session went quite well, but it would have been so much better had it taken into account this paper from 2003. I had never heard of it; nor apparently had any of the two dozen or so other people, from the UK USA Canada, Australia and New Zealand, attending our session, because it was not mentioned in the discussion.

I don't know how I came across it, other than undertaking a "random walk" across the web, but it has a lot to say, and it is based on empirical research. So why did none of us find it before? Because we work in disciplines where the labels attached to ideas are relatively arbitrary, so we don't know what to search for, even on the web. Meyer and Land, following Perkins (1999) talk about "troublesome knowledge"; one reason for it being troublesome is that it may be "alien" and disorientating. It might challenge earlier learning. I researched that in the late 80s and published on it in the 90s, but I called it--from a slightly different angle--"supplantive learning". Our labels are both reasonable, but there's no way for anyone to work from one to another.

The "semantic web" has a long way to go, and there's still no substitute for just meeting colleagues and making arbitrary connections.

16 August 2007

On 'A' level results

The mantra of the day—congratulations, everyone, but...

No, I'm not going to pontificate; I'd just like to commend this page for its presentation of the stats. The different sex profiles and subject profiles are fascinating, and if you teach research methods or associated areas, they clearly show how existing documentary statistics can be interrogated.

04 August 2007

On 60 cows and 20m people

One for those of you teaching media studies;
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/6930684.stm ; the breaking news of sixty cattle likely to have foot and mouth disease. It's the top story on BBCNews 24.
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6927389.stm Twenty million people have been displaced by floods. To do the BBC credit, it is their second story on the website, but...?
Even Stalin said (allegedly) "one death is a tragedy, a hundred are a statistic".

I know you will have picked up the point already; this post is in case you hadn't checked out the urls.

01 August 2007

On something completely different

Yes, it is a curiosity, but what else?...