03 February 2013

Items to Share: 3 February

Education Focus
  • University 2060: the brave new world of higher education 'Tutorials have been replaced by Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with the wisdom of the crowd sourcing all answers from the students themselves. Algorithms update the online course content in response to the question’s popularity – after all, “the customer is always right”.' 
  • Who wants to be a superprofessor? (More or Less Bunk) "...Think about it: If I want to change what history I cover, all I have to do is edit my online syllabus and talk about something different that day. Z... probably needs to get Coursera to change the website for him, as well as a camera crew. It would be like trying to do a three-point turn with an ocean liner." 
  • Humor in the Classroom: 40 Years of Research (Faculty Focus)  "...starts with definitions, functions, and theories of humor. It identifies a wide range of different types of humor. It reviews empirical findings, including the all-important question of whether using humor helps students learn. [...] It’s one of those articles that belong in even modest instructional libraries—imagine having to track down the better-than-100 references in the bibliography." 
Other Business
  • Language That Is Person-First (Neuroskeptic) "Person-first language [...] is the nice idea that rather than calling someone, say, "blind", we should call them "a person who is blind", so as to remind everyone that they're not defined by their blindness but are a person first... clever, eh? No."
  • Beyond the asylum: looking back on mental health (Wellcome Trust)  "Professor Barbara Taylor [...] is best known for her work on the history of feminism. But in her new book, she looks back on her time as an inpatient at Friern Hospital, then one of the largest mental health institutions in Europe, and the demise of mental asylums in Britain. [Indulge me: I was much involved with mental health services at just this time, and a former colleague came to work with us from this institution.] 
  • Speak, Memory by Oliver Sacks (The New York Review of Books) "I accepted that I must have forgotten or lost a great deal, but assumed that the memories I did have—especially those that were very vivid, concrete, and circumstantial—were essentially valid and reliable; and it was a shock to me when I found that some of them were not." Maria Popova (of Brain Pickings) glosses on the article here.

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