Is it live or is it Professor Gradgrind?
June 24th, 2010


A recent study conducted in the USA reports that students who watched lectures online instead of attending in-person classes performed slightly worse in [a] course over all. This study contradicts earlier ones –including a twelve-year long study– that favour online learning performance over live learning, so to speak.

But, as with so much research, the devil—or meaning– is in the details. The more recent study shows that in-person instruction was especially more effective for Hispanic students, male students, and lower-achieving students in particular. Clearly, those who benefit most from in-the-flesh instruction are the learning-neediest or the most likely to respond to personal attention. So it is with everything, isn’t it? (more…)

Apparently adults are bullies, too.
June 17th, 2010


Apparently adults are bullies, too. Anyone working in a large institution, whether post-secondary, prison, or government, knows that life among one’s peers isn’t always sweet and light. Mostly we have our good days, and working at a university is usually a privileged experience, but we also have our bad days. These, I would argue, are caused not so much by errors or missed appointment but by the demoralizing effects of a colleague’s bad behavior. But who knew that such behavior was so pervasive? (more…)

Sometimes sleep trumps commitment. I tried to get to the…
June 10th, 2010


Sometimes sleep trumps commitment. I tried to get to the blog last week, I really did. I was in Montreal for almost eight days at the annual learneds Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and, well, the days were full and I was usually too far from my computer to write anything extensive. I’ll make up for that now. My head is still happily full of the experience of so many rich conversations, lectures, and questions. There is a lot to talk about.

Almost 9,000 scholars, teachers, researchers and book sellers convened on the gloriously sunny streets of Montreal to do what we do when we are at our best: dream big and aim to change the world. Sure, some of us also gossiped with old friends and pipped off for a session or two to sip wine on a sunny terrasse, but for the most part we all went about our business. Besides, wine soothes the soul, and, as Plato said, admittedly in other words, gossip is the beginning of philosophy. (more…)

Postcards From the Edge will return next week, as the Dean of Graduate Studies is out of town, and away from her computer.
June 3rd, 2010