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Welcome back McGill – Here’s some things you may have missed

Welcome back! We hope you have had a great summer.

Here at TLS we are planning a number of great things for the blog over the next six months.

In the meantime, we thought we would highlight the most popular posts from last year:

Title Views
Instructors: stop putting your Powerpoint slides on-line 1,973
Learning to Teach: 10 tips for Professors 480
A conference for undergrads: assessing students in large classes using posters presentations 277
Too many assignments to grade? Assessment tools for large classes 205
Teaching in Higher Ed 101 – A Reflection From a First-Time “Lecturer” 163
Short written assignments for large classes 154
Relaunching the Teaching for Learning Blog 135
Active learning in large classes: a gallery ‘walk’ with a 100 students 113
Using social media and mobile technology in the classroom 104
What busy profs would like to read in a blog post about active learning 102

What teaching and learning topics are you interested in reading over the coming academic year?

Post your comments below to help guide our stories over the coming months.

The value of a liberal arts education

Postmodernism debunked- “As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning”! It’s not enough to simply be critical. Achieving consensus is just as important in my opinion. Here is a good article describing what we lose when we teach our students to equate intelligence with criticism. Some of my colleagues think a year of Liberal Arts should be mandatory for every student! I don’t think this is a bad idea!

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Information Communication Technologies (ICTs): Friend or Foe?

I recently finished a book called Alone Together by Sherry Turkle (2011), a professor at MIT. The book discusses how social media and technology has infiltrated our lives and its visible effects on human connections. Turkle explains that ICTs – e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – are fundamentally changing human interactions; they change who we are.

As I read the book, I felt like I was reading my personal diary. I was the individual who, in her book, was constantly connected yet felt the need for more interaction. Turkle explains that through this technology, people present the best of themselves, an ideal; they can type, delete, and edit every interaction. She says, “Human relationships are supposed to be messy, but now they are edited and perfected.” When I thought about this, I thought about how this affects our learning environments for all students. How have these ICTs influenced our classrooms? Continue reading


Balancing the Roles of Supervisor, Mentor, and Friend

Mentor. The word itself was originally a name—the name of an advisor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey who was impersonated by the goddess Athena. The term’s mythical connotations are all but gone now, but it still describes an advisor and teacher.

But we have another term for that in graduate education at many universities: supervisor. The difference is that supervisors usually focus on helping students along the path toward graduation. Mentors make time to guide some of their students in other aspects of their lives. Continue reading

3 Minutes to change the world – top graduate student research in 3 minutes or less

On March 31st, McGill hosted the third annual “3 minutes to change the world” competition, where graduate students give three minute presentations on their own research and impact on the community.

3 Minutes to Change the World

This year, we are pleased to have partnered with the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) and Association francophone pour le savoir (ACFAS) to participate in the first national Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. A 3 Minutes to Change the World presenter, in both English and French, have been selected to represent McGill at the CAGS 3MT eastern regional finals and ACFAS concours Ma thèse en 180 secondes

This yearly event is an excellent opportunity for students to share their valuable research, to perfect their elevator pitch and presentation skills, and to network with their peers across disciplines – It takes all kinds of knowledge to change the world and thesis research from all disciplines is showcased.

These TED-style talks are incredibly well done and point to the high-quality work of McGill graduate students. These students overcome the difficult challenge of taking very sophisticated research and communicating it effectively in three minutes.

Have a look at the Youtube playlist below to see all the student presentations.


Communications and Expectations in Graduate Supervision

During my graduate education, I had two great supervisors and never any problems with communicating our mutual expectations. Their PhDs in English literature certainly helped. But a PhD of any kind is no guarantee that communication will be good enough to prevent misunderstandings.

Although professors are often intelligent and articulate, their attention to communication is often directed outward instead of inward. They are busy experts called upon for critical opinions; they speak and people take note. And students who feel overwhelmed by the quantity of information they receive, and the high expectations of graduate education, sometimes stop listening so they can manage the stress. That’s a form of communication too—but not one that serves both sides. Continue reading

Discussing what matters in higher education.


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