Category Archives: General

What do we lose with MOOCs?

I am not a Luddite. There, I said it. By the same token, I don’t have a sense of what McGill is after with its entry into the world of massively open online courses (MOOCs). I imagine because it is like me with my smart phone- I got one because I don’t want to be left behind and face my old age lost in technologies I can’t use and don’t understand. However, in the case of MOOCs, my gut tells me if we become too reliant on these trends, we will lose the core of what a university is.  We will lose direct contact with students- which should be the heart of the enterprise. Here is something I saw regarding this on the weekend (yes while following Facebook and Twitter)…

Disconnect between reality and marketing?

Great article in Le Devoir this weekend about the enormous disconnect between how research functions in reality and how universities define and measure success. When universities use rankings to define “success” they misvalue the potential and future impact of the work done. Using business terms and market (and marketing) logic which cannot predict or immediately profit from pace or direction of current research they do everyone a disservice. Maybe they wouldn’t have to do this if governments, citizens and students recognized the true value and real costs of education and research.

« Or le Nobel est accordé en moyenne 25 ans après la découverte qu’il récompense. Il est donc complètement absurde d’utiliser un tel critère pour mesurer la qualité actuelle d’une université », fait remarquer Yves Gingras qui, dans son livre, donne l’exemple d’Albert Einstein, qui était associé à l’Université de Berlin quand il a reçu son prix Nobel en 1922.

Relaunching the Teaching for Learning Blog

There’s a change afoot at McGill. More and more people on campus are interested in changing things up – crossing boundaries, breaking down silos, and using new technologies. Today, we are re-launching this blog and inviting you to join the conversation about any issue related to teaching and learning.

In the coming weeks, we will be experimenting with different layouts, functions and plug-ins. Stay tuned as this work-in-progress evolves, and feel free to comment on these changes!

Some of our upcoming posts include a series about how to assess students in large classes, teaching tips for new Professors, graduate  student perspectives on learning to teach, ongoing debates about MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Course) in higher education, and more.

We have a core group of authors (check out the new Authors page!) and are looking for more contributors. Let us know if you are interested:  you can write once a month or once in a while – we are looking for you perspectives about teaching and learning!

Taking a break with science fiction

By Terry Hébert, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

“Because preparing 9 new lectures for our new medical curriculum is driving me crazy, I’ve been re-reading some books by Jack McDevitt for the pure entertainment of it. McDevitt is one of my favourite science fiction authors who writes well, has a good grasp of big issues and realizes that people will be people no matter how far we are projected into future. In an epigraph to one of the chapters in “Polaris” he talks about history:

“History is a collection of a few facts and a substantial assortment of rumors, lies, exaggerations and self-defense. As time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate the categories.”

So true…

Welcome to McGill’s Teaching for Learning Blog

This blog is designed for faculty, staff and students to exchange ideas about teaching and learning at McGill University. It will feature posts on topics such as: the links between teaching and research; teaching and learning spaces; course design and program planning.

This blog is hosted by Teaching and Learning Services (TLS) and features posts by many of the instructors and students we are lucky to collaborate with.  At TLS, we work to promote the importance of teaching and learning, and we do this through university-wide initiatives, program specific projects, and a lot of face-to-face meetings. Now the time has come to try something different: we want to start a larger conversation about teaching and learning within the blogosphere.

Would you like to share an experience, a resource or an opinion about teaching and learning? If the answer is yes, we are currently looking for contributors so please write to