Tag Archives: value of higher education

My farmer, my teacher


Earlier this fall I spent an afternoon in my farmers’ field digging up carrots. Yes, I am part of community supported agriculture (CSA) – this particular group is led by a couple whose farm is in the outskirts of Montreal. Every week, I enjoy deliveries of fresh, local, organic and DELICIOUS vegetables. However, this Sunday was different. Instead of bringing my canvas bags to the neighborhood drop-off point to pick up my veggies, I headed across the bridge to where the vegetables are actually grown. Continue reading My farmer, my teacher

What busy profs would like to read in a blog post about active learning


During a great workshop today on active learning in engineering at McGill I asked two questions (using Socrative) , of the audience. Here is a summary of 24 answers I received:

1) I would like to read blog posts about:

  • activities for large classes (18% of people)
  • activities for small classes (30% of people)
  • technology in active learning (22% of people)
  • wacky or creative ideas for active learning(30% of people)

2) I might read a blog post about teaching and supervision if…

  • It takes into account the sheer lack of time and resources for preparation; ie quick and easy ideas to engage a bored class!
  • it was linked through twitter
  • It was regularly updated and interesting!
  • It does not take too long
  • it helps me achieve better my teaching objectives compared to my current teaching practice
  • It related to economics / social science a bit
  • Its short and introduce tips and examples
  • It gives concrete practical examples of activities for teaching and making students more active
  • I was interested
  • I knew where to find it
  • It dealt with distance education
  • they talked about encouraging creativity and critical thinking
  • it was about new and creative strategies that I can use in my class
  • it included the occasional evidence-based pieces that demonstrate real impact
  • Give ideas about how to get the students more active
  • It’s concrete, thoughtful and provides ideas
  • it was relevant and to the topic. I also would like to see it promoted within the departments to encourage conversation about teaching and learning
  • It is useful

My summary is that people want to hear about all types of different aspects of active learning and they would be motivated to read posts if it interesting and provided something useful.

Originally posted on waterunderground.

How much will MOOCs change McGill?


Prof. Terry Hébert, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, reflects on a March 2013 article published  in “Nature.”

The Provost recently asked for proposals for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) at McGill. Interestingly, he also asked for feedback on the open question as to whether MOOCs might irrevocably change how we teach at McGill. The article linked here suggests that changes are coming- will these changes fundamentally alter the nature of the university campus? Will students even have to show up for some programs? The best interactions I have with students are not online- they are contacts in the hall, in the classroom and occasionally on the squash court. What will the university be like if we embrace MOOCs to the full extent possible? I don’t know. Maybe we ought to start thinking about that.

Read the full article here.

Higher education – not what it used to be?


Prof. Terry Hébert, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, shares an article originally published in “The Economist.”

Everyone should read this one! What are we trying to achieve – an educated citizenry or provide students with easy A’s? Chasing ratings doesn’t help. Can we blame postmodernism for this? 😉 It also seems the growth of university administration is not a unique problem here.

Read the full article here.