27 August 2010

Quick Notes for a Friday #1

A few quick and jumbled thoughts for Friday.

I'm glad to see the excellent reception and feedback for the first Teaching Tip. Thanks Jai! After my most recent experience running six tutorial sessions in a single day, I definitely agree with Delia that recipe or index cards are the way to go (and can serve multiple purposes).

Speaking of my most recent experience, for some reason one of the sections in one of the weeks was fixated on royal bloodlines in Europe. Icky incest is covered here (via). I still don't understand why they were so fixated on incest, but it's nice to see someone tackled the subject. Goes to show how much you can learn from your students if you give them time to ask their questions about the material you are covering in any given week.

And finally, Aaron at False Vacuum picked up a tangent from my post earlier in the week about posting academic content online. Clearly blogs are an excellent way of having academic dialogue, and taking advantage of information technology to speed up the process. But blogs have a tendency to lack the kinds of academic rigour of research papers (footnotes, editor-controlled peer review). Blogging also forces us to embrace elements of the government and industry Blackberry connected culture - although free-thinking academics probably flock to Apple in droves (iAcademics?) and we prefer to respond when we have time or a worthwhile thought. Deadlines? What deadlines?

I know I'm not alone in wondering if there are significant changes in the air for academia if we embrace Wiki-culture or adapt traditional peer-reviewed journals to meet open access requirements. Open-access, however, means that people who haven't experienced the Ivory Tower hazing that is a PhD are allowed to contribute. I like this possibility, but only because the hazing is so very personally exhausting. Selfishly, I'm mostly curious about what the advantages and disadvantages are to posting course-work research papers to my website. I've already posted slides from lectures and presentations, and the main thing standing in my way of posting research papers is laziness. It took several hours to convert PowerPoint slides to PDF and then upload them. It would be a full day's work to create a page, convert lots of files and upload them. What's the payoff?

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