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via Early Career Academics' Reflections

SEDA is publishing an open access book online, with a chapter released on its website every fortnight.  Each time a chapter is released it will be accompanied by a blog post published on SEDA WordPress. The book is called Early Career Academics’ Reflections on Learning to Teach in Central Europe, edited by Gabriela Pleschová and Agnes Simon. This book contains case studies by participants of a new educational development programme who redesigned their course sessions to apply student-centred approaches, using innovative teaching methods and stimulate good learning.

The 2019 lecture was given by Tim Berners-Lee in the week of the launch of the Contract for the web. The lecture was inspiring and positive despite the challenges the internet faces today and anyone who uses the internet seriously should watch it!

Shameful report showing the extent of the problem, and failure of universities failing to address thousands of racist incidents

The article below is a summary of a small sample of research into note taking,of which there is now quite a lot.

The search for the ideal way to take notes is an illusion, unless/until we regulate learning from the beginning of education, everyone will develop their own way of doing learning, including note taking. Successful note taking its therefore a matter of individual and subject matter factors.

There are however two criteria that I think are helpful in guiding people.

1 is the question of the purpose of the learning, and the use you will make of the information. Notes for an exam are different from other sorts of notes. As with other aspects of HE students may find it useful to be shown successful note taking in different contexts, academic and vocational, and how the different purposes leads to different approaches. How will you need to recall this, is the crucial and practical question.

2 the crucial aspect of that is the question of importance, and the time you are willing to invest. The principal is that the more psychological work the better the learning. One aspect of this is putting it into your own words, as mentioned in the article below, but only if that meets the first criteria.

I think UK universities are missing a lot by not benefiting from Microsoft tools they are paying for.

Interesting post about learning, raises the issue about how much real learning is in fact unlearning previous learning to create space. It is that space and the awareness of it that is so important. The joy of not knowing!

My union – the UCU is supposed to be having its congress this week but it has been abandoned, after a couple of days of mostly chaos, although some good work has been done on casualisation and other issues, including the difficult issue of the use of lecture capture which was possibly misused in the recent strike making it a source of conflict between staff and student in universities.
The issue is whether the General Secretary can be criticised and asked to resign in a motion at congress. This raises issues about her employment and rights, and she is supported by other staff who see this as a threat and is covered by the standing orders which do prevent this from happening.

This is reasonable, but places the union is a difficult situation when, as now, there is a lot of unhappiness in the membership of the General Secretary’s conduct during an industrial dispute. This is always likely given the messy nature of industrial disputes and the almost certainty of different views on the termination of action – on the basis that you never get all you want (and if you did then there would be a valid criticism that you were not asking for enough). Both sides it seems to me should be able to recognise that. But the rule above seems to me to be unworkable – and needs to be replaced by a more positive procedure about what can be done.
I don’t think anyone should be sacked or forced to resign as a result of a motion in a conference – even if they could address the conference. However, the conference must be allowed to voice views which might indicate a level of dissatisfaction that should lead to that.

The background has remarkable historical resonance for me. There are two factions in UCU – the broad left and UCU left. There were two main blocks when I was involved in student politics (Sussex 1972-5), generally similar blocks. We did have the Maoists, bless them, but they were never significant. The left block was split between two groups – the precursor to the SWP and the International Marxist group, often to be found in the bar disputing the nature of the soviet state in obscure terms. Thought – maybe the SWP need a stronger rival in the far left to keep it in line?

I had fun (being an un-organised yippie – M15 have me down as an anarchist because their Fed of Conservative Students informant wasn’t that clear about political differences!) representing the Union Council (made up of sports and other basically conservative groups) on the Union executive with either the broad or the far left. It is possible to work with the different groups for the best of the union, but it needs people who have a wider perspective. The broad left are generally better at managing things, the far left at getting people involved.
The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking that role in the UCU at the moment, and nobody seems to have thought about what was going to happen. Both sides should have seen this coming and had contingency plans.
For me I can’t help thinking this is a problem of virtue, this is what politics is about, if you want to play the game you need to know how you are going to play and play well. I am sorry for all the first-time delegates at the conference who got thrown into all this and must be feeling frustrated and angry. But there must be enough people around who should have the experience and sense to have helped to manage this better.