Archive for March, 2010


March 24, 2010 2 comments

March 31st is Document Freedom Day! OK, I feel a bit silly celebrating it given the number of documents I churn out in Word format, but that’s largely because I’m editing what my students and colleagues write. Conflicting principles: support open standards or use the format your readers can open easily?

Speaking of opening documents in different formats, one of my students recently sent me an assignment in Microsoft Works format! Most people don’t even remember MS Works, let alone use it, and even OpenOffice Writer, known as the Rosetta Stone of word processors, couldn’t open it. And that it is one of the points behind Document Freedom Day. You may think .docx files are standard, but they aren’t, and in not so many years’ time, they could be as unreadable as MS Works files.

Categories: Writing

Wikipedia Not Wicked – Official!

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s an interesting article from First Monday: “How¬† today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research.” What it reveals is that a lot of students use Wikipedia when researching their term papers, which comes as no surprise, but also that the majority actually use it sensibly, which is a nice surprise. Most students reported using Wikipedia at or near the beginning of their research in order to get a summary of the main ideas and familiarise themselves with the terms used; hardly any students reckoned Wikipedia was a suitable source to cite in the actual paper. It looks like the message is finally getting across.

Categories: Linked articles

The Importance of Clear Instructions

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

When we were training as teachers, we were all told about the importance of giving clear instructions, and checking that students have understood them. However, even after years of experience, students’ ability to interpret our words creatively¬† can take us unawares. For example, this week I told a group of students to discuss amongst themselves the differences between role-playing games and other games, and the differences between children’s games and adult role-playing games. This gave rise to the following exchange:

STUDENT: Well, we’ve got onto adult role-playing games, but we can only think of “doctor and nurse” and “boss and secretary”.

TEACHER: Umm, I didn’t mean “adult” in that sense of the word – I was thinking of, you know … Dungeons and Dragons?

Categories: Classroom

A Technophobe’s Guide to Managing Online Courses

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Even though I’m a technophile not a technophobe, I enjoyed this article from the CHE: “Regardless, online classes are clearly here to stay, at least until they’re replaced by … what? Holograms? Vulcan mind melding? Who knows.”

Categories: Linked articles