finding the balance between smothering with support and complete DIY

Social learning was one the major bets we made at HBX. It also yielded some of our most profound learnings. When students asked a question on the platform, we resisted the urge to jump in, instead leaving it to peers to do so. When students struggled with a concept, we resisted (even more) the urge to jump in and correct the group, but relied on peers to do so. The results were remarkable (and somewhat humbling if you’re an expert): in more than 90% of cases, questions were precisely and accurately answered by the peer group. One of our HBX CORe students had previously been the head teaching assistant (TA) for one of the most popular MOOCs (massive open online courses). He noted that a typical approach to intervention in online courses was to amass larger numbers of TAs, so that some “expert” was ready to intervene quickly on any question as it arose. One unintended consequence? “Soon, everyone expected the TA’s to answer questions. No one took it upon themselves to do so.”

“Trust the students,” we preach in our classrooms. It’s one of the hardest axioms to follow. The temptation for an expert, or a teacher, is to help at the first sign of confusion. But letting it simmer can aid learner discovery. Indeed, the power of collaboration comes when you trust the group so that they are strongly encouraged — forced, even — to resolve problems on their own. Let an expert intervene, and you could undermine collaboration itself.

Source: What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX – HBR (via a link from Scott McLeod)

I’ve been thinking about this article a lot, as I work through a proposal to set up a support program for instructors adopting various learning technologies. If we set up a bunch of infrastructure and people to answer all of their questions, they would become dependent on it. If we don’t set up any, they won’t be as likely to succeed. Somewhere in the middle. Somewhere.

In the proposal, I’m trying to set up a seed of “in the trenches” support out in the faculties, to work with instructors and take advantage of a direct understanding of pedagogy in various fields. I’m also trying to set up central and community supports to enhance what people are doing more broadly across our campuses. But, how to do that without short-circuiting collaboration that could (and should) be happening Out There™? We need to help to build capacity – in individual instructors, in teams, programs, departments, and faculties – without inadvertently training people to rely on Technology Experts That Know Everything™ (because they don’t exist, nor should they).

 

Windows 8 and office 2013

Installed windows 8.1 in a VM today for testing. Surprisingly, not hating it. Especially when running on an SSD, it’s quick. And I haven’t seen that damned spinning blue cursor yet. Kind of love the weather app with built-in ski reports… And writing blog posts from Word? Feels… wrong… but it might work. Never thought I’d say this, but I could actually use this without ranting non-stop (as I did during my last foray into Windows 7 – had to give up the Dell laptop because my blood pressure kept rising…)

win8

UofC budget

I haven’t seen an official breakdown of the impact of provincial budget cuts on the UofC itself. Saw this mention in a related article on executive salary freeze:

In its 2013 budget released two weeks ago, the province cut the University of Calgary’s operational budget by about $32 million, or seven percent.

The university states that is equal to a nine percent difference in funding when it includes a two per cent increase which was promised in the 2012 budget.

via Wage freeze for U of C executives – Calgary – CBC News.

also, the 9% difference is even higher, when accounting for inflation. likely more info available in tomorrow’s town hall meeting.

glad I’m not an executive…

Post-secondary budgets cuts a surprise, U of C president says – Calgary – CBC News

Operational grants for Alberta colleges and universities are being slashed by about $147 million for the next year — almost seven per cent.

University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon told CBC News the university was expecting a two per cent increase for each of the next three years.

via Post-secondary budgets cuts a surprise, U of C president says – Calgary – CBC News.

understatement

“At the University of Calgary we have built a strong financial foundation due to the hard work of many people over the last several years,” says Cannon. “We have contingency funding set aside, and we will continue to work to find operational efficiencies and grow revenue. We will continue to move toward our Eyes High goals. Nevertheless, a budget reduction of this size means that we have some difficult decisions to make in the coming months.

“We know students, faculty and staff will have many questions about what these cuts mean to the university. We simply do not have all the answers yet. We will keep you informed over the coming weeks, including holding Town Halls for the campus community later this month.”

Adds Cannon: “Given the level of this cut, and the government’s clear focus on post-secondary institutions working more closely with each other and with government to find efficiencies, eliminate duplication and more closely align university research with the economic agenda of the province, structural change may be necessary within the post-secondary system.”

via President Cannon ‘surprised, extremely disappointed’ by government budget cutbacks | News & Events | University of Calgary.