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After a much shorter debate due to the General Election the HE Bill is now an act, leaving us all to wonder if a better outcome would have been possible with fuller discussion.

As ever WonkHE has a good guide and lots of background information.

I recently posted on the Google+ CreativeHE community a comment in which I referred to feeling ambiguous about mindfulness - and was asked to explain.

Basically my criticism is similar to a lot of discussion involving terms like MCMindfullness being used to describe the negative, quick fix aspects of the craze for mindfulness.

Reflecting on it made me wonder what the differences is between that and  genuine approaches to mindfulness which I appreciate, in particular Thich Nhat Hanh's approach to breathing and walking meditation.

It seems to me that these are adaptations of traditional approaches to meditation, and in related areas aikido and other martial arts, which simplify and go to the core of the tradition, taking out the unnecessary and distracting elements but keeping the deep and core elements of life long practice and commitment.

As in other areas of life one of the features of the true master is that they are still learning, and in that demonstrate the long term project as opposed to a short term easy fix.



It probably doesn't mean anything to those who didn't live through it, but WonkHE reminds us that's it is 25 years since the end to the university/polytechnic divide in the UK

I started my career in a polytechnic and have mixed feelings.  I think there were positive aspects to polytechnic education when it worked well.  It could have a positive focus on the vocational, which was popular with students but often misunderstood by the institution.  I was the programme director for the BTEC programmes in Business.  There was a tendency for everyone to assume that students did HND's because they couldn't get into a degree course, but in a couple of years when managers noticed that in clearing the entry requirements for the degree had fallen below that of the HND and wrote to students offering a switch they were surprised when the majority said no - but they never learnt.  The students had a more positive view of the courses, fortunately shared by the majority of the staff who taught on them.  But it was an interesting microcosm of the fundamental problem of parity of esteem of vocational education. While you can argue the existence of the divide continued that problem, I think the end of the divide did nothing to move us forward.

There was a specific form of teaching which we did well - related to Boyer's Scholarship of Application, although again the institution (or at least managers) didn't recognise it.  We taught student's how to apply academic knowledge.  As I say it wasn't recognised enough.  I inherited a couple of courses on Work Psychology and an introduction to psychology for accountancy, both were unexciting and irrelevant.  I managed to give them a focus on how to apply psychology in business/accountancy and the students got engaged.  It also gave me a different perspective on the academic subject.

For some time I have been looking for an on-line tool to create diagrams for a variety of tasks, and I have recently rediscovered which I am finding very useful for doing simple mindmaps  and venn diagrams (which I use in teaching as a basic logic tool).  For both of these functions there are specialist tools, but I am finding easier to use than most - and sufficient for what I want to do.

The programme will connect to a  range of cloud storage facilities so you can save to Google Drive, Idrive etc, and it automatically saves changes there.  You can then either publish links to your diagrams or embed them in web pages.  The embedded files do take a little while to load so my plan is to embed them while I am still developing them (they, then get automatically updated) but will replace them with static versions when I am finished.  There are a couple of examples on my website in the approaches section where I wanted to start with a mindmap rather than text.

An article in the Wonkhe news email this morning reminded me of a sign I saw yesterday outside of a school in South West London - Headline 'Top of the Class', with the strapline - 'Every child is important' - which highlights for me the ambiguity in education about fairness etc.

I have just published an old working paper on Researchgate (DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.15599.43686).

This paper describes part of a series of reflective research on the teaching of a Business School module 'Organisational Analysis and Design* (OAD). This element of the research looked at the experiences and difficulties faced by a group of students who take the module as a compulsory module in a science faculty degree. The study uses David Kolb's model of the experiential learning cycle to understand differences in teaching strategy and learning processes. In the context of modular degrees, it raises issues about the difficulties of moving from one academic discipline to another, and questions what information we should be providing to students about the teaching strategy of modules.

I would be interested in any comments.

Paper also available here.

I am just completing the first session of the Open Badge Network MOOC on Open Badges.

In the medium term I intend to launch some on-line courses and host courses in my local community and will build some of those courses around badges. Initially as a pilot I have designed and will issue badges for the committee members of a local community network.  I may also issue badges on behalf of a local environmental group for people taking steps to living more environmentally.

FCN Committee Badge 2017

The first session of the MOOC has been about the use of badges in organisations which is not my main interest, but I have learnt some interesting stuff about their use but more importantly have used the DigitalMe Design canvas to design my first badge (for the community group) and have learnt about the various tools available to design and issue badges.

I know face the challenge of how to convince people in the community group about the value of badges and why they should have one - will test the ground at a meeting tomorrow and take it from there!

The other challenge for me was reminding myself about images and their creation to design the badge.  Although I use the web a lot - image creation is something I have never been comfortable with.

I am looking forward to exploring the possibilities more in the next session of the MOOC and have already enjoyed reading the Open Badge Network Green paper on badges which is a very comprehensive introduction to badges.