Friday, May 25, 2007

Gandhi's List: - Brief Hybrid Workshop - SUGGESTIONS

Gandhi's "Seven Blunders of the World" That Lead to Violence ...Plus 6
Activity developed and revised by Steven W. Gilbert, TLT Group.

Welcome your suggestions, etc. about how and when to use this Brief Hybrid Workshop and/or the eClip within it.

Pls click on "comments" or "post a comment" just below this posting to leave your suggestions for the TLT Group's Online Professional Development Workshops about educational uses of blogs, wikis, feeds, .... Web 2.0 + Social Networking
See more detail than you probably want or need about how to ensure we receive your comment/suggestion at the very end of this posting in italics.

Steve Gilbert

To be sure we receive your comment, click on one of the options below the box in which you entered your comment. Then type in the letters that you see in the weird script in the most obvious place - the "word verification" box. THEN CLICK ON "LOG IN AND PUBLISH" - DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE "LOG-IN" PART. You do NOT need to have a Blogger account to leave a comment. If you wish to comment anonymously, click in the circle to the left of that option. If you want to avoid getting a Blogger account, but want to indicate who you are, add your name and contact info WITHIN your "comment" and then choose the "anonymous" option.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rewards (?) for faculty, departments that improve

What a great set of comments on my previous entry about how slowly new teaching ideas spread. (that's a summary of one of the sections of our recent report on an evaluation of dissemination of five MIT-developed projects. The Exec Summary and the full report can both be found at

In that last post, I made this shaky claim, "academic programs could do much better (in all senses of 'better') if they helped their faculty become the best at a) finding and adapting best practices from peers [at other institutions] who teach similar courses, and b) sharing their own best practices with the world."

I'll admit that I can't prove this claim, and I'm not sure if it's true. Can you suggest any examples or arguments that would either strengthen or weaken the claim?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why do great teaching ideas spread so slowly? How can we speed that up?

Steve Gilbert, Flora McMartin (a TLT Group senior consultant) and I recently finished a $200K external evaluation for MIT and Microsoft. We studied five well-funded faculty-led development projects from the iCampus program.
  • web services enabling students to use the Internet to control distant laboratory equipment in order to do experiments (iLabs).
  • an interactive, visual approach to learning introductory physics (TEAL),
  • a way to legally use video clips when discussing films online or doing student papers (XMAS),
  • software for teaching computer science that involved sophisticated online homework checking (xTutor), and
  • a new approach to managing the large-scale assessment of student writing (iMOAT). MIT allocated about 10% of its budget ($2.5 million) for dissemination. We were asked to study factors affecting adoption of those promising innovations.
There are about 10,000 universities and colleges in the world. iCampus has been disseminating these projects for a couple years. A naive observer might predict that, by now, that tens of thousands of faculty would be beating down MIT's doors to use each of wonderful freebies. In fact, the number of adoptions of these MIT projects, while growing, is much nearer to ten than to ten thousand. Why do even the best teaching innovations spread so slowly (when they spread at all)?

The biggest barrier: typical faculty members get little preparation, little help and little reward for continually updating and improving all their courses. The best way to improve learning is not to invent your own ideas from scratch. It's to scan the world for successful ideas already tried out by like-minded colleagues teaching comparable courses. And if faculty were better prepared, supported, and rewarded they could do that.

I'll make this claim: academic programs could do much better (in all senses of 'better') if they helped their faculty become the best at a) finding and adapting best practices from peers who teach similar courses, and b) sharing their own best practices with the world.

This kind of support would produce the biggest dividends in disciplines where the field itself is changing due to advances in research, changes in the job market, etc.. In such disciplines, rapid improvement in the academic program is more likely to lead to gains in visibility, enrollment, and respect. However, because teaching options are increasing in all fields, there is no department for which this recommendation is irrelevant.

What do you think? Is continual improvement in teaching important for your program? What kinds of support can the institution and department give faculty to help them discover, screen and adapt the best new practices from peers at other institutions? Please post your comments.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Info Lit Assessment Online Workshop May 2007

Week 1 Recommended Activity

Write an outcome for your program, drawing upon one of the 9 principles. Start with that you think most important to work on at the current stage of development of your program. You may submit your work in one of 3 ways:

1. privately by email to Anne Zald or Deb Gilchrist

2. anonymously - add it as a "comment" to this posting. Go to the bottom of this posting and click on "comments" or "add comment"

3. publicly -
- add it as a "comment" to this posting. Go to the bottom of this posting and click on "comments" or "add comment". If you have a Blogger account, use it. If not, include your name and contact info at the end of your comment.

Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning


Archives of synchronous sessions and other info:

Library Instruction Outcomes: Available in Microsoft Word

Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

Task Force on Academic Library Outcomes Assessment Report

Principles of Good Assessment
Principles of Good Assessment.pdf

Anne Zald
University of Washington Libraries

Emerson - Compensation Essay

This is a "banyan" or "banian" tree. See last sentence in quotation below.

Also, see link to Web page for FridayLive! special session "Staying Sane - in Insane Times."

A. "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else..."

B. "...the compensations of calamity are made apparent..."

See below for more extended versions of these two brief excerpts from "Compensation," an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Essays — First Series"; see further below for citation, links to full text.

A. 1st Excerpt:

"… Every excess causes a defect; every defect an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For everything you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something…."

B. 2nd Excerpt (part of last 3 paragraphs of the full essay):

" growth comes by shocks.

"We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in. We are idolaters of the old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, in its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We linger in the ruins of the old tent where once we had bread and shelter and organs, nor believe that the spirit can feed, cover, and nerve us again. We cannot again find aught so dear, so sweet, so graceful. But we sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty saith, 'Up and onward for evermore!' We cannot stay amid the ruins. Neither will we rely on the new; and so we walk ever with reverted eyes, like those monsters who look backwards.

"And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener is made the banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men. ["banian" = tree; see picture above]

Image of banian tree from:

Citation, access to full text of Emerson's "Compensation" Essay:

Essay III Compensation (First published 1841?)
Available free online from Project Gutenberg:

Also see: and

"First published in 1841 as Essays. After Essays: Second Series was published in 1844, Emerson corrected this volume and republished it in 1847 as Essays: First Series."

Excerpts to Help Stay Sane - Quindlen

Link to Web page for FridayLive! special session "Staying Sane - in Insane Times"

A. "...always searching for some version of the truth...They have experienced firsthand the great soothing balance of human existence…"

B. "...biggest mistake I made is ...I did not live in the moment enough..."

As of May 1, 2007, you can find the full text of the Preface, 1st two essays in Chapter 1

A. "Real reporters are always searching for some version of the truth so that, in the long run, they can assemble the truth about the world out of all the stories they have covered and the things they have learned. That is why, in contrast to the common belief that they are the world’s great cynics, the best journalists are the world’s great idealists. They have experienced firsthand the great soothing balance of human existence. For every disgrace there is a triumph, for every wrong there is a moment of justice, for every funeral a wedding, for every obituary a birth announcement."

Above is from the preface of Loud and Clear, by Anna Quindlen, Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 29, 2005)

B. Below an exceprt from the same book about life - with 3 young children.

Chapter 1 "Heart" "Good-Bye Dr. Spock":

"But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."