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CARL GOMBRICH - BLOG

Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity, and some related things like Expertise and Future of Work

Welcome to my new blog. You can read more about me in the About tab, top left. I'm looking forward to getting back to 'writing and thinking out loud' about Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity and other things that interest me. You can talk to me either here or on my linked Twitter feed.

 

Learning and Assessment. Back to the future.

Every summer my father, R F Gombrich, gives a course in Pali for anyone who is interested. Typically about 14-20 students come on the programme. They come from all over the world and are of all ages, cultures and educational backgrounds. He is not remunerated for the course, although there are fees to cover other costs. He loves the experience and finds the students dedicated, attentive, interesting and interested. This is what he tells them about studying, learning and asses

Rigour in interdisciplinary education

What is rigour in education? A rigorous education must be intellectually demanding. It must require students to present work which is accurate, well-written, well-researched and, where appropriate, contains interesting detail. None of these qualities is the sole property of a particular academic discipline and one can present work which has all these qualities which crosses disciplinary boundaries. There is a point at which rigour becomes dull, when an insistence on rigour is

Cognitive Work

Some of the most sceptical remarks about a liberal/interdisciplinary education come from those who are experts in established academic disciplines. The criticism is that by providing a wider base at undergraduate level one is dumbing-down the education. Here are some questions I have put to my colleagues  in this situation: 1. What intellectual tasks do you find difficult? For example: Learning a foreign language? Learning maths or computer programming? Reading 2-3 novels eve

‘Difficult Thinking’ and Interdisciplinarity

At the SRHE conference on Structuring Knowledge last week, Gareth Williams said that we need people in our universities to do the ‘difficult thinking’. I agree. Elsewhere on this blog I have argued against education being too easy, or even too much fun – at least in a superficial sense. Great rewards come from overcoming great difficulties and in the intellectual sphere this sort of work takes place in universities. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against having fun – at least I

Assessment in universities

The way we assess students at university is currently subject to some interesting challenges. I discuss two of these challenges in the vlog below. 1. The challenge to university assessment posed by an economic situation which causes a younger generation questions the processes, values and even competence of the older generation. 2. The challenge to assessment posed by the immediacy and ubiquitounsess of high-quality academic materials and different points of view available el

Design for Learning vs Emergent Outcomes

There is a growing interest in what is called Design for Learning. I am reading a nice book on the subject by Julie Dirksen, and Aaron Sams (who is usually credited, along with Jonathan Bergmann, with establishing the ‘flipped’ classroom), discusses UDL (Universal Design for Learning) here at this video post. In engineering, where design has always been implicit, there is renewed explicit focus on all aspects of design, including the aesthetic, and UCL’s Anthony Finkelstein w

Interdisciplinarity and individuation

A tweet about this conference on ‘Promises’ has me thinking about interdisciplinarity in education: the promises it holds and the risks that come with those promises. The beauty of what an interdisciplinary eduction offers is essentially one of individuation. As such it feels contemporary, relevant and desirable. It is part of a long line of political and social developments in democracy and individual freedoms. What we all would like, surely, is to learn what we want, how we

Flipping the lecture hall: first thoughts

Inspired by Khan, reading more at Steve Wheeler’s blog and many other links, I am thinking more about how we can use technology at universities to give the students what they want: meaningful contact time with their lecturers, professors and the leading academics. This is about putting the people back at the centre of the learning. It is using technology to do stuff technology can do, and allowing people to do the things most of us want people to do. How can we do this? Well,

The Khan Academy and undergraduate education

I’ve been struck today by this story on the BBC pages, which pulls together things I have been writing on the blog since I started and which has interesting implications for undergraduate education. The Khan Academy is superb. It is close to covering universally the entire syllabi of the world’s schools. It cannot be long before Khan and his team take on undergraduate education: Calculus 101, Biochemistry 101, the great texts of English literature etc. (UPDATE, 26 November –

Interdisciplinary education in an established environment – emerging thoughts

I feel at risk once again of getting sucked into the discipline of interdisciplinarity, prompted this time by some excellent articles on such things published by colleagues of mine. But I resist. I want to stay as an outsider, to try to see things continually afresh. Of course the danger is that one ends up re-doing what has been done before or missing a trick or a short-cut that could save time or help students out. But we have to trust that I and my team can bring at least

 

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