Bookcase 2.jpg


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.


Flipping lectures – reflections on a term of learning

The Approaches to Knowledge course on Arts and Sciences BASc at UCL has now finished. For this module most of the lectures were ‘flipped’ – that means (for anyone who doesn’t yet know!) that most of the content went out to the students via video – in this case to the UCL VLE Moodle.  We used the large plenaries (the old lecture times) for Q&A sessions and other activities. These are my reflections on the experience. But before offering my reflections I should ask the students

Failure and Confusion

Encouraged by recent discussions of failure in learning (both here at Wimbledon High School for Girls and at the upcoming PELeCON conference), I discuss both failure and its other ‘negative’ bedfellow: confusion. Living with both failure and confusion is essential to successful learning – and, indeed, a successful life. PS I’m learning that I do find it hard to think of more technical/academic stuff off the cuff when faced with the camera (e.g. the ‘Popper’ stuff in this vid

Do you need to see your lecturer?

Many students tell us the most valuable thing they get from university is the small classes, the time when they get to interact with their lecturers and tutors: quality time. This is such a no-brainer it should hardly need to be stated. And yet it is important to remind oneself of this and some other similar things because we are in danger of losing sight of some of these simple truths in HE. So students need to meet (not just see) their tutors. But universities have a diffic

Multiple intelligences, multiple selves

Reading Daniel Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. I like his suggestion that we might all be an ‘agglomeration of multiple selves.’  This seems to me to fit with Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and a phenomenological position in philosophy – as well as my own experience. For surely none of us has exactly one type of intelligence. We have, in varying degrees, mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, visual intelligence and so on, and each of these will

The web, ways of learning, interdisciplinarity and a history of knowledge

Our first round of applicants came to the Open Day of UCL Arts and Sciences BASc last week.  It was a very enjoyable day for us and great to meet so many interesting and interested students – but I will skip some the details of the day. This blog is about what I am learning about how students are learning, what that means for us at UCL BASc and how I see this as fitting in to some broad ideas in the history of knowledge. For our Open Day, there was a lecture which students ha

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 –

Teaching yourself

‘We can only teach ourselves’ is a phrase one hears in educational circles. I guess this is true on some level, but I do not want to turn out copies of myself in my students – that seems completely wrong. I also think it is wrong for institutions to turn out ‘types’ of students. What can this really mean: They all vote Conservative? They are all kind to animals? They are all entrepreneurs? They all like gooseberry jam? The idea seems slightly ridiculous. Surely the aim of edu

Enoughness of expertise in higher education in the age of web 2.0

I want to introduce the concept of ‘enough expertise’ into higher education – particularly with respect to teaching undergraduates. The concept of ‘enough’ (or should that really be ‘enoughness’?) is in the air – see, for example this symposium at UCL. But usually we are referring on such occasions to material or economic sufficiency (recall the quote from Obama about having enough money if your curtains cost more than an average person’s salary). But in an age where the grea


Thanks for submitting!



Please use the webform


Thanks for submitting!