A stranger in a foreign land

game controllerMost of us are so involved in our work in our own little sphere that it can be difficult to understand that others who enter into our sphere might not understand our tribal language or why we do the things that we do.

That is why I, when I first started teaching, found it so hard to understand that students could have gotten as far as Higher Education without having (what I considered to be) basic information skills like searching databases and building a bibliography using a certain style.

I am so used to being in the library sphere that I am not even always aware that I am speaking a “tribal” library language with my collegues. And because Norway is such a small country and because almost all librarians are educated at Oslo University College (by the same teachers as the previous generation of librarians in this country), and because almost all academic libraries are using Bibsys as their library system, I can use the Bibsys code language (“have you imo`d this?” “i cannot ltreg this patron”) and they will all understand what I am saying. And of course, as long as I am talking to my collegues, that is no problem. But what if I use this code language to students?

Yesterday, I attended my first lecture in Game Design. It was very exciting! And it was challenging because it is a sphere that I am not a part of on an everyday basis. I have always enjoyed gaming, but I haven`t the extensive experience that most of the other students had. I am a console player and I prefer platform games like Mario. I haven`t tried many other kinds either. But the students in that class were speaking with such confidence using terms I had never heard. The abbreviations were tossed around in discussions. PRG, MMORPG, TBS, RTS… a lot to learn! I concentrated so hard that it brought on a headache after the class. But I learned so much! And it inspired me to try some new games and to really get into this world more. I look forward to the next class..

So, being part of another sphere is useful to all us who teach. It is a reminder that what we say isn`t always as self-explanatory as we think.

Teaching is important to make good researchers

or so the Chronical of Higher Education say in this article. They are quoting an article to be published in Science in August that found: “Graduate students in the sciences who both teach and conduct research show greater improvement in their research skills than do those who focus exclusively on laboratory work”.

I find that very interesting (though not terribly surprising) as many researchers believe that all that matters is to be doing their research. I do not work in a faculty myself, but from what I understand some teachers feel downgraded because they do not do research. I therefore find it very interesting that researchers are better at doing research if they also teach.

One of the reasons that they become better at doing research, it is suggested, may be that “people who have to explain to someone else how to carry out a task are quicker to develop their own abilities to do that same task”.

So, teaching and research= a match made in heaven it seems. Thanks to the Higher Education group at LinkedIn for great reading tips.

Staff seminar 2011

Every year the staff at GUC goes away on seminar. This year, we are gathered in Trysil. The second day is now moving towards the end, just the usual information session left. It has been a good seminar. As usual, there are people who really know how to connect with the audience and there are those who either misunderstand their tasks or misjudge the audience. This year, I found day 1 (yesterday) very inspiring. Every speaker had something interesting to say. I particularly have to mention Helle H. Hein from Copenhagen Business School. She talked about her studies on communication between people in different professions, like nurses and doctors. She had, based on observations and interviews, made four archetypes;  The Primadonnas, The performance chaser, The Pragmatist and the PayCheck driven (don`t know if I got the translation from Danish completely right, but..) It was an engaging and interesting session that led to discussions during the afternoon. I look forward to reading more of her stuff.

Other points worth mentioning from day 1: Klaus Jøran`s thoughts about GUC culture, Simon McCallums thoughts on motivating students and to dare make changes (link to Prezi presentation to come), and the discussions we had on things that work and things that don`t work  regarding innovation and creative  thinking at GUC. We had a good discussion in our group and I found myself thinking about it later in the evening as well.

Day two has been a little more challenging to follow. The first lecture was about the progress and process of the merger between the three colleges. If I`m to be completely honest, this was not what I had hoped. There was little new to be heard and my impression is that there are still no real progress in location discussion and that there are too many things that have not been decided on. This process has taken years, and I feel that there is now an undue rush to get everything in place. I wish this could have been started earlier on to avoid being rushed into decisions that may not be as good as they might have been.

The group discussions continued today and we had a productive session (and some laughs). After lunch we were talking about the results from the group discussions where the task had been to take one challenge from yesterday and make it worse (something called the anti-problem) just to illustrate the problem. Many creative problems were presented.

We`ve just been presented with the results from the survey on how the staff thrive at work. We seem to be more enthusiastic about our work place than two years ago. We have a general high score on most issues. The things that we can work on is leadership, open communication and a reasonable workload for each member of staff.

Now, information on the coming semesterstart.

Thank you everyone for interesting talks and inspiring thoughs.