The LSU Top 5 #30

This is the 30th of our weekly links to the top 5 bits and pieces we’ve found from around the internet.

(Linking doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with these articles!)

 The Slowest Distance Between Two PointsThis American Life

At the age of 23, Andrew Forsthoefel fails in keeping his job and is left without a job or a plan. He decides to walk across the U.S. and learns about learning in life. This podcast is his story and features interviews of people from all walks of life giving the advice they would tell the 23-year-old version of themselves. The advice here is likely to apply to university students as well, particularly when they’re not sure where they’re headed and whether they should keep going.


Are university lectures doomed?The Guardian

In this article, two academics (and lecturers!) debate the value of the lecture. Does learning require “students participate, interrupt, ask questions, disagree, [and] talk back” – best done somewhere other than the lecture theatre – or do lectures provide “50 minutes of pithy introduction from someone who has sorted the wheat from the chaff on the students’ behalf,” putting students “in a position to sit in class and have an informed discussion”?


Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a championTED

A 40 year veteran teacher talks about building connections with students and keeping it all in perspective (and changing it when need be!) in this inspiring TED talk. Although it’s about school kids, these aspects of learning are the same at all levels.


Autonomy needed for Vietnam to have world-class universitiesTuoi Tre

A retired French astrophysicist who taught in Vietnam for more than ten years has said that autonomy is prerequisite for Vietnam universities if they are to become world-class. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government has been running a national project to upgrade its higher education system, including building partnerships with foreign governments such as Russia, Germany, France, the US and Japan. In the case of the Russian project to establish a technology university here, curriculum, books and lecturers will come from Russia.


Some Papers Are Uploaded to Bangalore to Be GradedThe Chronicle of Higher Education

Some US universities are outsourcing grading and feedback on student papers. The graders, mainly from India, Malaysia and Singapore and all holding master’s degrees, provide a level of feedback that simply wouldn’t be possible if the universities relied only on the lecturer and teaching assistants. Some, though, say that outsourced grading and feedback necessarily ignores the context of the essays:

“An outside grader has no insight into how classroom discussion may have played into what a student wrote in their paper,” says Marilyn Valentino, chair of the board of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and a veteran professor of English at Lorain County Community College. “Are they able to say, ‘Oh, I understand where that came from’ or ‘I understand why they thought that, because Mary said that in class’?”


We love hearing your thoughts on these articles, so feel free to comment below!

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One response to “The LSU Top 5 #30”

  1. Stephen McGrath says :

    The very word “lecture” is a problem. It assumes that only one person in the room has anything of value to offer, or is allowed to present a point of view. I find that the best way for me to learn is to discuss concepts in depth. Students, contrary to some opinions, are not blank slates. As a teacher, I thrive off student input, sometimes finding a new way to look at an old concept.

    Therefore, while University lectures remain as one-way information flows, they remain far less educative than they should be. I don’t think they’re doomed, as the very concept of University is rather old-fashioned, yet much of the world still expects you to have received a University education. So, it’s likely that they will continue to be far less effective than they should be until progress catches up with Universities, and they begin to structure classes into dynamic, collaborative, open forums.

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