Showing posts with the label rituals

MOOCs, power relations & the tacit knowledge of academic socialization

Professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University are refusing to teach a philosophy course developed by edX, saying they do not want to enable what they see as a push to "replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities."
(Why Professors at San Jose State Won't Use a Harvard Professor's MOOC)The more I engage with the MOOC debate (e.g.), the more I am wondering whether the focus on lecturing, teaching and the virtual or physical classroom experience ignores important and powerful debates in higher education. These are debates that those institutions that are at the forefront of the MOOC trend tend to conveniently ignore.

My reflection will focus on the argument that academic socialization, learning the tacit knowledge that comes with a university education and the powerful ‘soft skills’ happen to a large extent outsi…

Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Are Joi Ito’s ‘Tools for the Coming Chaos’ relevant for development?

I recently came across an interview in Wired magazine from mid-2012 with MIT Media Lab ‘guru’ Joi Ito onResiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos.
He concluded the interview with his ‘9 or so’ principles to ‘survive in this chaotic, unpredictable system where planning is almost impossible’ (which sounds a lot like some of the current day complex or ‘wicked’ development scenarios that are discussed):
Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.You want to focus on the system instead of objects.You want to have good compasses not maps.You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not t…

Is silence still golden? The curious case of Jim Kim's World Bank leadership

Have you heard from the World Bank recently?
Or, more precisely, have you read much about the Bank recently? I haven’t.
Well, that’s not entirely true: I read about the 'Big Idea 2013: Learning Fast From Failure' by President Jim Kim.
But given the amount of debate during the nomination process (Selection versus Election: A Wasted Opportunity at the World Bank?), Kim’s first months in office have really turned out well for the Bank – from an organizational communications standpoint.
Any question about the legitimacy of the nomination process, accountability of the Bank or other criticisms all but died down when the KoreanChinese-American medical doctor/anthropologist took over the leadership of the Bank in July 2012.

So what can ‘we’ (development researchers, anthropologists, political scientists, blogger) learn from this ‘golden silence’ that has since engulfed the Bank and took it out of the critical headlines?

No matter how ‘big’ and ‘powerful’ an organization is, we still t…

Are journals hindering creative academic writing & engagement with research?

tl;dr (for those who find blog posts on academic publishing too long)
The focus onopen access publishing’ and ‘better academic writing’ may be overrated when it comes to fostering creative writing, public engagement with research or finding cures to eradicate poverty because the commodity of academic journal articles has limited value outside a relatively narrow circle of academic insiders.
In addition to advocating for more open access publishing we should think outside the box of a particular written genre to ensure that the goals we envision to achieve are truly met in today’s digital world.
And sometimes not publishing another article at all can be the part of the solution, too...

For quite some time now, there has been a debate in the academic sphere about the future of academic journal article publications that more or less focuses on questions around access, namely on publishing these articles under various ‘open access’ options. Aaron Swartz was maybe the most prominent activi…

If Kittywood Studios produces all the cat videos then who is writing all these blogs?!

There's a nice new spoof video of Kittywood Studios, the entertainment empire that is responsible for all the cat videos on YouTube. As the Huffington Post writes:
Meet Kittywood Studios, a hilarious (and fictional) company devoted entirely to creating cat videos. They meticulously plan cat clips down to the "prrr charts" and claim to be the creative geniuses behind "cat who likes to watch the toilet flush" and even the "kitten attacking the watermelon". If cat videos are manufactured by Kittywood Studios the obvious question is then who produces all the content for development-related blogs, which probably make up another 30-40% of Internet traffic ;))?! I have a few suspicions, because quite frankly, it's hard to believe that all this 'groundbreaking' research and 'eye-opening stories' from the field are really happening...
1. The IMF
To distract from its tarnished image and play a practical joke on the colleagues from the World…

Development evaluators, make blogging part of your workstyle!

Comedy writer Ken Levine should be running development projects

I firmly believe that the development industry needs its own sitcom, but this is not the only reason why I enjoy Ken Levine's blog so much. Today's post 'Advice for first-time showrunners' is a real gem, because it captures so many important features that should be 'best practice' in the development industry at every level of its operations. Whether writing a grant poposal, managing a team at HQ or dealing with the challenges in-country - Ken's advice is almost always applicable. I do not want to copy-past his whole post, but three points seem particularly important for the aid world:
7. Hire at least one experienced writer. Otherwise, on top of everything else you're doing, you're re-inventing the wheel.This goes out to the DIYers, voluntourists and many, many other new/exciting initiatives that are engaged in development: Engage with experienced professionals-not all of them are nearly burned-out cynics (well, maybe that is another parallel between…

What The Oprah Magazine can teach us about development