Saturday, 10 November 2018

Examine yourself

I have recently been writing assessments for students on productivity-related courses.  This is one of the more difficult exercises in academic life - and, of course, exceedingly important ...both for the quality of the qualification involved  -  and  for the future life of the students.

One of the advantages is that it makes you think carefully about what you are testing - and therefore about the content and makeup of the course.  Assessment is in some ways a summary of the course - setting out its main purposes.  The big distinction between different types of course is whether, on successful completion, students should know stuff - or be able to do stuff.  This reflects massively in the forms of assessment you can use. Testing 'doing' is much harder than testing 'knowing'.

I am much more interested in the 'doing' - after all I want people to be able to improve productivity, not know about improving productivity in theory.  I think the assessments we use are getting better at testing the 'doing' but our situation, and our testing, is complicated because we are creating online courses - with online assessments.

I will improve - I review student performance on assessments and try to work out where the flaws in the assessment itself have contributed to poor performance.

What I am trying to do, of course, is to improve my productivity - not in producing more assessments in the same timescale (though that would be nice) but by improving the quality of the assessments - and thus the value offered to customers(students).

Productivity pops up everywhere, doesn't it!  If I can't improve my own productivity, how can I expect to teach others how to do it?

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Different Concerns

Those of you who read last week's post will know I was in the USA on vacation.  I am now back in the UK and can reflect on the political differences.

The USA was preparing for the mid-term elections and there was continual political advertising on the TV - most of which was completely negative, attacking opponents rather than offering positive suggestions and solutions to America's ills.

The UK seems much more policy based - and far less confrontational (though it does have its moments).  But there is far too much discussion and pontification about Brexit (Britain's exit from the European Union).

Neither set of politicians seems focused to any degree on productivity - yet that is the only issue that is likely to increase the wealth and well-being of their citizens.  The only concern of most politicians seems to be their own re-election ... policy and principles come much further down the list of priorities.

How do we convince them to take productivity seriously? Do we need to turn it into a contentious issue they can debate and even argue about - and be confrontational with their 'enemies'? 

The problem is if we take that approach, while we do that, their real (economic) enemies are improving their productivity and winning the economic war.  We need focus now!