Worth a glance #12

by reestheskin on 29/03/2015

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The University of Everywhere. Audrey Watters takes a scalpel blade to The End of College. I am not entirely convinced by the ‘more research’ mantra. Much professional education research is RCT: randomised, confounded and trivial. Improving education is about design, with large search spaces, where judgement, integrity and a genuine attempt to makes things better counts for nearly all.

The Economist has a feature on Universities (as in, outsource, disrupt, maximise shareholder value, and create more state welfare for corporations to enclose the commons….). Must have been bad news week, as they have little new to say. It is not penned by Pearson (their owner), but parts of it read as though it were. Nor do they a good job of scraping below the surface as to why university fees have gone up so much, nor why teaching is undervalued. As usual, part of the subtext is that taxpayers need to subsidise the corporate sector ever more, because firms cannot be bothered to pay the cost of finding nor training their employees. I am not being too generous: there are many truths here. And plenty of blame to go around.

The tragedy of the Germanwings flight. People often compare doctors and airline pilots, and safety in medicine with safety in the aviation industry (usually unfavourably with regard to medicine). There are some interesting posts herehere and here. No simple message, except that the systems you place professionals in may have big effects. And these systems themselves are increasingly designed by people with little first-hand knowledge of the tasks involved. It is why some NHS hospital chief executives (and medical directors, too) often avoid walking around hospitals.

I am not being very generous today, it seems.