Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The web, the web, my kingdom for the web

In the world of business there have been many notable casualties on our High Streets - casualties of recession, downturn or a change in the environment that they did not see coming (or saw it and preferred to do nothing).

Such brands and household names include:

Woolworths (general merchandise)
Borders (books)
Choices UK (video hire)
Virgin Megastores UK (recorded music, video and games)
Littlewoods (Clothing / department store)
Office World (Office supplies)
Focus (DIY)
BHS (Clothing and homewares).... the list goes on.

One thing that each of these, now defunct companies, had in common was a poor or even absent on-line offer.  The rapid growth in the technology that opened up the High Street and empowered consumers was responsible for many retailers "catching up" or just "giving up".

Now, what other large consumer facing industry is there where major players with household names and long histories of educational excellence that has served the nation well for many years but where some major players are seriously behind the curve with technology?

Answers on a Student loan application form please......

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

HE ideas: Medieval Time Travel

Tomorrowland, Dr. Who and Back to the Future are all examples of Science Fiction that borrow ideas from H.G.Wells' The Time Machine - one of the first novels of its kind.

Each story, in its own way, faces the dilemma of potentially changing the future by acting on information gained through time travel in the present or the past.

Without a DeLorean, Tardis or handy Wormhole, however, few of us can know, with certainty, what the future will bring.  The further into the future we step, the more uncertain things become.

And yet educators prepare young people for future careers that neither they nor their students can possibly know will exist.  Employers have been heard to say that they have to get their new recruits to "unlearn" what they absorbed at University, technical subject knowledge becomes out of date, although basic concepts do remain longer until they are challenged.

So what learning pervades?

Our ancestors, the ancient Greeks, Romans and Medieval Universities across Europe had it - Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric.  The combination of expressing thought, thinking and then using the product to persuade, teach, and motivate others.

In order to prepare our students for the future, our Time Machine should visit the past, understand how the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) can be moulded to today's educational demands and then prepare programmes of study that contextualise these virtues in Art, Engineering, Management etc.

Oh, you're already doing that?  Bravo!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sabbatical blog: Sharing good practice in Sydney

A Business School Dean (who will remain nameless) once described UK Business Schools as a "cottage industry" - each University building its own solution to common problems in its institutional shed.
In Australia, a problem shared is a problem halved (or even decimated).  Let me explain:

The annual ANZQAN meeting of accreditation directors and managers from the Universities in Australia and New Zealand, held in November at the University of Sydney, was a case in point.  Business Schools face the same hurdles and uncertainties as they prepare for accreditation or re-accreditation by AACSB or EFMD, in particular.  Each accreditation body has its own priorities and rules to follow and "rival" Business Schools can learn from the experiences of others - and they do.

What an excellent example of co-operation and sharing - benefitting not only each individual institution but also the accrediting bodies as administrative and senior appraiser time is spent on key issues rather than on peripheral details.

Cooperation with competitors -everyone wins.  Now, just where could that principle be used in the UK?

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

HE explained: Acronyms

Higher Education abounds with Organisations, Institutions, Faculties, Programmes of Study and even courses that are known to their audience via an acronym.
  • DfE - Department for Education
  • UCL - University College London
  • BBS - Birmingham Business School
  • AFM - Accounting and Financial Management
  • HRM - Human Resource Management

A good, memorable acronym, in any field of endeavour, needs to have the following qualities:

  1. Brevity
  2. At least ONE Vowel (some of the above do not qualify)
  3. Pronounceability as a word  (not simply saying the letters)
  4. Unable to shock your granny (Bradford University Maths Society was always a favourite)
Happily, my acronym for acronyms is BAPU.

Hang on....that's the acronym of the British Association of  Paediatric Urologists.

Or am I taking the Programme In Social Science?