End of year one

My first year’s “photo-a-day” project ended, as it started, on a rainy day in August. In between, there were many highlights such as Shane Williams’ testimonial with the Ospreys, the Great Dorset Steam fair, Queen Nefertiti, Parties, Christmas in Berlin, a holiday in Yorkshire and the U2 concert in Cardiff.

There are also lots of self portraits, pictures of the cat and images of furniture and furnishings that fill in when no other inspiration beckoned. There are also lots of pictures of the turning seasons as viewed from the path from my house, across Singleton park to the University and back.
Will I continue for another year? Who knows … I have a day to decide!
In the mean time, here are the first and last pictures and here’s a [link to the slide show](http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpjobling/sets/72157606849407938/show/). Play something rousing in the MP3 player and enjoy!

A-Level Results Day

It’s the day when students who took A-levels in May find out what grades they got and whether they have gotten in to their first choice university.  Every year, the number of students getting the top grade (A) goes up and every year the media reports this and speculates on whether or not standards are falling – because children can’t be more intelligent than their parents can they – after all their brains have been rotted by electronic games and social media!

This year there have been a couple of interesting circumstances that will make A-level results day even more stressful for students, parents and University admissions tutors. Firstly, it turns out that the government’s plan to have 50% of 18-year olds in higher education costs too much. A couple of years ago, student fees paid in advance by parents where replaced by a student fees loan repaid by the student after graduation. This means that a very large amount of funds now has to come into the University sector from the tax payer 5 years in advance of the point at which the loans start being repaid.

Secondly, also due to the economy, the number of applications, especially from mature students seeking new “skills”, went up this year.

In the current economic climate, this large, up-front investment is just too much money for the unplanned increase in projected student numbers. To control the projected amount, early in the year, the Education minister announced a strict cap on student numbers. Recognizing that this could result in a politically damaging “lost generation” of qualified students who couldn’t go to University, the struggling labour government announced 10,000 new places (in supposed key subjects) earlier in the summer. But because these places would by unfunded, many Vice Chancellors, quite naturally, turned them down.

So this year, there’ll be record number of students qualified to go to university, and record numbers turned away. Interesting times indeed.

For more background, here is a flavour of the reporting on the days events:

In all the online sources, you will also find links to the background of this story.

The good news is that Swansea University is open for clearing and there is plenty of advice for students needing to find a course or wishing to “trade up”. And of course there is advice for the 60% or so of students who already have their place confirmed.

For the social media junkies out there, The Guardian has a live blog reporting the ups and downs of the day.

To my colleagues in all the admissions teams in Swansea and elsewhere … Good luck!

I don’t want to be a lecturer anymore

I’ve just read Don Tapscott’s critique of the modern university (The Demise of the University, The Edge) and I’ve decided that I don’t want to be that lecturer who mainly broadcasts his lectures anymore. I know I’ve dabbled with all kinds of technology assisted media over the years: I’ve played with wikis, blogs, podcasts and Blackboard … but always as a source of information that is sent to students. There’s been little or no information exchange, it’s been largely a one-way, rarely a two-way conversation.

The primary delivery mode is still the 50 minute lecture with PowerPoint with the audience sitting, mutely watching, and often falling asleep. My technique may be “post Gutenburg” perhaps, but its hardly earth shattering. I need to facilitate learning by encouraging discussion: there has to be some actual conversation in my courses. I need to facilitate my Students’ learning and stop lecturing.

Shamed by Tapscott, It’s time that I also recognise that it’s time for a change. But how to proceed?