TEC – 2013 Tertiary Education Performance Report

The Tertiary Education Commission’s 2013 Tertiary Education Report is now available on their website, along with a set of interesting info graphic summaries of

As well as overall information and analysis of the NZ tertiary education sector (according to TEC’s criteria) it also highlights details for major players such as universities, polytechnics and wānanga. The information in the PTE section is of particular interest to me in my role.

Some highlights from 2014

Trying out the MarsEdit blogging tool to put together a few highlights from 2014. Works okay, on the whole, but doesn’t have the ability to easily embed YouTube videos or do Amazon lookups etc. 

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Most enjoyable books of 2014

Didn’t really have have a lot of time to read much this year but the following stuck out as memorable reads:

 
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Most enjoyable films of 2014

A shout out here to Guardians of the Galaxy, but the film I enjoyed most this year (and I watched an awful lot of them on long-haul flights) was Next Goal Wins, the film about the American Samoa football (soccer) team and their quest to qualify for the World Cup.

Most enjoyable TV series

A toss-up here so I’ll have to call it a tie. On the one hand the new Constantine series has some potential to evolve into something interesting if it’s allowed to, while on the other hand I really enjoyed the cancelled series “Almost Human“.

 Most enjoyable trip/event

 The time I spent in Cape Town with the cohorts and advisors from George Fox’s Leadership and Global Perspectives Doctor of Ministry (DMin) programme was a highlight. Looking forward to the next meeting up. 

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[Written with MarsEdit] 

Starting project – blogging software

One of my tasks for getting the blog back up and going is to look at how software for the Mac, Windows and iOS has progressed over the past few years. I like using a client to write blog posts, rather than sitting in the WordPress editor in the web browser. It allows me to write offline, to organise content and to have tools on the device I’m writing on available to do things.

In the past I’ve depended upon Ecto (version 3) on the Mac (and version 2 on Windows). I’ve been using that since Kung-Log (pre-2004) evolved into Ecto and then changed owners since then. Ecto is still available (I think) over at http://illuminex.com/ecto/ and I’ve never had any problems with it with progressive OSX upgrades. That said, it’s starting to feel ‘clunky’ and is hard to get some of the media resources with it. One thing it does have is an Amazon ‘search and insert’ function that I use – especially for book art. For example, I’ve just finished the book below yesterday (not a bad read, and I’ll come back to it later).


“Rivers of London” (Ben Aaronovitch)

But once you’ve put an image etc. into a post it’s hard to reedit it without shifting into HTML mode (which is good to have, but the WYSWYG mode is feeling dated now).

So, if all else fails I’ll keep using it, but it’d be nice to see if the Lenovo Yoga I’ve just got might be a better blogging device than the trusty MacBook (or my iPhone at a pinch). [The Kindle Fire is not really in the running as it keeps getting ‘borrowed’ by people and the iPad is a version 1 iPad running iOS 5 only].

[Written with Ecto]

Online academia

A couple of interesting posts on online academia. The first looks at how PhD students might use online resources and networks to promote and resource their own research, while the second looks at developments in online theological education.

Mental health and academia

Mental health amongst academics doesn’t really get talked about to much. Constant change within the tertiary sector, continual creeping (and often accelerating) bureaucracy, and an ever increasing audit culture can and do reduce space for collegiality, fulfilling a sense of vocation and developing a kind of work life balance (e.g. spending your annual leave doing the research your job requires but doesn’t allow time for in your regular work schedule). In this environment, mental health issues are hard to manage and even seen as a kind of normality sometimes. These recent articles on the issue from The Guardian pick up on this.

EasyBib Bibliography Creator – Google Docs add-on

With more students using web-based/cloud-based software to write their work up in, this looks like a useful addition for Google Docs – See EasyBib Bibliography Creator – Google Docs add-on.

PaperPile does something similar but it isn’t free, RefWorks (if you have access to that) can sort of fake doing it too.

Senior Lecturer in Mission Studies – Laidlaw College

Laidlaw College is advertising for a full-time permanent Senior Lecturer in Mission Studies.

More details at: Senior Lecturer in Mission Studies.

Please pass the link on to anyone you think might be interested.

Mobile devices & Learning Management Systems – Random Thoughts

Over the past year or so I’ve been using an older model iPad in my tertiary education environment to access various information and learning management systems and have, on the whole, been disappointed. The iPad works well for consuming media (provided it comes from a ‘kosher’ source), for reading email (but less so for responding to it), for looking information up online and carrying the various documents I need at meetings. It does not work as well for content creation – I have various office suites and an external keyboard and wouldn’t replace my laptop with it – and often doesn’t ‘play nice’ with web systems that have been developed ‘in-house’. And in some cases, e.g. accessing course materials or web-based email systems, it can be a real pain.

In my next job I’ll be working much more with the Moodle LMS (which I haven’t used much since 2006-7 when I was installing and configuring it for distance courses), and I’m wondering with the plethora of mobile devices out there what is the best way to use them with Moodle and the other institutional IT systems. In the last year I’ve tended to start with the app for things like Moodle, Facebook and Endnote and then shifted to the web versions when the apps have begun to struggle or frustrate what I want to do. So this year, I’ll be tracking sites like the ones below and looking for examples of LMS to mobile device connections that work well, what works best for academic staff and what works best for students. (And hopefully getting to try out Android, Windows 8 RT/Phone and iPad/iPhone systems with what we do to see how it all works.) Stay tuned.