Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching

This article is a little old now, but it does point out how the learning management systems we choose to use (or have thrust upon us by our institutions) shape how we actually teach, rather than being shaped by pedagogy that is appropriate to the topic and material being covered. And to which, I’d add the decisions about those pedagogical structures are often determined not by the teachers themselves, but rather by the institutional administrators in their quest for a uniform, efficient delivery of “content”. (And I’ve been guilty of enforcing that myself).

Course management systems (CMSs), used throughout colleges and universities for presenting online or technology–enhanced classes, are not pedagogically neutral shells for course content. They influence pedagogy by presenting default formats designed to guide the instructor toward creating a course in a certain way. This is particularly true of integrated systems (such as Blackboard/WebCT), but is also a factor in some of the newer, more constructivist systems (Moodle). Studies about CMSs tend to focus on their ease of use or how they are used by faculty: their application, for good or ill. Few discuss the ways in which they influence and guide pedagogy, and those that do only note their predisposition for supporting more instructivist methods.

See Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching | Lane | First Monday

Posted in Academic Admin, eLearning/Distance, Teaching/Education, Technology | Leave a comment

Spirituality and Cancer: Christian Encounters

I’m looking forward to the book launch next week of “Spirituality and Cancer: Christian Encounters”, edited by my friends and colleagues Caroline Blyth (University of Auckland) and Tim Meadowcroft (Laidlaw College). The book is a collection of papers delivered at a ‘Spirituality, Theology and Cancer’ Laidlaw/University of Auckland symposium held at the University of Auckland in February 2014.

Cancer disturbs most lives at some point. The contributors to this book all seek to find meaning within that experience, as carers, sufferers, medical professionals, pastors, theologians, and scientists. They offer no easy answers, but speak with an honesty that reveals the anguish and hope that arises from the presence of cancer in our world. The result is a rich reflection on the spiritual and theological meaning of cancer.

Book Contents

  • Caroline Blyth: Introduction

Part I: Personal Responses

  • Catriona Gorton: Public Faith and Private Pain: A Quest for Authenticity
  • Alistair McBride: Dancing with Cancer: A Different Metaphor
  • Brian Brandon: A Healer in Need of Healing

Part II: Practical and Public Responses

  • David Nuualiitia: The Practice of Presence in a Hospice Context
  • Hannah Walker: Soul Nursing in Palliative Care: Spiritual Care of the Dying
  • Caroline Blyth: A Pilgrim’s Progress: Learning to Journey with the Dying Patient
  • Briar Peat: The Physician, Cancer, and Spirituality
  • Stephen Garner: Jesus Heals? Faith Claims in the Public Square

Part III:Theological and Theoretical Responses

  • Jeffery Tallon: Physics, Free Will, and Cancer
  • Tim Meadowcroft: Eternity and Dust? Considering Humanity, Cancer, and God
  • T. Mark McConnell: The Disruptive Power of Christian Hope: Suffering, Cancer, and Theological Meaning
  • Sue Patterson: Fruitful Dominion or Hubris? Creation, Vocation, and Cancer
  • Nicola Hoggard Creegan: A Whole New Life: Hope in the Face of Evil
  • Bob Robinson: “Cancer is Not a Disease. It is a Phenomenon”: Finding God in a Cancer-Strewn World


  • Richard Egan: Spirituality and Cancer: “Not a Saccharine Additive”
  • Tim Meadowcroft: Finding Hope and Yearning for Love

For those in the Auckland area, this Spirituality and Cancer volume will have it’s official launch on 13 November. The invitation is below and consider yourselves all warmly welcomed. RSVP to Accent Publications (e-mail included below)


The book will be available at the event and later through the Accent Publications web site:

Posted in Bioethics/Biotech, Environment, Ethics, Faith & Religion | Leave a comment

Modern academic theology needs to rediscover God

Some interesting comments on being a theologian in either the academy or the church. Some similar reflections to a paper I presented a month or so back.

Why are they so insecure? Contemporary academic theology today operates between the Scylla of academic scorn and the Charybdis of ecclesial disdain. In seeking to avoid the shoals of one, much academic theology has driven itself into the whirlpool of the other, and as a result been destroyed by both.

Source: Modern academic theology needs to rediscover God | Catholic World Report – Global Church news and views

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In defence of the annoying mature age student

I was one of these students when I returned to study theology in my early 30s. Was probably both a joy and a pain to my lecturers 🙂

See: In defence of the annoying mature age student | Stephen Owen | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Transhuman Films

The blog’s been pretty quiet while I’ve been concentrating on other things. One of those other things is a research project looking at post- and transhumanism in popular culture, and particularly in film.

One of those projects has been the development of a couple of blogs to track that. The first of these is underway now and can be found at:

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.38.44

So far I’ve added two films in the last couple of days, but will be adding to that as write up films I’ve already watched, and get around to watching some more.

Posted in AI/Robotics, Bioethics/Biotech, Cyberspace, Cyborg, Ethics, Nanotech, Science & Technology, Transhumanism, Virtual Reality | Leave a comment

Laidlaw College – National Principal/CEO

Applications for the National Principal position at Laidlaw College close this Friday 31 July (NZST). Still time to get an application in if you’re interested.

Source: National Principal/CEO

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Science and Christianity in the U. S.

Some helpful links from James McGrath.

Source: Science and Christianity in the U. S.

Posted in Science, Technology & Religion | Comments Off on Science and Christianity in the U. S.


If you’re interested in seeing where Laidlaw College is going, and what’s available for study in Semester 2 2015 (and in 2016), then come along to this on Thursday evening. Past the RSVP point now, so just turn up if you’re interested.


Thursday 21 May (Henderson) | 7 pm

You are warmly invited to celebrate with us as we officially launch Laidlaw College’s School of Social Practice (an amalgamation of our Counselling and Education Schools), as well as the newly named School of Theology.

As many of you know, Laidlaw has undergone some significant changes over the course of the last six months, and we would like to take the time to inform you of these changes, including the challenges and the opportunities they bring with them. We truly value your support and your connection to the College and would welcome your presence, your insight and your questions.

This event will also be functioning as one of our Open Nights for potential students, and will include some great “taster talks” by some of our faculty – addressing topical issues in “Ted Talk” style. After the talks, there will be plenty of time for those who are interested, to talk to lecturers, find out about our programmes and have questions answered.


Date: Thursday 21 May 2015
Time: 7 pm
Place: Laidlaw College Henderson campus, 80 Central Park Drive, Henderson
RSVP: For catering purposes, please email by Monday 18 May

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The Omm of Scrivener

I use Scrivener to write with. I love most things about it, but there are a few things that I either don’t like or haven’t been able to figure out yet. This blog looks like it will be helpful for the latter.

Here’s an example about creating distraction free writing space: The Omm of Scrivener.

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Boardgame(s) – Phase 10 and Rummikub

I grew up playing versions of the card game Rummy, mainly a variant of Shanghai Rummy (with the buys, but no jokers) and Canadian Rummy (which may be a form of Continental Rummy). We still play lots of it as an extended family (on my side), and it led on to games like Canasta, Bolivia, Samba, and others which required you to ‘meld’ certain combinations of cards to play a round. Ironically, I have never played Gin Rummy, which seems to be more an American game than British one.

(I have just consulted my copy of “The New Complete Hoyle: The Authoritative Guide to the Official Rules of All Popular Games of Skill and Chance, Revised Edition” (Albert H. Morehead, Richard L. Frey, Geoffrey Mott-Smith) and can find no mention of Canadian Rummy, so it must be some kind of variation that my grandparents picked up on their travels somewhere).

Anywhere, where this is leading is to the two games for today, which are both based on a Rummy/Canasta (with a touch of Mahjong) style of playing with melds, required sequences and sets, and a number of ‘suits’ – albeit represented by colours.

Phase 10 is the first game off the shelf – which is a card game where you progress through a series of different levels or ‘phases’ that you have to complete in turn to get to the end of the game. There is nothing so frustrating as getting stuck on a phase for turn after turn as everyone else progresses forward. A good game, relatively easy to learn, but can be frustrating for younger players (and me), and can take much longer than you think leading to game fatigue by the end. If you can play a Rummy variant you can play this almost with no extra effort – once again the idea is to have the lowest score and the highest phase.

IMG_2772.jpg Phase_10.jpg

Rummikub is a board game which is effectively a card game in disguise. Yes, there are tiles instead of cards, but you have four ‘suits’ – red, gold, blue, and black – and you used the tile like cards to meld a certain number of points to start, you have ‘joker’ tiles, and you want to get the lowest point score at the end of the game. But, in terms of a tactile sense it is easier to manipulate by smaller hands, there’s a solidity to rearranging sets and sequences of tiles on the table, and has a stand for your pieces. And the turns are relatively quick, so less game fatigue than Phase 10, or even a Rummy card game. We played the other day and it was fun to come back to it after a year or two.

IMG_2970.jpg IMG_2965.JPG IMG_2968.JPG

All in all, both are good games, but for a real challenge learn to play Canasta which is a real challenge and pleasure to play.

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