Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
That is an important step forward. In library statistics, my own field of interest, most of the work on standards goes on behind closed doors, in ISO committees. This makes it hard
- for other specialists to participate in the technical discussions statistical standards need
- for librarians in general to learn from the scholarly debate
IFLA’s interest will make these processes more transparent.
The committee made a call for papers for the IFLA conference in Singapore. Five papers were selected, including my own proposal. I look forward to present it. Its full title is:
Improving practices. Statistical standards in global libraries
Standards are recommendations. Library standards are recommended ways of working in libraries. Standards often differ from practices, or the ways libraries actually work. This is not a problem in itself. The purpose of standards is not to describe, but to improve practices. But standards have no value in themselves. Standards are only interesting if they change the way librarians actually do their work.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I thought it was original, well-written and exciting. Law spent a year observing the activities in a large UK laboratory in the late eighties. His approached the organization like an anthropologist – and combined observations, personal experiences and theoretical questioning in an attractive way.
Picture: Daresbury laboratory
Last week I read it once again. The book is still engaging. But now I am more conscious of its weaknesses.
Twenty years ago deconstruction was a big thing. John Law had learnt from Foucault, Baudrillard and Derrida. He questions himself as well as his informants. He is much more accessible than the French nouveaux philosophers, though. British common-sense shines through.
I accept that all orders are social constructs. I am all for the sober analysis of dogmas, myths and ideologies. Deconstruction is a useful tool. But the moment we generalize the tool, we lose more than we gain. Systematic deconstruction is a dead-end. It can be done once or twice, to shake things up. Provoking the established order is always fun. But deconstruction is necessarily parasitic. It feeds on existing social orders. There must be something to take apart.
More importantly: deconstruction is a purely verbal game. It separates theory from practice. In the midst of furious discussions, life goes on. Experiments continue. Salaries are paid. People go home for dinner. Even Derrida gets hungry.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
- Elite – this is the most privileged group in the UK. They are set apart from the other six classes, especially because of their wealth, and they have the highest levels of all three capitals.
- Established middle class – this is the second wealthiest class group and it scores highly on all three capitals. It is the largest and highly gregarious class group and scores second highest for cultural capital.
- Technical middle class – this is a small, distinctive new class group that is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. It is distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy.
- New affluent workers – this young class group is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital.
- Traditional working class – this class scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have a reasonably high house values, which is explained by this group having the oldest average age (66 years).
- Emergent service workers – this new, young, urban group is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital.
- Precariat (The precarious proletariat) – this is the poorest, most deprived class and scores low for social and cultural capital.
Bourdieu must be smiling from his cloud.
Friday, April 12, 2013
African libraries need statistics to plan their work and to promote their standing.
Picture: group work at the 2012 LATINA training course, at Makerere University Library.
This year The International Association of Academic and Technical Libraries meets in Cape Town. The convener, Elisha Chiware, is the Director of Cape Peninsula University of Technology Libraries. After the main IATUL conference (April 14-18) there will be a workshop on library statistics to
- encourage the collection of statistics for benchmarking,
- improve the collection of statistics in African libraries,
- develop a basis for regional cooperation and activity
- and to create an awareness of the various options available
Elisha was also the regional expert from Africa when IFLA developed guidelines for the Statistics for Advocacy training course, at a workshop in the Hague in late 2009.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
The picture, from León De Greiff-Biblioteca Marsella, was published on the library’s Facebook page. This library is one of 26 libraries exploring the use of ICT with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is coordinated by the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Quoted from The New York Times
Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation. …
- Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all. …
- The drop in applications is widely viewed as directly linked to perceptions of the declining job market.
Many of the reasons that law jobs are disappearing are similar to those for disruptions in other knowledge-based professions, namely the growth of the Internet.
- Research is faster and easier, requiring fewer lawyers, and is being outsourced to less expensive locales, including West Virginia and overseas.
- In addition, legal forms are now available online and require training well below a lawyer’s to fill them out
- In recent years there has also been publicity about the debt load and declining job prospects for law graduates, especially of schools that do not generally provide employees to elite firms in major cities.
Even lawyers (of the middling kind) are prone to disintermediation. MOOCs will probably have a similar impact on lecturers.
The jobs that survive are jobs that cannot (for the time being) be routinized:
- those at the very top – which demand exceptional skills
- those that require complex personal and practical skills
Candidates to (1) are recruited by competition. Candidates to (2) are recruited through long processes of formal and on-the-job training.
Friday, January 18, 2013
How can students best judge educational quality?
- graduate unemployment at an all-time high
- 8 percent fall in student applications
- unrestricted ABB+ recruitment plan: The plans are likely to benefit top universities, with around three in four universities likely to have an overall drop in numbers
- Research Excellence Framework: A growing obsession with funding scale
- viewing their university experience differently
- questioning their money’s worth
Source: Higher Education Network
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Hattie is basically asking: which teaching methods work? Which conditions are conducive to learning?
In his book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning (2011) he compares eight hundred metastudies on teaching methods and their impact. These overviews summarize more than fifty thousand individual studies.
I have not read the book. Yet …. But I found a useful summary of the summary on Twitter.
This suggests that the most important inputs teachers can provide are:
- Pervasive feedback (1.13)
- High instructional quality (1.00)
- Direct instruction (0.82)
The terms are explained below. The numbers indicate the potential size of the effect. The value 1.0 corresponds to a major impact on grades: an improvement of two grade levels (e.g. from C to A).
Hattie has made clear that ‘feedback’ includes telling students what they have done well (positive reinforcement), and what they need to do to improve (corrective work, targets etc), but it also includes clarifying goals.
- This means that giving students assessment criteria for example would be included in ‘feedback’.
- This may seem odd, but high quality feedback is always given against explicit criteria, and so these would be included in ‘feedback’ experiments.
Friday, December 7, 2012
In 1845 Benjamin Disraeli published the novel “Two nations”.
The title does not refer to England and France, or to England and Germany, but to England and England. The rapid industrialization of Great Britain created an urban working class of poor and uprooted people which started to develop its own social and political identity – separate and unequal; them and us – but sharing the same territory.
Gladstone (left) and Disraeli (right) were the leading British politicians in the second half of the 19th century. Both spent several periods as prime minister, for the Conservative and the Liberal party, respectively.
Today thirteen million Jews and Arabs (as well as some smaller ethnic groups) are sharing less than thirty thousand sq. kms of land in the Middle East. The numbers below are from gWolframAlpha (though details may be disputed):
- Israel: 20,770 sq.kms.
- West Bank: 5,860
- Gaza: 360