Notes

Simplicity: One Notebook Per Project

Some ideas are so simple, but delightful.

Thanks to Ben Terrett over at Noisy Decent Graphics, I’m going to try out the ridiculously basic and wonderful One Notebook Per Project idea that he’s been successfully trialling since the start of this year.

I’ve used separate project folders, kept idea notebooks, and written study journals, but I’ve not tried a single notebook for each project I’m working on.

Given my liking for elaborate notebooks and gorgeous Moleskines, I can’t understand why I didn’t think to do this before.

I’m off to get some more notebooks!

Fresher Thoughts

Sorting through some old papers the other day, I came across a whole load of stuff I couldn’t even remember writing.

One piece of A4 paper had 17 thoughts/ideas written down from my Fresher year.  I’m guessing they’re my own thoughts.  I haven’t credited another source, but I don’t know why I wrote this and what it was for.

Nevertheless, I felt it would be fun to put this up on TheUniversityBlog, since these were clearly important to me at the time as a new student.  Some of it reads a bit strangely now, although I’m sure it seemed amazing at the time. 🙂

If you recognise these points from somewhere else, please let me know.  For now, I’ll take it that these thoughts came from my mind!

So here you are. Here’s my 17-point masterpiece, unedited, for all to see. What do you think?

17 Fresher Thoughts

  1. Return to a piece of writing/art that you have previously experienced and note the differences and additional feelings that you notice in this return journey.
  2. Fact and fiction collide and make no sense of each other.  That is the perfect fusion.
  3. There’s a lot to be said about Feng Shui.  If all components are in place, the focus can run for longer.  With enough stamina, it may be possible to fly.
  4. Embrace change.  People who don’t change eventually start to smell.
  5. There is no ‘perfect’ moment. Pool your skills together, work as hard as possible, and hope for enough luck to fuse it all together.
  6. Simply thinking it isn’t enough.  Think it and respond!
  7. Influence and inspiration are more powerful than you’ll ever imagine.  Find yours and you will find yourself.
  8. The smallest of things could be the start of something big.  The biggest of things could be the gateway to a billion small things.  Start collecting!
  9. Five senses, infinite possibility.
  10. If you can’t find the time to do it, you’re not busy enough.
  11. Opinion alone is boring.  Explore, learn, and understand.
  12. Feel your best and you will do your best.
  13. There is no point in being too stubborn.  It will just bring out your negativity.
  14. Working alone has its benefits.  Teamwork has its benefits.  Make both your priority and start making a difference.
  15. Find your natural speed.  Feel the adrenalin pumping and see how your natural speed is your own unique optimum speed.  Any faster is slower.  So start cruising!
  16. Don’t automatically ridicule what you do not appreciate, relate to, or understand.  Open yourself up to it instead.
  17. All this opening up can be productive, but remember to keep your guard up.  A guard is better than a block or a total breakdown in communication.  Remember, you are guarding, not stopping.

I haven’t a clue who these were aimed at.  Myself?  Another person?  Nobody in particular?

Whatever the case, I was happy to find the piece of A4 paper with these 17 thoughts on.  A positive find.

Better feedback & more use of technology: Notes from a speech

So I mentioned a talk by Aaron Porter in my previous post.  However, I haven’t mentioned much about the talk itself.

The ALT-C website introduces the talk as:

A student perspective on institutions use of technology to enhance teaching & learning in the 21st century. Student expectations and perceptions as to the use of the technology in higher education is rapidly changing. This session will seek to assess the current picture, and identify the extent to which UK is meeting the expectations of our student body. I will draw out some examples of good practice, and also identify some areas of weakness and development. I will also examine research conducted by NUS which looks into how technology can play a role in the provision of teaching, pastoral support, assessment and feedback, provision of IAG and the facilitation of peer-to-peer learning.

I thought it would be worth posting something about the ALT-C presentation.  So here are the notes I made from it:

  • Only a small number of students truly see themselves as active participants in Higher Education.  This was also touched upon by the keynote speaker, Michael Wesch, of Kansas State University.  Wesch explained that students need to understand that they are  co-creating, not just consuming.
  • Quote: “Universities need to think a great deal more creatively about thinking of the induction and ways in which we can upskill students that perhaps arrive without the [required] skills.”
  • While some sources suggest that lack of face to face contact between students and tutors is a big problem, NUS research found that 85% of students found the contact excellent or good.  75% said the quantity of that feedback was excellent too.
  • Porter called for “a more personalised experience” for feedback.  He asked why he hadn’t yet seen a resource where students can track feedback.  For instance, once coursework is handed in, it should be possible to know what’s going on and even interact as the coursework moves through the system.
  • NUS research – How many students feel they can give feedback on a module? 92% said they were given opportunity, but only 25% felt their feedback was acted upon.  How can  a proper response be given, so that students are aware their feedback is listened to  and responded to?  Porter made a few suggestions: Online module evaluation forms; e-mails referring to results; follow-up communication.
  • Technology should be used more as a real solution to make students feel like a part of a community.
  • When students arrive as Freshers, universities should be genuinely challenging to students. Ask questions of them…why are they here, what do they want before they leave, for after they leave, etc.
  • Porter asked why UG students aren’t putting forward contributions to staff & PG work on a regular basis.  This type of engagement and interaction could help on many levels.

The talks at ALT-C have been great.  If you’re interested in watching, you can do so here.

Stop thinking and start listing!

A simple thought today.  Lists are easy to consume, quick to compile in a rough form, easy on the eye, and a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

Notepad (photo by abeall)

Perhaps I should have said that lists are:

  • easy to consume;
  • quick to compile in a rough form;
  • easy on the eye;
  • a good way of getting your brain out of first gear.

If you need to brainstorm, but can’t quite muster the storm part (or the brain part), try compiling a list of rough ideas/thoughts first of all.

I’m not talking about a wonderfully thought out to-do list.  This isn’t time to worry about what’s important either.  You needn’t number the list or think about an order of importance.

A simple list is just a way to get your mind wandering in a productive fashion.  Doesn’t matter what the focus, just list!  Don’t even think of it as work.  Just see where it takes you.

There is a well-known tip for conquering procrastination.  Take just 10 minutes of your time to start working on that project that you haven’t begun yet.  10 minutes is no time at all, so it’s pretty easy to commit to those 10 minutes.  Since starting is usually the hardest part of getting to work, you’ll have crossed that bridge and are likely to keep going for an extra 10 minutes.  And another 10 minutes.  And so on.

Combine the procrastination trick and list-writing with the aim to spur you on to greater thoughts.  It’s surprising how many ideas are suddenly unlocked from your mind just by drawing up a quick list when you’re working against the clock.

In the summer months away from campus, you’re probably thinking about what you want to do over this time.  Spend 10 minutes listing what you’d like to achieve and it’s a quick way to form a basic plan.  In no time, you have a major starting-point to work from.

Quick, give it a go!  It’ll give you an idea how this type of exercise could also help with your academic work.

Tomorrow, I will look at why an initial listing like this can work so well at engaging our deep thoughts and bringing out the best in us.