Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A hard choice

I always have my browser up, and the first tab on the left is gmail (the second and third are google calendar and reader). I also have google notifier in my status bar, so that I can instantly see when somebody has sent me an email. And I check frequently if there is any.

Not any more. After reading an interesting blog post about time management, I have decided to change my ways. No more google email notifier (though I keep the calendar notifier up), no more open tab with gmail. No more instant replies.

It seems to me that this is a major drain on time (and interrupter of longer lasting tasks), and I will now aim to read my email (and respond to it) three times a day: morning, when I come into the office, lunch-time, when I have a break, and afternoon, before I'm ready to go. This means I won't be able to have on-going 'conversations' by email, and people will have to wait for replies longer, but I also hope it means I get more productive things done during the day.

As an email addict I don't know how long I will be able to keep this up, but I'm starting today!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Differences in Perception?

The thing that most amazes me about receiving student feedback is the difference in perception regarding certain aspects. I cannot say what the reason for that is, apart from perhaps different expectations of explicitness.

In my Frameworks of English Discourse Analysis module I keep telling the students that there are four sections to the module (each lasting 5 weeks), and what the topics are that we are dealing with. Compared to how the module was run a few years back it has a much better thought-out structure to it, and I think this actually works quite well. Part of that was also to bring the topics of the lectures in line with the seminars.

However, in my most recent round of feedback, these are exactly the issues the students comment on: not being clear about the structure of the module, and the lectures not being related to the seminar topics. I myself feel I'm over-doing it, by telling the students at regular intervals where we are and what they have to expect, but it seem that this is still not enough.

Perhaps it is the absence of anything tangible: I have not given the students a handout with the module outline and the lecture schedule. So talking about the structure is probably not as effective as giving the students something in writing. I will have to do that in future!