Friday, November 12, 2010



Do you teach with whimsy? or is your teaching always serious and to the point.  I’ve been doing a little research on teaching and humor, and I find it seems to be more common in subject areas where the content may be challenging or disturbing.  Its major use seems to be to relieve tension or to discus difficult subjects.  In this sense it seems more commonly used when training doctors or nurses, although this may be an artifact of the existence of therapeutic humor.
There are some very serious people considering humor, for instance, here “Educated Insolence”, or closer to home this paper on IHPT. As I’m sure you are aware IHPT is instructional humor processing theory.  This paper seems to indicate that telling bad off topic jokes does not aid student learning, but telling on topic good jokes can help. My thinking would be that humor can break down the barrier between the teacher and the class, and particularly with adult learners, overcome their feelings of insecurity  about being back in a learning situation. I also feel it can make your examples more memorable, and humorous examples can push your learning more towards a narrative form which can aid memory, but can also distract students from the true point of the exercise.
All thoughts on a postcard please...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eharmony (tm) for professional relationships.

At this point a survey of online users in 16 countries has indicated that 30% had used online services to initiate dating activity. This is in some sense a tipping point in the social sphere where we have tools such as Facebook which are used to support weak tie relationships.
As of yet there does not seem to be a professional equivalent that I’m aware of. Is this just me or is there a genuine gap?  As I see it at this point we are still, professionally, going to events on the internet where we think people like us will hang out in the hope of meeting some one interesting. (Note I’m still within the social activity analogy here) Do we need a professional version of e-Harmony? If so what should our profile’s look like? Should they be like our C.V, which primarily shows off our accomplishments, or should they be more inspirational and forward looking, like the dating agency profile that cheerfully lists some-one who has just given up smoking as a non-smoker, because that is the person they aspire to be.

So two questions here
1)      Do we need a “dating agency” for academic and learning interactions?
2)      What information should be in the profile?