Let’s (not) close all the libraries

A threatened library in Lincolnshire
A threatened library in Lincolnshire (Photo by Richard Croft)

Lincolnshire County Council has recently announced plans to cut its library service to the bare minimum required by law. This means that some 29 libraries will close, out of a total of 44. Now, I’ll be honest, and say that I don’t make a great deal of use of the branch library in my village, (although I do use Lincoln Central Library quite frequently). The reason I don’t use my village branch library is that it doesn’t have the resources I tend to use, and anyway it (mostly) only opens during the hours that I’m at work. I only mention this because the reason that is given for this wholesale closure is that the number of books being borrowed is falling. Indeed the council’s own consultation document argues that only one fifth of the county’s population is borrowing books from the library.

That is not a figure I dispute. What I do dispute are two things. First that the number of books borrowed is in any way an accurate measure of library use, and second that a service that is regularly used by one fifth of the population is in any way underused. First, let’s deal with what libraries actually do. Personally, even though I do use Lincoln Central Library quite regularly, I can not remember the last time I borrowed a book. I regularly call in to read publications such as the Spectator, the New Statesman the Times literary and education supplements, and a variety of special and local interest magazines. I would argue that this is a profoundly valuable service, (after all, politicians are always bleating that no-one is interested in politics, so you would think they would want to encourage people to read these things). I presume I am not the only person to use the library service in this way. I certainly see others leafing through these periodicals quite regularly (Usually when I want to read them, but never mind that for now). My point is that I, and presumably my fellow journal readers would not buy all these publications if the service were to disappear. Even if it were financially viable, I would not wish to fill my house with what would eventually become waste paper.

Of course, I don’t only go to the library to read free periodicals. I occasionally consult reference works (It may come as a shock to younger readers that not everything is on the Internet, and further that not everything on the Internet has been subjected to the quality control that a publisher would apply.), and sometimes, I pick up the leaflets about local services that are displayed in various racks, or left on the tables. I would argue that all this makes me a better informed citizen, aware of what is going on in my city and county. Yes, I use the Central Library, which is not under threat, but I am reasonably mobile, and I am not fool enough to imagine that circumstances might one day arise in my personal life that would severely restrict my mobility, and this why a network of branch libraries is so vital so that people out in the villages can tap into its services. Finally, if I may indulge in a personal reminiscence, and a brief virtual trip across the Pennines I am still grateful to Oldham’s excellent library service for the contribution it made to the development of my imagination and curiosity in my formative years. (It’s still excellent, in my view, and the new (ish) Central library and art gallery building is the first thing I’d direct a visitor to the town to see. Actually, it’s probably the only thing, but that’s another story.). I do not believe for one minute that any technological environment can replicate a child, even a pre-reader running from one book to another, and turning the pages to see what happens next. You just don’t see the same delight on their faces when they press the buttons on a Kindle. You certainly can’t measure it.

Which brings me to my second point. This claim that only one fifth of the population of Lincolnshire uses the library service. Even if we equate book borrowing with library use, which I think we can conclude is absurd, that is still pretty impressive. I suspect any other media in Lincolnshire would kill for that level of penetration. I read somewhere that Radio Lincolnshire is listened to by about 5% of the population, and I don’t know what the Lincolnshire Echo’s sales figures are, but the fact that it has gone from a daily to a weekly paper in the last year, suggests that it may not be enjoying the most robust of circulations. Further, the numbers argument can be applied anywhere. I personally am no longer related to any children of school age. I don’t know how many people are. Probably a minority of the population of Lincolnshire.. Shall we cut the schools then? Or perhaps school transport? As I go to work each morning I regularly see a fleet of buses shuttling through my village each ferrying what appears to be a single child to school. (Yes, I know they’re probably just starting their journeys and I’m exaggerating for effect, though not by much.)

To get back to the point though, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the council that the reason people might not be using libraries (in the way that they can measure – as I demonstrate above, their benefits are not so easily measured as their costs), is that they’re not open at times when people might want to use them.

Actually, I’m sure it has occurred to them. I thought I’d finish with a second hand account from a colleague who was able to attend the Council’s executive committee when it met to discuss the closure plans. I quote

“It confirmed all my prejudices. If you can imagine a room full of puce-faced Tories, gleefully cutting everything for the sake of it, without any thought for the social consequences, then you pretty much have it. It was all ‘How soon can we cut this, or that? Isn’t this great?’”

Now I wasn’t there, and that’s a second hand account, and an admittedly partial one. But a careful reading of the consultation document really does lend credence to the idea that that is how it might well have been written.

The practice of writing

Writing is a habit I have let myself neglect since completing my doctorate, and that is a very bad thing. One of the things I am always telling my students is no matter how short of ideas you are, sitting down and writing is a brilliant way of organising your thinking. My own preference is (well, all right, was) to try and force myself to sit down and write for an hour (0utside my normal work activities) at least 5 days a week.  I also believe that you should always keep at least one day a week free of any work, and I think it’s a good idea to keep one evening a week free too. I suppose that makes me a sabbatarian. Good Heavens! That had never crossed my mind before which just goes to show that writing can help you think about yourself  in new ways.

A policy of writing regularly though, does raise some questions. One, of course is what should you write about. For anyone working in an academic department, that shouldn’t present too many problems. There are lots of research questions, and given the “publish or perish” atmosphere of many universities most academics spend their evenings beavering away on some worthy treatise or other anyway.

Blogging, as with my post about attendance monitoring yesterday serves a dual function, of disciplining your thoughts and, of publicising what you’re doing, which might help you network with colleagues working in similar areas.  Another question is that of where you should write. I don’t mean physical location here, but rather should you blog, write word documents, use a tool like Evernote, or just scrawl in an old exercise book. I suppose  you could even spend your writing hour contributing something to Wikipedia. All options have merit, but I do think there’s something to be said for publicly sharing your writing. If nothing else, there’s a potential for a kind of putative peer review, although I think you have to accept that most of your blog posts will never be read. (Come on now, how often do you read your old posts?). That said, it is quite nice to be able to have all your ramblings accessible in one place, so when you do come across an idea or a concept that you remember having talked about before you can at least see what you thought about it last year. And if you really don’t want to write in public there’s always the option of a private post.

The final point I want to make here – and this is really a post to myself, is that writing is hard work. It’s physically demanding, and that shouldn’t be underestimated. I can feel my eyelids beginning to stick together, even as I write and there’s a much more subtle demand it places on the body – that of underactivity. Once the flow does start it’s tempting to sit and bang on for hours. That’s not a good thing, either for ones health, or for one’s readers. So I’ll shut up now.




Notes on Freire, Pedagogy of the oppressed chapter 1

For a reading group at our forthcoming study school we’ve asked the students to write a half page summary of chapter 1 of Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. But as I don’t believe in asking students to do things and not doing them myself, here’s my go. (And if you happen to be a Lincoln doctoral student, please don’t read this before the group meets. It contains spoilers!)


A great many people are oppressed, not necessarily through political repression (although that is too often the case), but through the economic and political situation in which they find themselves. In many cases the oppressors would be shocked to realise that they are playing the role that they are in fact playing. The problem is that even where they do realise it, they cannot liberate the oppressed, because they themselves are oppressed by their own situation, which also defines their understanding of the world. To put it another way, freedom from oppression is defined by what the oppressors have achieved, so that revolution is seen simply a matter of the oppressor and the oppressed simply exchanging roles, which is no true liberation. Freire’s argument is that freedom can only be achieved through action based on critical reflection by both the oppressed and oppressors on the objective situation in which they find themselves, so that they understand the nature of oppression. Rather than aspiring to the material status of the oppressor classes, the true objective of revolutionary pedagogy is to respect and value the knowledge of all. Only when the oppressed realise that their knowledge, (which arises from their experience and not from the didacticism of the oppressor), has value equal to, if not greater than that of their oppressors, can any sort of revolutionary transformation begin.


The Politics of Blackboard.

We’re developing a bit of a tradition of “thinking aloud” here at Lincoln,meaning ruminating on an issue in a public forum, to kick start debates on research ideas, and this post is part of that. It shouldn’t be taken as a definitive proposal, just something that I’m thinking about.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a fascinating book on the Politics of Technology, (Harbers, (ed.), 2005) which contains a number of contributions arguing that non human technological artefacts have more agency than they are often given the credit for. Several of the contributors describe the political contradictions inherent in certain medical screening technologies. By “political” I mean dispositions of power – who really makes choices about how they act. One of the examples given is of a pregnancy screening test which alerts women to the likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome. One the one hand,  that could be interpreted as giving pregnant women more freedom. They have the choice of terminating the pregnancy, or continuing with it, and preparing to care for a child that is likely to suffer from a severe disability. On the other hand there is an argument that the screening service itself makes it more likely that women will choose to terminate their pregnancies because by using words such as malformations and disorders in their research, the designers will have played a part in normalising “a society in which the chance of having a disabled child is no longer perceived as natural” (p234) That raises the question of the extent to which the technology (the test) has any agency of itself – surely it is the designers of the technology who give it agency.


There’s a little more to it than that of course – the test has to become routinely, or at least widely available, for such normalisation to occur. The fascinating question is how far is that agency co-opted by the different groups of users. In fact this particular chapter goes on to discuss how parliamentarians and medical professionals in the Netherlands took a very different view of how the test was to be used, but you’ll have to read the book for that discussion.


So what any of this has to do with Blackboard, or any learning technology. Well, it crossed my mind that a virtual learning environment shares some of the social characteristics of a medical technology. Effectively we’re designing something to facilitate something that other practitioners will use, and in the way we’re implementing it making implicit decisions about how it will be used. We decided for example to have a set of six default buttons on our Blackboard sites,

The default Blackboard site menu used at Lincoln
Default Blackboard Site menu

, thus normalising the idea that a learning experience requires “Announcements”,  “staff details”, “about”, “learning materials”, a “discussion group” and  “assessments”.  The really interesting question is why did we think this was appropriate? It certainly doesn’t match our “student as producer ” strategy as all of these (except the discussion board) have a rather didactic cast to them.


These are default settings, and instructors can amend them there was clearly a political dimension to the decision to set them in the way we did. It was based on what we understood as the way teaching went on in the university. But, if student as producer is to take off, then the future defaults might look like the illustration on the right.  (click both illustrations to open them in full)

A possible alternative default menu
A possible alternative default menu

Student as producer doesn’t remove the teacher from the process, rather renders learning a process of co-production (another theme running through the Harbers book). So we’d probably still want to provide a facility for making announcements (but we might want to allow students to do it too), we’d want to provide staff details, (and student details) and at a pinch a course handbook. We’d probably want to keep assessments too. But Learning Materials and the discussion board, might be replaced by a Wiki, and why shouldn’t there be buttons for public blogs and private reflective journals.


Also of course, this ignores a very important question. Why use a VLE at all. Blackboard, and other corporate providers are not without their critics. They’re expensive, can be restrictive (although I suppose that could, in theory, be mitigated by sensitive implementation). On the other hand, there are wide variations in the ability of university lecturers to cope with technology. (Among students too – I don’t really buy the “digital natives” idea). For all Blackboard’s faults, it does sort of “hold the hand” of those who are less confident with the technology.   There’s clearly a potential for some research here. How many of our own staff have gone beyond the default settings?  What do other institution’s default settings look like? How many of their staff have pushed those boundaries. How many would want to? I’ve been talking about Blackboard, but of course we, and many other institutions have staff who choose to use other systems, or none at all. Clearly this is too much for a single blog post, so I’ll no doubt be returning to this topic in future posts


HARBERS, H., 2005. Inside the politics of technology agency and normativity in the co-production of technology and society. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Capital. An alternative?

Just finished Mark Fisher’s entertaining polemic “Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?”  There were certainly some useful ideas in there. The notion of the non-existent “Big Other” to justify the use of surveillance and control technologies, which include processes like auditing as well as more obvious physical technologies such as CCTV and keystroke logging was particularly interesting.  Big Other was and is as prevalent in autocratic societies like Stalin’s Russia, as it is in the ostensibly democratic societies of today. Of course Stalin, (or News Corporation) isn’t watching everything we do. It’s just that we readily believe that they are.  Perhaps the really radical position to adopt is that none of it matters very much.

Now, following a technique used by Fisher himself, I’m going to make a popular culture reference. So, in fairness to anyone who has not yet seen the last episode of the BBC series Ashes to Ashes I’m going to warn of what I believe is known as a Massive Spoiler Alert. If you don’t want me to spoil the plot for you stop reading now.

OK? Right. Well, if you did see it, you’ll have picked up on the eschatological bent in the story line. (You couldn’t really have missed it.) What I think was very telling was that the Hell that the characters nearly ended up in was a police station. That is in their terms, a  place of work. And a place of work is a place where you have to portray yourself as something other than you actually are. In contrast the Heaven was a pub, where there is no real surveillance (other than the internal surveillance provided by the landlord), and there is a license to be yourself. (Admittedly the consumption of alchohol helps!). I don’t know if that’s what the writers had in mind, but the phrase “In your face, Protestant work ethic” did rather spring to mind.

Which brings me back to Fisher. I did rather like his suggestion that industrial action might usefully take the form of refusing to co-operate with those forms of labour that promote surveillance. (e.g teachers could refuse to co-operate with Ofsted inspections.) It would be interesting to see how the media reacted to this approach. Such action wouldn’t hurt the community that the service is provided for, and it would be very hard for employers to reduce wage bills (He claims at one point that colleges welcomed one day strikes, because they cause minimal disruption and significantly reduced costs.)  But there’s that Big Other again, and it makes me wonder whether the answer to Fisher’s question is actually “No”.  If no-one is actually listening, (at least for very long, ) does anything we do matter very much.  Perhaps if we all thought that… Actually, time for another cultural reference (and a bit more eschatology). In the 1960s  John Wyndham wrote a short story “Confidence Trick”  about a tube train crash.   After the accident the train continued underground with a few  passengers until it got to Hell. One of the characters looked about him, with growing disbelief and shouted that “I don’t believe any of this”. Whereupon the scene dissolved and they all found themselves  back on the street outside the Bank of England, under which the accident had evidently occurred.  Whereupon the same character looked at the bank,  drew in his breath, and began to shout “I don’t bel…” only to find himself pushed into the path of a speeding bus. In his subsequent explanation to the police the character who did the pushing said something like “Well, I couldn’t let him destroy civilisation. We have to have something to believe in”.

Maybe we don’t.

The neo-Luddite turn in the academy?

Following on from my last post, I’ve been reading a bit more about technologies, or rather trying to engage with some of the ideas that underpin them. Before we get started it’s important that I clarify that by “technologies” I’m not specifically referring to computers, e-learning, or stuff like that. I’m not excluding them either. I am using the word in the older sense of  the applying of scientific, or pseudo-scientific theories to practical problems.

The problem as I set out in the last post was that we tend to be overfond of using corporate technologies, and modelling ourselves on business techniques. This weekend I’ve been reading a book called the Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen. There’s a fascinating discussion of personal development (or self-help) literature in the book, that compares the modern pursuit of status, which can be defined through the acquisition of money, power, or both, with the mediaeval pursuit of God. Both are, Himanen argues, ultimately unattainable in that they miss the point, which is to explore and develop the passions that drive us as human beings. These days, I suppose,  we are invited to share in the values of Capital.  He further draws attention to the similarity of modern self help books to the monastic rules that were used to guide monks along the path to God. I’m not going to repeat the arguments in the book here. If you’re interested in this stuff you can read it yourself. What I am going to do though, is speculate on the implications of this line of argument for the modern university.

If we follow a rule too closely, we are essentially engaging with a performative technology. Put more simply, if we do this, that, the other, that, this and then the other again, and do it all in the right order then we will achieve our “goals”. One could reverse this and see technologies as essentially a modern version of a monastic rule. (The rule of St.  Bill of Gates, or St. Stephen of Covey!)

As an aside, I was recently browsing through the business section of a bookshop and noted a whole shelf devoted to a series of works inviting me to manage the “Richard Branson”, “Philip Green”, or “insert corporate worthy of your choice here” way. There were about a dozen such titles and I remember wondering at the time how much of the success of these people was down to chance. I’m not suggesting that they didn’t work hard for their success, or even that they haven’t applied the “technologies” rigorously. I’ll bet though that other people have applied them even more rigorously and are not the subject of such works. I doubt any of the books discussed that issue. (I haven’t read any of them. When I noticed the title of an adjacent volume “Are you a badger or a doormat?” I decided that this sector of the publishing world had taken leave of its senses and left the shop). Of course the only lesson to be drawn from this story is that such books are written for profit which is achieved by the promotion of adherence to “rules” by customers.  I suspect the author of the last named work cares more about their royalty cheque than about which domestic article or wild animal you personally identify with!

To get back to the point, Himanen’s take on this kind of thing is that these are effectively modern hagiographies, which any properly critical pedagogy should take with a large pinch of salt. As he points out, the Rule of St Benedict abjures the disciple to sit quietly and listen to the words of the master. Which brings me at last to the Luddites. (About time too!) I’ve been involved with educational technology long enough to have heard almost every colleague refer to themselves at some point as a Luddite. In my doctoral thesis I made a slightly flippant remark that people are being unfair to themselves when they do this, as there haven’t (to my knowledge) been many outbreaks of organised machine breaking in universities. (But, if you do know of one, please, please  let me know through the comments!). I stand by that, because I think academics who characterise themselves so, are doing themselves a huge disservice. Most of us in HE have comparatively high levels of IT literacy even if we think we don’t.

On reflection my comment was unfair to the original Luddites, who were actually protesting, not against machines as such, but against the creation of new rules (or technologies) that would totally change their way of life. It wasn’t that a machine could make better stockings. It couldn’t. All it could do was make acceptable stockings. We still think the label “hand-made” is an indicator of quality, (often in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.) And the factories imposed new rules which reduced the stocking maker to the status of a cog in the machine. Now consider this quotation about a particular form of academic development that I also used in my thesis.

We should not be telling our students things, we should be ‘managing their learning’ and enabling them to develop ‘transferable skills’;. This is a matter of technique and procedure; who the teacher is, what s/he knows and what s/he cares about are or should be unimportant (Cameron, 2003, quoted in McLean, 2006, 143-4)

I suspect Cameron would have been at one with the Luddites in a philosophical sense. She shows, quite rightly, the same concern for the replacement of a skilled craft with technological rule based approaches that achieve something, (managed learning, transferable skills) that might be valuable, but are nowhere near as valuable as a critical engagement with an academic discipline. The other point about such approaches is that they profoundly undermine the Humboldtian concepts of Lehrerfreiheit and Lernfreiheit.  Respectively they refer to “freedom to choose what to teach”, and “freedom to choose what to learn”). If you have to manage your transferable skills, by completing a personal development plan, which by the way, will be assessed where is your academic freedom? If you have to spend your time teaching students how to do this, where is your academic freedom?

Rhetorical self indulgence aside, does this kind of neo-Luddism  have anything positive to offer the academy? I think it does. Before I expand, I must reiterate that neo-Luddism is not anti technology, in the sense that it calls for a return to quill pens and parchments. ICT is an essential part of modern life, and a neo-Luddite agenda would exploit it to the full. Anyway, what does neo Luddism offer us? First it asks us to take a properly critical look at the “rules” and the technologies we use to pursue them. Second, it asks us to define what we would replace the rules with. I haven’t addressed that in this post, but like Himanen, I would argue for passion (for a discipline), activities that support the development of that passion, and for freely sharing of the outputs of those activities. Third, I think it asks us to look at how sustainable we can make our work, which I think we can only do through sharing our discoveries. These are perhaps matters for future posts, but I’d like to leave you with a final thought. Have you ever seen an organisation chart where the chief executive’s box is drawn at the bottom of a page? No?  The reason for that is that information like water, tends to flow downhill, and this is true of any organisation. Remember St. Benedict’s advice to the disciple? “Sit quietly and listen” Those who are able to restrict information can choose what they tell you.

Now, I ask you. Is that any way to run a university?

What counts as public these days?

One of the mailing lists I subscribe to burst into life this afternoon with many posters taking umbrage that an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement had apparently taken a discussion and (more or less) republished it as an article. The list in question was not really a private list, although it had certainly been created for and aimed at the academic community and some participants may have regarded it as private. Many of the contributors were complaining that their moral rights as authors had been impugned. I’m not really bothered about the rights and wrongs of this particular issue (at least not as bothered as some of the posters seemed to be) and I don’t want to get sidetracked, so I’m not giving details but I think the debate raises some interesting issues.

Firstly there is the matter of what we do on the Internet. I think it’s probably naive to expect journalists to ignore a public source in the search for an interesting story, and if you really don’t want your words re-used you shouldn’t post them on a public forum. (That said, I’d much rather journalists went out and found real stories rather than sat at their desk rehashing press releases and Internet debates. It would make newspapers much more interesting!)

Secondly this brings up the issue of open access/open source again. I don’t think there is likely to be much commercial value in a post on a discussion forum, or for that matter a blog post, so I’d argue for a default Creative Commons licence for all such forums. Currently the default position is that the person who creates something automatically holds the copyright in it, but the copyright owner can give it away, sell it, or more commonly license it to be used in certain conditions. So I hold the copyright in this blog, but I license it so that anyone can reuse it without cost, and with minimum formality. I do ask that if it is re-used, then my work is attributed to me, and that any amendments are released under the same share alike conditions. I think the same should apply to public, or semi public discussion fora, and that posters should be asked to opt out of a Creative Commons license. After all, the original issue probably got much wider coverage from the THES than it would have done had it stayed in the discussion group.

The nature of truth

A pretentious title if ever there was one! But, it is something I am going to have to address, if I am to write a convincing methodology chapter. Perhaps the question is “What characteristics of a proposition or phenomenon convince me that it is true”. But, then again, need I go into that? If I start with Cartesian doubt – (that I should be properly sceptical of everything except the fact that I exist – for, logically,  I must exist to think that  I am thinking) it doesn’t get me very far. Because, other than the cogito, I have no rational basis for believing that anything else is true. Empiricism would seem to be a better bet. Even if nothing is true, for all practical purposes, I can trust my senses. Hume’s remark about being free to leave by the window (from the third floor!) if I really didn’t believe in an objective reality seems to me a better guide to what course of action to take. Whether the world really exists or not, isn’t really relevant, because we all have to operate within it and we have a sufficiently shared perception of it to identify appropriate courses of action.

But there’s still a weakness. What I am interested in is other people’s interpretations of an empirical reality, because that provides a better guide to how they act than the actual reality itself. If you believe there is a mouse under the table you will act as though there is a mouse under the table, even if there is not. Human beings disagree about many things, especially in the social world. Which party has the better economic policy? What is beautiful?   I can certainly listen to their descriptions, although they may mislead me. (Especially if they are misleading themselves.)  Take the expresssion “That’s a good film, album, TV show, or whatever”. All I can conclude from that is that the speaker is saying is that they liked whatever it was, and perhaps that they would expect me to like it as well, were I to see or hear it. There’s nothing inherently “good” about it. It all depends on the extent to which I share their values, and empricism seems less helpful here.  So a good strategy for a future post will be to articulate my own values.

In the context of the research I can look at what others have done, how they organise their workspace, but here I can only use my interpretations of why they have done those things. In looking at the output of an EDU (let’s call it x) I can think “Why would I have done x?” and compare it with their answer to the question “Why did you do x“. But do these approaches help with predicting whether, and why another person (z) might do x in the future?  Maybe not, but they do help to arrive at an explanation, which informs why x was done in that spatial and temporal context.  Is that enough?

Even this little post is helpful because it is pointing me towards the case study as a research method. If I believe that my perception reality is heavily influenced by my values, then I am clearly going to have problems with a quantitative approach because I would be deciding what is worth measuring, which may not reflect objective reality. Also of course, I’d be attaching values to particular scores. (for example, a high percentage of whatever I measured, is better than a low percentage.)

The Importance of Community

I’ve just finished reading a very interesting article by McNaught and Vogel about e-learning and institutional culture. The full reference is below. Ostensibly I’m interested in wider developments in teaching and learning, and their focus was on e-learning, but I thought much of what they had to say was relevant to my interests. (Well, of course, e-learning is part of my conceptual framework, in that adopting it often requires some thought to be given to teaching practices in general)   In particular I was struck by their emphasis on creating a community. Teaching, especially in HE often seems to me to be a pretty lonely pursuit, but I think they are right to argue for the creation of a sense of shared values which can inform development work. Clearly there are different value positions held between disciplines as Becher and Trowler’s work on Academic Tribes has shown. But there are also overarching values that everyone subscribes to (well, nearly everyone!) The danger is perhaps that developers might assume their values to be shared – so perhaps that’s one thing I really ought to be asking about in my research. What are people’s values around teaching and learning. And what, if anything, are educational development units doing to find out about them. And what are they doing to reconcile them if they discover conflicts. ?

 I do think this is an interesting track to go down, but I wonder if I’m risking over-expanding the research topic. I’m going to have to think very carefully about that!

 The other thing I’ve been trying to do today is have a look at Nvivo which is installed on my machine at work. I’m supposed to be evaluating it, but I really haven’t had much time. I think I’m just going to have start staying behind in the evenings! Ho hum!

(MCNAUGHT, C. and VOGEL, D., 2006. The fit between e-learning policy and institutional culture. International Journal of Learning Technology, 2(4), pp. 370-385)