The Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics at Trent University

Looking for my research? You probably need the Weebly website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blended learning: Doing what we do better

I'm intrigued to read Queen's U descriptions of Blended Learning initiatives. I'm cautiously optimistic that I can emulate these efforts.  After all, I already do what they're describing, supplementing my interactive and interpersonal courses with online components.  It's just that I've always done so in a more makeshift way than a dedicated blended-learning design would have me do.  I have tended, in the past, to pat myself on the back every time I improve my use of WebCT/My Learning System even just a bit.
But of course, it sounds like some improvements are better than others.  I can find many arguments that  e-learning exercises demonstrably improve student understanding, but online search results are always peppered with cautionary columns debating the possibility that e-learning is failing in higher education. I will continue to learn as I go, but it certainly sounds like the problems with most blended learning strategies is that they are not -- surprise! -- very strategic, and rely on slapping one's lecture notes online as a nod to 'interactivity.'

I'm keen to try.  Not that I'm innocent of slapping up my lecture notes in a hasty fashion, but I can do more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Philosophy Colloquium Guest Speaker - David Rondel

Thursday, November 24, 2011 - David Rondel, Ryerson University
6:00 to 8:00 pm - Champlain College Council Chambers (CCN M2)

Topic: "Rawls and Cohen on the Subject of Distributive Justice"

Abstract: G. A. Cohen’s defense of the feminist slogan, “The personal is political”, his argument against Rawls’s restriction of principles of justice to the basic structure of society, depends for its intelligibility on the ability to distinguish — with reasonable but perhaps not perfect precision — between those situations in which what Nancy Rosenblum has called “the logic of congruence” is validly invoked and those in which it is not. More importantly, I will be suggesting that the philosophical shape of Cohen’s critique makes it difficult for him to supply the required criterion, and that the methodological “intuitionism” he claims to be committed to is at odds with his larger argument against Rawls concerning the subject of justice.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Remembrance Day on November 11th

Faculty were sent the following today:
Dear Instructors,

Observation of Remembrance Day on November 11th

The Office of the Dean of Arts and Science, the Dean of the Trent-Fleming School of Nursing and the Dean of the School of Education and Professional Learning would like to encourage you and your students to honour all those who have served and continue to serve our country.

If your class is being held on November 11 at 11:00 a.m., would you please consider observing two minutes of silence during your class time to honour those who have served or continue to serve our country.

Thank you.

As it turns out, indeed my class starts at 11 am on the 11th, and I am a bit surprised to realize that I wish to observe the two minutes of silence.  What is the relationship of a newcomer to Remembrance Day? When did I become someone who saw myself as a meaningful member of a Canadian society that observes silence as a gesture of respect to past Canadian soldiers that died in battle?  I still recall last year, when I bluntly asked a guest at dinner why she and everyone else wore poppies on their lapels.  She looked surprised, and answered helpfully that it was a memorial day in Commonwealth countries to honor those service members who had died in the line of duty since WWI.  Distracted by my own embarrassment at the ignorance of my question, I felt no affective chord of responsive respect struck in me, although I immediately recognized the allusion to the poem, "In Flanders Fields," and noted the similarities between Remembrance Day and Memorial Day in the United States. 

This year the poppies have sprung back up on lapels, and I don't feel it is appropriate for me to wear one.  I do plan to observe silence in my class at 11 a.m., however.  Recognizing loss seems like something I have standing to do.  Bearing a brightly colored badge of my awareness, though, that seems misplaced.  It will be interesting to see if that changes next year.