Archive for March, 2010

Online Education

March 31, 2010

An advocate for further use of online education here. Some good points, but there is concern over simply throwing stuff online; to do it properly involves careful design and intentions which are not always present. I do think it is clearly useful for data intensive materials (creating alternatives to long data dumps) and some iterative things (e.g., training on using a particular computer program). But as I’ve increasingly tried to move my classes away from those things…

In any event, a good read.

Multicultural churches

March 30, 2010

Back after a brief hiatus due to other obligations. An interesting discussion of multicultural churches. Something I advocate on theological grounds.

On Diversity Training

March 20, 2010

An interesting study. If correct  (it’s a study, and we know they aren’t always right), I’m not entirely surprised. I’ve been through a few rounds of this and a lot of it was rather generic and often poorly thought through. Live on the North side of Minneapolis or in PG county, and you experience diversity whether trained for it or not. There still may be some value in some training, but at least there are empirical reasons to question the assumption that it is automatically valuable.

One anecdote. In a training session discussing the three powers of diversity (diversity to the third power – it’s exponential!), one participant (a minority participant of course, because normally only they feel free to ask a hard question) asked for an explanation of how that worked. The presenter stuttered and stumbled around for a minute or two and never gave a real answer. It was a slogan that sounded cool, not a real content statement. I’m sure the presenter was well-intentioned and I know the institution I was at was committed to diversity and all that, but the question exposed for me the shallowness of much of what goes on under the name of diversity training.

There is value (even theologically) in being culturally sensitive and aware, so I would hate for us to pretend differences don’t exist. But perhaps a different path is needed.

On the priority of doctrines

March 17, 2010

Here’s a pretty good discussion of the levels of doctrines and several ways to describe this. The first and second are not that different than the one I use (dogma, doctrine and opinion [picked it up while at Bethel, I think – it may be in Grenz & Olson’s  little book on theological method] – I’m not quite sure what the fourth category encompasses in the first system – because unless no one has an opinion, I’m not sure how the category exists as a separate one!).

I think Wittmer’s approach (3 categories – that we must believe, that we can’t not believe, and what we should believe)  is also interesting and makes a good point. Many new converts don’t have a full detailed knowledge of some important theological truths, but we should expect them (at least generally) to respond positively when they hear them. The one exception might be converts too quickly swallowed up by a cult, for example, before they know better. How long might it take them to disentangle? I’m not really sure, but the “can’t deny” category might be used in bludgeon like fashion if not handled carefully. Wittmer’s point also may have special relevance to those without excuse, pastors (for example) who may have come out of non-trinitarian denominations and yet have never unequivocally embraced trinitarian teaching. Yes, I have one particular well-known figure in mind – and I think Wittmer’s schema helps clarify my concern.

On laptops in class

March 14, 2010

Earlier this week, the Washington Post had an article on schools or professors  increasingly banning laptops from class. It’s part of a long-term discussion about which I’m somewhat ambivalent.

For an alternative view, here’s a good discussion of how laptops might be used in class.

On online teaching

March 13, 2010

Some interesting suggestions for online teaching. While every person will weigh some of the specifics differently, there are some good issues to think about.

Thinking about the social world and media

March 12, 2010

Here’s an intriguing little talk by Larry Lessig on copyright, which is a big deal for him. He opposes things like DCMA and long copyright periods. On the other hand, he is on the political left.

One of his main observations is the role that media has as a social reality and the problems with over regulation in restricting the development of that cultural ecology. Most interestingly for me is his discussion not just of the social nature of humans in general, but how he goes to the church for some lessons on how those on the right have a better understanding of sharing and the limits of the market than do most on the left (at least with reference to media).

Also, a good model for how to do a presentation with flair. That makes me jealous.

On priorities – and politics

March 10, 2010

An interesting interaction with Bryan Magee’s discussion of philosophy. The main point is that certain things are worth investing time in (e.g., art) as they grow in depth and value over time, while politics tends to be trifling and unimportant. An excerpt (from Magee):

Time spent listening to great music, or seeing great plays, or thinking about issues of lasting importance, was not in this category. In those cases the object of one’s activities retained its interest and importance for the rest of one’s life. If I spent an evening listening to Mahler’s Third Symphony, that symphony was still going to matter to me in six months’ time, or ten years, or thirty: it was part of my life, for always. In fact such things more often than not increased in interest and value with the passage of time. If I spent two or three months saturating myself in, let us say, recordings of Mozart’s piano concertos, and then did not return to them like that for another four years or so, I would find when I came back to them that I engaged with them on a deeper level than before. And the same was true of most great art. . . .

Is the College “bubble” getting worse?

March 9, 2010

Here’s a rather depressing take on the state of higher education from Tim Kavenaugh at Reason. Obviously, Reason has an ideological agenda, but a number of data points exist that support at least some of the conclusions. And if he’s right, there is a bumpy future ahead…

Faculty use of facebook – some warning

March 9, 2010

I wouldn’t follow this example. Just saying.