Fifteen innovations in higher education

 Steven Mintz, executive director of the University of Texas system’s Institute for Transformational Learning, proposes the following innovations that will impact higher education:

  1. e-Advising
  2. Evidence-based pedagogy
  3. The decline of the lone-eagle teaching approach
  4. Optimized class time
  5. Easier educational transitions
  6. Fewer large lecture classes
  7. New frontiers for e-learning
  8. Personalized adaptive learning
  9. Increased competency-based and prior-learning credits
  10. Data-driven instruction
  11. Aggressive pursuit of new revenue
  12. Online and low-residency degrees at flagships
  13. More certificates and badges
  14. Free and open textbooks
  15. Public-private partnerships
Education, Libraries

Digital skills students need for the future

According to the Pew Report The impact of digital tools on student writing and how writing is taught in schools, teachers believe that judging the quality of information (91%), behaving responsibly online (85%), and understanding privacy issues pertaining to online and digital content (78%), are essential to students’ success later in life. It’s good to see that information literacy skills are ranked so highly by teachers, which is ironic, when you consider how school librarian positions are being eliminated in so many provinces in Canada.

digital skills graph


The health argument for veganism

In this Huffington Post article, Ed Coffin looks at the often-cited health benefits of following a plant-based diet.  Coffin makes an interesting argument that following a plant-based diet for health reasons, while laudable, does not make you a vegan.  Veganism “represents a larger ideology that defines a commitment to opposing the use and exploitation of animals. Vegans don’t eat animals, but they also don’t wear them, visit places that enslave them, or in any other way participate in the commodification of animals as much as humanly possible.”  Coffin’s article is particularly relevant, given the media attention that has been given of late to celebrities who gave up what they called veganism, for a variety of reasons.  As Coffin argues, “The fact is, they were never vegan in the first place. They were simply consuming a plant-based diet and their only commitment was to their own personal health, which is why it’s that much easier to give it up. When people are committed to living a lifestyle in accordance to principles that extend beyond oneself, it makes turning back much less likely.”  While I respect people’s reasons for adopting a plant-based diet, like Coffin I believe that true veganism is motivated and driven by ethical, rather than dietary, reasons.

Animal welfare

India bans cosmetics animal testing

According to Humane Society International, “The Bureau of Indian Standards has … approved the removal of any mention of animal tests from the country’s cosmetics standard. The use of modern non-animal alternative tests also becomes mandatory, replacing invasive tests on animals. This means that any manufacturer interested in testing new cosmetic ingredients or finished products must first seek approval from India’s Central Drug Standards Control Organisation. A manufacturer will be given approval to test only after complying with the BIS non-animal standards.”  This is wonderful news.  As I’ve said before, it’s time for Canada to step up.


The Ultimate Vegan Guide: Compassionate Living Without Sacrifice

For those interested in exploring veganism, I recommend the free online version of Erik Markus’ The ultimate vegan guide: Compassionate living without sacrifice. This book presents very useful information about veganism, without being too preachy. I am a fan of Markus’ blog, which provides intelligent insights into veganism. Markus is a well-respected and accomplished author on veganism, as well as an animal rights advocate.  Even if you’re not interested in exploring veganism, if you have vegan friends or family members, this book provides an important perspective into their choice of lifestyle.