It's TEF day. A day that few people have really been looking forward to, mainly because there are unlikely to be many winner - but there sure as hell will be a lot of losers.
When the whole TEF idea was announced, there were many aspects of it that I wholeheartedly supported. The idea that Universities should be at least as concerned about their teaching quality as their research output was something that I cheered along with merrily. Very quickly though, the whole plan became infected with compromises designed to over-simply a complex process by relying on just the data that already exists - rather than data actually designed to measure the very thing you are interested in.
So. In just the same way that Ofsted can downgrade a school where pupils have a less than 100% attendance (thereby penalising schools that accept sick children), the TEF measures teaching excellence on the basis of:
Dropout rates (penalising Universities committed to widening participation, where students a…
The release of the Longitudinal Earnings Outcomes (LEO) always tends to cause groans and head-scratching among some academics. The picture presented is a familiar one: Graduates who go for degrees in Business or Economics are more likely to earn bucket-loads, while those who go for Sociology will be - quite assuredly - not. Those who teach courses on the lower-paid half of the scale suddenly begin to fear their courses will be closed down as a consequence.
The problem is that when data like this is reported, it encourages us to think that salaries are more important to students than things like job security or job satisfaction - and this idea, I fear, is misleading.
It was interesting, but not entirely surprising to read Phil Hill's blog on e-Literate suggesting a dramatic slow-down in the take-up of Moodle in HE Institutions. Not surprising because there seems to be a myth about Moodle that has always flickered in dark corners and is fanned into flame by for-profit LMS providers at the nearest opportunity.
This myth is that Moodle looks rubbish.
Other LMS providers set up a course content page filled with as many html5 gadgets as they can imagine, and compare it to the most basic topic-format Moodle page. "There we are!" they declare, "Look how rubbish Moodle looks compared to our system! And in the modern world where students are using tablets and mobile phones more and more, isn't it important that your University LMS looks smart and contemporary?"
And so Universities look at these other LMS systems and think: 'Ooo, it has this, or it has that! Our Moodle doesn't have them!' Which in turn prompts a…