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October 14, 2005

Problem of depth in EEE

Writing about Am I supposed to be shallow? from Vladislav's blog

The practices and principles of excellence course has ended today and I have had a little time to reflect on my solution to Vlad's problem of the trade-off between depth and breadth of knowledge. I completely agree with his statement that each topic could be a PhD thesis in itself. So, where should we stop?

I find myself applying some of Demings thinking to my own study this week. There are 168 hours in a week with far fewer available for study. By being enabler focused rather than worrying about not achieving the reults we can be better achieve improvement in our learning skills to improve the depth of learning that we can achieve at the time. Clearly, it is important to be guided by the learning objectives and outcomes for the module.

It is important to reiterate my point that efficiency of time is just as important than quantity of time available for study. It is easy to work for hours and hours and get nowhere.

I imagine that this way of thinking will be unsatisfactory for some i.e. 'you do what you can in the time available'. Indeed, skimming the surface of many topics increases your knowledge of what you don't know, perhaps leaving you less satisfied than when you started. I believe I have moved from feeling very unsatisfied (and quite insecure with my depth of knowledge on a topic) to understanding what I don't know. I intend to continue my learning on these topics way after my degree has ended and so I don't feel so worried about how much knowledge I can gain in a year. I will learn it next year. And I know where to start and how to ask the right questions.

I think that EFQM excellence is not only applicable to businesses but to many other situations. I have been thinking about the EFQM Model in the context of a MSc student at Warwick university. I have my own set of results that I want to achieve at the end of the year, not to mention learning objectives for the course!

This year, I want to discover what my limits are which is something that I was unable to do in my ug degree (due to unforseen medical circumstances). I think that knowing what you as an individual are capable of is very important and it is only by working at the limits of our abilities that we can hope to improve. This course is guiding me to work at the boundries of my abilities already and there are areas in which I am already beginning to improve.

With all of this in mind I have adapted the EFQM for myself at Warwick this year. Expanded ideas to follow.

October 12, 2005

How to absorb the learning of others?

When working in a team under time pressure it is inappropriate to expect that all team members complete all the tasks. Indeed, the whole idea of teams is that tasks can be delegated to members to reduce the burden of work throughout the team.

I find that I learn best when preparing a complete answer. My challenge to myself is to find ways to improve my ability to learn from the learning of others. Is it possible to gain as much about a subject from the learning of another team member than from personal research into a subject?

At the moment, all of the understanding that I gain from others is through dialogue. Perhaps with a space to share files etc, I might be able to understand more by looking at their work. We are using mind maps and I can't access them as mind maps at the moment but this is a technical issue that can be easily solved.

The absence of much discussion within a team situation only serves to limit the learning of others as knowledge is not shared effectively. Perhaps a system in which each team member in turn shares the knowledge that they have gained when completing set tasks at the beginning of a meeting, is appropriate?

I think that I focus on 'sharing the knowledge that I have gained' rather than 'telling others what I have done'. I believe that there is a big difference.

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