All 7 entries tagged Max

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August 08, 2007

More Bologna

I now finished reading the official Bologna documents and their corresponding national reports for Germany. Now I start to appreciate to have acquired some knowledge of the historical debate which the most recent reforms are only a part of. Phase two is therefore also quite advanced, in the sense that I am planning to stop researching for it by tomorrow midday and start to summarise my impressions of the German implementation of the Bologna-Process.
The reports themselves were, like the communiqués, very similar in their nature; however, even though some sections appeared like mere repetitions of previous reports, I still think that they are essential for my research. What I found most surprising was that, especially the second national report, was that all higher education reform was mentioned as an integer part of the Bologna-Process. Despite the fact that the Bologna documents do not include topics such as tuition fees or competitive salaries for academics. For me this is good news, because it provides some evidence for Dan’s and my thesis that the Bologna process has, in some way, led to a commoditisation of the higher education sector.
Also, I found a very good website on the current debate on higher education reform in Germany. The weekly newspaper Die Zeit has set up a section in their Website, in which all articles they published on the topic are assembled. Contributers such as Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens have given their view on the debate in Germany; this is gold for me (or at least I hope it is), because especially Giddens seem to resemble what I identify to be the main current ideology on higher education. Since for him it is illusionary to still use it as a national social policy tool, instead social policy should work at different level and universities shoul be allowed to go their independent way; still serving the public good, but no longer as part of the state.
All this fits very well into first year Politics.


August 01, 2007

Annother Summay Day

Follow-up to I love MindManager and I hate my forgetfulness from The URSS Blog

Today, I could finish of my mind map, really appreciating the beauty of MindManager. I am still waiting to a reply from the IT-services to whether they are also able to supply the software to my personal computer, if so that would be brilliant. However, the MindMap does not completely help me to overcome my ordering problem, since I am not sue yet whether I should structure my summary of higher education reform chronologically or by political actors and their particular position.
The reason why I am not sure on this issue is that all major argument have been around for quite some time now, the predominance of one over the other is thereby mainly subjected to the relative positions of power of the particular group. Essentially, it is I believe that the pre-dominance of Neo-Liberalism is a major factor to explain why Germany has finally come around to some major reforms.
This is of course a very complex development, I might as well describe it as ‘the course of history’. In fact probably it will be much easier to organise it chronologically, since this offers the opportunity to stick to a relatively neat pattern of organisation.
The atmosphere is getting up with the weather, yesterday Dan and I used the first afternoon of sunshine to walk eastwards from Leamington, going through Offchurch, whose Pub was unfortunately closed, so we carried on to Cubbington.


July 30, 2007

I love MindManager and I hate my forgetfulness

Follow-up to There is always a way to escape the routine from The URSS Blog

It was a great day and a terrible one at once. Magnificent in the way that I discovered the software MindManager and terrible, because I lost most of the work which I have done today. Good things first, however, MindManager is exactly the tool which I was looking for all the time. I am now able to take notes in a far more efficient way, interlinking different thoughts, working organically. In this sense I am glad that I woke up today.
On the other hand, I was probably too excited and lost not only my USB stick, I forgot it in the Learning Grid, but also most of the work which I had done today. Whether I did not save properly or whether all the data is on this USB stick, I do not know; well, its gone. Luckily it is not assessed work due tomorrow so I learn to be a bit more careful with my work.
Also, Dan being back brought some major motivation, since it is so much nicer if you can communicate with someone about what you are doing. Moreover, joint breaks are far more relaxing than wondering about by yourself.
Here are some impressions of my day:


July 29, 2007

There is always a way to escape the routine

Follow-up to Skills and Research from The URSS Blog

If I will ever lose marks on my Bibliography in one of my essays, I will be seriously annoyed. Today, I finished to type up my notes and order them in form of an annotated Bibliography. It showed me how much I have actually read so far (yes I was a little bit happy with myself) and gave me good directions on what text I should consult in order to write my short summary on higher education reform .
Peter Wax’s Handbook on the Bologna Process in Germany, was for example a source which I had completely forgotten, but turned out to be a key text for the next days of my research.
Also, I want to experiment with this ‘mind mapping ‘ software which we have been introduced to on Friday to break up this general Bibliography into more specific parts. Maybe, I will also use for some general brain storming activities, such as the one for my report. I shall see how I will get on with it.
Dan is coming back tonight, I cannot express how much I am looking forward to stop working and living on my own. I guess researching is only nice if you have other, more sociable activities, such as teaching, to counterbalance the loneliness. At least this is a finding for myself: I need people to see during my research. Otherwise, has the sun given extra motivation. I found that going out for extended walks gives a good counterbalance to all this deskwork.
Yesterday, I discovered the ‘Grand Union Canal’, which connects London to Birmingham and is one of the beautiful remains of industrial Britain. I passed by some very quaint villages, most prominently Offchurch, if anyone has ever heard of it . And was much more relaxed when I came back.
Grand Union Canal


July 27, 2007

Skills and Research

Follow-up to Back to the basics from The URSS Blog

Today was a good day. It started with better weather and continued with a good Warwick Skills meeting. First, however, I continued with my organisation of current notes. I hand wrote all my comments up to this point, which makes it appear as if I am doing everything twice. Even though, it is also quite nice to have a sheet of handwriting with every article. Tough call! Anyway, I guess its just a job which has to be done now; I will decide later how I want to proceed. One possibility would be to print the notes out and file them with my articles or something like that.
The Warwick Skill meeting gave me some interesting inputs on various aspects of the whole URSS project. I decided to defiantly take part in it, as it offers the opportunity to start something like a learning process, between all the photocopying.
There are some technical solutions to organise myself which I have not heard of before and sound very attractive. A so called ‘Mind Manager’ program, that can be accessed in all computer facilities at the university is defiantly one of the inputs I will take on board from today’s meeting. It was said that it enables to create sub-mind maps and interlink those with individual documents; exactly what I need for my chaos of notes.
Furthermore, we are being offered to have our own e-portfolio, which would be essentially my own website. Sounds cool, but I do not know whether I have enough to say yet. I applied anyway, just to see what it is like.
Finally, we were told, that instead of a presentation, we are encouraged to use alternative forms of presentation. I thought it would be cool to produce a pod-cast, or maybe even a small film on our project; see what Dan thinks about it.
Now it’s the weekend, hopefully all the donkey-work is done by Monday.


July 26, 2007

Progress

Follow-up to Back to the basics from The URSS Blog

For once I have the feeling to have made good progress. Yesterday, I saw my supervisor to discuss my short report and to discuss further steps. It was a productive meeting; one hour beforehand I had made a ‘personal wish list’ of what I want to get out of the meeting, and it worked. Now I have a clear vision on how I will proceed in the next two weeks.
Firstly, I will refine my findings on the German context. To have measurable signs of success, I will start by writing up an annotated bibliography, continuing with a short history of higher education reform. This further assignment may lead me to do some more research, focusing on ‘white papers’ and debates in parliament, but that should be fun. I hope that I will have done this by this Sunday, so that Dan and I can start our joint work on the Bologna documents on Monday or so.
Today, I looked at the pieces of literature which I added recently. They may be helpful in the long run, as they have some interesting conceptual points on what role a university should play in the 21st century. They further confirmed some of my ideas on the current debate and highlighted some parallels between the German and the British debate, which I must point out to Dan.
Now there is a plan and new motivation!
max


July 24, 2007

Back to the basics

Follow-up to Americanisation rather than commodification? from The URSS Blog

Today, I reopened my research on the current discussion on higher education reform. The reason for doing this, despite already having written a first draft report, was that I had simply forgotten to do so.
Most of the morning I spend researching the OECD source side which proved to be very helpful for statistics of the German economy as a whole, but also for its education system in particular. But it had more to offer, I found out that it publishes its own periodical on education issues, which offered plenty of literature on recent debates on higher education. The current German problems in education as a whole were covered in the most recent economic outlook on Germany. All in all I was pleased to have consulted the site.
Following this I visited some of the ‘think tanks’ who continued to come up in my reading. On these sites I was less successful than I expected. Either I did not search properly or they did not publish the white papers I was looking for only.
Exactly this was the case with the commission of the state governments (KMK). They only referred to their publications, without giving the option to access them online.

Anyway, now I have a good top up for my reading if we decide to continue focusing on the German reforms in more detail


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