Posted on

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 7, 2021

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” ~C.S. LewisAcademia serves a purpose of feeding the future, of taking minds with a limited set of knowledge and helping them realize that while they may have a perspective of vast understanding, the potential for growth and development of their understanding exists in a limitless amount of barren space. It is from this mindset that I believe C.S. Lewis claimed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

I have read that quote numerous times, and as an educator and author myself, taught and thought from the perspective that in a world of information overload, we are in a different era than Lewis and have a new responsibility of cutting down jungles to help our students see clearly. As I write this week’s article and review the resources shared below, I instead think that our job, particularly as textbook and academic authors, must be to take our readers to the edge of the jungle, show them the desert that exists beyond that edge, and then irrigate it so that the jungle of knowledge continues to expand even further for the next generation of students and educators.

As you write this week, I challenge you to find the edge of your field of knowledge, to irrigate your own deserted landscape of potential, and to find ways through your writing to bring others to that point. Happy writing!

Cycles of the academic year

What if I told you rethinking your academic year to align with your goals and values could help you manage your workload more confidently?

Required, desirable and delightful elements of academic writing

I sometimes find inspiration for teaching in surprising places. Like the design literatures. This post features a modification of a tool used by designers to prioritise the features and attributes of an artefact and to assess potential user satisfaction. Meet the Kano Analysis.

Finding data in documents and datasets

Researchers have many options when it comes to using documents or datasets. We can study handwritten diary pages or analyze Big Data. We can conduct the whole project without leaving our computers or trek to an archive to handle original artifacts and documents. While some research using documents or datasets is conducted without directly interacting with the individuals who created the materials, other options do involve consenting participants.

Space and grace in open access publishing

We should continue to have strategic conversations about moving to open, but acknowledge and respect the current landscape where that simply is not possible. We should give ourselves the space and grace that we individually deserve, and need, if there is not an open publishing outlet available to us — or, honestly, if there is a subscription-based journal that we have always wanted to work with or publish in. We can strive for openness, but we may need to accept that individuals may not be able to achieve this aspiration.

How to make your dissertation ‘speak’ to experts

Expert to expert communication in academia is one of the most difficult genres of writing to master. You can assume your expert reader will have some background understanding of the research methods, and general knowledge relevant to your topic. However, it’s important to recognise that even an expert reader will not know as much about your topic as you do.

Revisiting: The problem with diversity, inclusion, and equity

It goes without saying that Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity make for an awful acronym: DIE. More importantly, these three words are strung together so often that some think that these words are synonymous and use them interchangeably, leading to a number of people writing about the differences between these three words. Try a quick Google search of “diversity vs inclusion vs equity” and you’ll find several days worth of reading material. If we are not attentive to the differences between these words as ideas, approaches, or initiatives, we are in danger of placing emphasis on the wrong efforts and suffering the consequences.