My Inbox Zero Method

Good Morning! I said I’d write a twitter thread about inbox zero, but it was kinda too long for one, so instead it’s a blog post. Here we go, I wrote this mostly as I worked on getting back to inbox zero yesterday.

I just got back from 4 days of vacation, and I had let everyone know I would be on vacation, so I didn’t get as many emails as normal (and outlook tells other people in your org that you’re on vacation before they send you an email). Thankfully I only had around 200 emails to go through.

I did hit inbox zero before I left for vacation, that lasted about 5 minutes. But I didn’t want to be checking my email constantly. I did checked it twice to make sure nothing urgent came in, and I responded to the one super urgent email I had.

So, here’s how I got back to inbox zero.

Ground Rules

  1. the inbox is a to-do list, but not the only to-do list
  2. you don’t need to be on as many listservs as you think, and if there’s a daily, or better weekly, digest for it you should be using that
  3. if you’ve dealt with an email it gets filed
  4. dealt with means that you have no current actions for it
  5. if you’re waiting on a response via email it’s dealt with
  6. if you added it to your formal to-do list it’s dealt with
  7. nested folders are your friend
  8. only have folders you use a lot

Skills Assessment and Behaviourism

This was going to be a short twitter thread, then it got too long, so I made a blog post instead. I read an opinion piece in the Toronto Star today and I’m concerned. Mostly I’m concerned about the train of thought it represents. The article, “We need to start giving soft skills more credit“, is the newest version of similar work around soft/transferable skills that’s been around for years, but now with AI.

This seems like a good thing, because employers want employees with strong transferable skills, and colleges and universities already teach technical skills, and programs are designed so that students pick up transferable skills along the way. My problem is that the discourse is always focused on a behaviourist understanding of people. It presupposes that:

  1. Students must be explicitly taught something to learn it
  2. Evaluation means learning happened

Book Review of “The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching”

A snippet from my review posted at the Canadian Journal of Higher Education

In my classes I try to explain to second year comput-ing students that their technical skills are only one part of what they need to succeed. Many jobs are like that, requiring both discipline or field specific skills and trans-ferable or soft skills. In The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching (2019) David Gooblar explains that for postsecondary profes-sors teaching is not a soft skill, it is a second discipline we should be engaging in the same way we engage with our primary discipline.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is not a new discipline. However, it is often neglected in grad-uate studies, relegated to the individual’s professional development rather than being a core part of the curric-ulum. The Missing Course (2019) is Gooblar’s attempt to provide a concise and practical overview of teaching and learning with the objective of helping college and university instructors improve their classroom teaching. It is a valuable book for everyone who teaches or plans to teach in postsecondary from full professors to new graduate students.

Alberta Post-Secondary Roles and Mandates

A snippet from my article for Communiqué

The Alberta system of post-secondary education may be unique in Canada. As Alex Usher says, “Alberta not only has the closest thing Canada has to a genuine system of education, but the government is also by some distance the most interventionist in the country when it comes to universities” (Usher, 2019). The Albertan system has changed over the years from its single public university – the University of Alberta founded only three years after the province was created (Macleod, 2016) – to the current seven universities. Four of the universities are called comprehensive academic and research universities and three are called undergraduate universities (Types of publicly funded institutions, 2020). In addition to the universities, the province has eleven publicly funded comprehensive community colleges; two polytechnic institutions; five private universities; and the Banff Centre, a specialized arts and cultural institution.

The Alberta system went through an overhaul in the first decade of the twenty-first century. New institutions were added, institutions changed from being colleges to being universities, and funding, which had been cut substantially in the 1990s, was increased (Usher, 2019). More importantly, in this decade was the 2007 introduction of The Roles and Mandates: Policy Framework for Alberta’s Publicly Funded Advanced Education System, which I will refer to as Roles and Mandates 2007. This document formalized the six-sector model that Alberta continues to follow today and laid out the goals and directions the system works towards. Although it has been superseded by 2019’s The Roles and Mandates: Policy Framework for Alberta’s Adult Learning System, referred to as Roles and Mandates 2019, the current structure of the Alberta system was formed by the 2007 version and so this inquiry will focus on the Roles and Mandates 2007 and the report that led to it.

Read the rest here