Monthly Archives: May 2012


My Professorial ‘Eureka’ Moment

  |  

I remember the exact moment when I realized that I really am a professor. It wasn’t when I got hired, that’s for sure. I assumed that was a clerical error, so I spent six months waiting for an “Oops, we’re sorry” email (“We meant to hire that smart guy named Fenhold”). It wasn’t when I […]

The Massive Open Online Professor

  |  

The challenges faced by higher education around the world are daunting and cannot be met by the traditional institution-based education system. For the current model to meet the needs of future generations, we would need to build and fund thousands of new universities. And yet the past ten years have demonstrated that there is another […]

Upgrade Anxiety and the Aging Expert

  |  

By definition university professors are experts in their fields. Given the laws of the universe, however, professors are also aging experts. Not experts on aging, but, rather, humans who are aging. As Yeats wrote in his poem on getting older, Sailing to Byzantium, we are all “fastened to a dying animal.” Growing older increases knowledge […]

Becoming Prof 2.0

  |  

In October 2010, “So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities” was posted on YouTube and began to circulate rapidly through various social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. The video, a simple animation, features a starry-eyed undergraduate student who has come to ask her professor for a letter of reference for […]

Lightning Over Bloor

  |  

We had taken our places at the table, For some words after the break, On various comings and goings. And when—twice—the professor said, “hope,” The celestial fireworks following the verb Had us rocketing skywards too. I had always suspected, The poet’s powerful leanings, but now I reckoned, How few exchanges we had actually come to know, Between pedagogy, providence, and rain.

Tenure and Academic Freedom: The Beginning of the End

  |  

Since the Second World War, Canadian and American universities have offered faculty members tenure, the promise of lifetime employment to those who complete a six-to-ten-year probation period. During this time, professors’ teaching, writing, and research are scrutinized by their colleagues to determine whether or not a tenured appointment is merited. The tenure system arose during […]

Challenges, Opportunities, and New Expectations

  |  

Last term, having received a request from the campus Disability Services Office, I asked my lecture class of 700 students for volunteers to take notes. After the lecture, I opened an email from a student offering to share his lecture recordings. Seated somewhere near the front of the auditorium, calmly and carefully capturing and redistributing […]

The Professor as Mass Communicator?

  |  

While much about being a university professor has remained unchanged for centuries, the way today’s academics research, teach, and fulfil administrative duties has changed dramatically, as a result of technological change and a cultural shift in what the public expects of academia. In the United Kingdom, these changes are about to hit home for academics […]

Zen and the Art of Metacognition: Quality-Based Discrimination, Peer Assessment & Technology

  |  

In 1974, Robert M. Pirsig wrote a book entitled “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, within which he provided a philosophical argument for the primacy of quality.  Quality is described as a metaphysical underpinning of , well, just about anything; an underpinning from which other characteristics can be derived.  I read this book for […]

Expanding graduate programs and renewing the professoriate: What’s the connection?

  |  

Does Ontario need to expand its master’s and doctoral programs in order to supply the professors who will teach these additional students? Ian Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon argue that in all fields of graduate study, the government should take into account the best available evidence to ensure that the number of graduate spaces is sufficient to meet the needs of the workforce, but not higher.