How to sabotage training

There was a WWII Simple sabotage field manual, which was released in the 1940’s. It describes how workers and managers can subtly but effectively disrupt organisational performance as an act of . Much of the document concentrates on factory operations. Here are the sections that cover office work – many of which are alarmingly familiar!  [Hat Tip to Duncan Green @fptp for the link].

Many of us working in international education programs will recognise some of these behaviours – and it is instructive to see how many of these are rooted in sensible ideas that actually help us function. Ideas that we can (out of awareness?) start to sabotage our work with.

(a) Organizations and Conferences

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches,” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length., Illustrate your. “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate patriotic comments,
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision, Advocate caution.
  7. Be “unreasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  8. Be worried about the propriety can any decision – raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group or ‘whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

b) Managers and Supervisors

  1. Demand written orders.
  2. Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.
  3. Do everything possible to delay -the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don’t deliver it until it is completely ready.
  4. Don’t order new working’ materials.. until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that .the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.
  5. Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don’t get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.
  6. In making work assignments, always , sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.
  7. Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least fiaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.
  8. Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.
  9. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.
  10. To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.
  11. Hold conferences when there is more, critical work to be done.
  12. Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.
  13. Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.
  14. Apply all regulations to the last letter.

Meteorological Education through tweets (?)

I tried an experiment recently to inform people about a specific form of satellite data that can be useful for weather forecasters. This was an unstructured (off the cuff) experiment using a series of tweets. It was inspired by a question a twitter connection asked in an email.

Some numbers:
8 tweets with 4 images
plus 2 replies to a question
with on average 1 favourite each.
1 image was retweeted twice.
I ended following this up with a blog post here on how i plot these data. One person commented that this was helpful.

I used the tag #ASCAT for these tweets. I often share images with this data and use this tag following the pattern of the US Ocean Prediction Center @NWSOPC.

So what do I think about this?

In my regular tweets with this data the main event will be the weather – the data are the tool to tell the weather story. The teaching tweets were providing information about the data. I wonder if people are more naturally interested in the case rather than the theory behind the data.

The stream of tweets makes sense when seen together but they are helped with context.

OPC in their tweets often include something interesting – using an annotated image instead of a tweet text. I like this approach as the information is then contextualised rather than left hanging in a single tweet in a time line.  Those tweets without images risk being distributed in various places in a timeline.

Using the blog post to provide clarity was a nice was supplement to the tweets

I asked some people I follow about how useful twitter is in learning. The responses we all positive (unsurprising coming from existing twitter users).

DEFINITELY! Only complain: 140 char! But otherwise, great to interact with willing and like minded people!

I educated on tephis from across Twitter 🙂 Its the way to go 🙂

Definitely useful. Easy access, sharing content, engages everyone, quickly informative.

V.Useful for getting other perspectives on events/data. Also for discussing /w others

Its a powerful tool raising awareness and knowledge/content-exchange. Rcmnd 4 PROF METS.

Interesting. Also trains sender to be concise. Maybe tumblr offers even more scope?

Thank you to  @PeterG_Weather  

So more experiments then!


MOOCs I & beginings #edcmooc

So I just logged on to #edcmooc nice to finally have access to all the material. And my first question “how do I fit in round here, what is the first thing I need to do?”

I haven’t looked round the site much yet – but I wanted to play with that question

This is one question I have that I hope will be answered during the course – on a practical level this is about negotiating the roles of student, teacher, and the world outside (home, work, travel …) – what are helpful ways of going about this orientation? How do I know what do to as a student – is it nicely prescribed, do I have to find out for my self, construct it myself … or with others?

I also notice in my question that what I think about “how do I fit in round here” I am making choices (in and out of awareness) about the sort of “I” that I might want to be.  Some of my peers are taking this course and I have a lot of respect for the Edinburgh group – I don’t what to appear stupid or dumb. There are a couple of other education moocs on at the moment which I am watching, but this is the one I want to contribute to – but the day job carries on so I have to work out when I can take part – in other words me presence  is variable. For the courses I teach I want to be able to help students take part in the courses, to be present enough to get what they and their employer need.

Oh and I like reading but don’t get on so well with writing

Ok – now to find out what I need to do …

Lessons from a crypto class

For fun I am taking a Coursera class in Cryptography. I don’t need the content of the course but it’s a fun way to relax. I am also taking the course to experience a digital course as a student, to experience the Coursera platform and to experience the another instructor’s  educational methodology to stimulate thinking on my own.  Taking a technical course is interesting as my own field of instruction (weather from satellites) is technical.

Coursera have a description of their pedagogical foundations. It looks like the core idea is to use good instructional methods with some mastery learning approaches (from Bloom’s 2-sigma problem paper). I wonder if Coursera have statistics to show how much into 2-sigma they get for each course ….

When I signed up I had seen the preview materials so I felt I had something to learn [I did not understand the questions], but would not be out of my depth [despite not understanding the questions it looked ok – and it’s a low risk environment].

The structure / format took a while to get used to. The video lectures were pretty clear and for me had a nice chunk size. in each 10-12 min block there were usually a couple of interactive questions.   What was new was new to me was use of  of forums as the key source of question/ answer and feedback. Questions were answered very quickly by other students, and I answered some questions. Up votes enable people to promote or demote particular answers. Each week block had a particular homework question set, with 4 possibilities to sit the homework. I found some of the homework tough – and for some of the areas I didn’t get the  question feedback was enough to get going, but most of the time the forums were a better place to get some ideas [I.e. I found an expression of my mis-understanding and a corrective feedback that was useful]. The quiz questions required recall of some knowledge by mainly some thinking / working out  and production of a result.   [in my own field I think  we concentrate (too much) on knowledge recall questions]. There was also the optional opportunity to complete a programming assignment each week –  these were relatively straight forward and again guidance was available on the forums.

Work commitments meant I wasn’t able to meet the final deadlines for the homework. So I did not complete the course. Picking up with a future class is an option.

Initially I miss the presence of the instructor in the forums (something about a touchstone of correct and right), we saw the instructor in the recorded lectures. After a while it became clear that the cohort was biog enough and had a enough knowledge within it that I missed the instructor presence less.

I also missed variation in instruction methods – in essence there was only the forums and the video lecture. I think I would have appreciated other asynchronous teaching methods or other ways to get feedback when I had the wrong ideas.


learning about learning … with social media


In order to get some critical thinking into my work I try to keep connected with some of the research groups involved in digital education. I occasionally read some of the journals both open and paywall (as we have an excellent library in the building).  I also follow a number of educators on twitter.

What I am doing is finding resources to support and guide my own development as an educator, without actually being in a formalized environment. This blog and my twitter presence are part of a journaling that experience, and sharing some of the resources I come across.

On twitter, one of the moments I find really helpful is when these educators interact with each other, sharing resources, ideas or challenges.  In particular I listen to the dialogue around the Edinburgh University MSc (#mscel). I studied there a number of years ago so feel a connection to the place, the conversation is in English which is my first language so I more easily understand what I am following, and the topics discussed connect with my work. The active dialogue puts these resources in some kind of dynamic context.

@suchprettyeyes recently shared her MSc dissertation [and I have lost the link!]. I am just reading it – for me it is directly useful to my own development as it is an inquiry in how social media is used in continuing professional development. This pleasant surprise here is having a resource to support the process of my own development.

When I get more into it I shall post more on what it means to me.

but for now thank  @suchprettyeyes for sharing.