Maison des abeilles solitaires

You find these all over France and Switzerland – maybe Germany too, but I’ve never seen one in Germany. It’s a hotel for solitary bees! Of course, it begs an interesting question: why are there solitary bees?  Were bees originally soloists that then developed an advantage with hives?  Or were wayward bees kicked out of their hives?

Does Constructive Alignment fall short? Part III

Continuing the series, now I want to summarize where Constructive Alignment as a didactical tool falls short – and how I would fix it.

I said it in my last blog. Whereas John Biggs did a great job of connecting learning outcomes with learning activities and learning assessments, a connection to the real world — to the WHY — is completely missing.

Fortunately, this seems very easy to fix, as shown here:


In other words, the real world goals — the WHY — feed into the learning outcomes.  In my next blog I’ll give a concrete example of how this could look in a real-world teaching situation.


Does Constructive Alignment fall short? Part II

Continuing the series, I want to show why I think Constructive Alignment falls short – and how I would fix it.

Always start with the WHY.

Maybe there are teachers who teach in order to teach. Fair enough. But as a scientific and engineering oriented guy, I’ve always thought teaching has a very applied aspect. In this context (and I admit it is not the only one!) students should be getting skills and abilities that they can use in real world situations.

So in this blog, let’s focus on an IT student that graduates from an IT program and joins the IT industry. Working in this IT industry will require knowledge that she has learned.  Probably there are existing maturity models that can classify this situation, but this one seems pretty reasonable to me:

Now if you jump back to my first blog about Constructive Alignment, perhaps you can see where my discomfort is beginning. Constructive Alignment seems to be a very practical tool; indeed, the whole “didactical” world seems to love it!  It clearly connects learning outcomes with learning activities and learning measurements.

But to my the most fundamental and important point of dissatisfaction: a connection between learning outcomes and real-world skills and abilities — in other words, the WHY for learning — is missing!

More on this in my next blog.

Does Constructive Alignment fall short? Part I

Let me start with a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: I spent more time in my life working with computers than any other topic – and I am no computer expect. I spent more formal time in my life studying physics – but I am no physics expert. So considering that I have only been dabbling in educational research (known as didactics – which sounds more scientific than I think it really is) for a few weeks, the reader is well-advised to take what follows with a massive 20-ton block of rocksalt!

OK, having appropriately disclaimed myself, in this blog I present a leading didactical idea called Constructive Alignment.  In my next blog I’ll talk about why I don’t like it – and how I would improve it.

Within educational circles — and please let’s park the discussion about how scientific these circles really are! — the idea is known as Constructive Alignment. It’s due to a fellow named John Biggs, who even has his own website. As a simple guide to preparing very effective teaching materials, he proposed linking the learning goals and the learning activities and the learning measurements. In his own words, “In constructive alignment, we start with the outcomes we intend students to learn and align teaching and assessment to those outcomes.

[ASIDE: If you have some time, surf to John’s website and you’ll be glad you did. He has a wonderful collection of essays and a general Asian perspective.]

I found this very pretty picture of Constructive Alignment here:

As far as I can tell from Mr. Google, whether it is scientifically justified or not (I’ve seen no experiments) this model seems to have found widespread application throughout the academic world.

In my next blog I’ll say why I don’t like it – and how I would change it.

The Euro Cruiser II

Continuing the series, here is the latest addition to my personal fleet of vehicles, parked in front of the mythical “Tell Platte,” where William Tell escaped from the boat of his captors and swam to shore:

This is a 2022 Kia XCeed and it is a “mild hybrid,” which means that it has a big battery in the back – not big enough to power the engine, but big enough to provide some eco-benefits.

What I particularly like about this car is its understated elegance. As an international assassin, my job takes me all over Europe and I often need to travel in style, but without the attention that might be caused if I had a Maybach or a Bentley. I also need enough space for any special equipment I may require, depending on the contract. This car perfectly fits the bill.