All posts by Fiona Saunders

Long Live the Lecture (at least for international post-graduate taught cohorts) !

Flipped Classroom There has been much talk recently of the flipped classroom, sometimes referred to as the flipped lecture or the inverted classroom. Flipped classrooms are about replacing the traditional lecture, where students listen attentively (or not) to a lecturer imparting knowledge, to a more interactive, discussion based session at which the teacher is available to help students understand the concepts that the students have been asked to study prior to the lecture. The blogger knewton describes the flipped classroom as a move from the teacher as “Sage on the Stage” to “Guide on the Side.”

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My Doctoral Research

Imagine for a moment a safety-critical project – the building of a new nuclear power plant, the safe disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste, the design and commissioning of a new gas turbine aircraft engine.  These are all examples of projects that must be delivered predictably and safely.  Yet these are complicated, multi-million pound endeavours which span several years and require the skilled efforts of many different professionals working across disparate organisations.  The uncertainties inherent in these projects are legion and non-trivial.  For example, what state will the radioactive waste that has been securely held in a storage canister really be in when we open it up for the first time in 40 years, or how do we design a submarine nuclear propulsion system that must be operational for 30 years with the bare minimum of maintenance access.  The challenge facing individuals involved in these projects is to identify, make sense of, assess and act in the face of these uncertainties in a manner that minimises the impact on the delivery of the project.  This is the scope of my PhD research, which I started in 2011 and aim to complete before the end of 2016.  My goal is to shed light on how individuals – including but not limited to project managers – identify and make sense of these project uncertainties.

You can read about my research as it evolves under the My Publications tab in this blog

Thanks for reading

Part-time working in Academia

A colleague of mine has recently reduced her working week from 5 to 3 days, and has been struggling to contain her work within the new 3 day week.  Given that I have been wrestling with the same issue over the last 7 years, we met for lunch last week to swap tips on how to manage reduced hours working in the open-ended and pretty unstructured environment of a UK university.  Here are some thoughts for those of you who may be in similar situation or considering a switch to reduced hours working.

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Twitter: A font of knowledge or the ultimate distraction

Twitter_FS2I was at first a reluctant convert to Twitter. It took a fair amount of cajoling from academic colleagues here in Manchester, before I took my first tentative steps into the Twittersphere. My first foray was short-lived. Signing up early in 2012, I immediately encountered the unique language of Twitter. I found the notion of “followers” and “following” a little disconcerting. I heard myself shouting inwardly “I don’t want to be anybody’s follower. I am an independent free thinking individual”. This sense of being a follower of a particular individual, and worse still, being defined in part by the number of Twitter followers that you have seemed to embody and promote the contemporary cult of celebrity in a way that I found slightly uncomfortable. I promptly closed the Twitter App on my phone and moved on to more substantive items on my To Do List.

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