Tag Archives: students

Make new friends – share a toilet today!

love-your-loo-2Here’s some advice for all new undergraduates who’ve started their programmes over the past few weeks…  One of the most daunting aspects of starting university, aside from the debt and the challenges of studying, is the prospect of making new friends.

This is really important. Students who develop quality networks also perform better and maintain their well-being.  But, where to start?  Well, many new friendships begin with chance encounters in communal spaces and environmental psychologists have been studying the characteristics of effective social areas for decades.

A recent study by Easterbrook and Vignoles examined this issue in the specific context of a university and found confirmatory evidence of what we have long known – many new undergraduate friendships begin with regular chance meetings in fairly obvious social spaces such as the communal kitchen, the common room and the college gym.  So far, so good.

What’s interesting about this study, which focused on over 400 new undergrads, was that a more unusual site for the development of new friendships emerged; the shared toilet!  In fact, this unexpected arena for new relationships proved as reliable a venue as all of the other spaces in terms of predicting friendship formation, durability and quality.  But why?

Easterbrook and Vignoles believe that the shared bathroom is a natural place for barriers to break down.  Nothing like regularly encountering a dorm mate with a loo roll in his or her hands to remove interpersonal walls and thereby allow bonds to be formed!  No sure what I think about this explanation, but it seems as plausible as any.  Motto: the en suite doesn’t just cost you more money, it makes you a lonelier student too!

Of course, the one problem with a shared toilet is that it also carries with it a whole series of shared smells!!!  So, for those sensitive to such matters, here is a real product you may wish to check out…

Wearable learning?

eegHere’s an interesting post from the team at TrainingZone.  With the advent of wearable technologies such as the smart watch and Google glasses, the possibilities for learning and teaching become quite interesting!  It’s no longer science fiction to see a world in which students are able to access information via a glance at their timepiece, rather than just a tablet or cellphone, and the GPS aspects in particular hold interesting possibilities for decision-making activities in the field.  

I guess the real challenge will be a content design one, more than anything – making content accessible via ever-smaller devices is no mean task…

Online options… not optional!

online_studentIt’s interesting to see Florida emerging as the latest state looking to make online study a requirement for all students graduating from high school.  It’s a bold move, partly driven by the need to assess computer literacy and partly a means to offer students more choice.  It’s an initiative I whole-heartedly support.

An interesting side-effect, of course, is that it also places greater demands on universities to “up their game” by offering more online provision in their on-campus programmes. We are already seeing here in the UK the consequences of a school system in which teachers are often far more innovative than their university counterparts, student dissatisfaction being on the increase as they discover that the undergraduate experience in some institutions is suspiciously devoid of any real application of learning technologies.

The more the school system promotes the online option, the greater the pressure on the university sector to keep up.  The “blended campus” is increasingly no longer an option, but a necessity – of course, for many universities, that leaves a massive piece of work still to do in terms of faculty up-skilling!