Music for Deckchairs

"In shadowy, silent distance grew the iceberg too": an Australian blog about changes in higher education

About Music for Deckchairs

How do we radically reform a system while working within it?

Cornel West

And as the smart ship grew
            In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too
— Thomas Hardy

I’m a media historian at an Australian university, and I’ve been teaching using non-LMS online tools since the mid 1990s. In 2012-3 I had the privilege of joining our educational design team to support our institution’s transition to a new LMS, so I have a practical interest in the tricky mechanics of change management in higher education.  Or, as someone once put it in the search that led them here, I think about:

“shared governance consensus bullshit.”

I’m not writing any of this in any official capacity, obviously.

But I believe that universities encourage critical thinking. So this blog began as a way of thinking about what higher education is, and thanks to the all people who have turned up here, it’s really about how higher education is changing.

Specifically, I’m interested in whether we can rethink pedagogy as a practice of hospitality, following along from Jesse Stommel’s proposals for a reflective hybrid pedagogy:

The intellectual bravery we need right now is to believe that we can imaginatively rebuild something valuable in digital space, something that has what we value most about education: the protections, the safety, the excitement, the moments of ecstatic learning, the epiphanies, the collaborations, the debates, the discoveries, and the moments of quiet reflection.

The banner image is an adaptation of a famous photograph originally taken by J R Eyerman in 1953;  this version is on a pencil case, photographed for this blog by my friend R J Thompson in 2011. This lovely woman, who put on her good hat to go out and meet the technological marvel of her age, keeps me thinking about what it means to show up, and watch from inside the spectacle.

Nov 2013: and in an even more surprising turn, I also have cancer, so this blog is also about what that means in relation to work, self, and how higher education fuels itself on all of our gifted time.

You’re welcome to leave comments or get in touch: @KateMfD or

Thanks for stopping by,

— Kate Bowles

3 thoughts on “About Music for Deckchairs

  1. Pingback: 10 Australian social media influencers in higher education | Social Entrepreneur Guide

  2. Pingback: Learning from (e-learning) failure | Ms E-Mentor

  3. Pingback: A road not taken | Clyde Street

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