What we’re reading: Ido Roll

“What we’re reading” is a regular feature in Dialogues, CTLT’s bi-monthly newsletter. In each edition, one staffer at CTLT will share what they’re currently reading and offer some poignant suggestions for your reading list.

Ido Roll, ISoTL director and a senior manager for research and evaluation at CTLT, shares his reading list from the May 2019 edition:

What have you been reading lately?

One book that I enjoyed a lot recently was Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah Fry. Fry is a rock star mathematician and a science correspondent for the BBC. In this book she succeeds in demystifying the algorithms that control our daily lives, from the health and judicial systems to self-driving cars and Netflix. This naturally has many implications for education. A key challenge is one of fairness. Systems are as biased as the data that is used to train them. What biases are introduced when we automate assessment? Another challenge comes from reductionism. When we create adaptive teaching environments, what aspects of holistic, collaborative education are we missing?

Fry also has a fantastic podcast that I highly recommend, The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry.

In addition, my son makes me read Harry Potter. I am now on Book 7, and this series is much richer than I remembered, giving my son and I our own universe at home.

Which book do you continually return to?

A book about learning that I enjoy and often return to is Constructivist Instruction: Success or Failure?, edited by Sigmund Tobias and Thomas M. Duffy. By now, it is clear that we learn by constructing our own understandings: this theory is called Constructivism. However, what does it imply for teaching – should we try to provide ready-made answers, or trust students more? I belong in the latter camp, though this is not an either/or situation. This book is a debate between the two views, and at the end of each chapter there is a back-and-forth between authors from different camps. Read a chapter or read it all, it has the potential to stay with you for a while.

What is a book that you’re looking forward to reading this spring?

I look forward to finally reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In that book, Freire shows how the current industrial-revolution era education system, which focuses on low level skills and knowledge deposition, leads to oppression. Instead, he advocates for a more democratic and just model in which students are co-creators of knowledge and of their own learning. These are ideas that guide me in my work.

Ido Roll is the Director of the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISoTL), and the Senior Manager for Research and Evaluation at CTLT. His work seeks to provide a bridge between teaching and research by supporting faculty in evaluating learning in their classrooms, identifying evidence-based practices that work within the context of UBC, and seeking to use SoTL to understand how teaching can be more inclusive and meaningful.