Two problems with one project

Recently, a York University student requested to not work with women on a group school project. This request was based on the students’ strict religious beliefs. I take two issues from this exercise in delicate manoeuvring – both on the part of the student and the administration of York.

I’ll get this out of the way – I don’t care if you want to work only with guys, women, characters from Avatar, etc. I think that is what freedom allows you to do. And if that is truly the case here, the student should not have picked a post-secondary institution that is close to 70% women in population. He most likely should have gone to an all-male school, in an all-male country – that of course being The Vatican. Although I get the feeling the student would have had other issues. Just guessing.

A lot of people have and will write on this topic – whether it be religious expression or a misogyny adventure.

My other issue – and one that is becoming a big issue – is of course Group Projects.

Can we, now, start the process of eliminating 90% of all group projects in schools. Please.

Firstly, I’ll ask as a parent. Watching your kids struggle with groups projects is painful. Knowing that not everyone contributes equally, knowing that a group of four or five will have the lions share of the work done by two. Trying as you can as a parent to quell stress and calm fears. Hoping that there will be some sort of benefit to this exercise – but there isn’t.

Secondly, I’ll ask as a professional in an industry that hires individuals. Schools, stop allowing teachers to assign group projects. I understand that it’s far easier to mark six assignments than 30. I get it. But as a person that sees the portfolio of potential employees I am encountering far too many group projects. In some portfolios it’s been over 50% of the work been presented. How can I evaluate the potential skill and ideation of someone if their work is clustered in with masses?

Lastly, as a former college instructor, I hated the thought of giving out a group assignment. And therefore I didn’t. Here’s why from a teaching standpoint group projects suck. All of those students will leave and go searching for employment (or maybe graduate school) as individuals. At no point will that part of the journey be in groups. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the thought of a group project. Getting people to understand how to interact in a group dynamic, to get along – not kill someone. Yep, I see it. Cause more often than not you’ll be working in an office – not alone – with other carbon-based lifeforms.

But, in the real-world, you tend to work with people that have different skill-sets. Designers work with writers, account people work with media buyers. Teams are people that play different positions – if you had a hockey team of all goalies – well, you can imagine how that would not work out at all.

If colleges and universities truly want to expand the experience of group projects and make it remotely applicable – then the groups need be made up of students from different disciplines. But that would require a group effort from the administration – which seems to be the stumbling block. Ironic.


The good-old double take ad

Riding on the subway today I was struck by a few ads and their messages. Or lack-there-of, depending on how you look at each one.

This campaign is aimed at people with a gambling problem. The concept is prevention – so, naturally the idea is Condoms – kid you not. Because there is no other analogy that speak of protection – nope – gotta be the condoms. Really. It’s like their saying, well, you’re going to gamble, let’s try to do it safer. How is that even possible? Condoms help people having sex keep having sex because it prevents kids, disease, high school drop outs, octomoms, etc. – you get the picture. There is no safe form of gambling. To top off the campaign, the pay off, the nitty gritty (sorry, I was out of industry terms) – the ad leads you to a website – – where you can take a quiz and then enter a draw for a chance to win a Home Entertainment System. That’s not a mistake – a chance to win. A chance to win. I’m not trying to be an asshole – but isn’t gambling kind of based on that whole premise. And then, just to make sure that it really is conveying the message that gambling is bad – it suggests that once your entry is accepted that you come back tomorrow and enter again. Great, addictive safe gambling. Nice

Study in the comfort of your home – earn a degree from [insert university name of your choice]

Look, I’m not saying that people can’t excel at these, I’m sure that you can. What I find fascinating is that a lot of people didn’t finish college or university because of the comfort of home. Are these a great revenue stream for the post-secondary institutions – you bet. But as someone that used to teach at various colleges I can tell you it’s hard enough to motivate people you actual see face-to-face. So, all these ads are doing is ultimately selling a product that most-likely will not be fully-consumed.

QR Codes – Pattison Sign Group (but others have them as well)

As mentioned earlier, these are all ads on the Subway – for the most part an underground transportation mode. Key word underground. Pattison Sign Group has an ad that contains a QR code that measures, maybe, 25cm x 25cm – that’s pretty big. Now, to be honest I haven’t scanned it yet. Mainly because the thought of pulling out my iPhone, getting the ScanLife app open, aiming it at the ad seems like, well, nerdy. Not to mention the unsocial aspect of having a recording device in public – some people are still a bit nervous when cameras are produced. And the thought of asking someone to move over a bit so I can scan an ad – seems a bit over-the-top. Now it might be a text message, it could even be a phone number – not really sure. But if it is a link to a website – then that brings me to my second point – we’re on a subway. With 86% of the Toronto system off any network – why would I even want to try and scan something that most likely won’t go through.

Wrong message, wrong media – do you have any examples?