End of the university semester has brought somewhat of a lull in the MOOC landscape…which would give me a chance to catch up on historical or theoretical reading, but it’s the end of my semester too. I will continue to post, but I would imagine it to be slow going for the next month, to pick up again with reckless abandon in January 2013.
Trying to catch up on the buzz in the field as I not only gear up for the end of the year, but start to shift my focus from research to production of a dissertation…
Feed-Forward xMOOC – An idea of how to mix the course design of an xMOOC with the idealism of the OER movement. This group of individuals have developed an xMOOC based on some Yale OpenCourseware for an Intro to Psychology course. Unlike existing xMOOC sites, Feed-Foward xMOOCs would encourage people to utilize them in the Open Access/Source manner, tinkering and shaping and repositing as the needs of the users wish. Continue reading
I came across a piece from Smithsonian Magazine profiling Sebastian Thrun, the man behind the xMOOC prototype via Stanford’s Intro to AI course (the research community needs a shorthand for this) as well as Udacity. Thrun won the Smithsonian’s American Ingenuity Award for Education based off his work in the MOOC world, and the magazine’s piece about him starts off as most smartly written puff pieces do: a description of the location, the unique idiosynchracies of Thrun as he and the writer meet, a tangential topic that will show its relevance later…boilerplate journalism. The article was passed along via Cathy Davidson of HASTAC, whose work I admire and appreciate, so I didn’t want to cast the article out as more meaningless hype about how the world of education is undergoing immense change and these MOOC things are going to save everyone and everything. So I kept reading.
If you are a follower of this blog, you know my interest is on finding the theoretical underpinnings of the xMOOC movement. If you were to look at the media narrative, the xMOOC just showed up one day and was the way to save education…that is disingenuous to learning theory, teaching pedagogy and the history of education, online/distance or otherwise. I have had a great deal of difficulty finding theoretical ground on which the xMOOC developers stand…the discussion usually focuses on economics, global access, disruptive technology, parallels to the dot.com era, or heartwarming student anecdotes. This article goes in a different direction, as Thrun opens up a bit on his education views. Continue reading
The due course of education in America is linked to public policy. This has existed on the state and federal level for over 100 years (well over); however, it is only in the last 30+ that there has been a federal department dedicated to education. Too often it seems that people within their own disciplines ignore societal factors and stressors when debating the merits of their discipline. This happens in education, an enterprise subsidized by governmental monies (to a shrinking degree, however). We cannot debate movements in education without looking at politics.
At the same time, politicians and policy hawks need a firm understanding of education if they are going to pitch for a model or debate a movement. Rhetoric and hyperbole only go so far, and ignorance of the theories, pedagogies and history of learning can cause great harm.
My Twitter network shot out an education article published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. Written by Alex Tabbarok, it’s title, Why Online Education Works, foreshadows a lack of historical perspective of both online and education (#cfhe12). The artifact is an important representation of existing thought in the political world, and with that I will dive in:
A sadness fell over the Ed Tech circles of Twitter yesterday. Maybe not a sadness, but a resignation. The fervor that often accompanies information or artifacts from dichotomal points of view (which I love to call PsOV) was replaced with a more subdued conversation, one indicative of licking wounds, falling back, and regrouping.
A lot of MOOC related information entered into the conversation yesterday, and I’ll dedicate specific blogs to each. But most important, from my perspective, was technology and new media maven Clay Shirky weighing in on the MOOC debate (oddly enough, I linked to a 2009 article of his just the other day when discussing my journey of putting MOOC and disruptive technology together). The article is powerful to say the least, and makes a compelling argument…so compelling that if you haven’t read it and are interested enough in MOOCs to be at a blog all about MOOCs, you should go to it now.
I finally got around to reading Mike Boxall’s overview of the MOOC movement in UK’s The Guardian, and I’m glad that I waited to read it until after solidifying a definition of disruptive technology. Boxall’s article is one of the few mainstream MOOC articles that limits hype and alludes to big questions (I’ll get more into that in a moment, but I’ve noticed that the big question about education everyone keeps referring to has not been spelled out; it’s kind of like Douglas Adams’ answer to the question of Life, The Universe & Everything in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). And his look at whether or not MOOCs will be disruptive has made me wrestle with my newfound disruptive definition. Continue reading
One of the common citations in xMOOC artifacts and discussion is the idea of xMOOC as a disruptive technology. The concept, developed by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is tossed into discussion as if it’s vital reading I should already know…none of the authors do more than give a cursory definition to the concept in abstract fashion rather than concrete, and in all of the articles I have read, I don’t see consensus on the definition. This makes me think several possibilities: 1) this is a concept so integral to this field that I should know all about it and am an idiot for not having a foundational knowledge, or 2) this is a concept not fully understood but thrown out there in a way that sounds erudite but lacks foundation. I think it’s a mix of both. As a learner struggling to grasp a topic (my background is in both media and social sciences, not business), the best way is to personally dive in rather than rely on the previews of others. At the same time, it took those previews to get here, so perhaps this review can help others start to nail out a more complete definition on the topic. Continue reading
One US Presidential Election takeaway of note for me was the perception of veracity in the Republican party’s projections. When I woke up on Tuesday morning and read Nate Silver’s ultimate blog post at fivethirtyeight.com, I relayed to my wife that for President Obama to lose, there would have to be a foundational problem with state as well as national polling, not to mention the metric foundations of demographic data analysis. A loss for the President would not be based on several mistaken variables, but instead a systemic issue at the foundation of the algorithms and the theory behind them. Yet 12 hours later, Karl Rove famously melted down on the Fox News set, demanding answers from Fox’s number crunchers (and not receiving the answers he was hoping for). The obvious question — despite extensive evidence to the contrary, how could Rove be so bamboozled by the election outcome?
Chris Argyris developed a tool for understanding how individuals utilize information and form perceptions in his 1990 Ladder of Inference. Continue reading
There’s a lot of hype about MOOCs (and when I put hype and MOOC together, I mean xMOOC), and with the hype comes a resistance from ed tech folks. The arguments go something like this: hype machine says MOOCs are the next big thing and the best thing to happen in ages, and resistance says MOOCs aren’t great, aren’t new, and aren’t making things better. A prime example comes from some hype dished up by the MIT Technology Review entitled The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years, countered by D’Arcy Norman’s terse reply whose tag line involves fertilizer. What we forget when we enter a point-counterpoint frame of mind is that both points of view come from ideologies and histories that result in the digital artifacts I have linked to. Studying those artifacts to find the encampment inferences and foundations can help us see the positives and negatives of both sides rather than following one full throttle. Continue reading
Back to the theoretical grind, I was alerted to a research article on heutagogy as an alternative to andragogy. If that sentence is full of ambiguous words, it was for me too — both are theories of learning relating to adult education, a field in edu which supposes that adults learn in a manner different from children (which is a lot to suppose, but makes sense at first glance). While MOOC marketing departments have heralded the xMOOC’s ability to let an intrepid 12 year old take a Stanford course in computer programming (and, as a field, we need to see how Code Academy fits into the MOOC archetype), the history behind MOOCs comes either from traditional higher education (xMOOC) or distance education designed for higher education (cMOOC). Because traditional higher ed is seeing an upward shift in median age of student (and distance ed has always seen an older student population than in traditional ed), the theory the MOOC movement built on (or will build upon) needs to account for an adult population. Not surprisingly, little of the little MOOC research flows down this path. That leaves it to us to research, code and crunch. Getting into the work by Lisa Marie Blaschke… Continue reading