Last week Coursera announced an educational partnership with Discovery Communications to offer Coursera MOOCs via their new web portal Curiosity.com. As noted in the press release, Discovery Communications is the parent company for both The Discovery Channel and Animal Planet:
We’re excited at the potential of Curiosity.com to expand our reach and give students an additional channel for exploring their professional and personal interests among Coursera’s offerings, as well as among those of other available educational resources.
The Curiosity.com platform looks like many of the video-based Internet education offerings of this modern day: Upworthy, TED, even MOOC provider Canvas. They really look the same. It’s as if WordPress has but one education design option and everyone is required to use it. From a design standpoint, learning in 2014 equates to a three-column desktop publishing layout, one click promising an equivalent to Neo’s kung fu lesson in The Matrix.
There is certainly space for research and discussion of the digital layout of education in 2014; Curiosity.com is just one of many start-ups to follow the dominant paradigm that seems beholden to building freedom of choice through content boxes. Stuart Hall would have a field day with why education is delivered in such a fashion. That is for another time, however.
Neither the design of Curiousity.com nor its vision are unique in todays saturated marketplace of content branded as education. What is unique about Curiosity.com is more its holding company, Discovery Communications, and their history in education. Continue reading