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