This tweet, from the co-founder of Coursera, highlights several troublesome aspects of the MOOC phenomenon and the manner in which we envision online education in an age of technological solutionism (see Morozov).
No one wants education to be void of fun. Practitioners and scholars alike work tirelessly to remove boredom, dullness, lifelessness and listlessness from practice of the discipline, because learning happens best if we avoid boredom, dullness, lifelessness and listlessness and replace them with engagement, activity, critical thinking and debate. And educators hope that, in the end, students find the experience enriching; ergo, enjoyable…and if they wish to call that amalgam fun, that’s okay. But fun is not the immediate emotional correlation educators hope to establish between the learner and the learning.
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 →
Recently I posted about my current research into connectivism and my belief that it is more pedagogial than theoretical. I noted that my understanding of connectivism (something I consider integral to the discussions in #cfhe12) remains limited, and continued field use of the term would help me gain a broader understanding and perhaps come to different conclusions. I didn’t realize such an opportunity would arise so soon as today while caring for my toddler. Continue reading →