Tag Archives: cognitive style

MOOCBusters

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.

learning_in_2014

An amalgam of screenshots from education-centric websites — January 14, 2014.

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

Which Educators are Changing Higher Education?

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