Gregory Ferenstein uses Udacity’s recent partnership with San Jose State University (part of the California State University system) as evidence of the beginning of the end of higher education (and said teaching profession) as we know it. The post is everything that drives me crazy about 21st Century journalism: anecdote as proof, charismatic author as authority, grounded theory and research be damned. I don’t disagree that this partnership could change higher education; of course, the inclusion of television stations at most major and minor universities across America in the 1970s was supposed to do the same thing, and twenty years later most of these expensive studios were shuttered (see Baggaley’s excellent Harmonizing Global Education for more on prior movements in educational technology and mainstream educational institutions). You should read the article for yourself, but my takeaways: Continue reading
An about me paragraph:
My name is Rolin Moe, and I am a doctoral student studying learning technologies through Pepperdine University’s Distance Education in Learning Technologies program. I enroll in a lot of MOOCs, participate in some, complete few. My interest is mostly as a researcher, looking at how the technology affords the ballasts of education: purpose, interaction, assessment. MOOCs like etmooc are interesting because most work in online education has focused on the first or third in lieu of the second; this is the opposite because the first ballast is only defined in generalities, and the third is debatable. However, I think highly of one of the conspirators, Alec Couros, who wrote a chapter for a research book about his first experience in the MOOC-like world, a chapter I was rather fond of, and was excited to see how a cMOOC from his perspective would go. I am in the preliminary phases of my dissertation, which looks at instructional roles throughout distance and online education, so I might not participate in discussion too freely, choosing rather to link to other course takers, as well as share some tangential research I am finding in my studies.
My fears, trepidations, and hopes
I just finished a week of #moocmooc, of which I was not a fan (perhaps I will detail some day). There is a similarity in design between #etmooc and #moocmooc, not the least of which is the idea that the course is not taught, but rather facilitated. The first I heard of facilitator as a cMOOC term was from Dr. Couros, and I have seen George Siemens use the term as well, but both were doing work at the same time and I’m not sure who gets credit. Regardless, there is part of me that feels like facilitator is a disingenuous monicker for the work of the person. I don’t doubt the efforts of Couros and the others; however, to believe that there is not a delineation of power and expertise in distinctive roles is to pretend such does not exist. Like bell hooks famously noted during the first conference of Cultural Studies, the set up of the space and environment will speak as much of a message as the message you intend, especially in regards to position and power. The list of conspirators is long and impressive, a mix of practitioners, scholars, users who all have clout in their fields. If this is a learning environment, there must be a zone of proximal development, and these people are the experts, some of if not most or all of. I don’t necessarily think this should be shunned, but if it is to be heralded that we are all in a network and we are all on an equal footing, that footing is on shifting ground if I am one click away from seeing who is in charge.
My son is about to start preschool, and we are looking at all sorts of unique options for him. We viewed a few Waldorf schools online, watching videos and the like, and I was shocked at how traditional the classrooms were. I told my wife that I want to find a preschool where the teacher’s desk is not in the front of the room at the chalkboard. Implicit in that statement is an understanding that relationships dictate learning, and by placing the teacher in that position you have a subject/master dichotomy happening. #etmooc goes out of its way to remove that subject/master relationship, in ways more successful (in my opinion) than #moocmooc did. But there are experts, there is digital inequality, there are inside jokes among the twitterverse regulars. I am excited about what #etmooc will provide, and curious as to how the facilitators will facilitate.
When I began this blog, I intended it as a curation of the MOOC discussion, weaving in the current news with historical reference and adjacent issues in education. That ended quickly, as the MOOCstrom (think Norway on that one) is relentless, with a barrage of new articles popping across email, blogs, RSS and social media. Trying to curate everything resulted in two observations: 1) most MOOC writing is reference-less commentary, and 2) most of the commentary (and you could make a case for commentary in general) is a simulacrum, built of assumptions and misnomers presented as zealous fact. Commenting on commentary will only continue to push the conversation down the rabbit hole, resulting in more conversations built of error.
I believe in the potential of education, technology and community to create better. I rarely see it. Adding a rudder-less blog into the din, no matter how noble the intention, only creates more white noise. Thus, the majority of this blog’s future will build around these planks: Continue reading