Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My EDCMOOC Artefact

My reason for being here is twofold.  Firstly I am here to learn about MOOCs, what they are, how they work, what value they have to the development of knowledge and perhaps skill, should I recommend them to others or not.  Secondly I want to ‘know more’ about ‘E-learning and the Digital Space’.  I had a view of that before I started this MOOC.  I have a different view now.  I have found the subject matter very interesting at times, at others a bit confusing.  I have been determined to contribute to the threads as I find it a way of connecting, however briefly, with other people with similar backgrounds and interests and consolidating what I have learned.  I have religiously written up my personal ‘Learning Log’ and made contributions to my blog for my own motivation and to enable others, if they are interested, to view my thoughts.

I have been constrained by my low digital literacy, particularly in the social media and by the alarmingly unresponsive speeds at which I have been able (or not able) to download material, particularly videos.

One of the most enjoyable subjects for me was the discussion between Clay Shirky[1] and Aaron Bady[2].  This was followed up with ‘Elite Education for the Masses’ from the Washington Post[3], the Crisis in Higher Education (Nicholas Carr)[4], Steve Fuller with his assertion that Homo Sapiens is an artificial creation[5] and finally in this same context, I read Steve Kolowich[6].

There were others – Digital Diploma Mills (Noble, D 1988), Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (Prensky, M 2001), The Human Touch (Monke, L (2004).

Perhaps the most riveting and mind-changing MOOC event for me was watching David Wiley on a TEDx video about the new Open Education and the Future.  Whatever views I may have had before, watching this video created a mindset for me that will take a lot to change.  I have, maybe forever, been infected by David's 'virus of the mind'

Somewhere amongst the other deluge of information I encountered on the dystopian and/or utopian effects of technology on humankind I came across the story of the ‘Stagecoach and the Railways’, and how the railways, in an effort, conscious or otherwise, to bring a sense of psychological comfort to their passengers undertaking journeys in this new technology, re-created the railway carriage in an image of the stagecoach.  I suspect this was an unconscious development.  It was simply the way things developed.  Later of course, the railways discovered that re-creating the stagecoach was not the most efficient or effective way of moving people.

It is not only the stagecoach and the railway carriage.  What about the passenger aeroplane?  Air conditioning systems?   Lifts (Elevators to you Americans) and escalators.   This kind of development has occurred throughout technological history.  One only has to look at how telephone technology has developed and the computer with its QWERTY keyboard is another most relevant example to us EDCMOOCers.

What is a MOOC today is modelled almost entirely on the educational system of the 20th century – which is the same system that has been in use since the 13th century – or thereabouts.  And we learned from Charles Ross through research conducted in the United Kingdom [7] of the anachronistic nature of the present system.  Which is of course arguable, and I’m sure there are some educationalists out there who will disagree vehemently with Charles Ross’ view.

For the moment it seems to me that MOOCs are the railway coach modelled on the stagecoach of the past.

[1] Shirky, C. (2012). Napster, Udacity and the academy. shirky.com, 12 November 2012. http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2012/11/napster-udacity-and-the-academy/
[3] Anderson, N. (2012). Elite education for the masses. The Washington Post, 4 November 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/elite-education-for-the-masses/2012/11/03/c2ac8144-121b-11e2-ba83-a7a396e6b2a7_story.html 
[4] Carr, N. (2012). The Crisis in Higher Education. MIT Technology Review, (Compares MOOCs to Correspondence courses) http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/429376/the-crisis-in-higher-education/
[5] Humanity 2.0: defining humanity - Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk (24:08http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/podcasts/media/more/tedx?podcastItem=steve_fuller.mp4
[6] Kolowich, S (2010) The Human Element. Inside Higher Ed http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/03/29/lms

[7] Charles Ross asserted the education system currently in use by all western nations was an anachronism unworthy of the 20th, let alone the 21st century.  It is based, he says, on the world as we used to know it in the middle ages.  It survives because educationalists have yet to develop another more acceptable model.  That they have failed to do so is an indictment of educationalists in general and will be the undoing of modern man unless we can somehow change the paradigm. (Ross, Charles  (1997)The Renaissance of Education.  The Computer Bulletin)

13th- 20th Century Education

Choose which photograph most accurately represents the MOOC 2013

The MOOC of the future?
Photographs courtesy of Heritage Zimbabwe, David Young and Wikipedia

What of the future?  Imogen Bertin, an IT Educator, writing in her MOOC Blog[1] on her reasons for quitting EDCMOOC presented some ideas on how this MOOC could change.  There are others on this MOOC – some full of complaints, others with suggestions and still others somewhere out in cyberspace making their contributions and there will be more.  Each contributor to the discussion will lend ideas and the MOOC we know today will develop, will change, will become more relevant to the present.

Will the MOOC consign the old stagecoach ways to disappear?     Not for a long time!  There are too many vested interests in the old ways, too many aspiring professionals who need the status of a stagecoach degree and too many employers who still demand them.

[1] Imogen Bertin, Confused of Cork, February 2013


  1. Most interesting ~ thanks for sharing this with me.

  2. I found your responses very interesting. As an educator (high school teacher) I was constantly frustrated by the fact that I could not exploit the potential of the technology available to me because I was harnessed to a model of education that has changed little since the 1950s. Sort of like expecting a team of horses harnessed to jet plane.

  3. I think this is a lovely video. I often find that people don't want to share knowledge as though they feel they will lose it. I love sharing, I love helping. I think it doesn't only make the person you are helping feel good and learn something but I feel good about myself for sharing. I can't imagine that all educators don't have this feeling, otherwise why do it.

  4. thanks david, i like your writing style, and the way you talk about your own experiences. it makes it more real somehow...fran

  5. A friend sent me an email with pictures of a learning bus in Japan. I thought of this post. I am not sure how I can show you the pictures. Here is a link http://auswathai-sawasdee.blogspot.fr/2009/06/school-buses-all-shapes-and-sizes.html

  6. Dave, I came to your blog through the voicethread. It's been good to hear you there. I appreciate your post and didn't know about the railway and the stagecoach. It is a good analogy for how when a new thing comes along it isn't always adopted in the best way.
    I had a very good experience with this MOOC. I came to it for professional development in the areas of web-based tools for education and to find conversation partners. Both of those goals have been met in this course.

    As a side point, through this MOOC I've found creative ways to put together a MA program that I'm developing for the college where I work. I think this MOOC has helped me think in new and innovative ways, not just putting stagecoach seats on the train. I hope that is the case.