Just experimenting some more with Prezi. Been meaning to try to explain I.A. more in a simpler way. I’d like to go back and apply a metaphor to this.
Archive for February, 2013
Added yesterday. Got my imagination going to think of what I think would be magic…
The following includes my response to the Fuller talk posted in the Week3 #edcmooc materials: Steve Fuller – Defining Humanity.
1. Why does Professor Fuller say (almost as a joke) that education is ‘a dying art’?
Fuller is speaking of education in the classical sense. Education, as in Liberal Arts. He’s referencing the ‘humanities’ project of educating young people at the university around a prescribed classical curriculum. This is a curriculum very similar to the one of my undergraduate education which was developed around what are called “Great Books.”
I’ve been raised to think that a balanced and rich education included learning the content and philosophies in these classic works, and not just interpreting the works and their original intent but looking at the current world and interpreting what we saw through the lens of these texts. More than this my education seemed to suit me because it espoused and preached the value of exploration of the world around me via constant inquiry. The key to benefiting from these ‘classical’ texts is having professors and peer who help you interpret and understand them not just in the context in which they were written, but to understand how the messages of these text apply or don’t apply to current day living, and perhaps I’ve outed myself as a “Classics Curmudgeon,” but I will stand my my defense of understanding these texts as necessary to developing critical thought.
Now, if you choose to measure the success the Liberal Arts by whether or not it’s able to educate universally among all peoples and classes, then yes, it is a failure. And if you consider that most universities no longer offer Liberal Arts as an option because the market has demanded that graduates emerge from university with skills directly applicable to the workforce, then, yes, it practically is a dying art.
2. He talks about the ‘modern artifice’ of enhancement: how might this notion of becoming more ‘fully human’ via enhancement impact on the project of education?
The definition of what is human to the educators of the “Classical” period, as Fuller states, was not achievable by every person. It’s still not achievable by everyone, but does it mean that it’s irrelevant? It could be that I’m misinterpreting this question so I’ll restate what I think it’s saying: How does the notion of becoming more human impact the project of education? (to be frank I really don’t like how this question is worded and I feel that it could be framed much better. For example, How does the notion or goal of improving ‘humanity’ impact the project of education. Have we been able to attain any improvement, if so to what extent? ). It really depends upon the current definition of what is human. I agree that social values and norms surrounding the definition of humanity, for example, ideas such as democracy and equal rights that are supposedly espoused as ‘ideal values’ that modern societies try to uphold are more broadly applied than they were in Plato’s day where class and social status determined if you were ‘human’ or not. Having a whole class of ‘inhuman’ people made open slavery possible.
If you look at the dismal failure of NCLB in the United States, clearly this attempt to improve public education for all has really done nothing to improve the levels of education for students in the US. In fact, it’s done more harm than good by placing a greater emphasis on memorization and thinking within the context of the tests rather than helping students develop stronger creative and critical thinking skills that will help them participate in the a marketplace that requires higher level and innovative thinking to remain completive.
3.Professor Fuller argues that there’s historical precedent for considering only some homo sapiens to be ‘human’: what are the political implications of this in contemporary times? And how might such a notion position education?
If you think of the fact that basic human rights to regular nourishment, water and shelter are denied to billions of people then yes we haven’t even begun to successfully humanize the rest of the population. His argument is a painful reminder that this definition of humanity may still be only accessible to people in the more affluent nations. In our own times and as nations suffer from conflicts over the scarcity of resources, this idea that only a special few can reap the benefits of this world, only a few can become educated. If you want to continue to assume that humanity is a special club for a network of people. It’s no secret that the struggle to become human has been inextricably intwined with the struggle to conquer nature and become prosperous. But in a world where a population of over 10 billion people could become a reality in the next century, this idea that we can all live these idealized prosperous lives becomes more and more preposterous. The idea that the world that exists in Graphic Novels about Zombie Apocalypses becomes more realistic than fantasy.
4. He suggests that we are questioning the very existence of the ‘human’ because we have failed in the humanist project (for example, we are far from achieving racial, gender or class equality): do you believe this?
I think it’s still possible for people to obtain or achieve this version of ‘ideal humanity’ on a universal basis. However, there are structures in place, economic & societal that make this difficult to achieve. On the other hand this vision of perfect humanity being represented by the erudite and highly educated seems like an elitist paradigm. After all we can’t all become those ‘philosopher kings’ that have nothing to to all day but learn and figure out what’s best for the rest of humanity ;) Maybe that’s why this old ‘human project’ is outdated. The object should be to educate a chosen few but offer the fertilizer to a greater part of the field and then help those who flourish become the new leaders of tomorrow. Think that recent history especially in the 20th century is replete with example of this in scholarships. But the MOOC allows even more people than those few underprivileged who win scholarships.
5. In claiming that ‘the old humanistic project should not be dropped’, Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on?
MOOCs are part of the democratization of the passing down of knowledge. The fact that it’s accessible to anyone is indeed democratic. The fact that a good many poor people around the globe still don’t have access to the Internet is not so democratic. But I prefer to see Fuller’s suggestion as a warning to change this view of ‘higher education’ and adapt the “Classical” curriculum as well as how and whom we deliver it to. Specifically the world is changed and world views have changed somewhat therefore, the works that are read. In India, a core group of educators is trying to educate one of their lowest social groups: Women. The argument, educated women defer childbirth and have less children. With less mouths to feed and less competition for jobs, the people as a whole become more prosperous.
Photo attribution: Mark of Gideon – http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Mark_of_Gideon_(episode)
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have recently exploded on the Internet. Currently participating in the “Elearning & Digital Cultures” Coursera MOOC has been both an exciting and enriching experience so far. Many of my classmates have noted that it’s difficult to connect or even find what you need. I see that. If I haven’t had experienced both participating in and designing smaller online courses, I think I might have run screaming from this class. I decided to take this class to learn more about the MOOC experience and because I knew a course like this would attract a great many folks who can teach me more about online learning and collaboration. And I’m not just speaking about Digital Vikings or Digital Experts ;).
To some extent, online learners do have to take a bit of responsibility in learning how to use the tools, discovering the rules of etiquette and how to use the content creation options (Storify, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Prezi, Storyline, etc.). It’s like taking Dr. Who’s advice about Time Travel… it “ is like visiting Paris. You can’t just follow the guidebook. You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs… “
Part of the fun of engaging in an online course is taking a few risks. And because we don’t get the interpersonal and facial cues from being in a classroom, you have to adapt and sometimes overcompensate when communicating with others online.
I have a few suggestions from my initial experience in this MOOC, and as I continue to take this course over the next few weeks I’m sure I will have more:
1. Provide a digital tour with a facilitator narrating it that walks through the major places to contribute in the course. This can include guidelines for using the forums and subforums correctly. You’re not going to prevent everyone from posting to the top threads instead of using the search to find the appropriate ones, but you’ll cut down on a great deal of the clutter and chatter
2. Provide a way for the newbies to practice using and develop confidence using the communication tools. At the TCC Education Technology Conference they allow all participants to play in ‘sandboxes’ in Illuminate. This allows them to get comfortable with the tool and engage. In a former life I designed a chat activity for our LMS chat tool that incorporated an online scavenger hunt. Students were directed to share thoughts and links on a topic and discuss. Integrating the learning about the tool in an activity that uses it while allowing students to practice helps them both master and become accustomed to online modes of communication.
3. Leverage the skills of the Digital Natives & Proficient Digital Immigrants to help get the newbies up to speed.
4. Have a learning manifesto that defines what you feel the learning should look like. Encourage the students to contribute to it. It looks like the University of Edinburgh has one... but I didn’t see it linked in our actual #edcmooc. Having a manifesto personalized by the facilitators & students of the course can help everyone start.
5. Provide a mechanism or place in the course for people to join cadres where they stick with each other throughout the course. Provide some general guidelines for providing support in the cadres. If possible have folks who are more experienced with tech volunteer to lead each Cadre. Give them guidelines to help start conversations. Encourage fun competitions between cadres that help build team spirit. I know this can be rather challenging in a course with tens of thousands of people, but I think perhaps setting up the space and modeling the behavior for the cadres is a start. I see that in our course there are some self-generated study groups, but how do they know what to do or even study online without some amount of guidance?
6. Require that students have a blog. They can build one specifically for this course or use one that exists already. The blog is a way for folks to reflect and have larger thoughts about their experience with the course and topics.
How about you? Add your ideas on how to improve the MOOC Experience at this Wall on Wallwisher.
Go to the wall and add your own comments.
Tags: #edcmooc, lifelong learning technology education
In another assignment or response to the resources for this course we are asked to choose which of the perspectives below most resembles our views on the relationship between technology and pedagogy. We are asked to answer the question: Can you point to instances in society or in your own context where this stance is necessary or useful?
- Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
- Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail in our core reading.
- Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.
The Pedagogy must lead the technology or do we find the technology and use it as we see fit?
This sounds about as stuffy and patronizing as a grammarian berating you for ending a sentence with a preposition. But if I take the view at face value it really means that the needs of the students to achieve the stated learning objectives must drive the design and use of the technology. Online learning has really been through some experimental phases in the last ten or so years so it actually seems that stance #2 or the idea that “technology produces new realities” (or learning environments is the case. Let’s take the example of online forums and chat and their adoption as learning environment tools. Forums and chats were really developed more as a way for people online to carry on social conversations. One only needs to recall the days of the AOL chatrooms as places to meet like-minded folks. Developers of online learning courses adopted these tools as areas for discussing course topics and content. Later as the Internet became the spawning ground of many social sharing tools like YouTube, SlideShare, online communities, wikis, blogs and self expression tools like Glogster many tech savvy teachers saw the potential use for these tools as ways for students to develop expressive content in response to whatever they were learning. So it seems that both teachers and learners online were adopting the technologies as they existed rather that requiring that technologies be designed to meet their needs. Most of the time pedagogy and the need to educate formally was NOT requiring or driving the formation of these tools and widgets.
Technology is determined by the political & economic structure of society. Copyright is King. So What’s a Mashup Maker to Do?
The third position maintains that technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. You could rephrase this in the argument that the market demand or the government may determine the development in one area of technology. One might argue on one hand that in a society where the government regulates application of technology via patents, is stifling innovation. On the other hand this same government could be protecting the interests of those who invest their resources in research and development of these technologies. I’m of the view that stringent control will only stifle open exchange that leads to more innovation. Great ideas and the next disruptive innovation will most likely be based on ideas or products that are already out there, and to plant the seeds for this innovation the ground needs to be fertile with exchange, exploration and application of existing technology. Some of the most innovative and creative works are often derivative of past works and content, as Kirby Ferguson so effectively points out in his video series, “Everything is a Remix.” As Ferguson illustrates film makers such as Quentin Tarentino often borrow and reinterpret classic movies that inspired them early on. Tarentino’s Kill Bill series references many of classic Asian Martial Arts films while the recently released Django Unchained re-imagines and brilliantly combines elements of both Spaghetti Westerns and 70’s Blaxsploitation. Both Kill Bill & Django Unchained are remixed products that are completely unique and do what film should do & they do it well: they entertain.
But the creative process that relies upon being able to reference, re-hash or remix older works may be under threat. As content has become more easily shared on the Internet and corporations learn that there’s a demand for this content some may see opportunities in mining for content that has potential. As the European powers staked out land for their colonies entertainment corporations will lay claim on classics in the public domain. Watch out Dickens fans. Currently some major music labels are claiming copyright on public domain songs. Lobbyists for the copyright industry continue to push for laws that extend copyright claims.
Online resources for public domain works that provide a rich source of educational resources such as Project Gutenberg may be at risk in the future, and so is the ability to use content on the Internet creatively to learn. Several years ago Internet sharing helped give birth to the Mashup which allowed many people including students to do some remixing of their own. If I were still teaching in a classroom, Mashups present the kind of learning opportunities that would excite me as an educator. They allow the student to really internalize the content and reinterpret it, which if I’m not mistaken prove that learning has occurred on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It makes a lot of sense that in this Coursera class, we’re being asked to create a Digital Artifact as our final project. It’s a way of proving whether we got the major points of the class, but not in some old fashioned way like writing an essay. We’re embracing the new way of measuring learning: making our own content to express and demonstrate how we’ve internalized what we learned.
While intellectual property laws are meant to protect everyone who creates content, it seems that eventually the only parties that IP laws will benefit will be the companies that have the resources to bankroll the legal teams it takes to enforce and defend. I could be wrong, but it seems that these opportunities for engaging in creative learning experiences may be at risk.
Which position do I lean towards?
Perhaps the question isn’t worded correctly or at least to my liking. I don’t feel like I lean towards any of these positions. Seven years ago, I felt that the Internet and sharing and content creation technologies opened a wonderful playground for learners, the kind of playground that would get people to fall in love with learning. The tools and access to information and material allowed people to engage, learn and create their own content. But I have to admit I felt that we were living in the “Wild West” where possibilities were endless. It also seemed that my biggest wish as a child had been answered. From a very early age, I wanted an “Answer Genie.” This would be a genie that could answer any question that I had. The Internet seemed to provide me with something that’s just about as good, a philosopher’s stone. But this technology is changing me and everyone. As the economy and markets drive corporations to claim ownership of more, I can’t help but see them as this Leviathan that will sweep us away.
I can’t predict how things will develop. However, unless more people become more active producers of content instead of passive consumers of it, or if they realize the potential the Internet has as a learner’s gold mine, then we may not be able to take cues from anyone other than the companies that claim to own the content.
Kirby Ferguson Points Out: Nothing is Original