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Thursday, September 4, 2014

MOOCS

Prompted by John Cooper's interesting comment, I found and read an extremely long and fascinating Wikipedia entry on Massive Open On-line Courses [MOOCs].  Wow.  Who knew?  [Everybody but me, I suspect.]   This provokes a flood of thoughts along many different dimensions.  Since I have absolutely no experience whatsoever of this very new phenomenon, I am, I suppose, just the right person to speculate about its significance, right?

Perhaps I will try my hand at exploring some of the implications, without any effort to come to conclusions. 

3 comments:

Chris said...

You might be interested in David Harvey's two online courses for Volumes I and II of Capital:

http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital/

Tony Couture said...

The MOOC article on Wikipedia is overwhelming in detail and it is hard to get the larger picture of what is happening to higher education. But having 17 technicians in a MOOC tweaking the content of a long gone professor is the wrong form of job sharing--one good tenured job is being turned into Mcjobs for 17 technicians of education. Subaltern functionaries of the superstructure is what I think Sartre calls them in his "Plea for Intellectuals." A critical view of the enthusiasm for new media like MOOC's is called "communicational millenarianism" by Armand Mattelart. THis "salvation by the new means of communication" view is also found in Condorcet and William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, from there it finds its way into J.S. Mill's On Liberty. If any of your readers are interested, I am teaching an open course on "Philosophies of Communication" that can be accessed by going to the home page upei.ca, selecting the link at center bottom page called Moodle@upei and then searching for "Phil 353" and then signing in as a guest. I am doing a "genealogy" of communication and will be putting together many resources on what philosophers have said about communication and the communication business. My class is currently small (7 students), and the online sections will be added 2 per week as I teach the course in person Sept 4 to Nov 27. My course may be a SOOC though, meaning a Small Open Online Course but it is an open experiment. I do confess that I feel sometimes like Nietzsche in that film ANd Then Nietzsche Wept lecturing his heart out to an empty classroom while the world sits in a remote control mindset transfixed behind its many screens. All these experiments could be looked at anarchism breaking out into the wider culture, unable to be held back now that every human can copy and feed off the flow of constant information. Thomas Piketty may have written Capital in the Twenty-first Century, but what we really need is someone to write Anarchism in the Twenty-first Century. Anarchist practices of resistance to government and in particular unnecessary governmentality are emerging unforeseen through this set of technologies, this is driven by ordinary folks experimenting, not theorists of anarchism.

Anarchism don't get no respect though. I like your analogy to Rodney Dangerfield, as he is the ultimate comeback artist among comedians. He is also one of the best stand up comedians ever. His stand up is available as "Rodney's Act" (1988, Las vegas) as part of the 3 dvd set called Rodney Dangerfield: No Respect The Ultimate Collection. In that 90 minute act, Rodney tells more jokes than a human machine gun and almost dies kissing a girl on stage. It is his best, his moment of "fullness" as Charles Taylor would say, where he transcends his human ugliness and turns into a laughing lion in the face of death.

Ludwig Richter said...

Do speculate, please.

I see MOOCs in the context of late capitalism relentless drive to commodify everything. For example, consider the work of the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation to transform the "delivery model" of higher education through technological means:

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Gates-Effect/140323/

"The foundation wants nothing less than to overhaul higher education, changing how it is delivered, financed, and regulated."