Wednesday, 13 February 2013

MOOC wars

Shirky versus Bady

The debate over whether MOOCs are the inevitable future of education has been raging and nowhere more so than the blog post by Clay Shirky entitled Napster,Udacity, and the Academy . Metaphors abound in this blog post where Shirky, a Professor at NYC, argues that education packaged as a degree will go the same way as the music industry (where albums are unbundled ans sols as individual songs). Here the user/customer has control. In the same way, the traditional degree can be unbundled through MOOCs.
A similar metaphor can be found with newspapers, where they can be unbundled online with the user only paying for one article. The rebuttal argument by Aaron Bady “Questioning Clay Shirky”  disputes this and uses the metaphor of the validity of a online surgeon versus a real one. Interestingly, Shirky replied to this rebuttubal, eloquently, I believe.
The fact that the Gates Foundation has put money into MOOCs further legitimises them in my mind, placing me firmly in Shirky’s camp.  The New Your Times declared 2012 as the "Year of the MOOC"


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Digital Cultures of the future

Utophian Views of Adverts

Education is interactive, blurring the lines between reality and augmented reality. Most of all education if fun.
Ask any child whether they’d prefer that type of education envisaged in the adverts to sitting in a classroom. Communication is instant, ubiquitous, always on. Following the trend from where communication has come from technologically, this seems like a natural progression. The view of the future of technology shown in these adverts is obviously utopian, where everyone is happy, the technology being one of the causes of this happiness. Deterministic view again!




Dystopian View

To me The 3rd clip “sight” has the same theme as the adverts, that of “augmented reality”, except that it takes a more dystopian view, where the game becomes more important than the real life social situation. The technology is directing the actions of the “player”, so is the real life interaction any more real than if this were a online artificial relationship? With Google Glass and a few other similar inventions this clip doesn’t seem that far off and has definitely caused me to question my utopian view of future digital cultures as well as to think more about gamification of education.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Technological determinism

Technological determinism is basically the belief that when technology changes, it causes changes in society. Thinking about this, I could be guilty of determinism, for example, I have said “the smartphone has changed the way students communicate”. I now realise this is a deterministic statement, and the readings this week have challenged me to think more about this. 

Another useful reading
 To go further, some of the authors mention in the reading “hard” technological determinism where “changes in technology exert a greater influence on societies and their processes than any other factor”. I have always seen technology as an inevitable and inescapable progression, but from a utopian perspective. 

Way back in 1967 Robert L. Heilbroner, in “Do Machines Make History” looked at the effect of technology in determining the nature of the socioeconomic order. In a completely deterministic view he argued that “the technology of a society imposes a determinate pattern of social relations on that society.”  So this is not a new concept – 45 years ago the same views were being pondered. I find this comforting, in a way J