Comments on: MOOCs and the longue duree http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 07:56:15 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1108333 Mon, 08 Oct 2012 22:38:25 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1108333 Socrates? That means we can all put QED after this statement: We will “keep adding the new technologies to the old classroom.”

Now we just have to get through to the educrats.

Hah.

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By: Northern Barbarian http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1108071 Mon, 08 Oct 2012 16:46:24 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1108071 VB and Indyanna — hear hear! I think that much of the MOOC bandwagon, like its predecessors, is being driven by lust for new profits and lust for novelty. On Sept. 28 the New York Times ran a piece by Roger Martin on the struggle between “capital,” that wants to keep costs as low as possible, and “talent” (in this case NFL referees) that makes the enterprise possible but that also costs a lot. MOOCs as most administrators and pundits talk about them are tools to free institutions from the need to pay talented teachers. Except that f2f really cannot be replaced, by books or radios or signal fires (!).

Teachers do this too — I just got back from a fun cross-border conference with my Canadian counterparts, where inevitably the biggest intellectual insights happen amidst animated talk over food and drink. We still refuse to be reduced to machines.

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By: Canuck Down South http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1107573 Mon, 08 Oct 2012 06:06:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1107573 Update: it’s Plato’s _Phaedrus_ which contains Socrates’ major critique of writing.

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By: Canuck Down South http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1107570 Mon, 08 Oct 2012 06:04:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1107570 I’m pretty sure that the one of the earliest known times that an instructor has freaked out over new technology taking over and destroying face-to-face interaction was when Socrates criticized this new-fangled technology of writing things down. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember which of Plato’s dialogues the conversation is recorded (or as much ‘recorded’ as Plato did)–but the substance is that Socrates is worried that students will read books instead of coming to class and talking to the teacher, and that that will seriously impede the free flow of ideas in a face-to-face setting. So the idea that technology is going to replace face-to-face teaching is at least 2500 years old, and it hasn’t happened yet–we just keep adding the new technologies to the old classroom instead.

Of course, Socrates’ critique of writing is usually taught somewhat ironically in book history or print culture classes, for if Plato hadn’t written these conversations down, we would have no idea they ever existed…

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1107401 Mon, 08 Oct 2012 03:22:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1107401 The other thing some bright neurologist needs to do is look at actual brain scans of people involved in lively f2f discussions requiring sustained attention, lively f2f that’s less mentally taxing, sitting in a lecture and taking notes, sitting in a lecture and texting, lively online chat requiring sustained attention, asynchronous discussions on difficult topics, etc., etc., etc.

Judging by my own sense of (lack of) involvement in purely online classes, I’d be surprised if it didn’t turn out that crucial brain circuits don’t engage unless there’s some f2f interaction.

Oh, and Indyanna? Brilliant! Seconded!

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By: VB http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1107025 Sun, 07 Oct 2012 16:45:25 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1107025 Indyanna: brilliant!

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1106373 Sun, 07 Oct 2012 03:20:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1106373 What VB said. The NYT had a piece a couple of weeks ago about the hideous energy-use from mile-square server farms. I said to a colleague, here’s something we need to enlist in the war over “distance.” Compared to a humming grid of servers that can be tracked from Saturn, there’s nothing cooler than a three hundred page book.

I’m sure back there in about 8000 BCE there were people out west swearing they could work the bugs out of “content-rich signal fire” technologies, burning from hilltop to hilltop over hundreds of miles, carrying the latest nuanced insights in megafauna-stalking tactics to vast and eager cohorts of meat-hunting recruits. (The vendocracy has a deep pre-history). It might have worked, too, but as soon as early adopters everywhere signed on to the plan, the fire “team” announced it wasn’t going to “support” that version anymore, and that everybody had to “migrate” to a new fuel system. Since they didn’t even have webinars yet, the whole effing system crashed and burned, amid much acrimony.

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By: Comradde PhysioProffe http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1106188 Sat, 06 Oct 2012 20:25:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1106188 I taught a class to first-year PhD students this past week, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the intense back-and-forth that took the discussion in fruitful directions I could never have predicted would have been impossible to achieve except in a physical room containing professor and students.

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By: VB http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1106038 Sat, 06 Oct 2012 17:09:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1106038 Sorry, meant to post comment here and instead posted on previous entry. To recap:

(1) surely it is not lost on us that the enthusiastic proponents of the gramaphone, the projector, the film, etc. are the people who stand to make a lot of money off the adoption of these technologies. If there were no money to be made, I guarantee there would be no techno-utopianism.

(2) it’s disturbing to me that, in the midst of the greatest crises facing the planet–the climate crisis, and the accompanying economic meltdown around the world threatening to collapse entire countries as capitalism destroys the very resources it depends on (including “human resources”, an Orwellian phrase if I ever heard one)– the current crop of techno-utopians push transitioning to a system that demands and wastes a tremendous amount of power. All these electronic devices drawing energy, the dataservers/clouds/whatever that have to run 24/7. Not to mention increasing evidence that these power centers themselves disrupt the environment, have deleterious effects on human health, and seem to affect animal navigation and so on.

In contrast, there has never been a more efficient technology than the book: it uses no power after its initial creation, can be reused almost endlessly (with care), one can hold onto one page while checking back and forth in other parts of the text; there is no “digital eye fatigue” (a new problem confronting techies and their ophthalmologists), etc., etc. The problem seems to be that most of the business people pushing these newer technologies so hard don’t actually read that much, or at least not works that require sustained attention to argument. The latest self-help tome probably can be read on the iPad without losing much – -it really wouldn’t be worth the paper it would otherwise be printed on. People whose exposure to difficult ideas is so limited are not in a position to judge how best to convey them.

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2012/10/05/moocs-and-the-longue-duree/comment-page-1/#comment-1105900 Sat, 06 Oct 2012 13:13:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19681#comment-1105900 My sense is that at least lin the Humanities, Z’s approach will be most common – using CMS or other modes in a class that meets F2F but uses aspects of online. Or where you have the option of streaming lectures, but have to go to a F2F discussion section.

I think the key is that the mode of instruction has to suit the content.. That’s the problem when it is top down. Also that online can be good, but then it’s usually not cheap.

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