Archive for the 'technoskepticism' Category

May 15th 2013
Guest post on the Lords of MOOC Creation: who’s really for change, and who in fact is standing athwart history yelling STOP?

Posted under American history & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & technoskepticism

Howdy, friends–Historiann here.  I’m knee deep in research papers and final exams and have no time for posting, so thank goodness someone out there is writing for the non-peer reviewed world wide timewasting web.  Today’s guest post is by two senior history professors who attended last week’s Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned SocietiesSusan Amussen, an early modern British historian in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at the University of California, Merced, and Allyson Poska, an early modern Spanish historian in the History and American Studies Department at the University of Mary Washington.  They both attended the panel on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and came away wanting to talk about something thing no one in MOOC-world seems to want to talk about:  power.  So of course, they came to me and asked if they could talk to all of you.

Amussen and Poska ask a number of provocative questions:  Why in spite of the hype do MOOCs appear to be merely a digitalized version of the “sage on the stage” style of lecturing familiar to those of us in the United States and Commonwealth countries 100 (and more) years ago?  Why do MOOC-world advocates appear totally ignorant of feminist pedagogy, which disrupted this model of education going on 50 years ago?  What does it say about MOOC-world’s vision of the future of higher education that the Lords of MOOC Creation are overwhelmingly white, male,  and U.S. American professors at highly exclusive universities?  (And for the Lords of MOOC Creation, is this a bug, or a feature?  Friends, I’ll let you be the judges.)

 

MOOCs:  Gender, Class and Empire

 

Much of the discussion of MOOCs has focused on (alternately) their promise of providing “the best teachers” to students around the world, and presenting cheap quality education to the masses; or the threat they pose to education, in replacing face to face contact with potted lectures, further deskilling and de-professionalizing those of us who teach at less elite universities.  We want to argue that MOOCs raise broader questions than those usually mentioned. In the course of listening to a discussion of MOOCs at the recent meeting of the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies), we realized that MOOCs must be analyzed in the context of the U.S. American discourse of gender, class, and empire. Continue Reading »

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March 6th 2013
Suck on this!

Posted under American history & bad language & class & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

What I learned from Thomas Friedman this morning in the New York Times:

  • No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
  • College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
  • Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.

I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures!  To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »

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February 27th 2013
Mid-week roundup: it’s never to soon to start the Great Forgetting!

Posted under American history & art & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & technoskepticism & women's history

Up on my hobbyhorse, again!

Howdy, friends:  quick post today as I’m up to my commuter horse Revenue’s a$$ in meetings today and the rest of this week.  As we shall see, it’s never too soon to start the Great Forgetting!  (That is, the tendency of men and women both to choose to ignore, overlook, or hide the importance of women throughout history.)  Here goes:

  • NPR featured a story last night on two women’s efforts to combat the Great Forgetting of women’s role in the Seattle punk and grunge music scene in the early 1990s.  “[Gretta] Harley and [Sarah] Rudinoff also wanted to address the disconnect between the history they had lived and the histories they saw written. In 2011, the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind sparked numerous tributes to the grunge era that didn’t capture the Seattle music community they remembered. ‘We started looking at the books that were written by different authors, and the women were absent, almost completely absent,’ Harley says. ‘And we thought, ‘Wow, this is a story that really hasn’t happened yet.” ”  So, after recording more than 30 oral histories of women who were a part of the scene, they wrote a play called “These Streets” in order to document women’s presence in the grunge movement.
  • Speaking of oral history:  Temple graduate student Dan Royles describes his Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000 to transcribe the oral histories he has done on AIDS activism in the African American community in the 1980s and 1990s.  As of this morning, he’s at $5,374–let’s raise a little coin for him in the next 36 hours, shall we?  Continue Reading »

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October 5th 2012
MOOCs and the longue duree

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism

In a recent e-mail conversation with a friend who’s a few decades older than me, he reassured me that online education was a fad that will pass soon enough.  He has seen these predictions before with correspondence courses, then with TV in the 1950s and  1960s, and then with distance learning via closed-circuit TV and cable in the 1980s and 1990s.  Via Jonathan Rees, Nick Carr runs down the “Prehistory of the MOOC,” from the 1880s to the present:

Mail: Around 1885, Yale professor William Rainey Harper, a pioneer of teaching-by-post, said, “The student who has prepared a certain number of lessons in the correspondence school knows more of the subject treated in those lessons, and knows it better, than the student who has covered the same ground in the classroom.” Soon, he predicted, “the work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the class-rooms of our academies and colleges.”

Phonograph: In an 1878 article on “practical uses of the phonograph,” the New York Times predicted that the phonograph would be used “in the school-room in training children to read properly without the personal attention of the teacher; in teaching them to spell correctly, and in conveying any lesson to be acquired by study and memory. In short, a school may almost be conducted by machinery.”

Movies: “It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture,” proclaimed Thomas Edison in 1913. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.” Continue Reading »

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October 3rd 2012
Arne Duncan: quite possibly the dopiest Secretary of Education we’ve ever seen

Posted under American history & childhood & class & jobs & local news & students & technoskepticism

Yesterday, Arne Duncan announced that he wants all schoolchildren to switch to electronic textbooks as fast as possible.  Because:  South Korea!  Or something.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly!) he hasn’t talked to any teachers or student teachers recently, many of whom don’t even have enough of the boring, old codex technology to send books home with their students so they can read and do homework at home, or anywhere outside of class.  A grad student of mine told me that when she did her student teaching in the Big Thompson school district last spring in Loveland, Colorado, this was the reality she was expected to cope with.  Oh, yeah:  she also said that half the students didn’t have internet access at home, so she and her cooperating teacher couldn’t assign them any online reading or schoolwork outside of class, and they had no budget for photocopies either. Continue Reading »

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September 29th 2012
MOOCs for Mooks: local proffie takes one out for a spin

Posted under jobs & local news & students & technoskepticism & women's history

You know what I’ve been thinking?  More of you should read Jonathan Rees at More or Less Bunk.  Here’s why:  the man shows a commitment to explaining why if the future of higher ed is online, then the future of the republic is a dim one.  (See for example his riff on selling As based on Michael Moore’s question, “Why doesn’t GM sell crack?”)  While some of us just  rip something out of the mailbag, or rant about politics, or put up a YouTube of a song we heard in yoga this week, Jonathan has signed up for a MOOC and is posting regularly on the results.

Here’s his reportage so far on Princeton Proffie Jeremy Adelman’s World History course:

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September 24th 2012
Academic job ads, translated

Posted under jobs & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

This is a winning and productive use of social media (h/t to ej, who sent me the link.)  Here’s my favorite, of course:

[The] University of Virginia seeks Professor of English with specialty in “educational” technology for setting up MOOCs. Position will be responsible for attracting national attention with bombastic, unproven claims about the future of education; ideal candidate will be heavily read in David Brooks.

Busy day here, so go find your own!

 

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September 4th 2012
Too many d00dly nutsacks: I want out.

Posted under Gender & jobs & students & technoskepticism

I’m thinking about running away!

Meanwhile, for those of you who just can’t bear a pure “fluff” post with a pretty young woman instead of a smelly ballsack or a contaminating application of menstrual blood, here’s some food for thought.  Via reader and commenter Susan, Adam F. Falk, President of Williams College, writes “In Defense of the Living, Breathing Professor:”

Most of us in higher education take the long view about the value of what we do. Sure, students graduate with plenty of facts in their heads. But the transmission of information is merely the starting point, a critical tool through which we engage the higher faculties of the mind.

What really matters is the set of deeper abilities—to write effectively, argue persuasively, solve problems creatively, adapt and learn independently—that students develop while in college and use for the rest of their lives.

At Williams College, where I work, we’ve analyzed which educational inputs best predict progress in these deeper aspects of student learning. The answer is unambiguous: By far, the factor that correlates most highly with gains in these skills is the amount of personal contact a student has with professors. Not virtual contact, but interaction with real, live human beings, whether in the classroom, or in faculty offices, or in the dining halls. Nothing else—not the details of the curriculum, not the choice of major, not the student’s GPA—predicts self-reported gains in these critical capacities nearly as well as how much time a student spent with professors. Continue Reading »

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July 18th 2012
Our colleagues, ourselves

Posted under fluff & jobs & students & technoskepticism

GayProf is back, and he’s got another hilarious quiz for all of you proffie types, “Collegial is as Collegial Does.”  Here’s a little flava:

My office:

Best: “Is a place where I work quietly.”

Fair: “Is a place where I meet students from time to time.”

Bad: “Is a place where I can really turn up the volume on my music.”

Evil: “Smells suspiciously of sulphur.”

.       .       .       .       .

The role model who influenced my career:

Best: “The hardworking professors who took an interest in me as a student. They not only taught me the knowledge that I need for this job, but also what it means to be a committed educator.”

Fair: “Wonder Woman.”

Bad: “I did it on my own. Nobody ever helped me and I was always falling through the cracks.”

Evil: “Pope Benedict XVI.”

Honestly?  I would rate myself “fair” for the most part.  Continue Reading »

11 Comments »

July 17th 2012
Didn’t any of these people live through the dot-bomb of 2000?

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism & wankers

But this time everything will be different!  Reader Indyanna points us to a New York Times article that’s even fuller of fatuousness.

The great thing about being middle-aged is that you’ve heard it all before, and you can’t believe the rubes are falling for it all over again.  Remember those heady days of 1998 and 1999, when everyone was sure that the internet changed everything, and that we were all internet millionaires-to-be or stupid suckers who didn’t clearly perceive the bright future just around the corner?  Remember when we were promised the wonders of ordering groceries online?  (Who ever did that more than once, anyway?)  When we were assured that bricks-and-mortar stores (as they were condescendingly referred to) were soon to become like the abandoned caverns of a lost Atlantis because we’d be buying all of our stuff online?

Most of the breathless excitement was rooted in the fact that most people chose to ignore the fact that the same exact infrastructure is required to buy your books, your yoga mats, and your nephew’s birthday present at Amazon as you need to schlep to a store yourself and pick something up:  petroleum, pavement, and trucks, not to mention a gazillion miles of warehouse space in repositories around North America to hold all of that not-yet-purchased stuff.  And guess what?  It turns out that you need bricks and mortar for those warehouses, too.  And it also turns out that driving, walking, or biking to a store to evaluate the merchandise, whether it’s a new bathing suit or a bunch of parsley, and make your purchasing decisions on the spot is usually less wasteful and more efficient than having UPS deliver everything to your door (and/or return your merchandise because it doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, or doesn’t look right.) Continue Reading »

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