In reading the Higher Ed story about the new institutions joining Coursera, I am reminded of one of my favorite texts: Davies’ (1993) Shards of Glass. This wonderful book is a story of binaries describing how texts influence the way children think about their gender, themselves, and others. Davies notes that texts inscribe children’s reality. Children, influenced by the texts that permeate their world, adopt storylines that shape the ways they view the world and act within it. If we take this stance as one possibility of how perceptions of gendered identity are formed, one question to ask is: Do children abide by dominant storylines that keep their gender in place? Davies would argue that they do – hence her attempt to empower children with alternative discourses. Such discourses go beyond the male-female binary and the conceptions that “male” ought to represent masculinity and “female” ought to represent femininity.
Female – Male.
Real – Virtual.
. . .
The Higher Ed story notes:
“The partnerships announced this week also represent a break from Coursera’s plans to work only with elite institutions.”
“To partner with so many institutions, however, Coursera will sidestep a contractual obligation to primarily offer courses from members of the Association of American Universities or “top five” universities in countries outside of North America. It will do so by creating a new section of its website to house material from the less-than-elite state universities. This different section will offer MOOCs but will be branded in a different way.”
Elite – Non-elite
How does this lens, this perception of educational institutions affect the way we view and act in the world as students, faculty members, administrators, and educational technology designers/developers?
. . .
Davies, B. (1993). Shards of glass. Sydney: Southwood Press.
Martin Weller asks, “What’s your MOOC metaphor?
I like the Dim sum (or Greek mezedes) metaphor to describe course exploration. Dim sum is described by Wikipedia as “a style of Cantonese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum is also well known for the unique way it is served in some restaurants, wherein fully cooked and ready-to-serve dim sum dishes are carted around the restaurant for customers to choose their orders while seated at their tables.” Food metaphors aren’t new to education. For example, Hartley wrote about the McDonaldization of education as early as 1995 – two years after Ritzer published The McDonaldization of Society.
Back to Dim sum/mezedes. In considering MOOC completion rates (better term, anyone?), individuals who sign up for MOOCs may not necessarily intent to complete the course. Rather, they might be curious about the course, professor, or institution, exploring/investigating the topic and their desire to dedicate further time to it. This exploration is similar to a meal where one tries out small portions of various dishes. One could try the vegetable dumplings, and quickly move to the next dish if the dumplings aren’t tasty or are satisfying the need/desire.
This metaphor isn’t without problems. Dim sums/mezedes are inherently social events, while in MOOCs the experience comes to an abrupt end once an individual decides to end his/her exploration. Further, this metaphor breaks down when considering individuals who complete courses because in such a meal monopolizing a dish would be bad form.
What I do hope breaks down in this metaphor is the notion of standardized, one-size-fits-all, “ready-to-serve” courses.
A few weeks ago, Audrey and I submitted an application for a MOOC fellowship. Here’s Audrey’s announcement. Here’s my announcement. The voting phase of the competition has closed, and the next step is for the team of jurors to make funding decisions.
Regardless of the outcome, I wanted to thank each and everyone who voted for our proposal and shared our work with others. Seeing images like the one below over the past couple of weeks is both humbling and motivating. Thank you!
A number of South African colleagues have come together to launch Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, a peer-reviewed, open access journal with the goal to publish scholarly articles and essays that describe, theorize, and reflect on teaching and learning practice in higher education. The inaugural issue is scheduled for December 2013.
The editors welcome contributions that are critical and well-researched, whether they are analytical, theoretical or practice-based, as well as contributions that deal with innovative and reflective approaches to teaching and learning. They are particularly interested in articles that have relevance to the South African educational context.