Last week I caught the flu virus and not the MOOC virus! This meant I wasn’t able to contribute to the many discussions about the theme of Distopian versus Utopian views of technology. I was, however, able to view the short films and managed to tweet about the one called “Thursday” to another school librarian. #edcmooc
Should I give up?
I pondered what to do. Should I abandon it? It’s only a 5 week course so it means that in effect I’ve missed 20% of it. “Is it worth playing catch up?” I asked myself.
Fortunately I decided to watch the recording of the Google Hangout with the course tutors which I had missed last Friday night and this 1 hour’s worth of interaction gave me a really good taster of what had been going on.
Motivations for completing the MOOC
Each of the “professors” spent about 5 minutes looking at one aspect of what had been happening across the fora and social media spaces. I learnt that participants were discusing two main concerns – why weren’t the course tutors more visible and what should the final assessed assignment be like? This was interesting because I thought the course literature made it clear that the professors weren’t going to be hands on and it was up to the MOOC participants to collaborate in creating a narrative of the week’s learning. I also found it bizarre that people were worrying about the digital artifact they were supposed to produce at the end of the MOOC. But , for me, it’s always about the taking part and learning as I go when I embark on a course of study. I don’t need the assessment at the end to validate my achievements although it’s sometimes nice to have it! It was interesting to hear one of the tutors suggest that thinking about the end product at the beginning was a way for some people to make a strategy for navigating their way through the course. I have never looked at it like that before. For me it’s always the excitement of the journey and the unknown destination – a bit like a magical mystery tour
Constraining tropes when talking about digital culture
The discussion about the actual content of the first week was also a great summary of what I had missed. It was interesting to consider the way scholarly writing in the past 20 years had resulted in a binary discourse in relation to technology, culture and educational learning.
Distopia v Utopia
Native v Immigrant
Digital v Non Digital
These are simplistic constraining binaries and we have been greatly influenced by them. It opened my eyes to how my own thinking has been moulded by this narrative. I’ve always found the Native v Immigrant description flawed. It’s quite obvious when working with 11- 18 year olds that it depends on a mix of personality, upbringing and peer group pressure as to how individuals approach the technological world. I also became aware of the artificiality of the dichotomy between Digital v Non Digital when I purchased my first iPAd a couple of years ago. The digital and non digital world has become very blurred for me through the use of this tablet.
However, up until now I hadn’t challenged the cultural constraining discourse of Distopia v Utopia and I shall certainly look to do so in the future.
Constraining Trophes when thinking about Learning
I’m also now thinking about how educationalists use this oppositional structure when considering young people’s learning.
Facts v Skills
Formal v Social
Do I need to challenge myself about this simplistic view of the world of learning too?