I bet there are bloggers out there who write outlines, and carefully craft their ideas in drafts, and revisions. Generally, I start out withe the classic half baked quarter thought eight pondered idea and see where it goes.
This one could be a rambler, but I’m getting cranky at seeing overly simplistic and outright ludicrous ideas about what an educational experience really is. And I can be accused of trying to make a special case because I am part of the system, but the comparison of the demise of the way being for the publishing, traveling, music business by no means makes it a natural conclusion to say education being so easily displaced by the Brave New World.
Why? Learning is not a transactional experience. It is way more messy (and hence interesting) than these other industries. They wer ripe for being undermined because their models were easily subverted by the processes of increasing supply, lowering costs, and undercutting services.
Parts and Wholes
The conversation of learning online (a very subtle but powerful distinction from the mindset of online learning, e.g. courses) is surprisingly binary. It is the hollywood infused model of the insanely passionate teacher
versus the idea of learning online as purely the correspondence type courses people associate with the greedy private educorp industry.
Why are we so locked in this binary view of learning online? From al I have seen over the years, the vast majority of powerful learning is way in the middle of these poles, yet this is the way things are painted.
Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It tends to be a monologue and not a real dialogue. The Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can, with his sensitivity to unspoken moods and enthusiasms. This is particularly true of online courses for which the lectures are already filmed and in the can. It doesn’t matter who is sitting out there on the Internet watching; the course is what it is.
This is an utterly simplified and grossly generalized picture of what happens in online courses (and do not even get me going on the myth of “real dialogue”). What is with “the course is what it is” like it is just a pile of papers, or books, or web pages. That is not a course. That is course material.
But I will not claim I have witnessed enough courses in detail to say for sure, but I can speak from the experience of teaching the online summer version of ds106.
I cannot full describe my “sensitivity to unspoken moods and enthusiasms” but I know my students online from their own expressions creativity, participation than I did in the classroom. Let me share what our students said about class (not in some required feedback form, but their own reflections, the entire collection of blog post links and videos are available as a storify).
When we hear students write about how their awareness of copyright, remix, creative commons has been raised, that warms us. When they tak of building relationships, friendships with not only their fellow UMW students, but larger online community of open participants, that says this is more than a course.
Again, I feel like I am coming from another planet, because the last thing ds106 is about is “the course” or the “content” – it is a social learning experience.
I was a few days late enrolling in this course and felt like I was constantly playing “catch up” right out of the gate. But Martha and Alan were welcoming and the other participants and students were great in helping me along the way and encouraging me with accolades and constructive criticism. My think that ds106 would be fun and creative part was accurate, but easy? Well, not exactly easy for ME, but I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure this ds106 experience is one that I will never forget.
There you have it. My final video home. It was really tough shutting that camera off. I’ve come to realize that I’m a DS106er #4life as Martha so puts it. I plan to continue to be active when I can. Even if its something as simple as a daily create here and there. I also plan to do something else for DS106, BUT I won’t give that away. If it falls through though I’ll blog it, and hopefully ALL DS106ers will know about it
This course has been a real game changer for me. I feel like despite set backs throughout it- from work to family issues- my directors really helped me get through everything. They were understanding and showed me that it all really was about MY journey. And I’m proud to say I got through it to the end. All my work on here is a representation of who I am; they are all pieces of my views, experiences, and personality.
I want to come back to this key point “All my work on here is a representation of who I am; they are all pieces of my views, experiences, and personality.” because it is this establishment of one’s own record of their learning, in a space they own, that goes way beyond what some enterprise eportfolio template can do or some badge.
I’ve tried my best to keep up these last couple of weeks. I have been really proud of the work I have submitted. I was very surprised with some of my project results; I never thought I could do some of the things I did! It’s always nice to surprise yourself. Despite some of the setbacks along the way, I am truly glad to have taken this course. Thanks for reaching out to me when I needed it and for still having faith in me! It’s been a stressful, yet very fun 10 weeks.
I learned so much from this class that I never thought I would learn. This class really pulled my creativity out. Even when I thought I was being creative, my teachers pulled for more and I gave them what I didn’t think I had. I liked how I got to choose my assignments and my teachers didn’t force anything on us. If I could work on photo editing ALL DAY LONG, I would. The weeks where we worked on photos, I worked so hard my teachers had to tell me to slow down.
My teachers were AMAZING. It was so easy to contact them and when I needed any king of help they were right there. Along with that, there were a lot of people in the class that helped me to endure the summer. There isn’t enough time nor words in the world to allow me to thank everyone enough for how much they have helped. I would have never thought I would make some friendships like I did in a summer class. The only thing I hated about this class was that I was not able to see people face to face. I wanted to personally thank people for their help and actually greet them. But throughout everything, this class was amazing.
I liked how interactive the class was. The assignments were fun and I got a chance to be creative. I also liked how we were divided up into cabins and given the chance to interact with others through the internet, since we were not in a classroom environment. Even though I got very frustrated at times, I never felt alone. I appreciated how the professors gave so much feedback and assistance. When I needed help, they reached out to me. It is nice to know they care so much about the success of their students. I hope I too, one day, can be a teacher who is not just doing her job, but wanting to do her job, because others benefit (students learn). It is truly a rewarding occupation!
I had really no idea what this class would be like. At the beginning, this class was an enigma. I was unsure of how it would be laid out and where I would fit into the dynamics of class. I was completely new to a lot of aspects of this class and was nervous about how I would complete assignments. In the end, DS106 was a great experience. It was a bunch of fun and stretched my knowledge and experience with the wonderful world of digital storytelling. It taught me many new things as well that I would never have realized had I not taken this class. It was much simpler than I had anticipated.
I am most proud of is my visual assignments. It always gives me a boost of confidence when I review my work. However, I wish that I could do some of my audio assignments over again. I have learned a whole lot more from that week in listening and taking others advice.
And do not get me wrong- this takes a lot of effort and work, and not just me and Martha as the teachrs, but we had a robust team of people who were deep in the mix like (wow, this list got way longer than I even expected) Mike Berta, Andy Forgrave, Jenn Orr, Jerry Slezak, Cathy Derecki, Ben Rimes, Bosha Struve, Benjamin Nelson (from Ghana!), Todd Conaway, Lara Jensen, Melanie Barker, Andrew Carle, Chad Sansing, Natasa Grojic, Cris Swanson, Jeff Mclurken, Ben Harwood, Cris 2B, John Johnston, Norm Wright
Oh, what am I thinking? The Big Future is going to be by 2020 the bulk of teaching is done by just the elite academic rock stars (note, equip yourself with a bark bag before reading that bit of tripe).
By 2020, we could be on the way to embracing continuous, lifetime learning for everyone in society taught by the world’s greatest academic rock stars. New curriculum DJs – who are able to mix-and-match course offerings for specialized degrees – may emerge, selling their digital wares on iTunes. Just as we all grew up playing air guitar and pretending we were Bon Jovi or Aerosmith, the students of tomorrow may grow up imagining that they are academic rock stars explaining concepts in front of the video camera with tens of thousands of screaming fans worldwide.
Do You Want Frieds with that Degree?
It really feels like this talk of numbers, scales, machine-assessing learning is the very model of the same mindset that has brought us the Big Mac. Yes you can get filled on those MOOCs but how are the arteries in your brain?
Welcome to assembly line learning. Is Daniel Reed wearing a headset?
Online education has the same potential to transform a small number of instructors and institutions into megabrands, with hundreds of thousands of globally distributed students. It could also allow teachers of more esoteric material to reach global audiences. The question is culturally simple. As a student, would you rather take a required general education or specialty elective course from one of several internationally rated instructors and/or lauded scholars, or be constrained to the pedagogical skill and intellectual acumen of the professors at a single university?
The question is simple, would you rather take a mass produced course from some talking egomanic who does not even know who the heck you are, or might you prefer to have the care and attention of someone who may not have a talent agent, but actually will teach to where you are at?
Even in a counter to MOOC Mania, it gets twisted. Going back to Edmunson, he actually trips himself up (IMHO) in how he glowingly describes the pure academic experience, and specifically shows that it’s much more than a course:
A large lecture class can also create genuine intellectual community. Students will always be running across others who are also enrolled, and they’ll break the ice with a chat about it and maybe they’ll go on from there. When a teacher hears a student say, “My friends and I are always arguing about your class,” he knows he’s doing something right. From there he folds what he has learned into his teaching, adjusting his course in a fluid and immediate way that the Internet professor cannot easily match.
What a minute, the large lecture class does not create that “genuine intellectual community”- people do. This is the part of learning that is not just the course, but the web of interaction around a course that make it rich. And to be honest, there is no reason why people will not create social fabrics around and in support of their learning, it would seem a natural thing to have happen… learning is more than the course, the class, the lecture, the content -witness the Coursera Meetups.
But the question is, how much of the design of these online learning opportunities establish some sort of potential for the interactions that make it more than a course. Just watching Kahn videos or doing your Code Academy exercises — the potential is a lot lower for the networked kind of learning that, a lot of people (well ones I hang out with) put their energy into.
Well, I did have a whole other part of this to dive into the ideas of Jon Udell’s Awareness network, the rise of UMW’s Domain of Ones Own, and the under-estimated power of syndication and syndication of syndication we are doing at UMW. I’ll save that for another post, I am hungry and want something you cannot mass produce