The greatest MOOC conference in the history of MOOCs!

I spent a few days last week at the MOOC Research Initiative conference(better known by the participants as the ice-pocalypse) in Arlington, Texas.  It was, without question, the best conference I’ve ever attended.  A relatively small group, it seemed nearly everyone was not just interested in MOOCs, but held a common understanding that there was so much more to them than what the hype and stereotypes would have us believe. Continue reading

MOOCs, for the uninitated

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Currently in Texas for a conference around MOOCs.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of them – the newest ‘who needs schools when we have technology’ media darling.  They’re going to equalise access to education; anyone living in an impoverished developing country can now get the same education as a Harvard student (well, if they have an interenet connection… and of course the clean water, sufficient food, prevention of disease, lack of oppression, and oodles of free time necessary to both survive and complete the coursework).  And obviously, by 2020 we’ll see the fall of the ivory towers; now that information and knowledge are easily available how could universities possibly survive (never mind the same claims were made after the printing press meant books were easily available, or when radio/film/television enabled communication across vast distances).
But like most such phenomena, the hype and the reality are barely related. Continue reading

Why I dislike the idea of a ‘professional identity’

There’s a lot of attention given to the idea of using social media to ‘craft a professional identity’.  People suggest either tempering one’s writing or creating separate blogs/Twitter/FB accounts for  professional and personal lives.  I don’t agree.  Such ideas are a part of the intertwined concerns over privacy and identity that have accompanied the growth of the internet.  And I see them as anachronistic, not entirely in a negative way, but as something left over from a time where not sharing yourself publicly was both possible and, due to restricted communication technology, necessary for most people. Continue reading