Thursday, 3 May 2012

Blogphilosophy #EdX where #MOOC becomes a joint venture


Video streaming by Ustream After reading the launch of EdX with great interest, I feel that the work of a lot of us open learning minded learners has been tamed by big institutes. Utopia has been monetized (although seemingly only limited as it is under the umbrella of non-profit, however I did read Joint Venture in the press release) and put into a stricter model where - if I understand it correctly and please put me straight if I did not get it - the assistants, professors, and grading algorithms of the richer universities will blast away smaller initiatives that are based on peer knowledge exchange, natural learning and human enrichment.

Of course this is me writing, the me who believes that a diversity of approaches is more closely related to human evolution than providing only one model, due to economical potential. A learner should be able to choose the model that fits her/him best.

In the launch of EdX there was a big focus on the fact that enormous research will be done on the nature of learning via the participants that register for the courses. I applaud this with all of my heart, for yes, I do believe in research (not sure if research results are necessarily taken up by policy makers, but ... it has value to me). Only wondering if the EdX research will also be open? So that anyone will be able to benefit from it? That way small schools in less fortunate areas or with underpriveledged students can benefit from it as well. For research results can be embedded in a diversity of approaches if those research results are open for all to read, grasp, build upon.

Nevertheless I am happy to see the conscious choice to put out content open to a global audience on a wide variety of really, really interesting subjects and ... with a certificate option?!!! That is more than most of our educational institutions could/can offer. In fact it looks to me as if this is a major educational magnet that can attract a plethora of students.

The New York times did quote George Siemens, but ... it just is not the same as moving ahead with people that choose another way of teaching/learning because of philosophical reasons. Now all of a sudden the concept of being open, discussing with people who are simply 'in to it' will become a business model. It is good to hear that no profit is expected, but ... it will have a business model and ... that is the way the world turns.

Reading the almost salivating comments of Harvard/MIT people on connecting to the Chinese and Indian learners makes me wonder if the world is better off only using one learning/teaching model? The rich history of pedagogical approaches, embedded in cultures on all continents will again be flatted down into one, overarching model.

Okay... there is only one thing left to do before learning/teaching diversity comes down to the one, global, dominant model: getting the diversity of models gathered in a book. An eBook preferably, giving a voice to the diversity of teaching that happens around the world, in a multitude of cultures, because they can and have been doing it since the dawn of time. Learning is human, as such we are all part of it, and all science related to it should be open, natural and diverse in order to evolve towards a more balanced world for all of us. Maybe I should knock on the door of Stephen Downes and others to reach out to those teachers/sharers of knowledge who live it, love it and teach it ... their way and collaboratively write the book.