Tuesday, 3 September 2013

#Feminism and Technology a distributed credited #MOOC

In the past months MOOCs have been debated on various levels. And as I am engaged in MOOC research for the last few months (following the development of FutureLearn the UK MOOC platform), I was looking for different angles that come closer to what I like to see in education: variety, creativity, recognized by many, providing credits for all who want to, catering options so different teachers can make and share the content the way they like it... and of course all delivered in a seamless learning format (will post a bit more on that subject in a couple of days).

And suddenly I came across an online course called "Feminism and Technology", in a format self-described by the organizing universities as DOCC (Distributed Open Collaborative Course. The course is set up by multiple universities, gives recognized credit to those willing to go for the credit track, and it features multiple professors and experts on the topic. The idea emerged from the people behind the FemBot collective and the DOCC on Feminism and Technology is part of what they call nodal course. The course is still being put together (if I assume correctly, just sent out an email to one of the facilitators to make sure).

From the organizers I heard that there is an online track being developed, next to a face-to-face track. The course itself will be launched on 23 September 2013. Here is what they shared: the FemTechNet Self-Directed Learners site is just getting off the ground at the FemTechNet Commons--look for it on the top menu. You may also want to explore the more interactive FemTechNet Google+ page @ FemTechNet Google+ site.  The San Antonio FemTechNet ¡Taller!/workshop which is co-facilitated by Penelope Boyer in Texas can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Antonio-femtechnet-taller-Dialogues-on-Feminism-Technology/1407936279418801?ref=br_tf  Feel free to visit and Like it, or simply spread the word.

To me MOOCs lift the learner, they are diversified in the media they provide and I learn from multiple teachers/experts within the same course. This way I can make up my own knowledge and I inevitably get different viewpoints on the same subject matter. I like that very much because I am an adult learner, in fact I liked that approach of multiple looking glasses even as a child. In some strange way it helps me focus. This was the basis for getting MobiMOOC (an open course on mobile learning) organized and rolled out to the public. 

Of course this approach is not completely new, it fits the connectivist MOOC approach as it was first launched by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, but now it gets a nice feminist ring to it as well. 

Alexandra Juhasz, a professor of media studies at Pitzer who is the other co-facilitator of the DOCC, said to Inside Higher Ed reporter Scott Jaschik "our DOCC is built to value situated experience and emphasis, and to share authority and responsibility rather than the MOOC's top-down, one size fits all, sometimes elitist approach. Attention to discrete learners, teachers, and institutions is valued over simple numbers of participants. While these structures mirror my own feminist values and approaches, I imagine that most educators will be intrigued by this more democratic and responsive model for technology enhanced learning."

Which reminds me I need to get back into the feminist realm to keep my mind alert. Engaging with a fembot collective unconference might be an idea.