At our Feb 21 lunchtime FutureEd discussion, we had the good fortune to be joined by Cathy Davidson for a chat about unlearning and the state of the MOOC. We opened by each sharing a story that involved unlearning. In examples that ranged from home aquariums to classrooms to social justice, we shared moments of transformation. As far ranging as the specific instances were, what emerged from the group is that unlearning is transformative because it pushes us to have authentic learning experiences and to know by doing, not to know by thin content acquisition. When it comes to our classrooms, this is especially tricky. Academic professions are built around the idea of content mastery in specialized fields, and our students often come the expectation that we will transfer knowledge to them. Even when teachers and students both understand that active, experiential learning yields the best results, we can experience significant resistance on both sides when we leave behind the simple transaction between the lecturer and listener for the wilds of the immersive and experiential. Perhaps what teachers can do for our students is to model how to be comfortable with uncertainty, and take risks ourselves. Our current cultural fascination with technology in the classroom is really just a ruse: technology is the ploy that encourages teachers and students to move out of their comfort zones and into better ways of learning. Professor Davidson echoed this sentiment in sharing what has been the most surprising about teaching a MOOC: it is not the massiveness of the scale, but the intimacy of human exchanges via the discussion forums, social media, and local groups.
See the Storify of live tweets from the talk!
Our Valentine’s Day noontime #FutureEd discussion transcended MOOC platform and performance commentary and got on to the topic of neoliberalism and higher education.
See the JustPublics@365 near blow-by-blow captured in Storify mini-documentary format, featuring live tweets from the discussion.
As you can tell from the Storify, we identified neoliberal ideas and imperatives that shape and reflect our work in higher education, for example:
- Return on Investment (ROI) is expected, researchers must demonstrate excellence in a framework that factors in profit
- Some higher ed initiatives profit while others do not; administrators balance this
- Higher Ed rewards transcend a likely (or promised) higher salary (and taxable income)
- Education hides its value; benefits are elusive, unpredictable, uncertain
- a recent LSE Impact Blog points to the limits of neoliberal argument; the greatest imperative to open access (OA) scholarship isn’t that it will save higher ed $$
- Is the move to “massify” higher ed necessarily neoliberal?
- Digitization and OA scholarship has opened medieval studies to new, larger audiences
- How do we resist the influence of money in higher ed?
Additionally, we circled back a couple times to the multiple choice test, reading the course’s perpetual correct answer “all of the above” as critique of a flawed form.
And, we admired Michael Wesch’s and students’ A Vision of Students Today that crafts a student-reported survey into a cohesive narrative critique of higher ed’s lecture format. Form=content.
A final tip: the free Coursera mobile app offers an additional platform for the course. It’s perfect for watching videos and linking to most readings, but it doesn’t fully support all forum interactivity on all devices. Download it to experience another MOOC platform and to do your course work on the subway.
Join us next Friday, 2/21 at noon in the GC Dining Commons (8th Floor) when the word on the street is that Cathy Davidson may, in fact, visit with us in person for our lunchtime chat.
You might also follow the #FutureEd CHE weekly student-centered blog http://chronicle.com/blogs/future/ . This is the first time that we know of that the Chronicle has created a blog for students, inviting the 21st century learners to talk about their experiences with the massive, open, online platform.
Here’s a recap of some of our discussion last Friday, about the meta-MOOC on the future of higher ed.
There is a new set of lectures for Week 3 is up on Coursera. If you’re in or around the Graduate Center this Friday, 2/14, join us in the Dining Commons for our next discussion.
Just a reminder that our discussion of transforming higher education starts today at noon! Please note, there’s been a change of location for today only – people will be meeting in the 1st Floor Cafe (there’s some event in the Dining Commons, so it’s closed today). The following Friday’s we’ll be upstairs.
In case you missed it, the full description of the discussion series is here. From the beginning, JustPublics@365 has been deeply engaged in questions of transformation in higher education, so we are partnering with Davidson and HASTAC to bring discussions of the Davidson’s course and of #FutureEd. to the CUNY Graduate Center.
Everyone is welcome (if you don’t work at the GC, simply come to the building at 365 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 34th St., show your photo ID, and proceed to the 1st Floor cafe). The discussion today will be lead by: Lisa Brundage (Director, CUNY Advance) and Polly Thistlethwaite (Chief Librarian).
Our lunchtime meetings will serve as a local and informal “discussion section” of the course and of the future of higher education. We’re interested in thinking about the future of higher education, as well as about how we might shape that future of higher education in ways that promote social justice.
If you are reading this post, then you have the basic skills necessary to participate in the online course, and you can sign up for free at Coursera. Once you’ve registered for the course, you don’t have to show up at any particular time for the online course. You can take it whenever is convenient for you.
The recommended readings for the course are Professor Davidson’s book Now You See It: How Technology and the Brain Science of Attention Will Change the Way We Live, Work and Learn(Viking, 2011), which will be made available free online for the first 50,000 students who register for the course through Coursera.