“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#edcmooc E-learning and Digital Cultures

I'm really grateful to Jeremy Knox, Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod, Jen Ross and Christine Sinclair - the team at the University of Edinburgh who put this course together and opened it up to the world. If you don't know by now, a MOOC is a massive open online course and this particular one explores how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for e-learning theory and practice. I haven't posted here for the last three months, as life has been happening in quite a glorious and chaotic way and my focus has been elsewhere - however, I put time aside over the weekend to catch up on what I'd missed so far on the MOOC and realised that it's half-way through already...

So, here's a rule for taking MOOCS: start when the course starts - being online and non-compulsory, it's too easy to prioritise other things, but if you're going to learn anything you need to engage fully. Lesson learnt for me, but at least I have the last half of the course to engage more fully with.

Still, catch up I did, although I haven't engaged with fellow MOOCers yet. And I have to say I'm astonished at the level of creativity and intellectual engagement on show here - it's a brilliant, challenging, interesting and enjoyable experience and I've learnt so much already, it's quite quite wonderful!

All the earlier ideas of forward- and backward-looking technological utopias and dystopias, ideas of technological determinism, metaphors of the internet are powerfully expressed and are already leeching into my offline life and thinking. And Clay Shirky is a brilliant thinker who can express complex ideas in a very accessible way - his comparison of Higher Education's possible future in the face of open online education with that of the dominance of the recording industry unable to withstand the humble MP3s is powerful.

My own perspective is person-centred learning, so I'm a huge advocate for open education, but I'm also very interested in the kinds of technologies, or the arrangement of technologies, or the culture around technology use that really frees people to learn. Which means I'm also focussed on the end-point of education, which for me is about human growth, freeing persons to learn in order to be all that they can be.

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