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Asphyxiation, or, Sickness Unto Death

Date: 12/05/2014
Blogger:
Jim Hicks

You know the call, so here I’ll simply turn it to task:

“Can we get a jury?” “Hell no!” “Can we get a jury?” “Hell no!”

After these long years of hate, and after this, our nation’s latest failed Reconstruction, what else could we expect? Justice? Democracy? Some measure of public institutions we can believe in? The long arc indeed. . .

Perhaps because the nightmare of history I spend my time thinking about is as much outside our borders as in, a comment heard at a lecture by Samantha Power years ago has lately been rattling through my head. As the headlines keep piling on: Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island; no end, apparently, to these so-called exceptional situations. And yet what, after all, is the common or garden level of state violence directed at . . . well, all of you who ain’t no old white guy like me?

...

More or Less (Part Seven)

Date: 12/02/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

MORE OR LESS

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

 

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)

Lesson Seven: Wanting It

“One has but to look to see that, wherever one does not come by such knowledge by pounding it into one’s head by tough experience, it falls flat. It can neither be imported nor exported. There is no information that stands up unless it is shaped for use.”

--Jacques Lacan, Seminar XX

What does it mean to educate? Education is not the communication of facts from one mind to many. Education is something very different. There is no evidence that Mark Twain ever really said the following line, but the...

More or Less (Part Six)

Date: 11/23/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

 

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)
(Link to Lesson Seven)

Lesson Six: I Must Be Mistaken

Amazingly, the MOOC I took graded students based solely on peer reviews. In fact, this is the case in every course Coursera offers that requires students to complete assignments that “do not lend themselves easily to automated grading by a computer,” that is, “courses in the Humanities.” This would seem to offend basic logic (i.e. “How can one student, who is by definition someone who is just as unfamiliar with the...

MORE OR LESS (Part Five)

Date: 11/15/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)
(Link to Lesson Two)
(Link to Lesson Three)
(Link to Lesson Four)

Lesson Five: A Fraudulent Potential

     “And this is what we celebrate in Wikipedia is pretending that there’s some absolute truth that can be spoken that people can approximate and that the speaker doesn’t matter.”

...

The Power of Particle Physics

Date: 11/13/2014
Blogger:
Michael Thurston

It is a truth (almost) universally acknowledged that experimental writing is emotionally arid, its brainy explorations of language and its commitment to difficulty wringing from the work any possibility of deep feeling as a reader works through the text. The wrongness of this assumption is obvious to anyone who has spent a sympathetic half-hour with the humor of Charles Bernstein, the witty rage of Harryette Mullen, or the breathtaking sorrow of Susan Howe’s most recent work, but there it is. On the other hand, in certain circles of experimental writing, there is equivalent animus against the poetry reading: suspicion of the its performance of presence, and of the occasion’s tendency toward sappy affect, whether that takes the form of shouted first-person lyrics or ranted slam improvisations. Here, too, the assumption is easy to challenge, and for every podium emoter eliciting from the assembled a chorus of approving coos one can point to...

More or Less (Part Four)

Date: 11/07/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

MORE OR LESS

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)
(Link to Lesson Two)
(Link to Lesson Three)

Lesson Four: A Brief History of Failure

Largely absent from the discourse surrounding the MOOC is the recognition that the current wave exists in a lineage. Online education has a history, one that, as far as MOOCs are concerned, is a history of disappointed expectations, wasted money, and litigation.

The 1990s saw the emergence of open educational resources [OER], a movement...

Woody Brown

Date: 11/04/2014
Blogger:
More or Less (Part Three)

 

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)
(Link to Lesson Two)

Lesson Three: Let’s Not Forget the Poor

MOOCs are cheap; or rather, they are less expensive than courses at traditional colleges and universities. This is one of the MOOC’s major selling points: according to proponents, it reduces education to its essential parts and in doing so shaves off tens of thousands of dollars from the cost to the consumer, which a fortiori makes education more affordable and more accessible to the innumerable masses of America’s undereducated poor. Bill Gates would have us believe that education is “hard to...

More or Less (Part Two)

Date: 10/30/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

 

MORE OR LESS

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)

Lesson Two: To the Letter of the Discourse

“This is the single biggest change in education since the printing press.
--Professor Anant Agarwal, President of edX

People talk about MOOCs in much the same way Apple talks about a new iPod—with a frothy mixture of frenzied enthusiasm and arrogant overstatement that to the fan sounds like truth and to the uninitiated feels...

More or Less

Date: 10/27/2014
Blogger:
Woody Brown

 

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

Lesson One: Roughly $81 Billion

That is the size of the combined endowments of the existing members of edX, one of the leading massive open online course [MOOC] platforms.  That amount of money alone is enough to give anyone pause, even if we don’t consider the global reach and massive political capital of the institutions that have thrown their great weights behind this iteration of the MOOC machine. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for instance, in June 2012 issued a $1.12 million grant to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] to develop a MOOC course in computer science “via the edX platform.” MIT and Harvard University...

Filling in the Gaps with Images

Date: 09/28/2014
Blogger:
Aleksandar Brezar, Enis Čišić, with Edin Salčinović

Editor's note: The interview that follows was first published on September 25, 2014 in Oslobođenje, the leading daily in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital city. The translation is by Una Tanović.
 

 
A. Brezar                   E. Čišić

After the comic “...