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Woody Brown

Date: 11/23/2014
Blogger:
More or Less (Part Six)

 

A Seminar on the Massive Open Online Course

(in Seven Easy Lessons)

(Link to Lesson One)

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 material in the course syllabus as any other, judge and grade effectively another student’s work...

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 “...

My Peace

Date: 08/26/2014
Blogger:
Martín Espada, Jim Foley, and his students at the Holyoke Care Center

Editor’s note. The other day we spent a few hours speaking with MR Contributing Editor Martín Espada about his former student, Jim Foley. Here's a short excerpt, followed by a group poem composed by Jim and his students at The Care Center in Holyoke. The full interview is posted here:
 

Jim took part in Teach For America. He went to Arizona in the 1990s, and taught at the Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix, in the barrio. He loved it. He wanted to do more of that sort of thing. I believe our first encounter was in the fall of 2000. I taught my Latino poetry class that semester, and Jim was one of the MFA students who took that class as an independent study. Jim was interested in the Latino community. He spoke Spanish. At...

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Date: 08/20/2014
Blogger:
Jim Hicks

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Of the dozens of posts I’ve written in the years since the magazine added this blog to its website, this is the first that has worked its way through three working titles. Having just returned from a grueling, difficult, and—I believe—essential two weeks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC (USHMM), as a participant in a Mandel Center research workshop on “Literary Responses to Genocide in the Post-Holocaust Era,” it won’t surprise anyone that the other titles were less light in tone. “On Speaking (and Not Speaking) about Genocide,” for example.

If I were a prayer, I would petition for one thing above all: that the world never see another two weeks where the subject of these USHMM discussions would again resonate so directly with the news we heard each morning. As it turned out, in the public forum...