02 August 2013

My discomfort with the M in MOOC

I can't remember when I last had an experience of quality that was en mass. They generally don't appeal to me.

I'd rather go to a small intimate concert than a stadium production.

I don't shop in big-box stores. They exploit their employees. I find this socially unjust.

I generally don't eat prepared-processed food. It's inferior in taste and nutritional quality than what I can prepare myself. Its production is environmentally unsustainable.

The two MOOCs I didn't finish were socially and mechanically chaotic. Frustrating. Although the content was extraordinary, the experience is what I remember.

Learning and education are human experiences; they're fundamentally intimate and personal. Massiveness is emptied of intimacy. It's intentionally impersonal.

A personalized experience is not synonymous with a personal experience. The former is the product of an algorithm. The latter is what happens when people connect.

In a MOOC or on the street, I'm unable to connect with 100s of people, let alone thousands. Any networking book will tell you it's about the quality not the quantity of your connections. If that's the point.

When knowledge is commodified by a few people, and massively distributed, it necessarily marginalizes lesser known knowledge. It renders it as Other and disables cultural plurality. Collectively we know less. We atrophy. We become homogenized.

When the ethos of capitalism invades education--a social system--it rapes and pillages its meanings. What is valuable, what is worthwhile is colonized by what has capital value and makes sense to markets.

My values shape my experiences. My experiences shape my world. If my values are represented, if I have meaningful experiences, this is what I carry with me. This is what makes me feel whole and alive.