Even though I only just finished an intense 18 months of E-Learning Instructional Design study with the University of California, Irvine , I’ve just gone back to college.

I’ve decided to try out my first MOOC, a little bit down to to professional curiosity and a little because I think it’ll be good for my own CPD. Ediinburgh University are hosting the MOOC on “E-learning and Digital Cultures” here at Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/course/edc. There’s probably still time to sign up – this is only day #2!

So Seth, get to the point…. We’re encouraged on the course to share and blog about our learning from the course. This, over the next 5 weeks is where I’ll be sharing.


Where there’s MOOC there’s brass?

The first 2-week “block” of the course is on the theme of Utopias and Dystopias. The block starts off with some pretty outlandish contradictory statements. I’ve decided to write my first blog post of the course before I have read any of the course material, so that I can share my before-learning views and opinions, which I will later contrast with my post-learning views and opinions. I decided to do this because the two opposing claims are just so far apart that my guess is that neither one can be correct.

Utpoian Claims: “Information technologies based on electronic computation possess intrinsically democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ democratic properties or dispositions).”


Dystopian claims: “Information technologies possess intrinsically de-democratizing properties (the Internet and/or worldwide web is an autonomous formation with ‘in-built’ anti-democratic properties or dispositions).”


The claim that ICT is de-democratising strikes me as somewhat absurd. I will be interested to read that evidence that the course provides to support this claim. I can understand and anticipate that the suggestion may be that in developing countries the power of the Internet is denied to vast swathes of the population due to its inherent costs. This certainly would be a denial of democratic participation, but I cannot see how you could make the leap to save that ICT is therefore de-democratising. I wonder(I hope) whether there will be other, better arguments than mine that technology is de-democratising?

So, I will be interested to see what the MOOC offers as its evidence, especially because I have had often been too quick to jump at an e-learning solution to a learner’s knowledge or skills gap. One example of this could be how I will propose an elaborate game-based for interaction where different learners are given separate role-play cards in order to simulate a line manager giving difficult feedback to an employee who is under-performing. it would take a great deal of organisation and supporting of the learners to make an activity like this a success. The same results could the gained much more easily in a classroom-based roleplay scenario, (or even by two employees meeting up for 10 min with a coffee, taking it in turns to switch roles.)

In summary, maybe I need to think a little more about the downsides of technology. I’m willing to bet that they don’t exist, but you have to know about the bogeyman in order to prove he’s not real! 🙂
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc