The Emperor’s New MOOC

A year ago I had my first taste of MOOC Education: Kevin Werbach’s inspiring Gamification class from The Wharton School / Coursera. Now a year later I’m dipping again into the world of MOOC Education with a 2nd class: Practice Based Research in the Arts. Oh, and one of my classmates turned me on to Creating Site Specific Dance & Performance Works. Oh, and when I Tweeted about that I learned about The Future of Storytelling.

Oopsy!

MOOC Education: meme graphic of "The Anchorman" with the text "MOOC 2.0? - That Escalated Quickly"

That Escalated Quickly!

Did I just enroll in 3 MOOCs at once? Apparently I did. I have a lot to say about MOOC Education now. So many things that are working. So many things that could be better. Most surprising, and most unexpected of all, so many insights on my own F2F university students.

I’ve come to believe that while the lectures and activities in a MOOC can be strong, just like attending a professional conference where even great talks are never quite as important as the collegiality, meeting new artists in your MOOC is the single most important thing. Like so many things, MOOC Education is what you make of it. As part of my activities in this regard I’ve trolled lots of classmate profiles and posted mini-profiles of them on my blog:
blog.virtualpublicart.com/tagged/classmates

In tonight’s trolling I stumbled upon a classmate’s Google+ page where she was ranting about how bad MOOC Edication is and how she’s just going to do directed self-study now. Probably nothing she said was really wrong. Yet I felt less for reading her bitterness.

Historically speaking, I’ve done plenty of ranting. Nobody has less right to complain about anyone else’s ranting than me. And I do get it: lots of things suck, and MOOC Education is pretty beta really.

The MOOC Education Glass

Even so, it sure looks to me like that MOOC Education glass has at least a half a glass worth of water in it. And if you’re thirsty for knowledge, ideas, interaction, and community, that could taste pretty good.

I’m reminded of Hans Christian Andersen’s parable of The Emperor’s New Clothes:
wikipedia/The_Emperor’s_New_Clothes

I’m convinced, at least for our time, that the moral is exactly wrong. There may be a time and a place where the little child’s naivete and courage to simply say “The Emperor’s Naked” is a great insight.

But it isn’t our time.

I suspect our time has about as much kindness and meanness as any other time. Human nature doesn’t change all that much. The weightless economy and the near-zero marginal cost of sharing creativity and ideas enables the possibility of new levels of generosity.

But mass media and its culture of spectacle has always evoked cynicism. Iconoclasm, destroying celebrities, and watching careers large and small torn apart as they awkwardly careen off the rocks below is our greatest spectator sport.

Courage, Cheerleaders & Dr. Martens

In a time like ours there’s nothing courageous about shouting that the emperor’s naked. Who isn’t? Courage today is being aware that the emperor may well be naked, but choosing to take the risk and believe in the beautiful new clothes anyway.

There’s always someone wrong on The Internet.

These fabulous new MOOC Educational opportunities are crappy in many ways. I was never a cheerleader. I think I was too much in the artsy crowd for that. Cheerleaders are stupid, right? Ignorance is bliss, right?

Deep down I’ve always wished I had the courage to be a cheerleader.

Oh, I forgot to say anything about Dr. Martens. But they go great with pleated skirts.

Thank you for your feedback: