Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education’ (Knox 2016)


Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course critiques the problematic reliance on humanism that pervades online education and the MOOC, and explores theoretical frameworks that look beyond these limitations. While MOOCs (massive open online courses) have attracted significant academic and media attention, critical analyses of their development have been rare. Following an overview of MOOCs and their corporate means of promotion, this book unravels the tendencies in research and theory that continue to adopt normative views of user access, participation, and educational space in order to offer alternatives to the dominant understandings of community and authenticity in education.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘ds106: Not a Course, Not Like Any MOOC’


Looking for something different from the current hysteria of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)? A digital storytelling course started by Jim Groom at the University of Mary Washington (UMW), ds106 was set loose as an open course in January 2011. Yet the UMW catalog does not include such a course. Its actual course designation is CPSC
106 (Computer Science)—a small but telling example of how
ds106 plays with and questions the norm.

Most classes in digital storytelling revolve around the personal video narrative form as popularized by the Center for Digital Storytelling (http://www.storycenter.org/). But ds106 storytelling explores the web as a culture, as a media source, and as a place to publish in the open. Not claiming to authoritatively define digital storytelling, ds106 is a constant process of questioning digital storytelling. Is an animated GIF a story? What does it mean to put “fast food” in the hands of Internet pioneers? Why would we mess with the MacGuffin? Is everything a remix? Though this is perhaps simply semantic wordplay, ds106 is not just “on” the web—it is “of” the web.

Characteristic of ds106 is its distributed structure, mimicking the Internet itself, and its open-source non-LMS platform. Students are charged with registering their own domain, managing their own personal cyberinfrastructure, and publishing to their own website. Via the WordPress plugin FeedWordPress, all content from students is automatically aggregated to the main ds106 site—but all links go back directly to the students’ sites.

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Michael saved in Pocket: ‘Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC’ (Knox 2014)


This paper will explore two examples from the design, structure and implementation of the ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Coursera. This five week long course (known as the EDCMOOC) was delivered twice in 2013, and is considered an atypical MOOC in its utilisation of both the Coursera platform and a range of social media and open access materials. The combination of distributed and aggregated structure will be highlighted, examining the arrangement of course material on the Coursera platform and student responses in social media. This paper will suggest that a dominant instrumentalist view of technology limits considerations of these systems to merely enabling or inhibiting educational aims. The subsequent discussion will suggest that sociomaterial theory offers a valuable framework for considering how educational spaces are produced through relational practices between humans and non-humans. An analysis of You Tube and a bespoke blog aggregator will show how the algorithmic properties of these systems perform functions that cannot be reduced to the intentionality of either the teachers using these systems, or the authors who create the software, thus constituting a complex sociomaterial educational enactment.

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