Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dystopia now

Blade Runner cityscape

On the EDCMOOC this week readings and videos consider utopian and dystopian views of technology.
Generally I have considered myself in the utopian camp .... for the last 4 years I have been waxing lyrical about Twitter and my PLN; I have spent the last couple of years advocating the use of wikis, Facebook and blogs to my students as a way of collaborating, connecting, learning and engaging. However this week I have been sensitive to some of the down sides.... 250000 Twitter accounts hacked.....loud personal conversations on mobile phones on the bus.... a teenager's relationship suddenly thrown off course by the injudicious posting of a photograph on Facebook..... The Life Scientific on Radio 4 discussing the use of robots in combat ...

I haven't come to any conclusions but this heightened awareness is interesting and I will no doubt be exploring it more as the mooc progresses.

The more pressing dystopian vision for me concerns the future of teaching in higher education. Again I tend to be of a fairly cheery and optimistic outlook, but in a week when - over on OLDSMOOC - I have been looking at the art and science of learning design, I came face to face in a recent meeting with the real issues that shape how education is delivered (and I realise even that phrase has contentious and dystopian overtones). This consisted of a a conversation that centred not on pedagogical principles, nor even on what learners need, but how to make optimum use of classrooms and reduce staff input whilst making the KIS look good. And the message that it is not for the teaching staff to determine how best they can deliver their subjects but that this will be dictated by senior management. Grainne Conole's 7 C's of Learning Design need expanding to include an eighth - Constraints.

But to end on a positive note..... I teach a module for final year social work students which requires them to develop an online presentation of  a group project. The first year I ran this, blogs and Facebook were the tools most chose. Last year I introduced the group to wikis which was a modest success.

Last week in a classroom exploration of possible topics and platforms for this year's set of projects, one group proposed a complex but exciting way of working. Each group member is to maintain an individual blog  applying the main theories and concepts of the module to their chosen case study (Barack Obama in this case) as well as reflections on the group process; a group Twitter account is to be set up so that each member can Tweet links to the relevant posts in their blogs  and indeed to other "curated" resources - as a way of developing an aggregated resource on the topic of leadership. Frankly, if I had suggested this as a modus operandi I would have had a revolt on my hands, but watching and listening as the group developed their plan - even with some clear digital native/immigrant divide in evidence - was very exciting for me. I will be eagerly anticipating the outcome!


  1. Oh great virtual leader, guess where you have lead me?

    I joined EDCMOOC yesterday, LOL.


    1. Oh dear! In truth I am only lurking there but it looks like it could be fun :)