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  1. Disclosure, I’m white, male, uni educated and I help run a MOOC (on coursera)

    I’m not surprised educational professors don’t understand much, that sums up my experience of them.

    I worry a little about how cross border and local can become effective fractal / granular approaches to an inevitable us and them at any scale. Borders and countries are just one level, and the same issues happen below that, even with the best intentions of democracy, or until a move towards a consensus based political process then disenfranchisement / pedagoppression (my turn) exists at any scale.

    We try to mitigate for this – all of our content (bar the final exam) is downloadable under a CC license. We’re going to make the course available to import into moodle and then any educator can change it, remove it, edit it and use it. We used MCQ over peer assessment as we felt it helped people with different abilities in english. We considered offering assessment in multiple languages but ran out of budget.

    Do I worry this suppresses local voices? Perhaps (I’ve long argued for MOOCs on liberal arts topics need multiple voices – and this time we used two lecturers to help that). Maybe it does for teachers? Perhaps they are one of the Us covered about, perhaps their students are another Us.

    I don’t feel this is a technological problem to me, I feel it is a problem of University research which fetishes the new and so is almost a second wave of colonialism. Breakthroughs in research are flag plantings and so on. The west has ran out of it’s own research, so it needs new resources. The technology that makes that possible is as much planes as it is the internet, it all depends on how you use it.

    With the best intentions, I hope humans can do good things with technology, but they tend not to have good intentions, or at least critically aware good intentions.

    • Dear Pat, Thank you very much for your thoughtful and inspiring comment. First about identity: I’m thinking about people I have known who were/are the most sensitive and respectful toward others from diverse backgrounds and their ideas and contributions to society and the professions, and most of those people have been white, educated, middle class, from the western hemisphere, etc. Also, forget about wonderful people like you, even when I come across individuals in these groups who disregard the colonizing effect of their work, their essentially megalomanic view of the technology and other leverages they have over the rest of the world, etc, I don’t think that they’re being terrible people. It’s the lack of experience and knowledge and the consequent opportunity to look at things from different perspectives. And, most importantly, as you’ve very well articulated in your comment, we all have to keep trying to use emerging technologies to mitigate rather than reinforce parochial views of the world, to disrupt the one-way traffic of knowledge that will undermine knowledge and knowledge-making for our future generations.
      I agree that university research fetishizes the new, the emerging for its damned sake rather than building on the foundations of centuries of knowledge and understanding of issues, while also disregarding the knowledge from beyond the traditional geopolitical boundaries and perspectives. It feels as if the race to embrace the latest technology with often little regard to the purpose/objectives of teaching/learning and research is making many in the western universities (a place that the rest of the world looks with tremendous respect for its ability to generate new knowledge as well as build on the old) lost on both ends: while the fanciness of the new/hi-tech overshadows the foundations of the local/western world, the same tendency to thoughtlessly jump on the bandwagon of everything technology and everything new also makes knowledge and people and practices from the rest of the world unappealing.
      “Oh, you’re not on Twitter? That’s too bad.”
      “Stop, you Twit,” I want to say to some people, “You’re talking to a leading scholar of Native cultures and Twitter doesn’t serve her purposes very well.”

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