So there I was last night, reflecting on Luke Fernandez’ post about the tension between what Jim Groom was saying and what Josh Jarrett was saying in their back-to-back keynotes at #opened11 . As Luke says, some of the language about this tension framed the debate in terms of antagonism but to do so misses the point. We should be grateful that open education is – well – open enough to encompass two clearly articulated and useful conceptualisations.
The danger comes when the two conceptualisations don’t treat each other with mutual respect. As my wife rather elegantly put it, it can just get like breadheads vs hippies all over again. The “open learning” hippies just see a watering down of key “open concepts” into business benefits and analytic data, the “open learning” breadheads just see a load of wishful thinking and very little actual learning. But there are strengths in moderate positions, we need to be careful not to become so entrenched that we miss out on the benefits.
At the very least, the hippies need (so the argument goes) to teach something that’s not just about education and digital life, probably using a MOOC-type approach. And make the experience scalable, because as Giulia Forsythe put it, critical reflection should be scalable – and what is higher education but critical reflection?
Enter the EconoMOOC. Although not quite enter, because at the moment all we have is a hashtag. And the #ds106 assignment library. And the sum of human knowledge on the internet. We don’t have a way for you to sign up. We don’t have a professor.
Like many of the finest things in life, #economooc began in a twitter discussion with Giulia Forsythe. Both of us are enjoying the creativity and peer learning that ds106 exemplifies. And both of us want to learn more about economics, this crazy collection of academic theories which seems to run the world and could lead either to utopia or apocalypse. We’re both happy with self-directed learning, but would appreciate peer support and expert or non-expert comments.
The first liberating step was admitting (as in the WSJ mash-up above) that we don’t know what we are talking about. The next was admitting (as in this triple troll) that when we do know what we are talking about, we are likely to be wrong.
(identify the image, and also the source of quote, the citation has nothing to do with either).
Actually the quotation above neatly summarises “why Economics” – and why we need to feel comfortable in playing with these ideas in order to deal with the constant assumption-ridden and uncritical econo-theory onslaught from news channels. I happened to read Adam Curtis’ blog post on the left’s reluctance to express ideas about how society should be organising for fear of the power of mass-media co-option, and the influence of Marcuse on this mindset.
The step after that is to begin to create artefacts outlining key economic concepts – because what is an assignment if not the creation of an artefact that demonstrates knowledge or understanding we have gained through learning. Here, Giulia is ahead of me illustrating her growing understanding of Monetarism via an animated gif.
But what happened next is amazing. An actual real economist, Steve Greenlaw, comments and beautifully explains monetarism in a single paragraph. And sparks a number of new conceptual hares running for us #economooc types to chase. Me, I want to define money to my satisfaction, given what I’m beginning to learn.
And this is the thing – it’s a proper subject, we’re learning, we’re MOOCing and we’re having fun and we have no overheads (other than our free time). Where’s the problem?
This post represents my opinions and not those of my employers. It is available under a CC-BY license, excepting the photograph which is available under CC-BY-SA, and the WSJ screengrab which is presented here with a claim of “fair dealing” but may not be reused.