*Finally* finished writing! I promised to share so here it is.
Funny how I'm more excited to share with people "out there" than to submit to my prof. (Should go without saying that your feedback means more). 😉
Anyway, this is 1/2 in my "summer papers that must be written" collection. It is about the problems with big prizes (Global Learning XPRIZE), big ed tech and, well, just big.
Comments good, bad and ugly always welcome.
@tdorey Just read through it; thank you! There's a lot there to think about. I remember first hearing about OLPC many years ago and thinking it was a fantastic thing (this was long before I started learning about pedagogy). Now I find the more learn about pedagogy, the more these kind of techno-optimistic initiatives send shivers down my spine.
I wonder if @Downes will introduce some of these issues in his new e-learning 3.0 MOOC. (Somehow, I imagine so.🙂 )
@Downes @tdorey Couldn't hurt. The more edtech evangelists present their solutions as the saviours of humanity (and I thought that was hyperbole until I read the XPRIZE mission), the more important it becomes to examine the ideologies and structures behind them.
On the other hand, it's such a big topic, I suppose the danger is it'll take over your course as planned.
I'm hoping to follow the course when it starts, but probably won't be among the most active. But a continuing discussion would definitely be a good thing.
@tdorey Thanks for writing this, and posting it online, and accepting questions!
My question is about this: "If there were one thing the Global Learning XPRIZE contest could do to empower Tanzanian children to take control of their own learning, it would be to connect them to the Internet."
Is this obvious?
@22 Interesting question.
It's obvious to me... For me the benefit of mobile is that it allows inexpensive access to services not accessible locally and the for two-way sharing.
I lived in the far North and for me, the Internet meant access to a library-It was big deal and helped me finish school. These kids and communities might not want/ need library access, but if we are talking about empowering, people wouldn't part of that be having the choice to choose?
@tdorey Thanks for writing! Ah, for sure I agree that we want to empower children to take control of their learning. The part of that quote I was confused about is, why connecting them to the internet was the obvious best thing to do? Both
- engineering-wise (what internet?—HTTP, POP3, NNTP, IRC but also YouTube, Facebook, Mturk, porn, spam, viruses, bandwidth abuse/throttling, …?) and
- education-wise (here I'd ask you as the expert if/when internet supports which goals of education)?
@tdorey I'd hate to be the contractor responsible for making a machine connecting my neighborhood's kids to the internet-at-large—the list of problems, complaints, & scandals I can imagine surfacing within a week is making me break into a cold sweat, and I'd guess a team in Dodoma or Nairobi would feel the same?
And, we're US homeschoolers (pre-K & first grade), we use the internet as a small part of our curriculum, readily replaced by offline methods.
I'll continue reading+thinking on this!
@22 True and a good point I will think on some more. But I’m assuming you also have humans who enable access to the outside world. To be clear, if I were picking between giving this kids a human teacher and internet access, I’d pick the human teacher (But my point is them and their parents should be the ones choosing.
Note: parent choosing to school children = teacher is this context.
@tdorey Super, I 100% agree here, and I do apologize for distracting myself+you with this relatively minor point—I do grok the bigger Foucault vs Skinner struggle that you seek to highlight. I have another comment/question, for which I apologize in advance and will send in another toot presently (need all 500 characters for this monster…).
@tdorey You write: "Big technology companies … have an agenda, to de-stabilize public infrastructure and increase dependence on private corporations; this agenda includes education."
I'd be the last person to defend Big Tech. But the sentiment here and the subsequent analysis that takes it as axiomatic, I have a hard time swallowing. Partly because it reads like something my conspiracy nut relatives would say. Partly because your arguments would stand without these accusations.
@tdorey In talking to some friends, I recognize that I may be in the minority because I feel it's not axiomatic, nor factually correct, nor scientifically useful to invoke shareholder value maximization as this engine that seeks to destroy public infrastructure and make people dependent consumers.
I personally feel that corporate decision making is so dysfunctional and error-prone that even if they had such an agenda, it would be hit-or-miss whether they achieved any of their malicious goals.
@tdorey Yeah, there's that scene in a Narnia novel, something like "Are the giants throwing boulders at us??" "Pfft, it'd be better if they were, they have terrible aim." The harm done by corporations is real and should be redressed & regulated to prevent future recurrences, and while there are exceptions (i.e., deliberate coverups, Ford Pinto, Enron), I think it's impossible to attribute any substantial portion of their actions to any coherent worldview or goal (this includes the profit goal).
@tdorey I wouldn't inflict this on anyone but take my word for it, there's truckloads of business books published every year seeking to help managers & executives achieve corporate goals—I've read some of them, it's a very unhappy genre! The only honest ones, like Rosenzweig's "The Halo Effect" and Raynor's "The Strategy Paradox", fully acknowledge that nobody has a clue how to get what they want nor any way of knowing why something in the past worked or didn't. Per Asimov: stupidity > malice!
@22 Yeah it does sound a conspiracy theory. And I did a lot of research. And honestly, I want to be wrong. But the more research I did, the more evidence I found to support that notion.
And Even if it sounds far flung to you at that point, there is value in thinking about the “what if’s”. I do believe that is their goal, what if it is an accidental consequence? Either way, I fear we end up in the same place. And what if it is their goal? What else should we then pay attention to?
@tdorey Got it, understood. Yes, I can see the value there—I'm of course not familiar with your professor or the journals you'd publish this in and can't guess how inclusion of this what-if exercise will affect academic publication, but I do think that as far as an academic critique of the XPRIZE methodology from a power and control and self perspective to people like me in industry and research, your arguments could stand by themselves without it.
(Edit: changed "should"=>"could" :)
@tdorey 🙇♂️ thank you for sharing your work, and for listening to some internet rando 😜, it brings me much happiness to watch people thinking hard and figure complicated things out! Our work as readers is so infinitely easier than your work as thinker and writer, so thank you!
@22 But feedback from readers helps with the thinking process too :)
btw: Here is the Doctorow reference. I added it online as well: Doctorow, C. (2018, August). Big Tech’s Problem is Big Not Tech. Keynote presented at the Decentralized Web Summit 2018 [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/details/decentralizedwebsummitmedia-2018-courtyard-2?start=475
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