Saturday, December 7, 2013

Probe Concerning MOOCs

Interesting discussions about MOOCs at yesterday's CUNY IT  Conference. Unfortunately, the panelists were not asking the right questions  about MOOCs. They should be analyzing MOOCs as a MEDIATED learning experience,  not as an equivalent to in-person learning. The MOOCs I've audited were all  one-way, video and reading assignment based with assessments consisting of  multiple choice questions and special projects  each week, of which only a few were discussed. Interactions happened between  participants in chat rooms or meet-ups, with little or no direct interaction  with the instructor. A MOOC learning experience is more like reading a textbook  than attending a lecture or symposium.

Another way to look at it is, What  would Socrates have said about MOOCs?

Socrates: You know Phaedrus, that's  the strange thing about a MOOC, which makes it truly analogous to painting. The  painter's products stand before us as though they were alive, but if you  question them, they maintain a most majestic silence. It is the same with a  MOOC; they seem to talk to you as though they were intelligent, but if you ask  them anything about what they say, for a desire to be instructed, they go on  telling you just the same thing forever. And once a thing is put into a MOOC,  the presentation, whatever it may be, drifts all over the place, getting into  the hands not only of those who understand it, but equally of those who have no  business with it; it doesn't know how to address the right people, and not  address the wrong.
-Adapted from Plato. The Collected Dialogues of Plato:  Phaedrus. (New
Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1961), p.  521.

In  fact, what MOOCs are is a rear-view mirror attempt by educators to create the  mass audience for education on the web that emulates the structures of the old  electronic media. Finally, educators are figuring out how to use the media  ecology of television to deliver academic content to numbers of viewers rivaling  television or radio in their prime. Can advertiser support for MOOCs be far  behind?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lightning Strikes Twice! Winner 2nd Week in a Row of Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Contest!

Greener Pastures
by Robert K. Blechman

Emma Moocow, handsome, clever, and creamy rich, with a comfortable pasture and placid disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

She was the youngest of the two calves of a most affectionate, indulgent bull; and had been herdtress of his pasture from a very early period. Her moother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance of her cowresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as milkmaid.

Sixteen years had Miss Milker been in Mr. Moocow’s family, less as a milkmaid than a friend, very fond of both calves, but particularly Emma. They had lived together as milker and milkee very mutually attached, and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Milker’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.

Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow—but not at all in the shape of any disagreeable consciousness.—Miss Milker was replaced by a mechanical device. It was Miss Milker’s loss which first brought grief. It was on that milking-day that Emma first stood in mournful thought of any continuance. The milking over, and the dairy-people gone, her father and herself were left to chew the cud together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening. Her father composed himself to sleep after dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she had lost.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Undeadwood" - Winner of Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Contest!

by Robert K. Blechman
 Another timberland-style killing. Five more skewered victims had been discovered. It looked like the undead trees were branching out.
 When felled timber refuses to log off, it’s a job for me: Paul Bunyan, Zombie Tree Killer. Time to sharpen my axe.
 With my blue ox, Babe, at my side, we headed into the deep woods. After many difficult miles through virgin forest we came to a copse of unrooted tree-corpses. All the most notorious zombie foliage was there: “The Widowmaker”. “Pine Barrens.” “Captain Acorn.” “The Mighty Oak.” “Weeping Willow.” “Treebeard.” “Stumpy.”
 I felt a sliver go up my spine and turned to find “Dutch Elm” with a twig against my back.

 “You’re really barking up the wrong tree this time, Bunyan” said Dutch.

 “Hello shrubs” I said. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there, does it make a sound?”

 Dutch lowered his twig. “Gee” he said. “You got me stumped!”

 “Not yet.” I replied. Before you could shout “Timber!” I wielded my mighty axe. Soon no zombie tree was left standing. I surveyed the kindling all around me. Placing my arm around Babe, I said, “Our job here is done. Time to leaf.” Babe just groaned, as she always does.

Sunday, January 20, 2013