Again in #edcmooc, we navigate a world that is both physical and virtual, now looking at where human-ness lies.
Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk raises the question that I haven’t considered in some dozen years (thankfully), distracted as I’ve been by the mundane of getting through the day: what it means to be human. In readings and film, #edcmooc has looked at education’s role in human development, while looking at the technology as either an instrument or an outside force. Fuller gives historical perspective, hearkening to the ancient Greeks, who put education at center of being human. In the modern artifice, we take an engineering approach. Humanity is apart from physical existence; it can be enhanced. A slide presents a dichotomy of interpretations of humanity.
- Closer to god: signature science, optics.
- Closer to animals: signature science, natural history.
The lecture presents a framework for interpreting the week’s selection of films. Surely throughout the class, we’ve seen lots of optics in futuristic clips.
As advertisements, for Toyota GT86 and the phone services of Heart to Heart, present by a simple message. Toyota presents the natural world as “real,” more human than the pixel images of technology. It also emphasize human agency. Autonomous cars are coming and clearly are a threat to the auto industry. Human control of the machine is portrayed as better. In “Heart to Heart,” a telephone conversation is a richer form of communication to the man who reaches out to his wife for a warmer, more intimate communication medium than text-based messages offer.
The quirky “They’re made of meat” raises questions about what it means to be human. I think it’s a play on the slang “meat space.” Visiting aliens view human communications as bizarrely meat-based. It flips our perceptions, where the physical is generally considered to be more real. So too, in World Builder. The woman is incapacitated, in a “Neuroholographic Recovery Room.” The man, through a computer program, builds a romantic village street, that is both centuries-old, with fountains, and modern, with power lines. The woman experiences this world only in her mind, but it is sufficient to give her pleasure. Both these films suggest a level of communication and interaction that is meaningful, yet beyond the physical world.
The Kolowich article suggests that online education is made more human, with video or audio. I think the real point is that it is more engaging or even entertaining. As Fuller states, what is human is a complex question, and Kolowich is not engaging at that level. That aside, I would agree that the richer sensory experience enriches the education. In my work in ALA’s elearning program, we have encouraged instructors to use video or audio clips.
I found much of Monk’s arguments to be compelling. My wife is a school librarian, and we have often discussed how the reading and reading aloud with is undervalued in today’s K-12 world. A few ideas echoed my sentiment after viewing the promotional clip of Week 2 for Corning. I like the quote Theodore Roszak: “ An excess of information may actually crowd out ideas, leaving the mind (young minds especially) distracted by sterile, disconnected facts, lost among shapeless heaps of data.” Building on this, Monk writes “Accumulation, manipulation sharing of information edge out contemplation, and expression of ideas and the gradual development of meaningful connectons in the world.” If technology drives education, it ends up in a place where technology excels.
The O’Reilly Radar blog pointed to a Dan Meyer blog post with this excerpt. (Note the use of metaphor!)
The Internet is like a round pipe. Lecture videos and machine-scored exercises are like round pegs. They pass easily from one end of the pipe to the other.
But there are square and triangular pegs: student-student and teacher-student relationships, arguments, open problems, performance tasks, projects, modeling, and rich assessments. These pegs, right now, do not flow through that round pipe well at all.
Online education does make it possible for this sort of connection and overcomes the limitations of time and space. I see the real potential of the MOOC to be outside the classroom or the lecture hall. I’ve used a Google+ Community as a place for my interaction, but I’ve hardly had the time to manage the readings and these summary posts, and my activity with other students has been minimal. I haven’t tested whether the potential that I see is realized in this course.
Toyota GT86: the ‘real deal’ advert
Heart to Heart
They’re made out of meat
Ideas and Interpretation
Humanity 2.0: defining humanity – Steve Fuller’s TEDx Warwick talk (24:08),
Perspectives on Education
Kolowich, S (2010) The Human Element. Inside Higher Ed
Monke, L (2004) The Human Touch, EducationNext