provoking comment

and while I learn more about twitter (which my research assistant this morning also very kindly taught me a thing or two about today, and introduced me to TweetDeck… which I’ll get back to some day when I need to avoid my day job some more, but right now I’m wanting to get back into some actual work – but just before I do I just have to note that the e-learning provocateur’s post that I read today (as I was munching on my lunch after my fruitful meeting with said research assistant this morning with whom I was actually doing some work, before we got onto the frivolous topic of tweeting, she being the expert and I the utter novice) has stuck in my mind and my mind being what it is these days I figure best strike while proverbial iron’s hot or the thoughts will be thinner than air by the time I get home tonight so here I am posting again – I was planning for just one a day, I feel now like I am binging, like I’m eating the whole packet of timtams in one go… a reference all Australians will immediately understand but others may need explained) well anyway, I just want to comment on one of the many points Ryan makes in his post because it echoes something I was saying to my twitter expert friend and assistant in crime this very day, in qualified defence of moocdom, namely… about the cMOOC.

We are clearly in what George Siemens refers to as a cMOOC, not an xMOOC – or at least, some of us are. That is, one where the focus is on connected, collaborative learning rather than broadcast. I mean, as I was thinking aloud this morning, it is a month before lift off and I have already learned stuff because we’re talking to each other, and I fully expect now that this has set the scene for the whole course – most of the learning we experience will be generated by our own interactions. This interests and pleases me, because the learning experience is the very aspect I joined to investigate. I am thinking of other points raised in Ryan’s post, such as the anticipation within and around the higher ed sector that moocdom will be rapidly occupied by those who have for so long been excluded from higher education, or who have found it absurdly inaccessible (remote, expensive, linguistically challenging), even as the empire repositions itself to remain the font of all knowledge for the foreseeable future – I expect there will be interesting comebacks ahead!

What I’m really keen to observe in this mooc experience we’re about to fly off into is its linguistic nature, the degree of multi-modality, and the potential of the medium to help or hinder those attempting to engage in what is for them a second, or still quite foreign language… there is so much potential for this moocy medium to be brilliant in multi-lingual contexts, and so much likliehood that it won’t be! I wonder when the first multi-lingual mooc delivery will be… there are already moocs playing out with study groupings conducted in languages other than English, but given that the big gun providers are US and UK based, the delivery will be in the firm grip of English for quite some time to come I guess.

there is a lot of commentary about moocs of course (and I’ve just got a grabbag snippet on my moocdom page on this blog, excerpts from a much larger set of bookmarks I’ve been gathering the past few months) – but surprisingly little about the language (or have I missed a ginormous discussion somewhere? – there is this interesting post about the geography of moodcom, but what really seriously is there about the linguistics?) One person I’m aware of who’s discussing the implications is Paul Prinsloo, but the topic will be on my mind throughout this course – be warned!


2 comments on “provoking comment

  1. Mmm… Tim Tams.

    I’m glad you liked my post Emily

    Eric posted a comment to say my article seems to implicitly point to English speaking countries as those who will dominate the MOOC environment for the foreseeable future, and I replied back that I agreed. As you point out, the big gun providers are US and UK based (and Australia is jumping in too), so the delivery will indeed be in the firm grip of English for quite some time.

    Having said that, Horacio also commented to raise awareness of WEDUBOX – a big Spanish-language initiative in the MOOC space. Spanish is the obvious non-English speaking market, and no doubt the Chinese will run their own for their millions of citizens (both in China and throughout the diaspora).

    I am intrigued by your idea of multi-lingual modality. How do you think it could work, practically?

  2. Thanks Ryan, am honoured to have you drop by here – I found your post thougtful and interesting, and now you’ve alerted me to the many comments on it, I am reading and thinking my way through them 🙂
    While I watch awareness rising that the image works well with the word online (!), and await with interest the expansion of moodcom into other languages, I am beginning to feel sometimes, amongst all the change going on, that the very boundaries between languages will be challenged by increasingly, and massively, global education… who can predict technological innovations, but I can imagine a day when broadcasts, and conversational interaction in response to them, will be code-switching all over the shop (and the world will not end), and e-Learning environments will include as a matter of course a range of interesting language tools – beginning with the most obvious aspects of language (vocabulary – dictionaries and crude auto-translators), and as the output from linguistic research becomes more sophisticated, will gradually develop into software targeting the more complex lexico-grammatical and textual patterns that fluent users aren’t aware they operate, but that confuse and challenge newcomers to the language – I have no idea, but this is a space with entrepreneurial eyes starting to focus on it, and as the need for integrated language education rises, so surely will the perception of development opportunity! Down with the hegemony of the monolingual I say – because the more everyone (not just the relatively powerless) is exposed to linguistic experiences in which they cannot yet swim, the more language per se becomes visible and interesting, and language development an explicit goal of education in the mainstream..

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