on the narrative of broadcast models of education

This post started as a tweet (which I deleted before posting), and then a series of tweets (which I only wrote in my head but never actually posted). Then, hey! I have a blog! So… I'm not going to fully (even partially? at all?) cite references here. I've been uncomfortable with the "education is a broadcast model" narrative that's been predominant for the last decade(s). It's making another round, likely fueled by pushback against DeVos in the states (which, yikes! [Read More]

on a world with only 10 universities

Reading the post/transcript of Audrey Watters' presentation from the OpenVA pre-conference, and something struck me. Compare the predictions of two experts in their fields, extrapolating their personal visions forward a few decades: "I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers." -- Thomas Watson, 1943 "In 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education." -- Sebastian Thrun, 2012 I'm carrying 2 computers with me right now, and each one would have been considered high-end workstation-class devices only a few years go. [Read More]

on the napsterization of education

Another post on how education is undergoing (or will very soon be forced to undergo) a napster-like disruption/transformation/eruption. But napster didn't disrupt music. It disrupted the previous business model for distributing recorded music content. Musicians still exist. People still write/play/perform/record/buy/download music. The workflow has changed. The people who control the pipelines have changed. Digital technologies are disrupting the current business model(s) for distributing educational content. And that's a great thing. $500 worth of required textbooks for a single course is just plain messed up. [Read More]

on the effects of risk aversion in cinema (and education)

Steven Soderbergh, lamenting the decline in cinema in lieu of movie-making by executives and accountants: Now, of course, it's very subjective; there are going to be exceptions to everything I'm going to say, and I'm just saying that so no one thinks I'm talking about them. I want to be clear: The idea of cinema as I'm defining it is not on the radar in the studios. This is not a conversation anybody's having; it's not a word you would ever want to use in a meeting. [Read More]

on MOOCs as the most important Education Technology in the last 200 years.

Bull. Shit. Giving people access to didactic lectures by a handful of elite professors at a handful of elite institutions is not the most important educational technology in the last 200 years. Not even close. Sure, it's good. It's fantastic that I can have access to the lectures and resources of some of the biggest and most famous institutions. Awesome. But the most important ed tech in two centuries? Bull. Shit. [Read More]


>Of course, the same society now said to be undergoing a computer revolution has long since gotten used to "revolutions" in laundry detergents, underarm deodorants, floor waxes, and other consumer products. Exhausted in Madison Avenue advertising slogans, the image had lost much of its punch.

- Langdon Winner. The Whale and the Reactor. 1986.

Reform and revolution

"Appropriate technologists were unwilling to face squarely the facts of organized social and political power. Fascinated by dreams of a spontaneous, grass-roots revolution, they avoided any deep-seeking analysis of the institutions that control the direction of technological and economic development. In this happy self-confidence they did not bother to devise strategies that might have helped them overcome obvious sources of resistance. The same judgement that Marx and Engels passed on the utopians of the nineteenth century apply just as well to the appropriate technologists of the 1970s: they were lovely visionaries, naive about the forces that contained them. [Read More]