EDCMOOC Week 1 – Utopia/Dystopia

I think it’s ironic that the course begins with a dichotomous exchange – let’s face it. Utopia and Dystopia claims are usually stretched so far as to entertain or serve some other pop culture needs. In fact, utopia is rarely dealt with in sci-fi because it’s inherently boring because it lacks conflict – except in the case of Star Trek where harmonious living exists on Earth, just not in outer space… which speaks to empire and other imperialist machinations.

Anyways, I’m surprised to see this relationship in regards to education – where usually we’re navigating the 99% between the polar opposites of the extremes. I sit in the middle with most of these online tools, where how they are used, and intended to be used, is much more important than the potential ways they could be used. Education should be associated with the same things that utopia is associated with – filled with hope, a sense of better things to come. The reality is that perhaps education has become something dystopian – filled with dread, anxiety; crushed by authoritarian, herded like cattle into a room and treated as if one were a (student) number. At least in first year…

Is that because of the education system? Or the shift from education as a human interest to an economic interest? I think society as a whole has shifted from a society focused to an individual focused entity, which is in some part, due to neoliberalism. Recognizing that, and doing something about it is a whole different ballgame I suppose.

The ironic thing is that the course is presented in what might be the ultimate forum for data acquisition (a Fordian notion of efficiency, quantifying what is done, and justifying what you do)  – Coursera’s platform for MOOCs. The underlying subtext of the first week was certainly exploring the idea of utopia, and in my opinion, you have to relate it back to what is happening within the course context – it’s a course about education online. Putting the pieces together, perhaps the designers are saying this is not such a good way to run a course…

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