Updated Session Description
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Original Session Description
Higher education resisted at first the grand revolutionary vision of the worldwide web. The Web was just seen as an infinite container of information. Thus, it seemed fitting that students needed only to follow the tracks within the LMS. In the beginning LMS’s were hailed as tools for class structuring, but began to be critiqued heavily (Groom & Lamb 2014) under the new awareness that platform ideology produced walled gardens and closed spaces—and no agency.
Some began to experiment with alternate models akin to the networked, shared, open nature of the Web. These avoided to consider the student as a mere passive subject, in need of being delivered knowledge in the form of “content”. While the normative view of students was essentially that of a learner (in my view, a consumer, passive recipient of instruction, with little will or agency of their own), the Edupunk movement, the original MOOC ideas, the Domain of One’s Own project, were active and kicking, and ready to mix up with the movements from Open Source, giving space to the development of Open and Connected Learning models.
So while one hand was playing and experimenting with newer models of action in higher education, the other hand was still in pain under the delivery model, which sees students as containers to be filled with “content”. Such schema, still dominant at the dawn of the third decade, severely impedes a real exploration of the new technologies within education. Why is the medium still seen as separate from the so-called “content”? Why in the educational practice the perceived dichotomy medium vs. content is not acknowledged as false?
In a few words, we see two hands holding each other: one of a model that was labeled as wrong by so many but still widely used everywhere; and the second hand that is exploring web technologies (and others) and which is producing awesome models for higher education embedded in at least a critical view of technology and education.
Then a new hand emerged from the newer political, economical and social agendas at play in higher education. The damaging, predatory impact of the “broken” Web (Gilliard 2017), a Web quite distant from the original idea (admitting here it ever existed outside of an utopian vision) of a worldwide web able to produce humankind-benefiting works of knowledge, open, easily and freely accessible to all. The current mode of the Web is almost hostage to faulty economics and finance instead of responding to the legitimate fluid needs of all.
In this context, how do we care for the Web and nurture and protect it while at the same time explore it from within higher ed, and free it from the myths that still hold it back? I came to believe that some analysis instruments like the ideas from platform nihilism (Lovink 2019) or hacker pedagogy may be particularly useful in practice.
Gilliard, C. (2017). Pedagogy and the Logic of Platforms. EDUCAUSE Review 52, 4 (July/August 2017). Available at: [6 Dec 2019]
Groom, J. and Lamb, B. (2014). Reclaiming Innovation. EDUCAUSE Review, 49, 3 (May/June 2014). Available at: [6 Dec 2019]
Lovink, G. (2019). Sad by design: On platform nihilism. Available at: [6 Dec 2019]
The Zen of Teaching project: http://zenofteaching.us