The MOOC bubble and the attack on public education | Academic Matters

Instead of building networks, the neoliberal MOOC is driven by a desire to liberate and empower the individual, breaking apart actually-existing academic communities and refocusing on the individual’s acquisition of knowledge. The MOOCs being praised by utopian technologists in the New York Times appear to be the diametric opposite of what Siemens, Downes, and Cormier said they were trying to create, even if they deploy some of the same idealistic rhetoric. Traditional courses seek to transfer content from expert to student in a lecture or seminar setting. The original MOOCs stemmed from a connectivist desire to decentralize and de-institutionalize the traditional model, creating fundamentally open and open-ended networks of circulation and collaboration. In contrast, the MOOCs which are now being developed by Silicon Valley startups Udacity and Coursera, as well as by non-profit initiatives like edX, aim to do exactly the same thing that traditional courses have always done—transfer course content from expert to student—only to do so massively more cheaply and on a much larger scale. Far from de-institutionalizing education or making learning less hierarchical, some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world are treating the MOOC as a lifeline in troubled economic waters, leveraging “super-professors” to maintain their position of excellence atop the educational field, and even creating new hierarchical arrangements among universities.

via The MOOC bubble and the attack on public education | Academic Matters.

Chile’s ex-chief negotiator drops a bombshell on TPPA | Scoop News

Chile’s ex-chief negotiator drops a bombshell on TPPA | Scoop News.

‘Here is an insider who knows the texts. Rodrigo Contreras has sat in the negotiating room for several years and tried to get the US and others to back off their most damaging demands. He now believes the current direction of the TPPA poses a threat to his country’s economic and social development’.

‘The evidence continues to mount against this agreement every day. New Zealand cannot continue to negotiate the TPPA under the shroud of secrecy. With many chapters nearing closure, it is way past the time to release what is on the table so we can evaluate and debate its implications’, Kelsey said.
*For an English translation see: The New Chessboard – English Translation of Rodrigo Contreras 

TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch – Van Jones “Environmental Justice” | anakegoodall

TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch – Van Jones “Environmental Justice” | anakegoodall.

We care about giving plastic a second chance yet we don’t do the same for people?

 

Money Morning – US Facing Financial Armagedon?

The work of this team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts has garnered so much attention, they were brought in front of the United Nations, UK Parliament, and numerous Fortune 500 companies to share much of their findings. Click on the short video above to see the eerie pattern.

Another member of this team, Chris Martenson, a global economic trend forecaster, former VP of a Fortune 300, and an internationally recognized expert on the dangers of exponential growth in the economy, explained their findings further:

“We found an identical pattern in our debt, total credit market, and money supply that guarantees they’re going to fail,” Martenson said. “This pattern is nearly the same as in any pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially fast before it collapses. Governments around the globe are chiefly responsible.”

“And what’s really disturbing about these findings is that the pattern isn’t limited to our economy. We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, and water systems as well.”

According to Martenson, these systems could all implode at the same time.

“Food, water, energy, money. Everything.”

Dr. Kent Moors, one of the world’s leading energy analysts, who advices 16 world governments on energy matters and who currently serves on two State Department task forces on energy, also voiced concerns over what he and his colleagues uncovered.

“Most frightening of all is how this exact same pattern keeps appearing in virtually every system critical to our society and way of life,” Dr. Moors stated.

via Money Morning.

Gutting Our Universities and Repeating the Depression? Reimer and Macleod in Today’s Journal | Arts Squared

Gutting Our Universities and Repeating the Depression? Reimer and Macleod in Today’s Journal | Arts Squared.

Behind the tragedy of drastic  cost-cutting measures can be glimpsed another tragedy – the replacement of the traditional role of the university as the social conscience of the nation with a much more focused role as the servant of  finance and industry.

In these times of enormous transition, as we struggle with the realities of capitalism’s abject failure to achieve human and planetary wellbeing, the need for alternative modes of thinking and innovation has never been greater.

The task of universities is to foster the freedom to explore all avenues, to search for truth and possibility in the myriad of alternatives available to us, not to narrowly confine the pursuits of research to the needs of industry. Yet that is precisely the outcome of  the promise to align the work of research and teaching towards economic needs combined with the determination of government to mandate teaching and research to specific programs. One of the most pernicious results will be the closing of the doors to the needs of all people, returning higher education to its early historical place as the prerogative of the elite.

Its hard to imagine a more foolish, nay foolhardy, and morally empty response to crisis.

Green versus Gray: Nature’s Solutions to Infrastructure Demands | Solutions

Green versus Gray: Nature’s Solutions to Infrastructure Demands | Solutions.

As someone who is still having trouble with many of the current articulations of the ‘green economy’, and ‘nature capital’ (a term that I confess makes me cringe) I found this to be particularly useful as an example of cost benefit analysis of using ‘green infrastructure.