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Saying that the MOOC debate rages on is rather like saying, "Mosquitoes bother me," yet I encounter that quotidian statement in pretty much every article I read regarding the issue. It probably doesn't help that the name itself sounds like some street-level pejorative but we use the words we have, not the ones we want.

As a fairly-new construct of how knowledge is delivered, MOOCs would naturally be controversial based on their relatively recent introduction to the education field. However, aside from stale arguments that MOOCs can't deliver what classroom instruction can (an argument that has existed since the introduction of the first online course), most of the arguments I've encountered against MOOCs have been specious, at best.

Probably the most contentious issue surrounding MOOCs is their potential for social and economic equality (as I argued for in the this paper) and it's funny how ironic arguments from the Left and the Right cavil about the death of the academy, the Left squealing about how universities should be opened up to everyone, the Right whining about  the death of elite institutions.

Putting matters of delivery aside, MOOCs are the first step in an educational revolution, where learners decide what knowledge matters to them and that knowledge is delivered to them as it matters. For the first time in human history, learners have the capacity to attain knowledge no matter their circumstances or geographical isolation (provided they have a broadband connection). The potential for economic and social justice is here and it's about to be manifest.

Are MOOCs a nostrum? Not at all -- the problem of income inequality has to be dealt with, first and foremost. However, the potential to undercut the current system has begun with MOOCs, especially as learners from marginalized populations take advantage of their educational opportunities an use that position to bring up brothers and sisters.

Indeed, the potential for social and economic change is huge due to the possibles afforded through informal learning opportunities. That possibility will b dealt with in a later post.

Crossposted at The Firebird Suite


Dumbfounded, I don't know where to start with this other than this ill-considered comment by someone from my class regarding a fairly old essay, "Social Change Education: Context Matters," by Kathryn Choules:

I am not sure how social justice is something positive.  It fosters a workforce that suggests inferiority and suggests a person protected by affirmative action does not have the ability to compete on his or her own terms.  It suggest (sic) preferential treatment which is unfair. Affirmative action takes away merit and in a way undermines the individual by not allowing the individual to reflect on their own competence but rather blame it on social discrimination.  I think the best way to help individuals is to motivate and educate.  Affirmative action is a political demoralizer (sic) and it is harmful to those who are at a disadvantage in the first place.
Well, I couldn't leave well enough alone, responding,
You make some interesting remarks, Linda. However, I'd like to see evidence for what you've said "... social justice ... fosters a workforce that suggests inferiority ..." doesn't appear to supported by any research that I'm aware of, it just seems like opinion. How is "inferiority" suggested when a person is given the opportunity to work and prove their worth outside a system skewed towards a privileged race and class?" (I follow that up, later).

As well, when you add that social justice, "... suggests a person protected by affirmative action does not have the ability to compete on his or her own terms," I am also unaware of any social research to back that claim up. However, you equate "social justice" with "affirmative action" and the two are not the same thing (although AA can be one agenda of an overall social justice scheme); the two are not synonymous.

You also say, "Affirmative action takes away merit...," but you don't explain how merit is taken away by AA. Again, I'd like to see the evidence. Likewise, when you say, AA "... undermines the individual by not allowing the individual to reflect on their own competence but rather blame it on social discrimination," you fail to follow up your words with proof. If it "undermines the individual," why have so many succeeded as a result of it? Don't those people feel empowered rather than undermined? Additionally, are you saying that discrimination has had no effect on racial disparity and economic opportunities? If so, you're arguing that some races are inferior and that would be an interesting statement, especially in this class.

Finally, your statement, "Affirmative action is a political demoralizer (sic) and it is harmful to those who are at a disadvantage in the first place," is made without any support but appears to be just an opinion.

I'd really like you to read my "Affirmative Action," post and make your own observations regarding my stance and the supporting references I use for my statements.

That post is below the fold:
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Gotta' watch them yokels once ya' let em' loose in the big city...

Mere weeks after The Daily Caller (a site run by reanimated gopher corpse Tucker Carlson) achieved a journalistic coup by dredging up a five-year old video that ended up embarrassing every idiot who thought the thing was news (especially considering it wasn't news when it was reported on in 2007), things heated up once again TDC posted an explosive expose on President Obama's allegedly mediocre G.P.A. at Columbia (a shudder 2.6!), as revealed by an unnamed source.

Yes, you read that correctly: "an unnamed source."

Intrepid cub reporter Neil Munro (who, apparently not getting through J-school due to merit nor Affirmative Action, made good use of knee pads) had an "intimate" conversation with his veritable Deep Throat and determined that, while the source couldn't provide anything like proof or corroboration, seemed believable so, journalistic ethics be damned, Neil had copy to produce.

According to Munro's 4-page story, all the proof he needed was in the cut of the guy's jib:

The source for the 2.6 number is a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Columbia alumnus who maintains good ties with the university.

In 2004, after Obama’s successful speech at that year’s Democratic convention, a Columbia University official told him Barack Obama’s GPA, he explained to TheDC.

“This person told me that he [Obama] was a pre-law, poli-sci major, had a lot of incompletes, and as best could be determined after sorting through the incompletes, had a GPA of 2.6,” said the businessman, a former Marine Corps combat veteran.

The source asked not to be named, but TheDC has verified at least one $2,500 contribution he made to Columbia.

As with the last Daily Caller coup, this story will blow the doors open (not on the election but on Hannity's metallic forehead). Expect a story this explosive to last until... well, now.

However, it gave the Klavern of racist morons who hang out at the Daily Caller a reason to spew their usual bigoted bullshit. Discretion being the better part of valor, I've hidden them below the steaming heap of orange turd:

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Look, I’m really a live-and-let-live kind of guy. Ants in my kitchen? They’re cleaning up the place. Jehovah’s Witnesses got me out of the shower? I’ll stand and listen to them until every inch of my unadorned skin is dry.

 My patience is limited, however, and I am pistol-shoved-in-my-mouth done with Internet lists. There is hardly a news, science, business or infotainment site that isn’t pockmarked by lists compiled by dimwits. The tragedy is, like a dog lapping up a puddle of anti-freeze, we (and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’) can’t resist a brightly-colored pool of sugary brain death.

Internet lists have been with us almost since Charles Babbage built a room-sized machine to match his socks. That longevity doesn’t mean they’re endowed with some exceptional epistemological quality – it just means no one (until now) has come up with reasons why they must die.

(The list drops from a little orange cloud)

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Pretty much no Latino voter wants to see Sheriff Joe re-elected and that's the point of this post: As goes Sheriff Joe, so goes the rest of the GOP in Maricopa County.

While national polls have made this race a dead heat (given the media's need to sex things up), those polling organizations have hugely underestimated Latino votes in this election:

Let's examine how these faulty Latino numbers create problems with the overall national estimates. Afterall, Latinos are estimated to comprise 10% off all voters this year. If Latinos are only leaning to Obama 48-42, that +6 edge among 10% of the electorate only contributes a net 0.6 advantage to Obama (4.8 for Obama to 4.2 for Romney).
However, if instead Obama is leading 70.3 to 21.9 that +48.4 edge contributes a net 4.8 advantage to Obama (7.0 to 2.2), hence the national polls may be missing as much as 4 full points in Obama's national numbers.
If these mistakes are being made nationally where Latinos comprise an estimated 10% of all voters, they are even worse in statewide polls in Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Arizona where Latinos comprise an even larger share of all voters. In Florida, Latinos represent an estimated 17 percent of all voters. If you are badly mis-calculating the candidate preference among 17 percent of the electorate (that's 1 out of every 6 voters), then the entire statewide estimates are wrong.
(More below.. THAT)
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Thank God, someone finally said it (and said it well), calling bullshit on how the media sexes up elections, at the expense of substance, to keep all of us locked in the stupidity that has become the process.

In the October 9 edition of Rolling Stone, the always superb Matt Taibbi goes to the heart of the matter, saying what I've been griping about for years: That our electoral process is overly long and overly hyped, burying the issues beneath the blather, all for the sake of sensationalism and selling soap. That in its race to boost ratings, the media has made most Americans increasingly more disenchanted with the process and, by implication, doing its part to undermine democracy.

As always, Taibbi calls it from the gitgo (below the fold):

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Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:25 AM PDT

Paul Ryan's 60 percent logic

by ninothemindboggler

Again, we have Mother Jones to thank for yet another telling video that allows Paul Ryan to express his utter disdain for working Americans:

As Brett Brownell and Nick Baumann quoted in the article, Ryan says in the video:

"Right now about 60 percent of the American people get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes," he said on the June 2010 edition of Washington Watch. "So we're going to a majority of takers versus makers." By November 2011, in an address he gave at an American Spectator event, Ryan put the number of takers at 30 percent. (That remark was first reported by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post.)

Ryan has also warned about President Barack Obama creating "more of a permanent class of government dependents"—language that echoes Romney's take on the "47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."

(More below the fold)
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About 20 minutes into the debate, I turned to my wife and said, "Obama really needs to step it up if he's going to win this thing." (the debate).

As we all know, that didn't happen. And while much has been said about the President not bringing up Romney's infamous 47 percent remark or, as Paul Krugman pointed out, not calling bullshit on Mitt's countless lies, what struck me was the fact that Wooden Indian stunt double Jim Lehrer did not ask either candidate about how their policies would affect the 51 percent -- women.

In the aftermath, I have read very little about the failure of the debates to address what I thought was one of the defining characteristics of this election: Republican's paternalistic and pusillanimous approach towards women in this country. Although Charles Pierce briefly mentioned it today, also surprised that the issue never came up, I'm appalled that what this election means to the women of this country was never raised.

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A study released on Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (PDF) shows that, from February through July of this year, Faux News misled a full 93 percent on climate change issues while 81 percent of Wall Street Journal articles on the same issue were likewise misleading.

Of course, Rupert Murdoch owns both news outlets.

While it shouldn't surprise anyone that Faux News misleads on climate change (hell, I'd estimate it's 93 percent on EVERYTHING), it's tragic that those hyper-partisan dimwits are using bunk science and the opinions of Big Oil shills to dismiss the most important issue before us. According to a study released earlier today by DARA, there will be, "6 million annual deaths and 3.2% of GDP lost from climate change," by the year 2030 -- over 100 million deaths by then.

That's some serious shit, far too major to be the punchline of jokes made by the vacuous bubble heads at Faux News.

(More below the squiggle)

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It's been well over a week since videos of Mitt making his disgusting "47 percent" remark were released (to essentially put the last nail in the coffin of his presidential bid) and a few days after he hypocritically suggested that every American has access to health care through the emergency room. Those comments, aside from highlighting Mitt's tin ear regarding the plight of a near-majority of Americans, show the mean-spirited contempt that the Right has nurtured towards those of us who are struggling to get by in an economy that continues widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.

When did spitting derision at the less fortunate become acceptable? In the America I grew up in (starting Kindergarten in the mid-60s), it seems to me that the general consensus was that all boats rise with the tide and, if some of us were sinking, it was our responsibility to throw them a rope. While Americans fought pitched battles over civil rights and the morality of war, the notion that our country could and would eliminate poverty was largely non-controversial.

While it's easy to point to the "Gordon Gecko" greed mentality fostered during the Reagan years as the dawn of poor-hating (or his chimerical "welfare queen" invention during the 1976 primaries), I can't remember the kind of vitriol expressed towards those in need until this election. Yes, shitsacks like Neil Boortz, Ann Coulter and other Right-wing gasbags have long appropriated the execrable language of Ayn Rand in their vacuous diatribes ("moochers" versus "producers") but pretty much everyone looked at the those voices as howls from the extreme fringe. However, Romney's election bid has taken an ugly turn in seeking to marginalize those of us who are "dependent."

(More below the fold)

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This is my first time awaiting a child's return from a night out on the town, her out to see Flobots in a Scottsdale bar (there might be a few of you who get that). It helps that she's out with two women I trust absolutely (my step daughter and her partner), so I know my daughter will be returned in one piece.

She turned 14 yesterday, much better than when I hit that age, still very much an innocent, much more level-headed and determined to succeed; I was lost in rebellion (against my parent's Catholicism and my father's military career), determined to create as much chaos as I could muster.

She has always been a most-precious being, at times aloof as if occupying another dimension, marching to the beat of her own drummer. From an early age, she eschewed dolls for animals (Simba from the Lion King being her still-constant companion). In kindergarten, she rejected the throngs to befriend a little boy with Cystic Fibrosis because, well, he couldn't play with the other kids and so, had no friends. Ever since then, she's gravitated to the outcasts, the kids who, like her, find solace in books and see the culture that's aimed towards tweens as fraudulent and feeble.

After we moved to Phoenix last month, she's struggled to adjust, finding her new school unfriendly and unforgiving. She told me that the Goth kids, "Creep me out," and that the mean girl culture of the top social tier, "Don't value anything but themselves and how they appear to everyone else." She says she spends her lunch period reading alone, claiming she feels rejected but I suspect she has little patience with the arbitrary rules imposed for joining the various eighth-grade cliques.

(More below the fold)

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It's been about a month since I moved to Phoenix from Pagosa Springs (don't ask why I'd leave Paradise for a veritable shit hole) and I've been forced to reconsider the freelance writing gig. So (Doh!), I'm on the hunt for customer service jobs in order to make the bills.

Don't get me wrong -- I've banged nails when I was playing guitar in a punk band in order to pay the rent and made calls when it was clear I had no else recourse to feed my family but to work the phones -- but I worked my ass off as a journalist and a writer and I thought I'd take that to the bank in the Valley of the Suck.

So far... FAIL.

I know, I know, it was insane to give up a good job in this economy. And while I loved what I did, love drove me to this place and circumstances (lack of writing jobs and the death of print journalism) led me to seek out work on the local employment web site.

Holding my nose, I went from Best to Worst. Filling out applications and changing up cover letters and resumes as best I could, I hadn't considered how close I'd come to lapping up whale shit... until I saw this.


A wave of nausea came over me.

Had I stooped this low?

(I heaved and it's all beneath, that stinking orange pile of puke).

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