Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A True History of the #MOOC

…that covers most of the classes I am behind on blogging for or about. The notorious x-MOOC, a name hinting at both edX and (at least to me) the skull and cross bones flag, this time flown by edu-biz corporate raiders. Alas, traditional higher education is not doing so well at telling them apart. Such is the inherent madness of MOOCs. Although POT is currently sailing under a constructivist flag, no connectivists have walked the plank yet. Webinar, links, files and other resources available online after the webinar should be of use and interest to all categories noted above. Steve Hardigan writes,

Join me today, Wednesday, September 26th, for a one-hour live and interactive webinar on the "true history" of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Dave Cormier, Alec Couros, Stephen Downes, Rita Kop, Inge de Waard, and Carol Yeager. While a wave of courses from prominent universities are now labeled as MOOCs, we'll drill down on the constructivist roots of the early MOOC offerings and discuss the importance of the differences between them and the current breed. See you online! Steve Hargadon

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Olympic “Slums”: Housing for Migrant Workers in London

Late indeed…a post-Olympic post of a pre-Olympic article by Lisa Wade, professor of sociology at Occidental College. Overlooked in drafts but still a good article and worth reading, let it be a caution against euphoria and a reminder of the price of glory, rarely paid just by the winners.

Many people around the world are eagerly awaiting the start of the Olympics next week.  A lucky few will compete and a small group of others will be there, in person, to watch.  Athletes and spectators, however, are just two of the groups that the games mobilize.  The Daily Mail reports on the large numbers of people hired to be temporary janitors, groundskeepers, maids, and other types of cleaners.  Many of these workers are migrants who have come to London hoping to work for a few weeks and return to their families having earned a little more than they otherwise could.

The story, sent in by Dolores R., focuses on the living conditions of these workers.  Most are paying rent to live in temporary trailers.  Packed together like sardines, the compound has been described as a “slum.”

Complaints include:
  • Crowded living spaces.  ”Any accommodation where more than two adults have to share a room is considered ‘overcrowded’ under housing laws.”
  • Insufficient toilet and shower facilities that were “filthy” from overuse.
  • Leaking trailers that the workers are told to live with or fix themselves; stagnant ground water around some of the trailers has forced them to put together make-shift stepping stones.
  • Women are being placed in trailers with men they don’t know; at least two women have quit when they were told they had to stay with male strangers.
The Daily Mail says that the employees have signed gag orders that prevent them from talking to the press and that family and friends are barred from the camp for “security reasons."

Via The Sociologist.
Read the rest of Olympic “Slums”: Housing for Migrant Workers in London. Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and FacebookView original at

Friday, July 20, 2012

'The World in Depression 1929-1939

by J. Bradford DeLong and Barry Eichengreen

Charles Kindleberger’s classic book on the Great Depression was originally published 40 years ago. In the preface to a new edition, two leading economists argue that the lessons are as relevant as ever.

The parallels between Europe in the 1930s and Europe today are stark, striking, and increasingly frightening. We see unemployment, youth unemployment especially, soaring to unprecedented heights. Financial instability and distress are widespread. There is growing political support for extremist parties of the far left and right.

Both the existence of these parallels and their tragic nature would not have escaped Charles Kindleberger, whose World in Depression, 1929-1939 was published exactly 40 years ago, in 1973. Where Kindleberger’s canvas was the world, his focus was Europe. While much of the earlier literature, often authored by Americans, focused on the Great Depression in the US, Kindleberger emphasised that the Depression had a prominent international...dimension.

Read the rest of 'The World in Depression 1929-1939' by Charles Kindleberger | berfrois

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sucking You Dry- Notes on Vampire Capitalism

OK we get it but we zombies don't get much in the way of space or allusions. It's still all about the blood-suckers. The "evolution of imperialism" image has a (debt enslaved) zombie look to it. So would hordes of zombies of zombies breaking their chains, roaming ~ occupying ~ the streets get noticed?  As a metaphorZombies are the lowest examples of the lower class, so a horde of them would be the ultimate representation of the mob.

David McNally, Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires, and Global Capitalism  writes,
vampire-fed-deesCapitalist market-society overflows with monsters. But no grotesque species so command the modern imagination as the vampire and the zombie. In fact, these two creatures need to be thought conjointly, as interconnected moments of the monstrous dialectic of modernity. Like Victor Frankenstein and his Creature, the vampire and the zombie are doubles, linked poles of the split society.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Should You Go To Grad School?

Grad school, possibly neither work nor life but where else to put it? Any advice here would be too late for the New Faculty Majority, although possibly a place along the way (just not a specific one). From The Hairpin via The Awl, both recommended reading, with the latter being more of a curation page. 

It’s that time of year — when people the world over start thinking about whether they should apply to grad school. You put out some feelers, you tell your family it’s a possibility, you make long lists of the cities you’d be willing to live in once you quit the job you’ve been thinking about quitting for two years.