Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Subversion

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

I have been thinking about subversion/subersiveness for a couple of days. First because folks on the #clmooc facebook group have been talking about whether “hacking” necessarily contains an element of subversion, and second because of the whole story of the now notorious Zurich prof who made the “MOOC disappearing act” (in the Coursera MOOC #massiveteaching) recently, getting so much press, best summed up and analyzed, in my view, by Kate Bowles here and best introduced from a learner/researcher perspective by Apostolos Koutropoulos here. (added later: and this great post today by Apostolos after the recent info came out – by far the best commentary on the topic)

I won’t repeat the whole story (the above links are great) nor do I think I know it all, and I suspect no one but DeHaye does. But what is nagging at me right now is the debate on whether what he has been doing (whatever it is, exactly) is unethical, or a brave attempt at subversion and opening up a debate (about what, exactly? Data mining? MOOCs? Pedagogy?)

So I thought I would look it up (the term “subversive”). Just typed in define: subvesive into google. Was annoyed to get “person who subverts”, so went to search for “subvert”. Definition was:

verb
undermine the power and authority of (an established system or institution).
“an attempt to subvert democratic government”
synonyms: destabilize, unsettle, overthrow, overturn; More
corrupt, pervert, deprave, contaminate, poison, embitter

Right. It’s one of those words I always understood implicitly but had never actually looked up (there are so many of those words, right? And we can use them brilliantly in context, without ever actually looking them up) and I think the definition of it is pretty much how I understand/use it, but finding the definition clarifies something about its meaning to me. It’s about undermining power & authority, not necessarily about radicalness, which hmm btw needs to be defined (side note: I do not mean to imply that important words can only be understood by their dictionary definitions; I know we can use them to mean different things with different connotations; but here I am using the dictionary definitions as points of departure to reflect), also, and here’s what google brought up:

adjective
1.
(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
“a radical overhaul of the existing regulatory framework”
synonyms: thoroughgoing, thorough, complete, total, comprehensive, exhaustive, sweeping, far-reaching, wide-ranging, extensive, across the board, profound, major, stringent, rigorous More
antonyms: superficial
forming an inherent or fundamental part of the nature of someone or something.
“the assumption of radical differences between the mental attributes of literate and nonliterate peoples”
synonyms: fundamental, basic, essential, quintessential; More
antonyms: minor
(of surgery or medical treatment) thorough and intended to be completely curative.
characterized by departure from tradition; innovative or progressive.
“a radical approach to electoral reform”
2.
advocating or based on thorough or complete political or social reform; representing or supporting an extreme section of a political party.
“a radical American activist”

Strangely enough, the way I use the term radical most closely identifies with its definition in a medical context, as in “characterized by departure from tradition” but of course also to mean the second definition related to that departure entailing advocacy towards political or societal reform.

So back to Paul-Olivier Dehaye (love the sound of the name, don’t you? Even sexier than Assange) and whether he is ethical, brave, insane, or?

George Siemens congratulated him for starting an important conversation. While Siemens believes Dehaye acted unethically and his attempt at subversion was probably poorly executed, he thinks Dehaye succeeded in doing three things:
1. Expose the lack of clarity on governance in Coursera (read Siemens’ post, he explains this really well)
2. The issue/question of a university’s responsibility (and I would argue also liability) for the actions of its faculty as MOOC providers. Siemens seems to take the view that a university is responsible. I think it is more complicated than that. Yes, a university, for its own reputation, needs to do that, but on the other hand, faculty autonomy is extremely important for freedom of expression and for political reasons (would it be ok for a university to stop a faculty member from doing, writing, teaching things for political reasons? More on this later)
3. Despite criticism of the ethics of the whole thing, Dehaye, Siemens thinks Dehaye succeeded to “perturb people to states of awareness”.

Umm ok. I tend to agree with Rolin Moe’s comment on Siemens’ blog, calling Dehaye’s actions a “theory-bereft approach” that is not necessarily “progressive”.

I mean, one of the things Dehaye wanted to point out, other than privacy concerns, was the whole learners depending on teacher/video, etc., and getting confused by lack of it. Well, HEEEELLLOOOO? Isn’t that what connectivism is all about? Losing the teacher/video centrality and learning via connecting to others? (After writing this post, i read a newer post by AK, also making this point). The MOOC conversation did not need this “radical” or “subversive” behavior by Dehaye to reach that point. The MOOC conversation actually started there, back when Siemens and Downes ran the first cMOOC. The whole getting out of Coursera, LMS, etc? That’s the Reclaim movement over at Jim Groom’s party, right?

I realize there is more to what Dehaye exposed than these last two points I am making, but I am still baffled by why he would go about it like this, in such ethically questionable ways.

The 100 prisoners doc Kate Bowles found (a probability problem whose solutions Dehaye had been working on) to me is just all about how this person’s mind works, which is probably why it’s difficult to understand what he’s doing and why (aside from his being mysterious about it as well, of course).

I wonder now, though, how much of what people now uncover about Dehaye will be truly him, or fabricated, and I guess he wants us to ask that?

To be honest, I feel kind of angry and used, a little bit like some people felt after Steve Wheeler’s April Fool “Goodbye” post. Someone said that to understand Wheeler’s post with humor, you needed to maybe be a White Anglo male (no offense to all the sensitive people I know who belong in that category). I think to applaud Dehaye takes a certain kind of person, too, and I am not sure he is subvertive or radical enough to deserve my respect. Yet. Time will tell.

I will agree with Jonathan Rees that “even superprofessors deserve academic freedom”, but Rolin Moe correctly wonders whether Dehaye got IRB approval (not that I am a fan of IRB processes, but I am guessing he couldn’t possibly have gotten approval – then again, do mathematicians often need to? How often do they do social experiments, like on actual living breathing people? i wouldn’t know since I don’t work in that discipline, but I am guessing not often? Scott from rhizo14 called this behavior a lack of “human literacies”, love the term).

So my objection isn’t that “someone” (Coursera or Zurich U) should have stopped Dehaye. I think he should have stopped himself, but since he did not, I think we (the community of people involved in the discourse of MOOCs, ed tech, etc.) need to be critical of what he did and how he did it, even though it did have some useful (ok, intentional) side effects of opening up a debate. I just think it could have all been better thought out than all this! And the apparent lack of ethical thought behind it is not acceptable to me. Yet.

To be subversive and radical, to support others who do it, does not mean to suspend criticism of the “means” with which others choose to subvert.

[Meanwhile, in the real world, people are dying over in Palestine and violence also happening in Israel. And here I am blogging about this MOOC stuff at 4am]

39 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. I read through AK’s take on the abandoned MOOC and I bookmarked Siemen’s for later reading. I agree that MOOC facilitators and participants bear a responsibility to comment on his approach. Going on my to-do list.

  2. Thanks Maha – I do like the way you have presented and discussed this… as always you bring a very warm, human intelligence to an issue that others are raging about (in a very white male middle class way of course!)… I did find the Siemens argument a tad paradoxical: we need structures, systems, governance in place – then that would prevent really important academic freedoms like this from happening… duh?

    • Exactly, Sandra! You’ve summed it up perfectly! And I also like the point you’re making about non-white non-male opinion making a difference (Kate’s post was def different than the rest). Bit hard to talk class since most academics are middle class or upper… So we’re playing on non-white and/or non-male

  3. This is such a helpful post, Maha. I went back and forth on the whole thing myself, partly because I had had such a strong reaction to the Steve Wheeler prank, and specifically reacted against his suggestion that a joke is a good way to stimulate serious discussion.

    So I’m still thinking about why I recoiled from that prank, and found myself in bemused sympathy with this experiment. Because I’m truly not sure this was a prank, or that anyone has been punk’d as AK puts it (and I love that new post too). This is what took me back to the scene in Jaws where the kids’ prank with a cardboard fin gets so out of control. Was it their fault that the community was so ready to jump to conclusions that would escalate in such a calamitous way? Could they have foreseen all the consequences, especially including the fact that the real shark was in the vicinity?

    But of course the professor here is not a child. And yet, I find myself wanting to make a case for generosity that I didn’t feel at all in the case of a prank focused on mental health and threats of harm. He is a real person. This is a real, public thing that has happened to him.

    At the very least, I think we should give some thought to a) language issues and b) the risk of overinterpretation of other things he’s said online.

    Thank you for writing this.

    • Hi Kate, thanks for commenting on this. You raise important points and distinctions in your post. I had forgotten the language issue because his English seems very clear, but you’re right. I think I want to hear more from him and understand, but that as it stands, I don’t want to excuse him, because as you say, he’s not a child. It’s not as harmful as the consequences of the Jaws story, of course (or at least I don’t think it is!)… He needs to step up and explain himself better, don’t you think?

  4. Pingback: Kate Bowles

  5. I think we need to consider the possibility that his employer has prevented him from speaking. It’s reasonably extraordinary that Coursera are now attempting to finish the course without him, because without him the course makes even less sense. In fact, it makes no sense at all.

  6. I response to Maha’s call, here’s a comment.

    DeHay’s stunt strikes me as an unethical attempt to make an unnecessary comment on ethics.

    Bonnie Stewart remarks in the comments on Siemen’s post that DeHay has “No understanding…”

    I want to build on that point.

    His lack of understanding is easy to illustrate. We can speculate about who was lurking and who was learning in this course but that is a waste of time. Better to focus on one learner to effectively comment on DeHay’s choices. We know AK was a learner present in the course.

    What DeHay chose to do with this audience of learners was akin to a magician’s illusion. The magician captures your attention and maybe your trust in order to trick you and maybe violate your trust. AK, a learner, came to the course in order to engage with content and participants about the pedagogical shifts DeHay promised to “teach.” DeHay didn’t teach AK anything. He came to the course knowing full well the point that we think DeHay was trying to make about Coursera.

    DeHay saw his role as a performer on the stage and doesn’t seem to know or care that he’d gained just a small amount of learner trust only to perform a stunt that was beneath them. If you read through AK’s blog or read his twitter feed, it takes about 3 minutes to know he would have catalyzed discourse in the course, stretched DeHay’s thinking and advanced the conversation about how teaching needs to change. It is a credit to AK, not DeHay, that he makes sense of this ill-conceived stunt and shares what took place. It shows that DeHay probably should have engaged AK instead of try to trick him. His failure to do so doesn’t reflect negatively on Coursera.

    Maybe DeHay wasn’t an illusionist. Maybe he was a performance artist. He assembled learner collaborators and instead of collaborating and learning with them, he chose to take the stage and do something outlandish, like defecate.

    Since I encountered this story through a networked connection I established in a MOOC I facilitate, I instinctively asked myself what would happen at #clmooc if we deleted all the content to cause chaos. This is such an outrageous hypothetical because we have a team of facilitators that is informed about our practices daily by engaged participants. If I impulsively deleted the content they would have it back up in minutes. If I suggested to them we should delete content, they would quickly reject that idea. The facilitators are teachers and we know what to do when learners assemble. We’re not pooping on stage or pulling a rabbit out of our hats. DeHay assembled learners by luring them to a chance at networked learning only to perform a weak illusion or nonsensical performance art. He chose to perform instead of collaborate. He didn’t make a point about Coursera and its ethics. He showed his lack of understanding about the real opportunities in front of us online that compel learners to convene.

    • Hey Joe, thanks for that very well-framed perspective on the matter. Since AK is a friend (and I assume of yours, too?) I got to know via several MOOCs, I agree with you that engaging him (especially him, as an educator and one who researches MOOCs, the topic of that particular MOOC) rather than tricking him would have definitely resulted in better learning all around. I agree completely with almost all you said. The one little thing is that I think we still don’t know the full story from DeHaye’s perspective, and why he has not given more details yet. But whatever it was, it was definitely unnecessarily unethical. Agreed.

      • Maha,

        I agree with you that DeHaye’s account, if it ever surfaces, will fill in important missing details. This might be a minor offense, a forgivable miscalculation. I’ve had a chance to hear AK speak about MOOCs and I’ve read his blog a number of times in the past few years. I don’t feel I know him, just a little of his work. The familiarity that I feel is that I know what it’s like to take an open course and put your work into digital spaces at others’ invitation. The implied scale of MOOCs might entice others to play similar stunts to the one it looks like DeHaye played in an ill-conceived effort to teach. (Is this like when teachers ask their students to vandalize Wikipedia to show them how unreliable Wikipedia is?) Since he’s teaching in the open and getting attention for this situation, and since one of his participants is commenting openly, it is important to scrutinize DeHaye by seeing if his approach was one that valued AK’s time, attention and intention. In this case it looks like he really underestimated the learner.

        • Hey Joe, ur comment made me realize I only knew one learner’s perspective, and that is AK’s. I knew it early on because I know him, but I just realized his is the only learner perspective anyone talks about! Have just tweeted to ask him if he knows of other learner perspectives on the matter…

          • I hope that I history doesnt paint me as the “Joe the Plumber” of #massivelearning (or of MOOCs) 😉

            It is true that my perspective tends to be the one that people talk about (at least in blogs). Luckily some others have come out to talk about their perspectives through comments on news stories and other people’s blogs (at least if we believe that they were signed up).

            I can still see some forums where people are discontent (I can PDF some of them for people who are interested) but this only really represents the people that stayed behind, those who didn’t just unenroll when things became too crazy.

            To some extent I am not representative of the learner body in that course. I have a certain position of privilege: I’ve been around MOOCs since 2011, my first few MOOCs included MOOCs by Siemens, Downes and Cormier, I have experimented with most major xMOOC platforms “completing” over 50 MOOCs. While my cMOOC experience has made me a more resilient learner, I can also sniff out some BS. My concern is that less resilient learners, or those new to MOOCs will just consume what happened mindlessly and think that they’ve learned something awesome by watching those 8 videos that Dehaye posted on his course and completing the farce that is the final assignment 🙂

            • More like Snowden or Assange than Joe the plumber 🙂 u r def in a position of privilege and not the regular MOOC learner. But imagine if that MOOC did not have you in it? We’d all be in the dark(ish) about some of this

    • I’m right here 🙂 This segment of the discussion is making me wonder how many MOOC “instructors” really know who’s in their courses. In a traditional course we have class rosters, I get to see the names of my students, what program they are enrolled in (i.e. what their major is), and through a pre-course survey get to know them a bit. I get to know more of who they are in the forums, but at least before class starts I have a general sense of who people are. Does this exist in the MOOC LMS sphere? I know when Inge De Waard ran MobiMOOC 2011 and 2012 people were active weeks before the MOOC started, so people got to know one another before the content of the course was fully available. In an open google group this is easy. In a closed xMOOC platform, maybe not so much.

      I am wondering if such shenanigans would happen if other people in the MOOC space were publicly visible in such as course. Interesting what-if 🙂

      • Yeah, interesting what-if! Agreed.
        As I told you, AK, on facebook when you first reported this story before it went public, i cannot understand why Dehaye never continued to clarify things on social media outside Coursera…. Whoever the learners are he could still have used twitter or blogging to clarify his side of things and he didn’t do enough of that! Right?

      • I’m under the impression profs get little data about individual students from Coursera. Paul said on https://etherpad.mozilla.org/pr8ZtLXODg (small side window for chat, July 3) that he persistently asked Coursera for data (which they didn’t give him) and that he was tracking Tweets and something else. Profs do receive a lot of overview statistics. The Gamification course ends with a statistical discussion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHie5uuSxOc (His first overview was ten minutes longer with more detail.)

        But as to the idea Coursera should take responsibility for vetting course content, that idea shows ignorance of USA law. Coursera is designed as a platform on which others do their thing because if Coursera takes responsibility for content they become the publisher and liable for whatever goes wrong – like all those copyright violation posts and submission plagiarisms by students, each of which raises potential liability for the publisher. If Coursera is just the platform on which other publish, those others (students and profs alike) are liable for their own content and any resulting legal issues.

        A platform must always act like a platform, not occasionally take responsibility for content. Do it once, strong risk of being always responsible! Coursera cannot afford enough staff to vet every lecture in every course, every post by every student. It controls quality by relying on quality universities as their source for courses. (I am not a lawyer but I’ve read cases about who is a platform not responsible for what others put on it vs who is a publisher responsible for every word anyone puts on it.)

        The contract with a university (see sample at http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/400864-coursera-fully-executed-agreement.html ) specifies that Coursera is a platform, and the university “desires” to use that platform for courses the university develops. See the Whereas section. This is careful language.

        One can guess Paul wrote a normal sounding course outline, the university said OK, Coursera saw only a proposed course topic from a fine university and nothing in the outline gave a clue what Paul would actually do (which perhaps even he didn’t originally intend.)

  7. I don’t know if George Siemens actually meant the applause (or if this was a slow-clap, ironic, gesture).

    Personally I wouldn’t applaud him. Did he show some gaps in the system? Sure, I guess, maybe? I’ve been “grading” final submissions for that MOOC and all I can say is that I don’t think the message came across. The people who knew about the gaps just got proof of them, and those who did not are still blissfully unaware. I copied some responses from the final assignment that I plan to use as a blog post in the following days.

    • Hey AK, George Siemens retweeted my blogpost, and never commented or tweeted that I had misunderstood him, so I am not sure I did. I think I understood that George took issue with a lot of what Dehaye did, but he seemed not sarcastic in the applause thing. He’s free to clarify, of course.

      I hear you on the people who already knew vs those who remain blissfully unaware. Are you sure it’s ok to re-post stuff that was not posted publicly (assignments)?

      • It’s a bit of a gray area (for me anyway). In coursera there are no names attached to submissions (you are Student 1, Student 2, Student 3, etc.), so I have no idea who I ‘graded’. I have the verbatim quotes which are raw materials. At the moment I am not planning on using verbatim quotes (and if I need anything quoted I will most likely paraphrase).

        There are a few elements to this as well (I guess this might make a good debate/discussion in another forum as well):
        1. If I plan on writing on my blog (not a research paper): do I need permission to quote people?
        2. If I plan on writing on my blog (not a research paper), and all of my data is anonymous to me: can I just quote verbatim?
        3. If I plan on writing on my blog (not a research paper): what are the implications of reposting materials from a semi-closed community?

        Normally classes are “open” for enrollment for quite some time, but this course was closed off by coursera. Normally people can go in and read what others have written in a MOOC, or a Fb community, but it is not indexed by search engines, so no one can search for verbatim word strings to identify someone quoted in a blog/publication outside the system.

        Does “anonymous” have the same right to not be quoted (or be quoted with permission) as someone who is posting on a MOOC forum (or submitting homework) with their name?

        In short, I don’t know 🙂 Thoughts?

        • Hey AK, I am responding publicly rather than on fb, since you responded here as well, and I thought others might weigh in on this to give their perspective, not just mine. I know you know of some others who have thought out the (still murky) ethics of MOOC and open edu research, so I won’t refer to any of that, just say my own view,

          First, I think writing on your blog is not different from a research paper, in terms of certain things. It has the same issue of “publishing” data or research – and it is data from people’s words that they did not know they were writing for the consumption of a researcher or blogger. They did not mean for it to be used outside the context they wrote it in. The only difference is that on your blog you are not presuming rigor of research or representativeness of data sample, etc.

          I suspect you need permission to quote (imagine seeing your own words quoted anonymously out of context, possibly misunderstood?), but paraphrasing on a high level is probably ok since it would be like telling a story of “I heard someone say this and that”. That seems ok to me.

          I think just because people who wrote the stuff are anonymous to you, it does not mean you can quote them anonymously, since they did not post in a totally “open” space like an open website.

          I hope others will weigh in here as I am def no expert, and as you know our IRB folks are super-strict beyond what makes sense in open education spheres.

        • Check out Coursera terms of service (ask your search engine for Coursera and terms of service). Or look up Coursera and copyright. They have carefully spelled out a lot in clear language. I don’t remember if they specifically addressed quoting student assignments outside the Coursera platform.

  8. All of these issues are sensitively canvassed in this document but without specific reference to MOOCs (given the 2012 date): http://aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf

    What interests me in relation to MOOCs is whether they are like closed LMS discussions that are covered by the kind of IRB sensitivity that regulates use of student data; or whether they are like forums on the open internet, towards which institutions have less of a duty of care. I like the AOIR approach for its willingness to entertain the significant complexity in this issue.

    No simple answers, but as a qualitative humanities researcher who uses the Australian equivalent of IRB regularly in low-risk research topics, I have always taken the approach that to seek consent isn’t a burden on me, it’s a simple practice of courtesy, like a kind of handshake. As a blogger who quotes other bloggers, I try to do the same, although I have to say that sometimes when I’m cranky I don’t feel I do this so well.

    • Hey Kate thanks for the quick response! I think quoting another blogger is a different story… First, it’s like citing an academic reference – you never ask permission for that, the work is published, and in the case of blogs, published publicly, therefore ppl r free to quote it, right? Maybe different for research purposes than to use in one’s own blog, but i consider wordpress’s pingback function a cool “handshake” (i loooove it, but AK uses blogspot, so 🙁 )

      But agree re: consent as a courtesy 🙂 esp for semi-closed systems such as MOOC disc forums in an xMOOC

      • I think the issue of requirements is different from the actual practice of care. Australian ethics protocols ask us to think about how the other person could be affected by participating in the research and I think it’s not too hard to ask ourselves the same question when quoting bloggers (or anyone, really), rather than simply brushing off the ethical dimension as academic citation allows us to do.

        In this case I have been really worrying a bit about what all this commentary does or means to the person at the heart of it: Paul-Olivier Dehaye. In human terms, where and how is he? Pat Lockley has written somewhere in the last couple of days that in the case of the disastrous Georgia Tech mooc, he reached out to the instructor because so much was being said about her, and she was indeed distressed by it.

        Do we think Paul-Olivier Dehaye has forfeited the right to be treated generously by those of us also working in his profession? I hope not. But I don’t have a clear conscience myself here, as I was really cranky (and publicly so) at Steve Wheeler. And to be honest, that still bothers me.

        • That’s a beautiful angle, Kate, and to be honest, one that now opens up all sorts of issues I had not thought about (i def agree about care vs requirements, also like Bonnie said on twitter: reasonable expectations of others). But I do think that people who work in “public” and do things that are meant to cause a splash (def the case for Steve Wheeler and Dehaye, both) expect the media/blogosphere reactions, possibly even seek it? I understand your point about them being human and i don’t mean to discount it, but they can take responsibility for what they have done and they have more power/following to respond (I would argue much more so than little old me). I am actually angrier at people in positions of power who do something that creates a backlash then fail to respond and defend themselves or explain. However, the case of the instructor in the Georgia Tech MOOC is important, too: she was distressed. Maybe Dehaye is, too, and that’s why he is quiet? I don’t know.
          Trying to put myself in that frame of mind, there was a blogpost I wrote early during #rhizo14 that was meant to encourage inclusion by questioning privilege but instead ended up silencing and offending some ppl, while making others really appreciate my views. That post haunts me to this day, but what I did is do lots of backchanneling with ppl i thought i had affected negatively, even tho i believed in what I had initially done. It’s nothing of the scale of these more public ppl, I had v little power, I was still “no one special” yet in that community… But my point is about taking responsibility. I know Steve Wheeler explained himself, though many didn’t like it, either, and they had the right to be angry and disappointed, as we humans are.
          Of course we can quote a blogger out of context, but they can always respond. So if little old me misquotes Big George Siemens, he can easily respond here or on twitter. He retweeted my post (and I don’t even know him beyond a couple of tweets) so i assume he was ok with what I wrote… That’s sort of, to me, what the pingback does, it tells bloggers they’ve been quoted, gives them a chance to check it out…
          When you say getting permission to quote a blogger, do you mean for verbatim quotes or even for paraphrasing their ideas? Do u get permission before u post? That would take forever if ur citing several others… But I am writing something now that would involve citing several bloggers and now you’ve got me thinking. I usually think it is “flattering” to cite someone, esp if doing so with praise. Do I need permission for that?

        • And one more question, Kate, would you feel uncomfortable if someone cited your blogpost about Steve’s April fool thing? (Given how you’re feeling now)

          • I don’t ask permission before citing someone, but I do just try to think about what it means (or might mean to them) to quote them. Because whatever their expectation of being public or private, there’s also the larger context of what they said, and in those circumstances my quote might well misrepresent them. (When I wrote about being diagnosed with cancer some people who wrote about my blog entirely misunderstood that I was previously career-minded, which is actually the opposite of how things were.)

            But actually, once anything’s out there, I don’t think it matters whether I’m uncomfortable or not: I’ve said it and I have to stand by it. And sometimes maybe think harder next time.

            Where I disagree with you a little bit, Maha, is the “little old me” aspect vis a vis the Big White Guys of the blogosphere. I think we’re all out here, with our small and large platforms. None of us gets a free pass on the ethical question of how we care for strangers. But it’s a hard thing.

            I think the Coursera Honor Code is a flat-out fail for me on all of these complexities, given the size and engagement of their “Courserian” community. I’d love to see them address this.

            • Thanks for continuing this discussion here, Kate. I am learning a lot and reflecting a lot on many things.
              What I meant about little old me vs big guys, is simply the difference in impact. I a, not saying my work is more or less “out there” but that when a small blogger with a small twitter following says something, the impact is usually less than if a big name like Siemens or Wheeler says it, right? So i mean bigger guys in positions of power have more influence in terms of defending themselves to a wider audience. I *think* that,s what i am saying.
              P.S. I am annoyed that my wordpress isn’t automatically approving all your comments as it should be doing! Will sort that out later. Now it’s 4am and i need to zz but wanted to thank you again for raising these really important points. Will come back to them again 🙂

        • Interesting thoughts. With regard to Wheeler, I simply stopped following him. He’s got the right to joke around on his blog (it’s his blog) but I don’t need to be following him (personal freedom). I followed him because I saw him as a serious person. The linguistic register of his blog seemed to be one of professional tone, not one that engendered a sense that I was his buddy, and thus we could joke around at the pub about quitting blogging or any other activity. For me there was a register violation, and knowing that I have limited time, I don’t want to shuffle through my RSS feed for something worthwhile from him. His postings simply lost value.

          As far as Dehaye goes, yes he is a person, but he messed around with a lot of people. That ain’t cool. That said, calls for his head/tenure/job/whatever are exaggerated and those people should calm down. An honest discussion would be better. One thing that comes to mind is my first MBA class. It was taught by an organizational behavior psychologists (awesome prof!). At one point in the class the topic came around to apologies and sincerity. From what I remember (this was 10 years ago this past spring) even if you don’t feel you did wrong, if someone else’s feeling are ruffled by what you did, you should still apologize for the issues you’ve caused, even if it wasn’t your intent. Then you can move on to discuss and debrief. The silence is making this moving on a bit of a hard pill to swallow for some people.

      • I actually messed around with WordPress a while back (foveros.wordpress.com) but it turned out to be easier to integrate my blogger content right into my website (club-admiralty.com) rather than try to hack something together with my own wordpress install 🙂

        • Well, I like the way blogger integrates with Google+ at least, and that also offers a kind of handshake just in a different sphere… Right?

          • Correct indeed 🙂 I just wish I could have 1 Google+ profile for multiple gmail addresses (since I have blogs in a couple of locations). I guess that feature is coming soon 😉

    • That’s a great link, Kate, very sensitively written, i thought, and I found this particular part v helpful for AK’s questions:
      “People may operate in public spaces but maintain strong perceptions or expectations of privacy. Or, they may acknowledge that the substance of their communication is public, but that the specific context in which it appears implies restrictions on how that information is — or ought to be — used by other parties.”

  9. Pingback: Need-to-Know News: #MassiveTeaching Mess, University of Texas at Austin MOOCs for Credit & Pearson’s SOOCs | online learning insights

  10. Pingback: Kate Bowles

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