Advertisement

MOOCs and the Politics of Networked Learning in an Age of Austerity

  • Chris JonesEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Research in Networked Learning book series (RINL)

Abstract

Networked learning has always had a connection to a set of pedagogic values and it has defined itself as linked to the development of information and communication technologies. These values and the technologies which allow for the development of contemporary networked learning mean that the field has an implicit politics. In an age of austerity what are the implications for networked learning? The development of networked learning largely coincided with the development of neo-liberal politics in advanced industrial countries and the technologies deployed to enable networked learning are largely the outcome of design and development carried out by large multi-national US based corporations. This backdrop of neo-liberal corporatism was called into question by the banking crisis of 2008 and the conversion of a private debt crisis into a sovereign debt crisis. In this process public austerity has become a dominant consideration in policy for higher education. Government has changed its relationship to higher education, most notably in the UK (focused on England), and is generally trying to both reduce overall expenditure and at the same time ensure either equivalent outputs or improved levels of output. The drive for productivity gains, a drive for ‘more for less’, informs the hype and policy motivation behind xMOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) because they seem to offer a way to enable cheaper and wider access to higher education. This paper takes a critical look at the way austerity politics are revising the values and affecting the development of technologies for networked learning and suggests ways that researchers will need to engage with resistance to aspects of austerity politics.

Keywords

Networked learning Austerity Politics Policy MOOC Technological determinism 

References

  1. Altbach, P. G. (2014). MOOCs as neo-colonialism: Who controls knowledge. International Higher Education, 75, 5–7. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/ihe/article/view/5426.Google Scholar
  2. Baggaley, J. (2014). MOOCS: Digesting the facts. Distance Education, 35(2), 159–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barber, M., Donnelly, K., & Ritzvi, S. (2013). An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead. London: IPPR. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/10432/an-avalanche-is-coming-higher-education-and-the-revolution-ahead.
  4. Barr, N. (2004). Higher education funding. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 20, 264–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bates, T. (2014). MOOCs: Getting to know you better. Distance Education, 35(2), 145–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brabazon, T. (2007). The University of Google: Education in a (post) information age. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. Brady, A. (2013). The MOOC moment and the end of reform. The New Inquiry. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/the-mooc-moment-and-the-end-of-reform/.
  8. Campaign for the Public University. (2013). MOOCs and the University Mission. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://publicuniversity.org.uk/2013/09/13/moocs-and-the-university-mission/.
  9. Castells, M. (2009). Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Chowdry, H., Dearden, L, & Wyness, G. (2010). Higher education reforms: Progressive but complicated with an unwelcome incentive. IFS Briefing Note 113. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn113.pdf.
  11. Christensen, C. (2013). The innovator’s dilemma: When new technologies cause great firms to fail. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.Google Scholar
  12. Clarà, M., & Barberà, B. (2013a). Learning online: Massive open online courses (MOOCs), connectivism, and cultural psychology. Distance Education, 34(1), 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarà, M., & Barberà, B. (2013b). Three problems with the connectivist conception of learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 197–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coursera. (2014). Signature track guidebook. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from https://www.coursera.org/signature/guidebook.
  15. Crawford, C., Crawford, R., & Wenchao, J. (2014). Estimating the public costs of student loans. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/r94.pdf.
  16. Daniel, J. (2012). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://jime.open.ac.uk/2012/18
  17. Downes, S. (2013). On the three or four problems of connectivism. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://halfanhour.blogspot.ca/2013/10/on-three-or-four-problems-of.html.
  18. edX. (2012). UC Berkeley joins edX. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from https://www.edx.org/press/uc-berkeley-joins-edx.
  19. EUA (European Universities Association). (2013). EUA’s public funding observatory report, Spring 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.eua.be/Libraries/Governance_Autonomy_Funding/EUA_PFO_report_2013.sflb.ashx.
  20. Feenberg, A. (1991). Critical theory of technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor network theory in education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Fox, S. (2005). An actor-network critique of community in higher education: Implications for networked learning. Studies in Higher Education, 30(1), 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Friesen, N. (2010). Ethics and the technologies of empire: E-learning and the US military. AI and Society, 25(1), 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Georgia Tech College of Computing. (2014). Online master of science in computer science. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/news/georgia-tech-announces-massive-online-masters-degree-computer-science.
  25. Goodfellow, R., & Lea, M. (Eds.). (2013). Literacy in the digital university. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Greener, I., & Perriton, L. (2005). The political economy of networked learning communities in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(1), 67–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hall, R. (2015). For a political economy of massive open online courses. Learning, Media and Technology, 40, 265. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1015545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2004). Multitude: War and democracy in the age of empire. New York, NY: Penguin.Google Scholar
  29. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hollands, F. M., & Tirthali, D. (2014). Resource requirements and costs of developing and delivering MOOCs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 15(5), 113–133. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1901.
  31. Ilich, I. (1970). Deschooling society. New York, NY: Harper and Row. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html.
  32. Jones, C. (2001). Do technologies have politics? The new paradigm and pedagogy in networked learning. Technology Pedagogy and Politics – What next? Mount Royal College, Calgary, AB, Canada, May 4–5, 2001. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://oro.open.ac.uk/33381/.
  33. Jones, C. (2002a). The politics of networked learning (Symposium 8). In S. Banks, P. Goodyear, V. Hodgson, & D. McConnell (Eds.), Networked learning 2002: A research based conference on e-learning in Higher Education and Lifelong Learning. Sheffield: University of Sheffield. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2002/proceedings/symp/08.htm.
  34. Jones, C. (2002b). Is there a policy for networked learning? In S. Banks, P. Goodyear, V. Hodgson, & D. McConnell (Eds.), Networked learning 2002: A research based conference on e-learning in Higher Education and Lifelong Learning. Sheffield: University of Sheffield.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, C. (2011). Students, the net generation and digital natives: Accounting for educational change. In M. Thomas (Ed.), Deconstructing digital natives: Young people, technology and the new literacies. London; New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Jones, C., & Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2009). Analysing networked learning practices: An introduction. In L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, C. Jones, & B. Lindström (Eds.), Analysing networked learning practices in higher education and continuing professional development. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, BV.Google Scholar
  37. Knox, J. (2014). Digital culture clash: “Massive” education in the e-learning and digital cultures MOOC. Distance Education, 35(2), 164–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Knox, J., Bayne, S., Macleod, H., Ross, J., & Sinclair, C. (2012). MOOC pedagogy: The challenges of developing for Coursera. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://newsletter.alt.ac.uk/2012/08/mooc-pedagogy-the-challenges-of-developing-for-coursera/.
  39. Land, R. (2006). Networked learning and the politics of speed: A dromological perspective. In S. Banks, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, B. Kemp, D. McConnell, & C. Smith (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Networked Learning 2006. Lancaster: Lancaster University. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2006/abstracts/pdfs/P16%20Land.pdf.
  40. McConnell, D., Hodgson, V., & Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2012). Networked learning: A brief history and new trends. In L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, & D. McConnell (Eds.), Exploring the theory, pedagogy and practice of networked learning (pp. 3–24). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mechan-Schmidt, F. (2013). Unbridled success: German fees foes claim victory. Times Higher Educational Supplement. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/unbridled-success-germanys-fee-foes-claim-victory/2003928.article.
  42. Meyer, R. (2012). What it’s like to teach a MOOC (and what the heck’s a MOOC?). Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/what-its-like-to-teach-a-mooc-andwhat-the-hecks-a-mooc/260000/.
  43. Mirrlees, T., & Alvi, S. (2014). Taylorizing academia, deskilling professors and automating higher education: The recent role of MOOCs. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 12(2), 45–73. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.jceps.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2-JCEPS122-tami-FINAL-17-July-2014.pdf.
  44. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). (2011). MIT announces online learning initiative. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html.
  45. Moocs@Edinburgh Group. (2013). Moocs@Edinburgh Report #1. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from http://hdl.handle.net/1842/6683.
  46. Morozov, E. (2013). To save everything click here: Technology, solutionism and the urge to fix problems that don’t exist. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  47. OECD. (2014). OECD economic outlook, Volume 2014/2. Paris: OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/eco_outlook-v2014-2-en.Google Scholar
  48. Oliver, M. (2011). Technological determinism in educational technology research: Some alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between learning and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(5), 373–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ratcliffe, R. (2015). University protests around the world: A fight against commercialisation. The Guardian Higher Education Network. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/mar/25/university-protests-around-the-world-a-fight-against-commercialisation.
  50. Reuters. (2012). U.S. for-profit colleges spend big on marketing while slashing other costs. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/28/net-us-forprofitcolleges-analysis-idUSBRE8AR0FJ20121128.
  51. Ripley, A. (2012, October 18). College is dead. Long live College! Time. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/college-is-dead-long-live-college/print/.
  52. Ritzer, G. (1993). The MacDonaldization of society. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  53. Selwyn, N., & Facer, K. (2013). The politics of education and technology: Conflicts, controversies, and connections. New York, NY: PalgraveMcMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of just choosing one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Paper 105: University of Georgia IT Forum. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf.
  56. Siemens, G. (2012). MOOCs are really a platform. eLearnspace. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2012/07/25/moocs-are-really-a-platform/.
  57. Siemens, G. (2013). Massive open online courses: Innovation in education? In R. McGreal, W. Kinuthia, & S. Marshall (Eds.), Open educational resources: Innovation, research and practice (pp. 5–16). Vancouver, CA: Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University.Google Scholar
  58. Stanton, J. M., & Harkness, S. S. (2014). Got MOOC?: Labor costs for the development and delivery of an open online course. Information Resources Management Journal (IRMJ), 27(2), 14–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Universities UK. (2013). Massive open online courses: Higher education’s digital moment? Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/highereducation/Documents/2013/MassiveOpenOnlineCourses.pdf.
  60. Weller, M. J. (2000). The use of narrative to provide a cohesive structure for a web based computing course. Journal of Interactive Media in Education (1). Retrieved from http://jime.open.ac.uk/article/view/2000-1/48.
  61. Weller, M., & Robinson, L. (2001). Scaling up an Online Course to Deal with 12 000 Students. Education, Communication & Information, 1(3). Retrieved from http://www.mit.jyu.fi/OPE/kurssit/TIES461/Materiaali/Weller_Robinson.pdf.
  62. Welton, M. R. (2014). The educator needs to be educated: Reflections on the political pedagogy of Marx, Lenin and Habermas. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(5), 641–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Williamson, B. (2015). Governing software: Networks, databases and algorithmic power in the digital governance of public education. Learning, Media and Technology, 40(1), 83–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Winner, L. (1986). Do artifacts have politics? In L. Winner (Ed.), The whale and the reactor: A search for limits in an age of high technology (pp. 19–39). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press (Reprinted in The Social Shaping of Technology. MacKenzie, D., and Wajcman, J. (eds) (1999) [2nd Edition] London: Open University Press pp 28-40).Google Scholar
  65. Yuan, L., & Powell, S. (2013). MOOCs and open education: Implications for higher education. JISC Cetis. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://publications.cetis.ac.uk/2013/667.
  66. Zuboff, S. (2015). Big other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. Journal of Information Technology, 30, 75–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations