MOOCs are being heralded as disrupting higher education. What if higher education is using MOOCs as a trope, to disorientate popular culture from the long established ‘open-education’ movement’s agenda.

Can you imagine the disruption that would have occurred if George Siemens got his way with open-courses? What if Stephen Downe’s ideas of Connectivism should develop un-opposed? They might result in remarkable changes to the social capital placed on qualifications and networked-knowlege. Who loses out? … those used to profiting from fee-paying study, consulting, publishers and so on.

A similar argument can be made for K12. Brands such as Google, Apple, Pearson, Private School X and so on require teachers to perceive ‘rich media’ and ‘useful technologies’ in very limited orientation to their products. This has been achieved by enticing teachers to cultivate popular-online-persona, manage in-group bias and chase away other arguments. What is then presented as “essential” to the lives of children is simply a procession of products as a result of planned obsolesce and media manipulation. Here’s an Apple badge for the teacher so to speak.

People make what they believe to be rational judgements about which technologies they want to use, based upon their belief about their situation. These choices are critically influenced by what they think about computers, computer users, computer software and so forth. At the same time, they try to reconcile how these products might provide reassurance as to why they become and stay being teachers.

This is the thin layer of online educational culture. Media messages (especially from citizen-journalists) advocate that technology will (eventually) wipe away the institutions as credentialing agents. Twitter is all about credentialling – within the self-constructed cluster, there is a peception it can be used to short-cut the system and improves one’s position in life. Well perhaps it can – for a few. But the audience is not the busy academic or teacher. Most of the discussion is between brands (and brand endorsers) and adminstrators and decision makers, whom hold power over the way courses and classrooms are run.

Online educational culture can also be described simply an appendage machinery that sells technology to consumers via the family. It uses education as a ‘trust’ signal. Popular ‘educational media’ is used to disorientate people such that they find it hard to differentiate real and unreal. This isn’t new – advertisers have done this since they first started selling microcomputers to consumers. Buy a Commodore VIC20 so you’re kids don’t end up thick.

At the heart of the Open Education Resources movement (and the Open movement in general) is the notion that education is a public good and not which BRANDS are good. That is a particular skill of marketers and advertising. It’s no wonder games such as Minecraft are excluded from popular online educational culture.

Now who’s running the classroom of the future?

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