MOOC’ing about: Re-Introduced for COVID-19

I had written this blog post years ago when MOOC (massive online open course) was the rage. Almost every higher education institution wanted in on it, and I was a non-traditional student at the time. The instructor required us to research MOOC in 2013.

Technology razes like California’s wildfire. Sometimes we grapple with it and win. Sometimes we watch in helplessness as it razes old programs on its way into the next new one. Other times, technology’s newfangled and ubiquitous nature dazzles us, infects us with promises of mission and millions of dollars, and we are infected.

There are many reasons for my involvement in MOOC, but the most essential of them is that MOOC, an online course, allows participants like me access to unlimited course materials distributed and dispersed across the web, according to Kaplan and Haenlein

A form of distance education, MOOC provides a positive experience for online users and allows for connection and collaboration. With continuous use, one can hope to acquire a high level of technology savviness in one month of intensive journey.

Over the last decade or so, certain technology terminologies have arrived and were muddled up in what they are and how they can be used. Prior to the 2013, most people never paid attention to the distinctions between MOOC and other delivery concepts.

After listening to Dr. Micahel Balfour’s clarification of Classifying K-12 Online Learning, I gained a clearer picture of the different types of online/distance learning classifications as they apply to the K-12 arena so that I can adopt them for the appropriate need. At that time, MOOC was a new area of involvement that led to certification, so it was imperative to be proficient in terms unique to it and in the use of pertinent terminologies.

Technology adoption spreads to students and colleagues. Therefore, one must concern himself or herself with the specific nature of its correct identity. MOCC allows a person to be involved in major categories of online/distance learning and/or teaching: virtual, cyber, hybrid, and blended. These methods of learning and teaching appear too close to be concerned about them. There are more than thin-hair differences. Jacob Richman, an epistemophilic problem solver, explains the distinction between cyber and virtual. Gar Driesen explains the difference between hybrid and blended learning.

I enrolled in a virtual class at the University of West Georgia and started my doctoral degree at a cyber school (was the distinction the school insisted on making) simultaneously, but I had to withdraw from the cyber school when it became obvious that brick-and-mortar universities would not accept the paper on which my degree and credits would be written.

Fast forward into 2020, and the coronavirus upended education. Face-to-face learning and teaching may have swapped placed with MOOC. Whereas face-to-face was the acceptable and revered method of instruction, MOOC took the place of a twice-removed cousin. COVOD-19, unbeknownst to it, has revived the near-dead online instructional platform.

For a learning platform to be accepted as blended, face-to-face and online activities must occur simultaneously as opposed to hybrid which does not have to happen at the same time. My department at the University of West Georgia offered several courses in a hybrid format.

Before COVID-19, I had argued that the blended method would be most beneficial for elementary and middle school (junior high) students. As education is forced to grapple with balancing health priorities and instructional priorities in light of curtailing the spread of the virus, health issues will take centerstage before academic matters.

As a result, of the four methods that have arisen over past decades, the blended and the hybrid formats will be sacrificed. Our understanding of cyber has shifted tremendously, and almost no one uses the word cyber and learning in the same breath in reference to how to teach students. The virtual (online) format is overshadowing all other learning systems for all levels: elementary, middle, high, and post-secondary.

Stay tuned for an update on what is happening to MOOC as a result of COVID-19, the once-dying online instructional method.

Thank you, Thank you!

Welcome! Are you here because you received my email from MailChimp and have been redirected to this site? I thank you.

Before I hit that publish button (I really do not push that button. Kindle, Amazon, IngramSparks, etc. will do that), I would like your assistance to determine if any changes should be made to any of the book(s) I am poised to release this summer.

Please visit Surveymonkey to share your opinion and give helpful suggestions. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

From Theory to Literature: Henry James

Henry James wrote the quintessential novel and buried it in the most dizzying quagmire. Many turn-of-the-century authors admired his method including Joseph Conrad. James drizzled intricate structures, sustained irony, and the sophisticated manipulation of point of view in The Turn of the Screw. Unlike Conrad’s novels whose settings journeyed all over the world, James remained locked on the British social and economic scenes and layered the social-economic structure from the wealthiest (the owner of the mansion) to the poorest (servants). This short paper intends to apply the Marxist Literary Criticism to Henry James’ Turn of the Screw as it explores important concepts in that theory: “from theory to literature.”

One of the notable Marxists, Friedrich Engels, would probably applaud James for attempting to hide his own opinions for the betterment of art. As cultured and as highly educated as James was, he attempted to bring about other realities: culturally, economically, socially, and gender wise, far removed from his own circumstances. On the contrary, Marxism would decry such an attempt. “Marxist literary criticism maintains that a writer’s social class, and its prevailing ‘ideology’ (outlook, values, tacit assumptions, half-realised allegiances, etc.) have a major bearing on what is written by a member of that class.”

According to Peter Barry’s interpretation, instead of Marxists seeing authors as primarily autonomous “inspired“ individuals whose “genius“ and creative imagination enables them to bring forth original and timeless works of art, the Marxist sees authors as constantly formed by their social contexts in ways which they themselves would usually not admit.

Applying The Turn of the Screw to Marxist criticism (or vice versa), it is imperative to acknowledge the significance of social and economic factors. As indicated earlier, the story is populated by the lower class: Mrs. Grose and an assortment of hired help, living or dead. Despite her attempt to see herself differently as above all the others in the house, and by virtue of her not being a relation, a guest, a mistress, nor a servant, the governess is still in the lower class because she received financial benefits.

Marxist theory sees progress coming about through the struggle for power between different social classes. There was a stream of conflicts in the novel: between the governess and Miles, between the governess and Flora, between the governess and Mrs. Grose, and between the governess and the ghosts. Additionally (and according to Marxism), one social class always exploits the other. Miles’ uncle has economic, social, and political advantage over the governess and all the people working for him, even if the power is from afar. The machination he put in place and set in motion churns in his absence to ensure that all parties contribute to the success of his home management and his peace of mind.

The result of this exploitation, according to Marxism, is the “alienation” of the worker (the governess) who performs “tasks whose nature and purpose ‘she’ has no overall grasp.” The governess finally confesses to not wanting to prolong “the fiction that I had anything more to teach him.” She had no overall grasp anymore as Miles’ teacher, caregiver, and protector. She knew she no longer possessed the skill necessary to teach Miles. She has been, according to Marxism, “deskilled.”

To Mrs. Grose (who is below her class by education, station, and by birth), the governess enjoys the conflict tremendously by becoming sarcastic, insulting, and by using tacit invectives. Class dynamics and conflicts are very prevalent and critical in Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. Sometimes the references are implicit. Other times they are immersed in dialogue. Even though the governess is of Victorian gentility, she is heavily exploited and is thrust into extremely demanding expectations and roles which cause her alienation and her ultimate breakdown.

Although Karl Marx and Engels themselves did not put forward any comprehensive theory of literature, other Marxists did. Marx and Engels’ views, Barry notes, seem relaxed and undogmatic: “Good art always has a degree of freedom from prevailing economic circumstances…” Henry certainly created a piece of good art in The Turn of the Screw.