[Humanist] 26.254 brave new world & its institutions

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Aug 28 07:26:22 CEST 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 254.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (47)
        Subject: education by television

  [2]   From:    "Dr. Robert Delius Royar PhD"                             (59)
                <r.royar at moreheadstate.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions

  [3]   From:    "Rugg, Annelie" <annelie at humnet.ucla.edu>                  (8)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions

  [4]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>                       (196)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 08:47:57 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: education by television

As a quite unhappy 15 year-old American high school student wanting but 
not getting challenged intellectually in the classroom -- I was bored! 
-- I discovered a television course on mathematical statistics. It was 
taught, as I recall, early mornings at 6 am or perhaps earlier. Anyhow I 
got out of bed each day it was on, turned on the telly, sat there and 
learned. It was part of a correspondence course. I worked hard, 
did the homework, posted it each week and received marks back also by 
post -- it was not easy, but it was inspiring. Alas I cannot remember 
much of what I learned then, perhaps only that I learned by that means 
and it kept me afloat emotionally as well as intellectually.

My point isn't that I also am an admirer of what the Open U has done in 
this country and continues to do. Rather it's that there is a 
*non-exclusive role* for distance-education, for young people reaching 
out for more than they are getting face-to-face, people raising children 
who cannot drop everything and go to uni, those who live too far away 
and cannot move and so on. I ask: why do we so often think in terms 
of either/or and not both/and?

About Oxbridge. Ever since glimpsing the dreaming spires from the 
windows of a bus travelling up from Heathrow and walking around the 
streets of Oxford I've had a love-hate relationship with the place. I 
was not fortunate enough to be a student there, but I have concluded 
from knowing many who were, as under- and postgraduates, that for most 
it's wonderful to attend and then vital to leave. I've taught summers at 
Princeton and formed the same attitude about that great university. 
Surely as a society we can afford to maintain those shelters for the 
intellectual life, with all their oddities, while various pernicious 
storms rage.

In his hugely enjoyable and funny "Some Cambridge Dons of the 
Nineties" Bertrand Russell describes some very odd men, including a 
Senior Fellow "otherwise... not known to have done any work whatever 
since the age of twenty-two", and then concludes,

> As the case of the Senior Fellow shows, security of tenure
> was carried very far. The result was partly good, partly bad.
> Very good men flourished, and so did some who were not so
> good. Incompetence, oddity and even insanity were tolerated,
> but so was real merit. In spite of some lunacy and some laziness,
> Cambridge was a good place, where independence of
> mind could exist undeterred.

Yours,
WM
-- 
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 08:31:42 -0400
        From: "Dr. Robert Delius Royar PhD" <r.royar at moreheadstate.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions
        In-Reply-To: <20120827070517.30591289BB8 at woodward.joyent.us>


On 27 Aug 2012, at 03:05, Andrew Prescott <andrew.prescott at kcl.ac.uk> 
wrote

> Professor Kessler is right that I did not address the main point in his
> letter, which is that the use of new technologies in learning does not
> automatically mean that the academic profession is doomed. He is right
> on this. What I wanted to point out is that we have over forty years of
> experience in Britain of providing university education through a
> mixture of television, radio, internet, radio cassette and other media,
> and it seems to me very strange that the current fevered discussion in

> the United States does not ever refer to this experience which provides
> very clear pointers for future development.

I can remember distance television instruction in rural Kentucky in the 
1960s. The Kentucky Educational Television network was initially 
designed to provide daytime classroom instruction for K-12 and evening 
Educational / Cultural programming in the evenings. In High School in 
the early 1970s, KET was where I saw complete airings of films directed 
by Fellini and Bergman. It was also where I learned history that was not 
covered in my school and much about science. Video tape was reel-to-reel 
and very expensive at that time; the pause button was not available.

In the 1970s (but perhaps not until the 1980s) the New York Institute of 
Technology had its American Open University which used radio, later 
video tape, then dialup, and finally the Internet to deliver classes. 
That program was based on UK's Open University, You see very little 
mention of these efforts in the current discussion of 
technology-mediated learning.

As for the focus on cost. That is certainly an argument we hear. 
However, at NYIT and at my current institution the focus was and is not 
on cost directly but on access. Certainly access is related to cost. If 
students cannot afford to travel to a campus to take classes, then cost 
relates to access. At MSU we have full-time graduate students who live 
in large western states where the nearest graduate programs are over 500 
miles away from their homes. In our own state, Kentucky, we have 
graduate students who teach school all day and cannot travel 2 hours of 
an evening to campus on the treacherous roads in our region. Cost is not 
the issue in this case; the issue is access and convenience. Cost does 
play a major role for programs such as ours when we look at how much we 
once paid to send faculty to distant, physical campus sites to teach 
small numbers of students in classes that did not bring enough tuition 
to support the faculty's load. Now, for most program those classes are 
online. Our classes are not larger than they would be on the main 
campus, but they do pay the cost of offering the class. In that way it 
is money saving. Some programs offer interactive TV classes in specially 
equipped classrooms for students who can travel to sites within easy 
driving distance, but many students and faculty prefer Internet classes 
to ITV classes.

I came to MSU in 1994. Each classroom at that time had 1960s-era TVs 
bolted to the ceilings. Those TVs were no longer operating. However, MSU 
was using classroom television that went to satellite campuses and 
across campus during the 1960s.

When James Grier Miller founded EDUCOM in the 1960s, his inaugural 
article arguing for a network for distributed education envisioned 
access to learning as one of the important results. I think BITNET 
developed from the same impetus. See 
http://www.educause.edu/about/mission-and-organization/history/educom-hist
ory. For a history that many U.S. journalists (and educators simply 
ignore).

--
 Dr. Robert Delius Royar PhD, Associate Professor of English
 Morehead State University     r.royar at moreheadstate.edu


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 16:02:28 +0000
        From: "Rugg, Annelie" <annelie at humnet.ucla.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions
        In-Reply-To: <20120827070517.30591289BB8 at woodward.joyent.us>


Dear Andrew (if I may),

Thank you for sharing about the history of the Open University and how you see it connecting with the discussion in the U.S. around online education, MOOCs and the like. I have been fascinated by the OU since attending a Moodlemoot there a few years ago, and agree with many of your points.

I would be curious to know if there is any information about what improvements OU alumni have enjoyed in their work and employability that they attribute to their OU education. It would be heartening to know in what ways the educational access OU has provided to its students has made measurable differences to them.

Regards,
Annelie Rugg, Ph.D.
Director  ||  UCLA Center for Digital Humanities
310.903.7691  ||  annelie at humnet.ucla.edu
http://www.cdh.ucla.edu



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:03:56 -0700
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.252 brave new world & its institutions
        In-Reply-To: <20120827070517.30591289BB8 at woodward.joyent.us>


Dear Willard,

I thank Professor Prescott for his acknowedgement of my queries about
claims for the OU and its workings, even more for his offered  historical
backgrounding for my benefit.  All well and good, in intention and hopes
for the UK.  There is something, however, that nags at me, and I hope blunt
language will not offend, as it is not meant to do so.   I suppose it comes
down to a matter of perceptions of the scale of problems concerned:
California is perhaps larger than France.  10 autonomous University
campuses. Over 222,000 students as listed some years ago; over 121,000
faculty and staff, ditto.  Auxiliary, open U via Extension classes and
research units, paid for and largely taught by qualified faculty or pro tem
experts [professional short courses make a lot of money in
medicine/engineering/the like, outside of the general education curricula].

 Operating budget for one, UCLA, for example, is 6-7 billions if not more.
There are 22+ State University campuses established, very large outfits.
 Supposedly the U's take the top 12.5 of high school graduates; but in
practice, closer to 19%, poaching on the 20% students designated for them
as eligible.  There is a vast network of community colleges, the first two
years of a college curriculum, and very varied in subject matter for
average students who dont need a full college course, though they are
automatically admitted to 3rd and 4th year levels if they apply.  The
population of California [diminishing lately because of the woeful economy]
was about 37 millions last time I looked years ago.

Now, if the UK OU system has shown itself useful and possible for some many
decades, that is scarcely anything that can be used as a model for the US,
since the scales show the difference between a parochial, provincial nation
and one that numbers well over 300 millions, perhaps nearer 350ms.  I mean,
we are not talking about the same kinds of situation, not to mention our
terrible decline in educational standards, teachers and financial support
for pupils from 5+ to 18+.  There cannot be any parallel, I should imagine,
between an NHS, UK, French, Swiss, Dutch, German, etc., and what is being
fought over in the States, and in this election year.  Children are
everywhere; ill persons and geronts present themselves for service and
care, but certainly not at the rate that children head for kindergartens.

What I am suggesting consequently is that there is little point in
modeling, say for Internet teaching and learning, between the UK OU and our
heterogeneous panoply of institutions.  That effort is based on the
illusion fostered by the Internet: that we, chatting and discoursing on
issues, say for DH's possible relation to billion $$$ schemes to be saving
budgets at MIT and Virginia, as exemplars for the Nation, are talking about
the same universes.  I think not.  These are incommensurable realities.
 When one administrator at UCLA is paid a salary 33% larger than that of
the US President, we may begin to see that innocents like ourselves are
wading through a swamp teeming with alligators and hunters, etc. That is
one clue to my asking, WHO, WHOM?  The Internet "Projectors," to use
Swift's term, which I used in my letter to the FT, 18 August, which Willard
posted to launch this thread, are when x-rayed, simply capital investors
speculating on a potential bonanza, regardless of theories of teaching and
learning.  One ought to reread Edgar Allan Poe's charming satirical poem,
"Eldorado."  two Google clicks and there it is.  I could also supply a
similar poem of my own, written in 1951, when I was not quite 22, and which
surprisingly was an intuition of the slough into which the Humanities per
se may be wading or being thrust by such investment capital barbarians,
belonging lobbyists for the Good Intentions Paving Company.

Jascha Kessler

On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 12:05 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 252.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2012 14:44:22 +0100
>         From: Dear Prescott <andrew.prescott at kcl.ac.uk>
>         Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.250 brave new world & its institutions
>         In-Reply-To: <20120826062002.2B4C62867DE at woodward.joyent.us>
>
> Dear Willard,
>
> Professor Kessler is right that I did not address the main point in his
> letter, which is that the use of new technologies in learning does not
> automatically mean that the academic profession is doomed. He is right
> on this. What I wanted to point out is that we have over forty years of
> experience in Britain of providing university education through a
> mixture of television, radio, internet, radio cassette and other media,
> and it seems to me very strange that the current fevered discussion in
> the United States does not ever refer to this experience which provides
> very clear pointers for future development.
>
> The idea of a 'university of the air' was proposed in Britain as early
> as 1926 when a historian working for the BBC suggested the development
> of a 'wireless university'. The idea of a 'university of the air'
> gathered momentum in the early 1960s, and the creation of an
> experimental university using television and radio was a prominent part
> of the Labour Party's manifesto when it was elected to government in
> 1964. The intention was to offer university education without the
> requirement for any prior educational qualification. That seems to me
> one important difference between the discussions in the 1960s and the
> debates on which Professor Kessler comments - in Britain, we have always
> seen new technologies as providing a key to offering wider access to
> education; the current discussions in America seem to focus almost
> entirely on technology as a cost-saving option.
>
> The Open University was established at Milton Keynes in 1969. The Tory
> minister Iain McLeod called the idea of a 'university of the air'
> 'blithering nonsense' and threatened to abolish it if the Conservatives
> formed the next government, but fortunately Margaret Thatcher, the new
> Education Secretary, decided to allow the experiment to go ahead and the
> first 25,000 students were admitted in 1971 to be taught by a mixture of
> television, audio cassette, home science kits, course packs and
> residential courses. Today, the Open University is the largest single
> university in Britain with more than 260,000 current students. Since
> 1969, over 1.5 million students, many without previous formal
> educational qualifications, have graduated from the Open University. As
> I mentioned in my previous post, the Open University is pioneering
> on-line methods of teaching. But, above all, I think the most important
> achievement of the Open University was that (in the words of its
> website)'The Open University was the first institution to break the
> insidious link between exclusivity and excellence'.
>
> The Open University has been revolutionary in many of its pedagogical
> methods and many of these have been since adopted by conventional
> British universities. But, to support Professor Kessler's key
> contention, what the Open University demonstrates above all is that such
> innovative educational achievement depends on first-rate academic staff.
> The Open University currently employs more than more than 1,200
> full-time academic staff and more than 3,500 support and administrative
> staff. Above all, it has a network of 7,000 tutors locally based (as
> famously depicted in 'Educating Rita'). The chief lesson of the Open
> University experience supports Professor Kessler's argument - to
> successfully use new media to widen access to higher education then you
> need committed and inspirational academic staff. I think this alone
> shows why current discussions about the use of new technologies in
> teaching should take the experience of the Open University in Britain as
> a starting point.
>
> Much more information about the Open University can be found on its
> website:
>
> http://www8.open.ac.uk/about/main/the-ou-explained/history-the-ou
>
> I suggested in my previous post that the Open University stands
> comparison within the National Health Service as one of the greatest
> social achievements of Britain in modern times. On reflection, I wonder
> if the Open University isn't the greater of the two achievements. To
> create a collectivised medical system chiefly requires a society with a
> strong sense of a social justice and a political and administrative
> determination to put a fairer and more civilised system in place - it
> wasn't necessary to do much new in terms of the medicine. The creation
> of the Open University required an equally strong social sense of social
> justice but also needed to develop completely new ways of providing a
> university education which didn't compromise on standards. We need a
> similar set of values in approaching the pedagogical possibilities
> provided by new technologies.
>
> For further reflections on some of these themes, I would recommend the
> blog on the history of the Open University maintained by my friend Dan
> Weinbren:
>
> http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/History-of-the-OU/
>
> A recent post by Dan is pertinent to these discussions:
>
> "Open learning is a movement that isn’t going to go away
>
> The idea that technology can be deployed to support learners isn’t new
> to those who work at the OU. Suddenly, however, it is in the headlines
> because Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have
> formed a $60m (£38m) alliance to launch edX, a platform to deliver
> courses online – with the modest ambition of ‘revolutionising education
> around the world’.
>
> Paying relatively little attention to the decades-long history of
> sophisticated use of television, radio, video and the internet that has
> occurred at the OU the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial
> Intelligence Laboratory and one of the pioneers of the MITx online
> prototype. Anant Agarwal said ‘This could be the end of the two-hour
> lecture…You can’t hit the pause button on a lecturer, you can’t fast
> forward’. While MIT might be struggling to catch up pedagogically this
> development could be a challenge to the OU, as well as an opportunity
> for it to demonstrate its experience in the field of supported open
> learning. As Dr Anka Mulder, head of Delft University in the Netherlands
> and President of the OpenCourseWare group which advocates free online
> course materials, said ‘Open learning is a movement that isn’t going to
> go away’".
>
> Andrew
>
> Professor Andrew Prescott FRHistS
> Head of Department
> Department of Digital Humanities
> King's College London
> 26-29 Drury Lane
> London WC2B 5RL
> @ajprescott
> www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/ddh
> digitalriffs.blogspot.com
> +44 (0)20 7848 2651

-- 
Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648
www.jfkessler.com
www.xlibris.com





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