Appropriately enough since the last post was about my own foray into MOOCs, a couple of articles on the subject showed up in my newsfeed. Ian Bogost suggests that this new trend is nothing more than a marketing tactic, and that participating universities are “drunk on the dream of being “elite” and willing to do anything to be seen in the right crowd making the hip choices.” On the other hand, this article from Slate mostly echoes my sentiments, that Coursera and similar resources won’t replace traditional education, but can be useful tools to enhance it, or provide access to people who might just want to learn something new. On the OTHER other hand (my foot?), this article talks about what teaching a MOOC is like and how many disadvantages there are. I consider myself to be, overall, an honest and ethical person, so the point that MOOCs were a “cheating-rife” environment had not occurred to me. Also, although there’s talk of students grading each other (pretty sure that’s how my Science Fiction and Fantasy course is going to work) and essay autograders (no idea how that’s supposed to work), I think it’s very important to note that the MOOC format just may not be a good fit for subject areas where discussion and collaboration are more vital.
Also in higher education, here’s some terrifying information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “The U.S. now has 115,000 janitors with college degrees, along with 83,000 bartenders, 80,000 heavy-duty truck drivers, and 323,000 waiters and waitresses.” The trend has been to question whether or not college is worth it, question how much students are actually learning, while still complaining about the shortage of skilled labor in certain fields. I don’t think there’s a “higher education bubble,” I think we’re all just getting royally screwed by the powers that be, but questioning the system is verboten, so let’s just find a convenient scapegoat. I love how all these articles complain about “too many administrators” when anyone currently in the system (yours truly) would probably be thankful for a couple of extra people to handle the mountain of tasks that have become of college enrollment.
I assume most of my current readers (that’s right, both of you!) aren’t super interested in parenting (at the moment, anyway) or child development but I feel compelled to share this article about how children need alone time. I find the idea that parents are supposed to be on-call entertainment providers completely bizarre (and exhausting!), probably because I was raised to be fairly self-sufficient. I still had a ton of quality time with my parents when I was young, but not to the point where their own interests were completely subsumed so that I wouldn’t be *gasp!* BORED. Another small note on the article–the title makes it seem like they’re going to talk about boys and girls, but really they only talk about boys and how parents do “boy” things (physical activity) with them so they’ll be strong and athletic (not kidding!). BARF. Maybe if you’re talking about boys and girls, you could’ve found a girl to write about. Can’t imagine it being difficult, we’re like half of the population.
After reading a particularly offensive comment thread on Facebook, I found this post heartening.
Men, we have a crucial role to play in this. We benefit from male privilege every moment of every day. We may not ask for it, but it’s there. So let’s use it to confront rape-supportive behavior, rape jokes and rape culture whenever we can. Let’s listen when we’re told we’ve done something that inadvertently supports rape culture, rather than getting defensive.
Related to that, here’s a super-sarcastic and excellent bit from Amanda Marcotte about “a Tumblr chronicling the insidious problem of “female privileges” such as dominating low-paid service sector work and never having to have medical tests where they make you take off your pants to look inside your body, except of course that one that doesn’t count because.” I’m so glad she’s making those points because, on trying to explain why street harassment upsets me, I’ve definitely been told that it was actually a compliment and that some people would feel oh-so-flattered to have the same experience. Oh, and as someone pointed out in the comments, women do in fact get rejected ALL THE TIME, and this trope of “all men always want sex so it’s easy to get some if you’re a lady!” is extremely hurtful and damaging to women because, if it’s supposed to be so easy for you, but it’s not, you’re stuck trying to figure out what’s wrong with you that even these simple-minded sex-crazed loons don’t want you.
So, you know how sometimes people have a lot of opportunities, and they think that everyone has the same opportunities, even though the “equality of opportunity” myth has been thoroughly debunked by anyone that’s paying attention to anything? Well, it’s true for ladies too, as Yahoo’s new CEO says “there are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there is more good that comes out of positive energy around that than comes out of negative energy.” In other words, we’re just complaining too much instead of taking advantage of all the opportunities afforded to us as white heterosexual ladies from the upper middle class with an interest in technology!…Other ladies don’t count. Shh. Not to mention, which thankfully has been mentioned, feminism has made her career possible–taking the idea of opportunities for women for granted is ignorant at best, straight-up asinine at worst.
Finally, an awesome, awesome essay from Ricky Gervais on why he’s an atheist, why that shouldn’t bother anyone, and how there’s nothing wrong with spirituality until it starts being used to harm other people (which in my opinion is 99% of the time, but whatever). However, you don’t have to be religious to be a jackass, as this post on denialism in the skeptic/atheist community points out.