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#introphil Philosophy MOOC – First Impressions

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I’ve now started the Edinburgh University Introduction to Philosophy MOOC. I’ve never studied philosophy before, not even any humanities type of subject since I was at school (many years ago) so it’s all very new to me and I’m uncertain how to proceed. In a science subject I’d probably start by reading a text book and doing some examples to see whether I had a proper understanding. Not so philosophy – even the meaning of ‘proper understanding’ is a philosophical question!

Anyway, here’s my first quick impressions of this MOOC. Activity this week centres on 5 short videos given by Dave Ward on what Philosophy is and an assessment of some common claims made about Philosophy and its subject matter. Ideas that philosophy is about fundamental and important questions are examined followed by a case study on The Meaning of Life (no answers given). I found the videos well-presented and just about the right introductory level for a beginner like me. I’ve been put off in the past by introductions to philosophy that start with ancient philosophy so I was pleased to hear about philosophy as a topic in itself and as a process with a few references to modern philosophers thrown in for good measure.

Bentham

Although philosopher Jeremy Bentham died in 1832 he can still be seen at University College, London !

With around 90,000 participants the forums are roaring! Connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) may sometimes be chaotic and confused but this xMOOC takes the ticket! All sorts of groups are forming on the basis of language, age, location etc and every question under the sun is being discussed simultaneously – philosophically or otherwise. There are several official ‘instructors’ around who try to be helpful as well as quite a few knowledgeable participants. I’m in no position to judge the quality of learning and it’s very early days but certainly many people are having a whale of a time engaging in this massive forum. You might expect some intolerance or bad humour with discussions ranging far and wide through politics and religion but I see little evidence of this so far.

Transcripts of the videos are available so I’ve been downloading these and using them as a basis for my own notes. Here’s my very brief summary for the first video. These are really meant as ‘notes to myself’ – a bald summary of what’s been said without personal views or comments.

What is Philosophy?

  • just whatever philosophers do.
  • etymologically: the love of knowledge from the Greek, ‘philosophia’ – Meaning? – will any kind of wisdom or knowledge do or does it have to be wisdom or knowledge about specific topics?
  • Google ‘what is philosophy’.
  • Wilfrid Sellars (famous 20th century American philosopher): ‘The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to try and understand how things, in the broadest possible sense of the term, hang together, in the broadest possible sense of the term.’
  • Epicurus: ‘Philosophy is an activity that uses reasoning and rigorous argument to promote human flourishing.’
  • Barry Stroud (Scottish philosopher):’Philosophy is just thinking clearly and well about reality and our place in it.’
  • Another suggestion involves the attempt to think systematically about the presuppositions of some given topic.
  • Philosophy is the activity of working out the right way of thinking about things.

Philosophy itself is a philosophical question.

Disagreement and resolution is really important – whether or not you want to change your mind
about anything previously believed or want to try and change another mind about something important.

Need to question consistency – do all the points made make sense together? Can they all be true at the same time?

In all above, does anything said about Philosophy seems wrong or not make sense?
Has some important aspect of what Philosophy been omitted – if so how to convince?

Image credit: MykReeve at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Written by Gordon Lockhart

January 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. Due to mooc overload (no doubt soon to be recognized as a category by the APA) and other online commitments, I am a week behind blogging about it, which I sincerely hope will result in blogging about it more efficiently.

    #introphil introduction thread include one for seniors that include entries from other retired physics profs. Who knew? If you missed reading C.P. Snow, now you can take a Coursera to fill the gap.

    I posted a brief intro there and in another, more generic intro thread with a typical online course icebreaker. Teaching online, it was an expectation and one I tended to carry further than many as part of early community building that paid off later. This last is less than realistic in mob format but still a habit.

    In my own experience, the real connections are more likely to be made in smaller groups. Even MOOCs need cohorts, in this case self-selecting. Much forum action is jockeying for position and up-votes. I got over that in high school. Speaking of smaller groups, more active members of the Coursera Fantasy S/F Facebook group morphed into a book club after the course and members tend to stick together through succeeding courses. A number are now in and added me when I asked who else was taking #introphil

    Also searching Google+ for #philosophy (no G+ #introphil Community yet), many if not most results referred to this course. This link among results intrigued me, http://machineslikeus.com/news/philosophy-science-overlapping-magisteria. I like your Google search results. The basic Comparative Literature at UC Dave always required at least one philosophy reading: Plato (I) Descartes (II), Freud’s Civilization and it Discontents essay (III), Camus (IV). Teaching Descartes to undergraduates can be a real challenge, right up there with teaching Mrs Dalloway to frat boys.

    At #edcmooc I started a Welcome thread calling for serial and mulitple mooc-ers that has drawn quite a response. I need to get back there today too. Checking in on too many in one day gets quite confusing.

    VanessaVaile

    January 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    • Hi Vanessa and thanks for the info. I saw you in the forum for seniors. Unless I’m missing something it doesn’t seem possible to search for names making it difficult to find people you know. I’ve made a couple of forum entries one of which was asking whether anyone was blogging about the course – no response at all. (BTW I wasn’t a physics prof – just a humble senior lecturer in Electronic and Electrical Engineering 🙂 There certainly are plenty groups forming. Being pressed for time my priority at this stage is content rather than connections. A MOOC on philosophy rather lends itself to endless discussions going nowhere in particular – but part of the process I guess and I’m trying to keep an eye open for interesting topics. Gordon

      gbl55

      January 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

      • There should be a (somewhat disappointing) search tool on main Forum page. I asked about the same problem, searching for people you know) in #etmooc and got a gosh don’t know just look for them manually (if sheer chance doesn’t work) reply. Not helpful. I see all “find your friends” on social media sites so know it’s possible. So does is the feature too expense or difficult to add to either model, or is finding and connecting not a priority?

        Sometimes chance and messages in bottles work better than expected… lo and behold I’ve found another… Rob. I like the idea of a conversation with you, Rob and Jaap.

        VanessaVaile

        January 31, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      • PS which forum? Although my solution to an annoying platform and clunky threaded Forum is to avoid them…

        VanessaVaile

        January 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      • Vanessa – my forum entry on blogs is here: https://class.coursera.org/introphil-001/forum/thread?thread_id=1367&post_id=4949 Evidently the search tool will find a name if it appears in the main body but not the name label at the top! This must be deliberate policy but I can’t understand why.

        gbl55

        January 31, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      • I noticed that in Fantasy S/F too ~ try to remember to tag myself but don’t always remember. I agree about it being policy ~ too easy to fix and there have been enough complaints for them to know about it. Why? Control would be my guess: make it harder for inmates to take over the asylum, keep us from Occupying the MOOC… 

        ________________________________

        VanessaVaile

        January 31, 2013 at 8:01 pm

  2. //Need to question consistency – do all the points made make sense together? Can they all be true at the same time?//

    MOOCs reproduce the old metaphysics where philosophy is a search solely for ultimate or first principles. Heidegger’s “What is called thinking?” is the seminal text to consider in any philosophy course, intro or advanced.

    The call for “consistency” indicates a presumption about philosophy as mediator some kind of arbitrator of sensibility, logic, and reason. Philosophy is a practice, something that’s best evaluated from within the action a thinker makes.

    However, part of philosophy remains to respect the past traditions of thinking on key problems — how do we live? what’s the point of it all? what role does art and other human expression play in our thinking lives?

    I believe Avital Ronell holds the key to bringing this discussion around to a better consideration of thinking as philosopher more than an evaluation of thought:

    Astra Taylor’s entire film, THE EXAMINED LIFE is a great place to look for an overview of what philosophers do.

    Other seminal resources:

    Jean-Luc Nancy, “What is to be done?”
    http://hapaxlegomania.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-is-to-be-done-jean-luc-nancy.html

    Heidegger, “What is called thinking?” (the 20th century game-changer)

    2nd concern:

    //I’ve now started the Edinburgh University Introduction to Philosophy MOOC. I’ve never studied philosophy before, not even any humanities type of subject since I was at school (many years ago) so it’s all very new to me and I’m uncertain how to proceed.//

    All you need to know about the dangers of universal design and best practices is written in this quote. It seems that a course, especially a MOOC needs to have an expert or at least an experienced person at the helm. While it is true that philosophy can be taught “in the moment” and from a place of “uncertainty,” beginning with a definition of philosophy as “the love of wisdom” already biases the course, reduces it to cliche, and fails to practice philosophy — unless, of course, provoking radical dissent and increasing thinking by way of intense critique is the implied essential objective. In that case, I wholeheartedly approve. 🙂

    Dr. Robert Craig Baum

    January 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    • Many thanks for your trouble in bringing together all the info and comment! I’m no expert of course but my impression is that this MOOC does at least partly reproduce the traditional Philosophy 101 but this is typical for xMOOCs with an eye to investment and future ‘monetisation’. The video seems interesting as does the general notion of ‘uncertainty’. I’ve only explored the ‘certain’ variety in the past as in mathematical probability or information theory – I’ll come back to all this when time allows!

      My ‘notes to myself’ are just that and probably misleading without seeing the video. IMHO the lecturer was not at all prescriptive in ‘What is Philosophy?’. His approach was actually along the lines of ‘X thinks it’s this, Y thinks that, maybe it’s the other – take your pick or make up your own definition but try to think clearly about it.’ – seemed quite lacking in overt bias.
      Gordon Lockhart

      gbl55

      January 31, 2013 at 11:50 am

      • Same to you, Gordon.

        I’m 100% behind MOOC learning.

        It’s not just a future-now moment for me, the MOOC movement. It’s the accumulation of decades if not centuries of attempts to “wake up” Matrix style from the code imposed on us from a great many desiring machines, especially the corporate university that’s been slowly emerging since 1600. (That’s all Deleuze speak, a loaded way of saying: I love this revolution!)

        I’m simply of a very different school (www.egs.edu, 2004-2010) when it comes philosophy.

        It’s fine to show both the tradition and the bias; philosophy is about creating discomfort from within self-assured ways of thinking (dogma, belief, opinion) as much as it is about retracing the history of the definitions. I’m particularly sensitive to “what is philosophy?” introductions because it also reinforces a false assumption that philosophy is best discussed as a series of proper nouns. From what I can tell, the lecturer and the course rides the fine line between object-of-study and subject-of-experience quite well. Most don’t, however.

        Lastly, eight years of teaching Introduction to Philosophy showed me how powerful a sustained “Where is philosophy?” question can control (a bit) for the conceptual objectification of philosophy — which is alive, reflexive, stubborn, consoling, disturbing in its ability to provide half answers that look like dissertations and full dissertations that essentially serve ideology, not thinking.

        When you get to Descartes, reframe the shift to modern philosophy not as one of “I think therefore I am” but to Walter Mignolo’s seminar transposition/remix: “I think where I am.” And if I may be so annoyingly philosophical and self-promoting for a moment — consider as after-shock, post-course reading the second section of http://www.amazon.com/Itself-Robert-Craig-Baum/dp/0983173443

        migrantintellectual

        January 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      • Thanks again! I regret that Deleuze has been on my ‘to read’ list for some time. Good luck with the book!
        Gordon

        gbl55

        February 1, 2013 at 8:30 am

  3. If I find out the meaning of life this week, there is always Monty Python…back to navigating chaos, spice anyone?

    VanessaVaile

    January 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm

  4. […] apps and software or hardware do not teach or  educate, according to Bon Stewart Determinism tends towards a reductionist view of what technologies are and do, assuming direct cause…. (we are influences by these […]

  5. Here are the foundational “essential questions” in a 100% online community college course in intro. to philosophy.
    •What is philosophy? What did “sophia” mean to the ancient Greeks? What is the purpose of philosophy? How is it uniquely human?
    •What is metaphysics? …ontology? …cosmology?
    •What is philosophical materialism? Who were the pre-Socratics? Why do we call them that? For one of them (your choice), what did he think about reality and God?

    •What is epistemology? What is philosophical Realism? What is philosophical Idealism?
    •Who was Plato? What was his theory of ideal forms? What did Plato think about reality and God?
    •What was Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave?” What do the light, the fetters, the objects paraded behind people’s backs, and the shadows represent? What does the allegory suggest about our knowledge (and ignorance) of reality? Who were Plato’s “philosopher kings?”
    •Who were the Sophists? How did Plato disagree with the Sophists?
    •What is logic? Differentiate deduction from induction. Which of these is which (and why)? 1.) All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Socrates is mortal. 2.) I just came inside. I’m soaking wet. It’s probably raining out.
    •What is ethics? …teleology?
    •Who was Aristotle? What did Aristotle think about reality and God? What was Aristotle’s “unmoved mover?” How is Aristotle the founder of theology? What did Aristotle think about knowledge and truth? How is Aristotle the founder of science?
    •Explain Aristotle’s distinction between true friendship and friendship of utility, as found in Book VIII of his Nichomachean Ethics. (No need to read all of this. Scroll down and read Parts 3-5 at least.)
    •Who was Augustine? What distinction did he make between the City of God and the City of Man? Video.
    •In his Confessions, what did Augustine “confess?”
    •How were some of Augustine’s ideas similar to, but different from, those of the Greek philosophers? What made humans unique of all creatures?
    •How did Origen’s ideas cast him as a heretic?
    •When was the period of “medieval philosophy?” Who was Anselm and how did his thinking mark a transition in medieval philosophy from what we think of today as theology toward what we think of as philosophy? What was Anselm’s “ontological argument” for the existence of God?
    •What is morality and how is it different from ethics?
    •Who were the “Schoolmen,” or “scholastics,” of Scholasticism?
    •What is eternal law and how is it related to natural law? What is divine law and how is it related to man-made laws?
    •Who was Aquinas and with what philosophical ideas did he grapple (describe at least two)? Lecture (optional; about 50 minutes long; consider jotting down some notes). Summa Theologica, Aquinas’ masterwork: scan through contents, click a few of the most interesting links, and read to help answer this question.
    •What is the theory of “just war,” and what was Aquinas’ contribution to the theory?
    •Who was Averroes (of Averroism) and what were his philosophical positions (briefly describe at least three)?
    •Who was Maimonides and how did he address the problem of evil (reconciling an all-powerful God to the existence of evil)?
    •What’s the significance of the question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”
    •Who was Descartes, what is Rationalism, and what’s the significance of “cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”)? What does it mean to be a “skeptic?” Did Descartes think that God gives us reason in order to understand His creation, that our idea of Him proves His existence? Video.
    •Who was Hobbes? What was Hobbes’ “leviathan?” What did he mean by “the war of all against all?” What is meant by the phrase “nature red in tooth and claw?”
    •Who was Rousseau? Who was Rousseau’s “Emile?”
    •Who was Locke, what is Empiricism, and what’s the significance of Locke’s “tabula rasa” (“blank slate”)? Is God necessary to Locke’s philosophy, or are our ideas of Him simply what we learn from other people (careful; this could be a “trick question”; Locke believed both in the divine right of kings, and, the consent of the governed)? Video.
    •What was Berkeley’s response to Locke? How is Berkeley’s “immaterialist” philosophy simple, but maybe too simple? What did Berkeley believe was God’s relationship to the world? Video. (Optional, but if you don’t understand immaterialism, with the concept of a “God behind the scenes keeping the show going,” you might want to view this.)
    •What was Hume’s reaction to Anselm’s ontological argument? …to Descartes’ rationalism? …to Locke?
    •What were Leibniz’s “monads?”
    •What was Spinoza’s pantheism?
    •What is Utilitarianism? What is meant by the expression “the greatest good for the greatest number?” Who was Jeremy Bentham? Who was John Stuart Mill? How does Utilitarianism support representative democracy? What was the “Panopticon?”
    •Who was Kant? What’s the difference between a priori and a posteriori in Kant’s philosophy? …between analytic and synthetic? How is Kant’s thinking a precursor to modern psychology?
    •How did Kant’s epistemology challenge Descartes’ rationalism? …Locke’s empiricism? How was it a synthesis of these two philosophical viewpoints? Read some of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. (You might notice how Kant draws on Plato’s ideal forms, such as with the dove in flight example.)
    •What was Kant’s “categorical imperative?” How does it challenge utilitarianism by raising a higher ethical standard? By what course should we steer our actions, what should we use as our compass, according to Kant? How do we know whether an action is moral or immoral? Read these selections from Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.
    •What was Schopenhauer’s “will to live?”
    •Who was Hegel and what was his philosophical project? What is meant by the expression “Hegelian dialectic?” What are thesis, antithesis, and synthesis? What is an example of this progression from your own experience?
    •What do you think Hegel meant by “Spirit,” or, Zeitgeist (as philosophers tend to disagree on this)? What did he mean by “identity in difference?” What did Hegel think about God?
    •What is meant by “speculative philosophy of history?” What is “historicism?” What is the “Whig interpretation of history?”
    •Who was Kierkegaard and why is he known as the first “Christian existentialist?” What did he mean by “leap of faith?” What did he mean by “sickness unto death?” (Not required to read in its entirety. At least look through the chapter descriptions to get a taste of the topics and tone.)
    •Who was Marx and what is his contribution to philosophy? What is meant by the expression “dialectical materialism?”
    •What did Marx’s philosophy predict about the economic system of capitalism? What might Marx have meant by “democracy is the road to socialism?” …by “religion is the opium of the masses?” …by “social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex?”
    •What was Transcendentalism? Who was Emerson? Read part of his extended essay Nature. (Scroll just more than halfway down this and read Chapter VI, “Idealism.”)
    •Who was Henry David Thoreau? How did his moral stance on The Mexican War make him infamous?
    •Who was Margaret Fuller? How could we conclude that her fame may have “transcended” the morals of her place and time?
    •What were Darwin’s theories of natural selection? ,,,evolutionism? …biological determinism? How did such thinking present a challenge to centuries of ethical thought about free will, choice, and individual responsibility?
    •Who was Herbert Spencer and what was Social Darwinism?
    •Who was Charles Sanders Pierce and what was the basis of his uniquely American philosophical system that became known as Pragmatism? What was the appeal of its simple, practical, results-oriented method?
    •What was Freud ‘s psychoanalytic theory of the conscious and the unconscious mind? What was his theory of personality, of the Ego, Id, and Superego?
    •What was the reception of Freud’s ideas in America? What were the “Clark lectures” and what is their significance?
    •Read William James’ “What Pragmatism Means” (1904). What did he say it means?
    •What was Dewey’s pragmatic argument about democracy and education? What did he mean by “process and product for growth?” (This quote is found about 2/3rds of the way down the following hotlinked chapter from one of Dewey’s books.) Read an excerpt from Dewey’s Democracy and Education (1916).
    •What is the difference between Continental philosophy and Analytic philosophy?
    •What was scientific positivism? What was logical positivism in philosophy? What happened to it between the two World Wars?
    •What was Frege’s predicate logic? Who were Russell and Whitehead; what was the project behind their Principia Mathematica, and was it successful?
    •Who was Wittgenstein? What is “philosophy of language?” Investigate Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.
    •What was Phenomenology, who was Husserl, what is “psychologism,” and what did Husserl have against it?
    •What’s the meaning of these terms in Phenomenology: transcendental subjectivity, intentionality, intuition, evidence, noesis and noema, phenomena and noumena, qualia? (You have a Discussion Board task involving phenomenological terminology and methodology.)
    •What was Heidegger’s significance to phenomenology; what was his exegetic, hermeneutic “turn” of thinking? How does his joining the Nazi Party seem particularly controversial? (Heidegger lecture hotlinked above is in German, with English sub-titles.)
    •What is Existentialism? What do these terms mean in Existentialism: dread, anguish, and angst; existence and essence; being-in-itself; alienation; freedom of choice? What was Existentialism’s particular importance between the World Wars (and during WWII)?
    •Who was Martin Buber? What did he mean by the expression “problem of man?” What was the thesis of his book I and Thou?
    •Who was Sartre? What do you think was his particular contribution to Existentialism? What do you think Sartre meant when he said “Hell is other people?” View the beginning of a couple of renditions of Sartre’s play, No Exit: #1 (stop-action stuffed animals) #2 (live actors) Text of the play. (No need to read all of this. You might want to open this side-by-side with the play, though.)
    •Who was de Beauvoir and what was her argument in The Second Sex? (No need to read all of this; at least skim it for a sense of de Beauvoir’s concerns.) What are the meanings of these existentialist terms: transcendence, immanence, reductionism, bad faith, authenticity, depersonalization, objectification, liberation?
    • Who was Paul Tillich and what was his existentialist project?
    •What is Buddhism? Why and how do some consider it a philosophical system and not (just) a religion?
    •Who was Gautama Buddha? What is meant by the Middle Way? What are the Four Noble Truths? What is the Eightfold Path? What are the hindrances? What is nibbana? How is nibbana different from satori?
    •What is the Dhammapada? Of what does it remind you, why, and how?
    •What makes feminist philosophy “feminist?” With what issues have feminist philosophers typically grappled?
    •Who was Lawrence Kohlberg? What were the main features of his theory of moral development? How did Kohlberg utilize Kant’s categorical imperative, the idea that universalizable principles should guide our highest, most ethical actions? What do you see as ironic or significant about the end of Kohlberg’s life?
    •Who is Carol Gilligan? What is her “ethics of care?” How does it contrast with Kohlberg’s theory? What ls the thesis of her book In a Different Voice? (1982)
    •What has Nel Noddings added to the ethics of care and how does she think it could be applied to education?
    •What is humanism? What is “secular humanism?” What is Christian humanism? Read the Humanist Manifesto III. (1933 – 2003)
    •Who was Thomas Merton? Why and how does he represent Christian humanism? Read the first chapter of Merton’s No Man Is an Island, “Love Can Be Kept Only by Being Given Away.” (1955)
    •Who was Mother Teresa? What do you think she might have thought of the biblical verse, “the poor will always be with us?” Interview text.
    •What is the difference between form and function? What is philosophical “functionalism?” How is it different from both dualism, and, behaviorism/physicalism?
    •What is philosophical “naturalism?” What is the “is to ought fallacy?” What is at least one difference in the debate over “universality vs. relativism?”
    •In philosophy, what is the difference between the Correspondence and the Coherence theories of truth?
    •What is your understanding of the term “truth-value” as potentially beneficial to doing philosophy? (Yes, you will find wide difference of opinion, definition, and emphasis among philosophers on this. Pick a couple of meanings that make sense to you and explain briefly why they seem to make sense. In other words, support your opinion in your answer.)
    •Who was Thomas Kuhn and what was his primary contribution to the philosophy of science? Read some of Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (No need to read all of this; at least scroll down to the bottom and read the “Postscript: Revolutions and Relativism.”)
    •What is “value theory,” or “axiology”; with what types of philosophical problems or questions does it deal?

    •What is semantics? Who is Chomsky and what is his generative grammar theory within linguistics; what is the role of his Minimalist program today? How is Chomsky perhaps both representative of American analytic philosophy, but also unique?
    •What is semiotics? Who was Derrida and what is deconstructionism? How is Derrida representative of European continental philosophy?
    •Who was Susanne Langer and what did she mean by “Philosophy in a New Key?” What’s a potential difficulty of trying to do philosophy, to express philosophical ideas, exclusively or primarily through symbols or significant artistic expression (that attempts to go beyond entertainment)? What are “symbol” and “symbology,” and, “sign” and “signification?”
    •What is aesthetics? With what questions or issues does it deal? What is the philosophy of art; what are its questions or issues?

    Greg Eddy

    June 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    • Tell me something, genius, how do you assess the responses, discussions, and deepest possible unknowing and knowing (territorialization and deterritorialization) that happens across a course like the one you just outlined? How do you carefully and thoughtfully guide a student through the unbearable noise and irresponsibility of the shotgunning you just copied and pasted from your deeply unfocused and dangerous course?

      You can’t.
      Not on a three hour contract.

      This is a fantastic outline for a ROBOT to instruct (a shell to sell to Pearsons definitely–spot on!)

      All this outline proves — as the BEST of the MOOC example you could come up with — is that you have ZERO clue how to teach philosophy if this is how you guide students through your text book because, let’s be honest, you’re just following a textbook outline. With moments of clarity; a lot of clever genuflection.

      You can certainly follow a textbook. Very good. What about your wildly diverse students? Or do you even think about the student when you compose a MOOC outline? You can certainly add a who, where, what, why, and how series of promts. But, how do you assess this AND receive proper compensation AND best guide a student — hundreds of students — across this sea of text that essentially invites frustration, paralysis, and failure not engagement, excitement, and success.

      Please.

      Migrant Intellectual

      June 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      • You’ve asked a number of different (I’d hope) questions here, and I’ll try to answer them in the order asked. Like with any teaching, it’s difficult to portray the reality without “being there.”
        The same as in a f2f course, by providing extensive, individual responses to each student’s communication. It takes a lot of time; I don’t think of myself as working on a “3-hour contract.” I have a generic employment agreement. I don’t subscribe to the contract hour myth.
        I don’t understand the second question here, other than to say it’s rhetorically (and polemically) loaded. What’s “dangerous” about a college course, except among the paranoid delusional?
        Thanks for the caps on “ZERO”; I wouldn’t have understood without the shouting….
        I’ve never read an introductory philosophy textbook and don’t use one in the course. I’ve taken extensive graduate-level courses in philosophy and constructed this from memory. Students research the answers online, using the IEP, the Stanford encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and even Wikipedia. I know correct (and plagiarized) answers when I see them and call students to task when it happens. Most are OK; some excel; some flee. C’est la vie.
        I’ve never experienced “wildly diverse students”; I’m not sure what you might mean.
        This course is not a MOOC. It usually enrolls between 10-20 students and is designed for up to 24. While the exact text is now proprietary of the employer, I can easily modify it from term to term and school to school and class to class (as knowledge isn’t proprietary, but universal).
        Your last sentence appears to be a question (although it’s missing that punctuation), so I’ll respond. I answered this above. I don’t receive “proper compensation.” What I earn for this, per hour, is below minimum wage. But it’s adjuncting, and people get what they pay for in corporatist, capitalist Amerika. I’m glad to have online tools, as it allows me to eliminate much driving time that I’d rather spend teaching.
        Thanks for asking. I hope this is clear.

        Greg Eddy

        June 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      • And snarky punctuation police too?
        Double trouble. 🙂

        It was rhetorical.
        I’ll add the period.

        All you need to know about the minimal flaws of the course you posted are here in your statement:

        // Most are OK; some excel; some flee. C’est la vie.
        I’ve never experienced “wildly diverse students”; I’m not sure what you might mean.//

        Learning needs.
        Your course does not address and cannot address without direct attention the learning needs of students.

        //contact hour myth//

        So, you are happy to accept contracts that pay you for less than 20% of your time?
        Or, is this your own version of direct (non) action — giving them what they pay without any regard for the instructional design necessary to measure (and encourage) student success [question mark].

        Migrant Intellectual

        June 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm

  6. I don’t live to be happy. I don’t live to feel pain. Yet I fully experience both. Different student need to learn different, and they do. The course has many, many required (and optional) links to online resources, such as YouTube readings aloud of the primary source material for those with learning difficulties. I’ve designed in other features, following universal design principles whenever possible (with the time and resources I have), having experience and training in that. I am a snarky punctuation cop with students; spelling and grammar count (it’s in the rubrics). Those who communicate with me and are motivated and can set priorities and keep them succeed. Hundreds of instructors are doing the same thing I’m doing now across the country. You could to (if you were motivated and had it as a priority). Oops: “too.”
    Why are you so adamant about matters about which you actually know little and about which you continue to ask questions?
    “Snarky”; what a nifty little word; sounds vaguely naughty somehow….

    Greg Eddy

    June 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    • //Why are you so adamant about matters about which you actually know little and about which you continue to ask questions?//

      I’ve taught online since 1999; most actively since 2009 in international long distance Oxford-style programmes. I hold a PhD in Philosophy, MA in Liberal Studies, and BA in Philosophy. You?

      Punctuation cop in an intellectual conversation = snarky.

      Migrant Intellectual

      June 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

  7. OK Greg Eddy. I get the drift and I won’t delete your contributions but further conversation on the above topic is now closed.

    gbl55

    June 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    • I avoid interactions that we in the States refer to, at times, as “pissing contests.” Thank you for all of your good work.

      Greg Eddy

      June 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm

  8. My apologies for bringing a matter from MIGRANT INTELLECTUAL over to your wonderful blog. I hope your courses are doing well. I am very impressed by your care and careful inquiry into philosophy. I am especially heartened by the work you put into assessment from this blog and other places you discuss MOOCS. Take care — Robert in VT/USA (Migrant Intellectual)

    Migrant Intellectual

    June 9, 2013 at 12:33 am


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