Communitarianism and major online ed streams

I just discovered that the professor who created the very first MOOC is a Mennonite. It was 2008 and George Siemens was a researcher at University of Winnipeg. He has more recently described his theory of learning as springing from those Mennonite roots. Seeing learning as going beyond mere content to being in community. You can find him on the University of Texas at Arlington website.

Backing up for a moment, the two major trends influencing online higher education are the OPM industry (Online Program Management) and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). If you’d say Professor Siemens is the father of MOOCs than I am the mother of OPMs? It’s a fun but arguably also significant twist. Each major stream parented by a Mennonite who was influenced by communitarian ethos and then got distorted, at a minimum, by capitalists. Food for thought!

My Global Humanitarian Tech Conference presentation is scheduled for a week from tomorrow. I plan to weave some of this material into that presentation. Given conference focus on the UN it will be more along the lines of distinguishing the cultural ethos of Silicon Valley (vertical/hierarchy and individualism) and the technologies it produces from the ethos of peoples (many in horizontal and collectivist cultures) to be served through UN-sponsored humanitarian initiatives.

I am looking forward to questions and discussions that flow from this perspective.

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