Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wiley, Dowes, Siemens, Cormier and others discuss MOOCs

George Siemens, Stephen Downes, David Wiley, Dave Cormier having been having a discussion about MOOCs - all on their separate blogs - I find it really difficult to follow back and forth from blog to blog along with comments on each blog - but fortunately, Siemens has a list of the posts in his discussion at This is off their actual discussion topic, but Downes' post at struck a chord. He discusses some possible conversations: ""I'm doing a session today," I remark to a friend on Skype. "What time is it?" he asks. "Where?" I respond" thinking about time zones. I know Downes is making a different point, but that struck me as bad customer service. It's like a reference interview gone awry. Does the friend on Skype really need to be asked? Why doesn't Downes say "10am MDT"? He asks "Because I have actually taken the time to work through what is implied in a common everyday presumption, and to show that it is empty, does that somehow make me a snob?" I'm not sure the designation for that is "snob." It seems like a refusal to interpret questions with any empathy or intuition ignoring any knowledge of how people in his sphere use language. What do you call that? I presume that we reference librarians are doing a better job of interpreting what our users might really be asking. (I did adore this example: "My wife often uses expressions like "You could close the door." She means "Close the door," but won't say it directly." That's my mother though she doesn't even say "You". It's more like "The door needs to be closed" and that's just said into the air. If you don't move into action and close the door, she sulks. There must be a word for that too - but perhaps a word that shouldn't be use in polite company.)

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