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Why Stephen matters (NoT™)

November 1, 2008

Does anyone else share my affinity for BORAT?

I have refrained from much comment in the Power Post (PP) created by Stephen in the Moodle Forum:


I have done this primarily out of disdain for his tactics, and a desire not to stroke his ego by acknowledging his presence in the glorious forums. Instead, I will cheapen my blog with this topic. Oh, the sacrifices one must make in the pursuit of truth, justice and happiness in an overly-connected world.

I am convinced that his cheap trick of forced subscription was all about drawing attention to himself and to this course, which has been in participation and interest decline.  The cheap trick did not consider the learners at all, and the ‘illusion of power’ justification is merely a back-pedalling effort to save face.  If you buy that excuse, you have surrendered your power totally, IMHO.

This particular post (the original in italics below) and title was written two weeks ago, and I refrained from publishing it as I did not want to raise any more ire, having been accused of attacking the man and not the method. I have decided to publish it now, as I think it has relevance to the current debate.

A few other thoughts on the power issue.  Clearly, any designer, faciliator, teacher etc. has power over the learner.  In this CCK08 course, the facilitators are pushing a specific view of learning, and exercising the powers at their disposal to ensure that the learners ‘get it’.  My opinion: any other view of this power issue smacks of naivety, combined with a good-nature and best wishes, of course!  There is no network extant in this affair, CCK08 is a group working towards a common cause – proving connectivism to be a valid learning theory for the digital age. This will be proven through a statistical analysis of the contributions, distributions, and connections. All connections are tracked, and praises will be sung in the blogosphere and conference floor for months to come, until the next gathering of the clan in an upcoming MOOC.  We are all just lab rats in the Skinner Box of Downesian Connectivism.

And that is where the key point lay, I think.  This is supposed to be a MOOC, this is the bragging issue, thousands came, and thousands connected, and the world of learning was a better place after.  But, wait a minute, maybe not, if thousands came, and few remained for the final sermon.  While connectivism could be considered a learning theory (anyone can posit a theory), it is irrelevant if it has not utility, is ephemeral, and interest is lacking.  A theory must have advocates, and wide usage, in order to be relevant.

Interestingly, for all the talk about networks and autonomy, CCK08 is nothing but a group, and a declining one at that. I am beginning to think that the vision of a network as value-free, autonomous etc. is nothing but a mirage.  Human nature will not permit utopia.

Under my nascent Nodality Theory (NoT™) posted elsewhere in this blog, the Stephen node would be considered just one more node, and would be afforded no power.    This type of node would not be permitted to PP.           hahaha

 Original Work October 18th.08

I have found Stephen’s writings difficult to fathom, and requiring several reads in order to make sense. (Acknowledging his assertion that there is no such thing as sense-making – clearly, my attempt at understanding his writing is a non-sequitur in Stephen’s World). On the other hand, BORAT makes perfect sense to me!

However, I can think of a few hypotheses as to why I am finding his writings difficult to fathom:

1.  I am stupid

-on this one I will posit that the evidence is to the contrary, and, although somewhat dim, I am not entirely functionally stupid 

2.  Stephen is brilliant

-I have not seen sufficient evidence of this.  I seek your opinions.

3.  Stephen’s writings lack meaning.

-This one is interesting, as he has suggested that meaning makes no sense to him.

Until I hear from the rabid mob of connectivists that intend to set me straight, I will go with #3.

(At this point, I cannot resist but make a devilish laugh at the moon – declining full in Ontario – hahaha).


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