Minnie the MOOC

Folks here’s a story ’bout Minnie the MOOC;
she was a red hot edu-kook.
She was the best-funded epic fail,
but Minnie had enrollment big as a whale.

Edu edu edu boo
P.d . P.d. PhD
hee hee hee hee hee hee hee
oh whoa whoa whoa

She messed around with a Superprofessor
She loved him though he was a great big messer.
He put her up online and showed her
how to spread the content around.

P.d. p.d. PhD

She had a dream about real deep learning;
what she and her students were yearning.
Her institution gave her lots of press,
high hopes and her own web address.

Forgettabouta bookie-dookie oodles-n-oodles a links!
A-clickety clickety clickety hey!

He gave her citations with links for sources.
He gave her the goods from his most popular courses.
She had a million students every new semester
but 90 percent would eventually ditch her

Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee

Poor MOOC, Poor MOOC, Poor MOOC

(With apologies to the songwriters of “Minnie the Moocher,” Irving Mills, Cab Calloway, Clarence Gaskill.)

Here’s what the Digital Humanities are like for me so far:

When I started graduate school, I asked to be assigned in the smoker’s office.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” said the nice lady in charge of T.A. office assignments.

“I don’t,” I said.

But I wanted to be with the cool kids. All my friends, most of them anyway, were in the smoking office. Beckie (no longer smokes), Aron, Neil, Craig, and more whose names I’m blanking on.

This was in 1987, when smoking was allowed inside college offices. And classrooms–the first time I walked into Rodney Jones’s poetry workshop, I could barely see across the room, it was so smoky, and it took me a solid ten minutes to figure out who the teacher was, because there were three guys involved in an intense conversation, puffing away (none of whom looked like what I was used to professors looking like).

The smoking friends I now shared an office with were ones I’d met at the On-the-Island Pub, where I hung out and spent all the money I thought would last me a year after getting my bachelor’s degree. (It lasted almost six months, which actually, given my level of cluelessness and the fact that I didn’t have a credit card at the time, is pretty impressive.) So of course they all smoked.

I’m not saying that listening to all the cool kids talk about the Digital Humanities is putting me at risk for cancer.

I’m just saying that I’m not a full participant yet, just an observer.

Learning by osmosis.

So far, the cool kids seem to be saying MOOCs are

  • typically touted the most by people who understand them the least,
  • not actually good at what people want them to be good at,
  • potentially really exciting, if created by someone who understands pedagogy, cares about learning, and has experience teaching online.

Hence, I’m not willing to dismiss them as possibilities, but I’m awfully skepti-epti-epti-eptical.

I will, at some point, post something a little more substantive on this here topic. In the meantime, one of the non-smoking cool DH kids references the Hanson Bros.

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