TWEET: Oxford University MOOC

Well this will be one to watch!  While I’d imagine that the faculty at Oxford are already embracing many of the new literacies that MOOCs have helped bring the the fore, I can’t help but think of the ‘old’ universities such as Oxford as being  more likely to have traditional approaches to pedagogy.

When I saw the announcement linked in the tweet above a description of the practices of new literacies from Lankshear and Knobel (2007) in Stewart (2013) sprung to mind:

The more a literacy practice privileges participation over publishing, distributed expertise over centralized expertise, collective intelligence over individual possessive intelligence, collaboration over individuated authorship, dispersion over scarcity, sharing over ownership, experimentation over “normalization,” innovation and evolution over stability and fixity, creative innovative rule breaking over generic purity and policing, relationship over information broadcast, and so on, the more we should regard it as a “new” literacy. 

I wonder how much Oxford’s first MOOC will embrace these practices…


Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Sampling “the new” in new literacies.  In Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.

TWEET: Create your own fake degree

I guess this is nothing new, counterfeit and fraud has been around forever it would seem.  The difference today is that access to the means to produce authentic looking materials is widely available.

I also wonder whether the so called ‘soft offence’ of downloading copyright material,  which appear to be almost endemic and rarely frowned upon in society, is likely to result in more people taking a chance and boosting their CV with claims that move beyond the exaggerated and into the fraudulent.

If this sort of activity were to become more widespread there’s a real risk that it would devalue genuine academic achievement.


Stewart, B., (2013)

It has taken me three evenings to take in Stewart’s paper on new literacies of participation; there’s so much in it and it’s overflowing with references to contemporary literature that supports the author’s arguments.

I enjoyed reading this paper. I didn’t think I was going to because I took exception early on to the concepts of MOOCs being a “Trojan Horse for the sociocultural development of participatory perspectives and literacies.”  The Trojan horse was the means by which the residents of Troy were fooled into letting the means of their destruction within their defences. So, at first I understood this analogy as judging participatory perspectives and literacies to be ‘bad’ for education and learning.  As a passionate advocate of learning together and from one another (it’s even the strapline I use to promote the Academy I manage), I found the analogy off-putting.  However, I don’t think Stewart is trying to construct an argument that these new literacies are damaging, but rather that they challenge conventional academic roles and structures and are student-centric rather than than tutor-centric.

As a distance learning student my current views have been formed based on this MSc programme, which is highly participatory and encourages sharing and discourse at every opportunity.   So I tend to see such activity as entirely positive.

It’s interesting that this turn towards peer to peer sharing of knowledge, peer review and discussion as a means of development is equally strong in the corporate world and the clinical professions I have contact with (optometry and pharmacy).  Perhaps this is, as Stewart suggests is the case in higher ed, partially due to the effect of positive media hype regarding learning in MOOCs.

Mindmap deconstruction of  Stewart, B., (2013).
Mindmap deconstruction of Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.  Click to open full resolution in new browser tab.