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.