Friday, February 14, 2014

Imperial’s Debra Humphries hits bum note on MOOCs

Just back from a European Summit on MOOCs in Lausanne and this is one of the shortest blogs I’ve ever written but something made me mad. Debra Humphries from Imperial College London gave a keynote speech and quoted Diana Laurillard "very intelligent people leave their brains behind when it comes to technology" and quite without irony, didn’t realize that most of the audience thought this applied to her. 
I hate how this quote is being misused i.e. as a statement that really suggests ‘I know it all, you know nothing’. This is NOT what Diana meant, as she’s a considered person, as much against the lazy thinking as anyone. But it’s being used as an accusation towards people doing good things by people who are largely behind the curve or even worse haven't done their homework. In practice, the quote is probably best applied to the very people who quote it.
What also annoys me is the fact that so-called experts are being put on panels and talking about MOOCs, without having taken one or even doing the necessary research. I first experienced this at WISE in Doha Qatar, where the two people on a panel of four had not taken a MOOC and had cliched views about what they were. The same thing happened in a debate on MOOCs at Online Educa, where the two people arguing against MOOCs hadn't even looked at one. This is unacceptable, especially among academics and educators. At least do your homework.
I saw no reason for the inclusion of Debra in the programme. She was late, didn’t engage with the conference, had her head in the sand and said nothing that was either interesting or new. She claimed to be taking the strategic view (in a tone that suggested no one else was) but when asked what that was, couldn’t really say. The lively and excellent chair, Pierre Dillenbourg, lost patience and had a go at the end of her talk – “these people have paid to be here, why not tell us something”. Exactement!


Bob Harrison said...

Debra might want to apply for this job ?

Anonymous said...

EMOOC was a conference that favors critical thinking. This is why I balanced the faith of a MOOC-CEO, Simon nelson, with the critical voice of Debra Humphris. "Skeptical enthusiasm" is the perfect blend we are looking for !

Pierre Dillenbourg

Donald Clark said...

Agree Pierre but the position seemed hollow. I did think it was an excellent conference and oved the MOOC Factory - and your presentation style.

Unknown said...

Ouch! Maybe she had in mind that excellent book on web-focused usability 'Don't make me think!