I’ve just been reading a thread on an academic listserv about Coursera. This led me to the following post by Clay Shirky about massively open online courses or MOOCs. Can you get your University education for free? Will services like Udacity and Coursera change higher education the way Napster changed music?
A massive open online class is usually a series of video lectures with associated written materials and self-scoring tests, open to anyone. That’s what makes them OOCs. The M part, though, comes from the world. As we learned from Wikipedia, demand for knowledge is so enormous that good, free online materials can attract extraordinary numbers of people from all over the world.
Sure, an AR.Drone 2.0 will afford you 720pHD video recording in the skies for just 300 dollars, but how does 1080p with 11 megapixels of sensor sound in comparison? That’s exactly what Lehmann Aviation is offering on its new LFPV civil UAV.
If you are reading this, you probably have broadband. But what is broadband? How can we close the “digital divide” between urban and rural areas when internet access is becoming a utility like any other?
This past spring, we aired a story about the gap between the United States and Europe when it comes to broadband access. Recently, Pioneer Public TV in Appleton, Minn., looked at a broadband divide closer to home by exploring the gap between broadband access in rural areas compared to urban areas within the United States.
While many Internet providers claim to give “broadband” access, the loosely defined term has left many Americans wondering if they’re receiving the best service. Specifically in rural communities, like those in midwestern Minnesota, companies providing “high-speed” Internet may only be granting users a moderately fast download speed, while upload speeds are severely lagging.
Pioneer Public TV takes a look at the situation by exploring the stories of people who are lacking fast, reliable Internet access; companies that are struggling to keep up with the demand of supplying high-speed fiber connections in rural communities; and how our representatives in Washington, D.C. are handling the problem.
A QR, or Quick Response, code on a bulletin board of a college campus:
by Guest Bloggers Dave Paul Strohecker and David Banks, 19 hours ago at 10:43 am
Steve Grimes shared this image and some interesting thoughts about how Quick Response codes, or QR codes, can contribute to inequality. That is, QR codes such as these serve to make certain content and information “exclusive” to those who have smartphones. He states,
There is a general thinking that technology can create a level playing field (an example of this is can be seen with the popular feelings about the internet). However, technology also has a great ability to create and widen gaps of inequality.
In a practical sense the company may be looking for students who are tech savvy. Using the matrix barcode may serve that purpose. However, the ad also shows how technology can exclude individuals; primarily in this case, students without smart phones. Ironically it is especially the students who need work (“need a job”) who may not have the money to afford a smart phone to read the ad.
Grimes’ thoughts are judicious, and reveal the inherent structural difficulties in alleviating inequality. QR codes are one form of “digital exclusivity,” the tendency of technology to re-entrench (mostly) class disparities in access to information. Though they may be able to access the information later when they have access to a computer, the person who has the smartphone is certainly living in a much more augmented world than the person without.
Yesterday in class I used QR codes to direct people to a link to a blog post I was discussing. Was I being “exclusive” of people who don’t have smart phones? Education is supposed to both help us learn new things and “level the playing field.” How should we both embrace technology and level the playing field in college classrooms?