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History and Future of Higher Education: Coursera Syllabus (Draft)

History and Future of Higher Education:  Coursera Syllabus (Draft)

The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education: 

How We Can Unlearn Our Old Patterns to Relearn for a Happier, More Productive, Ethical, and Socially Engaged Future*

COURSERA/Duke University:  JANUARY 27, 2014-MARCH 8 2014

DRAFT SYLLABUS (Posted October 6, 2013)



CONCURRENT INITIATIVE:  SHAPING THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCAITON For a concurrent HASTAC initiative on shaping the future of higher education--onsite courses, webinars, and workshops, all with some public and/or online component-- and dedicated to invigorating public commitment worldwide to public education and to learning innovation, see:




Learn how and why the institutions of higher education (i.e. general education, professional schools, grades, multiple choice testing,etc) were created for the Industrial Age in order to be part of a worldwide movement to design better, more innovative ways of learning and teaching for our own era


Everyone welcome!  *The subtitle of the course refers to a comment made by Nobel Prize winner, economist Amartya Sen, that "all educational is vocational" in the sense that it is our job, as educators, to help train students for the vocation of leading happier, more productive, ethical, and socially-engaged lives. 


WEEK ONE  (January 27, 2014)

Guiding Principles and Driving Concepts - Let’s Get Started (10 min)

●      Purposive, activist history: How learning how institutions were constructed in the past, for specific historical purposes and in specific contexts,  helps us understand the present and gives us some tools for beginning to shape a different future

●      Global, Multi-Generational Audience of Peer-Teachers, Co-Learners

●      Need to Unlearn and Relearn: #lifeUnlearning

●      3.29.11 In Video Question: Unlearning (e.g. “Think about one thing you had to unlearn”)

●      DIY

●      Move from “doc on a laptop” to  “Learning the Future Together” - HASTAC, Wikis, Forums

●      History is never static

●      Difference is our Operating System, Not Our Deficit

●      Assignment: Read the Mozilla and 21C manifesto, and create a community manifesto in the Wiki

●      Plus: Why a Peer-to-Peer Community Requires Generosity, Difference, and Civility:  Or, No Sympathy for the Trolls 

Why doing this as a MOOC can widen all our perspectives:  international, no prerequisites, anyone can contribute---and that's why there is No Sympathy for the Trolls.  We want this to be an active and proactive and contributive learning experience for all.  Civility mandatory.



Suggested Reading:

●      Chapter 1: How a Class Becomes a Community: Theory, Method, Examples inField Notes for 21st Century Literacies: A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning. September 1, 2013. (includes the 21st Century manifesto)

●      “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in a Digital Age” (aka “Mozilla Manifesto”) 23 January 2013. Web. Accessed 11 June 2013.

What readings do you suggest?  What readings best exemplify the issues where you live, in your world?


Participatory Assignment:

●      Mod (or modify) your community manifesto in the Wiki


From Cuneiform to the World Wide Web 


●      Last segment was DIY - used to adjust lighting, sound, staging - and that’s unlearning!

●      Forum: Tell us how we did with lighting, sound, etc.

●      History lesson on Information Ages

●      The Last Information Age:  How Steam-Powered Presses, Machine-Made Paper, and Machine-Made Ink in the post-Revolutionary Period (U.S.) Contributed to Literacy, Public Culture, the Popular Novel, Compulsory Public Education, and Freaked-Out Pundits (That means you, John Adams!)   Or, The Industrial Age Origins of Contemporary Higher Education

●      Robert Darnton’s four information ages:

1.     Invention of writing - ancient Mesopotamia, included commerce and poetry. Golden age of Greece - Socrates hated writing, but luckily Plato recorded that

2.     Moveable Type - We used to insist that it was invented by Gutenberg, but now we know it was invented in 9th or 10th century China, metal type in 13th century Korea.  Some pundits were worried about the consequences of moveable type - it took power away from scholars, priests and lawyers, and gave it to printing press (anecdote about regularizing English spelling via Dutch printers)

3.     Mass Printing - one would think that public would want scholarly works, but they wanted novels, which gave a different view of social structure (e.g., preamble to first novel vs. Constitution).

○      William Hill Brown. History of Education and the History of the Novel are intertwined.

○      People loved their novels (“My book and heart shall never part”). But, the founding fathers were concerned about a democracy where people read these popular novels.

○      Invention of pockets “reticule” and the duodecimo.

○      It was thought that novels caused distraction, ruined memory, depleted taste for elite literature, made you susceptible to sexual predators, and filled you with anarchic ideas.

○      These pundits’ concerns repeat themselves in the history of technology. We want to believe that technology is either a panacea or root of all evil


●      In another segment, I’ll talk about April 22, 1993, and the beginning of the fourth information age.

●      What is the role of education in our era: Is the purpose of education to prepare the next generation for their future or to instill the status quo? 

●      Assignment for this week: What kind of education do you believe in? What kind of education do you want? What can you do in your life to ensure that you have the learning you need for your future?


            Participatory Assignment:

●      On the forums, discuss Cathy’s prompt: We have a choice What kind of education do you believe in? What kind of education do you want? What can you do in your life to ensure that you have the learning you need for your future?   Tell us about literacy and access to literacy in your area?   Who is included, who is excluded? 



21st Century Literacies


●      Previously discussed 4 great information ages world wide, from Ancient Mesopotamia to the World Wide Web.

●      Now discussing the change that happened on April 22, 1993

●      Have an Idea, Communicate an Idea: no broadcaster, no editor, no publisher

●      Recurring Fears of new technology: Multitasking, Memory (e.g. slide rule), Cursive, Blackboard (Yale Riots of 1830s), Loss of Authority

●      Real Consequences of 21st Century Literacies - Privacy, IP, Safety, “Crap Detection”, Collaboration, Global Consciousness, Design, Digital Access, Ethics

●      Consequences for Higher Education: Open Learning v. MOOC

●      Learners Bill of Rights; Right to be a Teacher


Suggested Reading:

●      “Chapter 2: From Open Programming to Open Learning: The Cathedral, the Bazaar, and the Open Classroom” inField Notes for 21st Century Literacies: A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning. September 1, 2013. (includes the 21st Century manifesto)

Also read the original "The Catehdral and the Bazaar" by Eric S. Raymond     Forum:  do you think we have fulfilled the promise of the bazaar with the Internet of 2013?  Why?  Why not?  


Who’s Behind the Camera? 

Or, Education Is Social, Technology is Social.  Whose Labor Makes Our Learning Possible?   People, Institutions, Structures (Often Unacknowledged).  Who Are Our (Sometimes Hidden) Teachers?  How Do They Support Us?  How Do We Recognize Who They Are?  Which Are the Lessons That Last a Lifetime?  Why?


Interview Questions:  Who Is Your Favorite Teacher and Why?  What Lessons Have They Passed on To You That Continue to Be Important in Your Everyday Life?

Interviews:   Bonita

                  Kaysi (with Kristan)


Participatory Assignment:

●      Forum: Answer the question “who was your favorite teacher and why? 

What lessons about yourself, learning, or the world did you learn from them that you  carry with you today?” Ask two others the same question. Post your own answer and the two interviews to our class Forum for this week or to the YouTube video channel.  

PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING ANY VIDEO TO THIS SITE:  Digital Literacy is also about  privacy, intellectual property, identity, permission, translation.  No video can be posted unless you have secured permission; a downloadable permission form is available.  It requires discussing with your interviewee the forms and practices of online identity.  Will you use first and last names?  Is your interviewee a minor?  Will you use voice only or voice and face? If your interview is not in English, how will you translate for our English-language-based community?  Digital Tools: Video, Blog, Forums)



Week Two  (February 3, 2014)


The iPod Experiment as Learning Model:  Or, Learning VERSUS Education

●      iPod experiment - some critics (Peter Jennings, Insider Higher Ed, Newsweek): Now You See It (free pdf), Chapter Three

●      Review of Week 1: purposive history, global, DIY, freaked out pundits, institutional change, industrial age to the digital age, 21st century literacies, assessment, badging, who’s behind the camera or which people, technology, social networks, and institutions support our learning and why

●      Now - History of Disciplines and Institutions of Higher Education

●      Platonic Academy - 387 BC Athens

●      Focus on Age of Reason/Industrial Age/Third information age

●      Descartes -“I think therefore I am”

●      Diderot

●      Kant - we all experience the world through a filter

●      What shapes the filter?


            Participatory Assignment:

●      Wiki: Pick a decade and tell us what education looks like in your region during that time period.  We want this to be as full and complex a history of education, internationally, as we can create together.


History of Educational Institutions of Higher Learning


●      Humboltian University (based on Friedrich Schleiemacher’s liberal ideas of importance) - strict control & disciplines, from preservation of accepted knowledge to Advancement of New Knowledge

●      French lacked freedom of German model: award of degrees, conformity of views (Scale, Normale, Superior), School Reputation is everything

●      British were more Humboltian

●      50+ of highest 35 institutions in US

●      2010 -> 20.3 million students in higher education - 5.7% of adult population

●      Harvard College, Est 1636, begun training young men for ministry

●      University of Mexico 1551

●      College of William & Mary 1693

●      Liberal Arts - Greek, Latin, Geometry, Logic, Rhetoric, Ethics, Ancient history

●      Repetition method, Memorization, Recitation

●      Keywords for the Industrial Age vs. Connected Age


History of Education in the US


●      Closing

●      Johns Hopkins 1876

●      Compulsory Public Education (1852-1918): Timelines, School Bell, School Marm

●      William James 1890

●      Frederick Winslow Taylor 1896 - Scientific Labor Management to Scientific Learning Management

●      Letter Grades - Mt Holyoke 1897

●      Multiple Choice

●      Teachers’ Mark 1914





Week Three  (February 10, 2014)


Teaching Like It’s 1992


●      Michael Jackson’s Black & White” (also Boys2Men, TLC, Kriss Kross, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers)

●      “Uneven Development” - Marx’s counter to idea of Linear Progress (“trickle down”)

●      William Jennings Bryan 1896

●      The World changed after April 22, 1993, but we’re still teaching like it’s 1992

●      This week, we’ll look at 29th Century Education Policy in light of internet, social media,


Suggested Reading:

●      Link to Michael Jackson’s Black or White.

●      “How to Moonwalk”  Angier de Lumier

●      Cathy’s blog:


How We Measure


●      Since SATs in 1926, school acts as college prep. Erosion of alternative models (vocations). Filter and funnel - social mobility and education

●      Outside of the classroom, we no longer learn the same way we did in 1992, but we’re still teaching like it’s 1992 inside the classroom

●      College prep - US vs. International

●      You are your test scores

●      Finnish Lessons

●      What we value is what we count

●      Formative v. Summative

●      Other Assessment methods we’re using in this class:

○      Multiple choice as a material review

○      New tool for data analysis created by doctoral student at NC-State

○      Peer-to-peer editing

○      Peer-badging


Neoliberalism and Defunding State Education


●      4.1 GPA

●      2% of top in South Asia

●      James Duderstadt - state supported, state assisted, state located, state molested

●      Land Grant Universities

●      US spends 26% of GDP on higher education

●      OECD - governments make $231,000 on each American who graduates from college

●      OECD - good investment for individuals ($365,000 for men, $185,000 for women)

●      US now 11th in college graduates

●      How do MOOCs fit into the picture?  Do they help?  Do they hurt?  Why do legislators want to believe they will solve a problem caused by a thirty-year and escalating defunding of public education.


ASSIGNMENT: Video on U.S. Income Inequality---and how wrong most Americans are about how great the disparity is . . . or should be!

Neoliberalism and Defunding State Education


●      Mike Wesch - “Vision of Students Today”

●      See one. Do one. Teach one. Share One.

●      Crowdsourcing information:

○      FoldIt

○      P2PU

○      Wikipedia

○      Duolingo

○      Kickstarter

○      iPod

○      Peer Reading, Suprise Endings, Field Notes

○      Maybe MOOCs

●      HASTAC + MOOC + DOCC + P2P = Learning for 2014


DC Interviews


Reading Assignments (for all of week three together)



●      Resource please add to bibliography for Week 3, Segment 3:


●      Dazed Digital Magazine, 1993 issue -



Participatory Contributions/Assignments

●      American 1% youtube video is the best data illustration I’ve ever seen. Make a powerful video and post on youtube.           





Week Four:  (February 17, 2014)


Welcome to the Future: 10 + 1 Ways to Change the Paradigm of Higher Education


●      Welcome to the Future. We’ll be covering 10+1 bonus ways to shift the paradigm of higher education

●      Some guiding principles we’ve already introduced:

○      History is the foundation for the present and future

○      There is always someone behind the camera

○      Local and global knowledge through participation

○      Learn the future together (Peer-to-peer)

○      Lifelong Unlearning

○      NEW: Proximity

●      You do not need to go far to find brilliance, but you won’t find it unless you seek it.

●      We’ll be filming at the Nasher. The architecture is a perfect metaphor for the combination of science, technology, art, learning.


Suggested Reading:


●      Watch Judith Butler’s Defense of Humanities:


1) Practice Digital Literacies


●      Attention

●      Participation (access 14%)

●      Privacy

●      Security - update your software

●      Sustainability

●      Credibility

●      Ethics - we are not data


Suggested Reading:

●      Great school assignment on credibility and research on online sources--pass along.

●      Another good resource for reliability, credibility.  

●      Tools to prevent online snooping:  [“Digital Tools to control snooping, “ NYT:]


●      Patrick Thomas Morgan “Practicing Web Wisdom: Mindfully Incorporating Digital Literacies into the Classroom,” Chapter Three,Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies


2) Find Creative Ways to Model Unlearning (Curriculum)

●      Bahsir, Barkley Hendricks

●      Birth of the Cool

●      Great metaphor for Life Unlearning - constantly new, changing habits

●      Barkley used classical poses and technologies - disenfranchised reborn into cool, jive, beauty

●      Digital Literacies should be like 4R’s.

●      Kant revisited - not about reality, but the filter - Unlearning changes our filter

●      Art is one of the best ways we have to model unlearning


Suggested Reading:

●      What I Learned Being the Worst Student in the Class:



3) Rethink Liberal Arts as a Start-Up Curriculum for a Resilient Global Citizens (Curriculum)


●      Laurent Dubois, Director of the Haiti Lab and Scholars & Publics, as well as Professor of History and Romance Studies

●      *Amartya Sen's Idea of Vocational Education--all education is vocational in the sense that it should train us for a happier, more productive, more ethical, and socially engaged  future

●      Wendy Hower, Manager of Marketing and Communications   




Week Five  (February 24, 2014)


Intro to Pedagogy and Assessment

●      Last week, we discussed curriculum changes: 1) Digital Literacies, 2) Model Unlearning, 3) Rethink Liberal Arts as a Start-up Curriculum for Resilient Global Citizens

●      Today, we’re going to discuss pedagogy and Assessment - because how you teach is what you teach, and what you count is what you value.


4) Make! From Critical Thinking to Creative Contribution

  •     John Dewey and the idea of thinking, then doing, then thinking again.   What making adds to our activist toolkit, including a sense that an idea is not an end product but a process, and that iteration--publish first, edit later--helps you to be bold, to try new things, to experiment, and, always, to find allies (especially those who embody different perspectives from one's own) and who can give feedback to make our ideas stronger in the world.   Making also helps us to see how and why certain ideas take hold, others fail, and gives us experience in the difficult task of moving from an idea to implementation of that idea.  In no way, does this leave critique behind.   Rather, it says how can my critique of the present also help me to make a difference in the present I now inhabit, in the future I wish to build toward.   


5) Encourage Students to Lead


●      AIDS quilt - Anne Balsamo - 48,000 panels, founded in 1987, digitized 2012

●      Constructivist theory of knowledge

●      Child as leader

●      Democratic Practice of Functional Psychology - John Dewey

●      Bass Connections - Making Data Matter - in Asheville Southside Community - Urban renewal and big board

●      5) Encourage Students to Lead


●      Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies


Suggested Reading:

●      Cristiane Sommer Damasceno “Paying Attention to the Chocolate-Covered Broccoli: How Video Games Can Change the Ways You Understand Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge,” Chapter Four,Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies

●      Surprise Endings course: 

ASSIGNMENT:   Take one of the student-creatted units in "Duke Surprise" and compare and contrast it to the original on the original website.   What is required to transform a "class" (for a contained group of peers) into an open learning experience, reading for anyone to learn and remix? 


6) Make Diversity Your Operating System

HASTAC's Motto:  "Difference is not our deficit; it's our operating system."

●      John Hope Franklin: 1915-2009

●      “My challenge was to weave into ____ of American history enough of a presence of blacks so the story of the United States could be told accurately.”

●      Historian for Brown v. Board of Education

●      History of America not African American History


Suggested Reading:

●      The Atlantic, “If I Were a Black Kid...”    

●      Mother Jones, “Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problems in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts”

●      Sinocism China Newsletter, “Are You Willing to Send Your Child to the Same School as the Children of Vegetable and Rice Sellers?”

●      Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s “The University and the Undercommons”


7) Assessment: Make Sure What We Value is What We Count


●      Rehash No Child Left Behind 2002

●      Senator Edward Kennedy and Bush

●      Frederick Kelly 1914

●      Assessment cartoon - “For a fair selection everyone has to take the same exam. Please climb that tree”

●      Make sure what we value is what we count

8) Demonstrate Mastery of Content by Performance, not Testing

               ●      DML   John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition

●      Badges

●      Last month of class, instead of teaching to the test, applied learning


INTERVIEWS:   We also have interview with Connie Yowell and interview with Akili Lee and Sheryl Grant


Suggested Reading:

●      Nick Sousanis’ comic  





Week Six  (March 3, 2014)


9) Make Alliances with Other Change Makers


●      We’ve discussed curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.

●      Mozfest, Drumbeat central

●      This week, we’re discussing institutional change:        9) Make Alliances with Change Makers and 10) Reinvest in Public Educaion

●      HASTAC, 2002, 12,000, open community dedicated to new modes of learning for social equity and justice

●      Praxis Lab

●      FemtechNet

●      JustPublics

●      PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge

●      THAT Camps


10) Reinvest in Public Education


●      Refund public education

●      Anti-College: Vocational, P2P, DIY University, Unlearning

●      OECD stats that government makes $231,000 for each American to graduate college

●      College degree is worth $365,000 for US men, $185,000 for US women

●      Inequality: Top 1%, Middle 60% has 40%, lowest 5% has nothing

●      1945: a child in the US had 2 more years of education than parents, and in 2012, 6 months more

●      Average GPA is 4.1 for UC

●      450,000 on Community College waiting list

●      US now 11th in college graduation rates

●      Jim Duderstadt - state supported, state funded, state located...

●      Morrill Act of 1862

●      Huge boost after WWII

●      Now more necessary than ever to invest in public education


Suggested Reading:



BONUS Just Do It! Interview with Dennis Quaintance, CEO of Proximity Hotel, Greensboro, North Carolina.   Crowdsourcing the nation's first Platinum LEED (sustainable) hotel


They learned from others.  They experimented.  They committed themselves to do it.  They succeeded.  Moral of this story:  If eighty people in North Carolina could do this, why isn't everyone else?   It wasn't that hard.   So again, the question:  If we could do it, why isn't everyone else?

Participatory Assignment:

●      Create the You-niversity, including entrance, rules, student body, methods of delivery, expertise, departments, draw it!


Session Four: Conclusion and Thank You




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