I was watching an interview recently (a musician) who made a comment "the internet has changed hands", i.e. continues to move away from what was largely a meritocracy towards something resembling a billionaires club.
The side of it that bothers me is the appearance of some of these companies in Education, particularly in relation to MOOCS:
and what the effects of this may be.
Google are particularly insidious (worse than M$ ever were in my opinion) and only seem interested in two things:
- Monetizing other peoples content
- Harvesting personal data
Neither of which make them a good choice of partner for educators (in my opinion).
I see the current interest in MOOCs from the perspective of it being part of what Pasi Sahlberg calls the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) that he outlined in a talk at Vanderbilt University in 2011: "Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?"
Most of the interest appears to come from for-profit venture capital organisations and Silicon Valley start-up culture. I think they'd like to do for education what Amazon has done for retail shopping. Richard Stallman has outlined some of the worst effects of this: http://www.stallman.org/amazon.html and this is also relevant: http://www.stallman.org/apple.html
The original MOOC was a state university sponsored experiment to extend an academic course and make it available to the general public from anywhere in the world to participate in: http://change.mooc.ca/how.htm I perceived it as a genuine act of generosity and experimental curiosity and an embrace of intellectual liberal values on the parts of George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier.
On the internet in general, I think an important question is why governments around the world have been so enthusiastically aggressive in trying to get every part of our daily lives on massive centralised digital databases. We were warned about this by Evgeny Morozov in his talk at the RSA, 2010: "The Internet in Society: Empowering or censoring citizens?" http://www.thersa.org/events/video/archive/evgeny-morozov---the-internet-in-society-empowering-or-censoring-citizens
The narratives that we're offered in the press and by advocates in public never addresses these aspects of the internet and telecommunications.
Some very interesting points made here, I was amused by the term "Spinternet".
The Stallman link you gave on Amazon is very accurate (in my opinion).
I think the concept of a MOOC is a good one and as you say in some regards "generous" but when it comes to commercial partners "to do for education what Amazon has done for retail shopping" is all they seem interested in.
I would like to see more MOOCS but in a way which leaves the educators in control and does not feed their users into a greedy corporates sausage machine.
The commercial companies I see getting involved with MOOCS want to control the platform, control the content and capture the user base.
Personally I think Educators are crazy if they get into that kind of relationship.