Friday, 15 February 2013

#edcmooc WK 3 Humanity is man-made

I decided to start my week three blog with a word cloud compiled of elements that I consider make up what it is to be human. It seems to have sparked a great deal of discussion amongst my fellow moocers.Being human can be a collective experience but it can also be a unique experience. 

"Have we always, sometimes, or never been human?" I thought Steve Fuller's Tedx video was very interesting in questioning what is necessary to be human and that the criteria has changed over time. His talk also brings up the issue, at what point do we no longer fit the category human? When we die humanness lives on in our loved ones.

Humanity is artificial and is a result of our self-imposed conditioning. One could argue that we trust less in our intuition and more in technology. The ancient Chinese and Indian cultures had a deep understanding of the inner workings of the human body and mind despite not having the technology that we have today. The Yoga Sutras is a core text in Yoga Philosophy and details in four chapters how to still the fluctuations of the mind, this is the ultimate "goal" of yoga. Each sutra or "thread" in the chapters instructs the student on how to get rid of the obstacles so we can prepare the body, mind and soul for liberation. Yoga can be a very powerful practice if done with diligence and it can deeply connect a student to their intuitive self.


"as soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live" Johann Wolfgan Van Goethe

Some thoughts on Steve Fuller video
1. Why does Professor Fuller say (almost as a joke) that education is ‘a dying art’?

Everything is changing but we are still teaching our children in the same way. Is the way we educate our children the best at preparing them for living in todays society, or should be continue to teach them the essentials? Education needs to move with the times.

2. He talks about the ‘modern artifice’ of enhancement: how might this notion of becoming more ‘fully human’ via enhancement impact on the project of education?

I think this will impact education by causing more of a divide between those who have and those who have not.

3. Professor Fuller argues that there’s historical precedent for considering only some homo sapiens to be ‘human’: what are the political implications of this in contemporary times? And how might such a notion position education?

4. Do we educate only those who are deemed “intelligent”? Do we test children at a young age to determine their potential, their worthiness of being educated. There are certain cultures in the world who punish those who strive for the freedom to be educated. No one should have the right to deny another human being the pursuit of knowledge.

He suggests that we are questioning the very existence of the ‘human’ because we have failed in the humanist project (for example, we are far from achieving racial, gender or class equality): do you believe this?

5. Inequality exists, will we ever get rid of it, probably not but that doesn’t mean that the majority who believe in “raising the overall level of humanity” should give up. Nobody achieved anything by giving up. Recognising that there is inequality is just the beginning, its what we do about it that matters.

In claiming that ‘the old humanistic project should not be dropped’, Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on?

I think MOOCs will have their place in online education but they won't be for everyone. If a student has a "bad" experience on a MOOC its likely to put them off enrolling on another. Are the students who feel overwhelmed by the scale and amount of information already disadvantaged by their background?

WK3 Competition entry

I came up with lots of ideas but this image took my fancy. All editing done in PowerPoint. There are things I would already change about it but I'm just going to leave it as it is so I can turn my attention to the Digital Artefact for the final assessment.


  1. Hi Alison, I liked your word cloud hand print. And your reference to old Chinese and Indian cultures is very timely - I think we can get too wrapped up in all the possibilities of technology that we can lose a wider perspective. And when the discussion turns philosophical, "what is human", we can possibly learn more from the past than the present. By the way, the text at the top of this post is blue on my screen. I don't know if it's just my computer, but it was really hard to read it against the brown background. You might want to change it.

  2. Angela - your hand image inspired me and I borrowed the picture so I could show on my blog. I hope you don't mind? I've credited you and linked it back to here