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ANTH 101 – A Deeper Dive

It’s been a good while since I had the pleasure of working with Mike Wesch and Ryan Klataske on ANTH 101. I revisited the course recently to write a letter of support for an award submission for online courses. I am posting an extended version of that letter below because I think it paints a path with online courses that is rarely followed but is, nonetheless, replicable and worth considering. Bigger Picture? I see ANTH101 as a path forward that makes me hopeful in an online space that seems increasingly depressing.1 You have two races currently in online learning. There is a race to be the cheapest and easiest place to enroll.2 This article on Liberty “University” paints that picture pretty well. This world will be like the fast food industry in many ways. How uniform can we make things? How automated? What’s the least we can pay the fewest humans? The only path to profit will be through ridiculous scale. There will be very little difference between these providers. They will use LMS products that are very similar while following very similar online course rubrics and probably (poorly) paying many of the same adjunct/itinerant online course faculty. Additional sadness will occur when the same OPM is creating content, marketing etc. for multiple universities for the same courses and programs.3 […]

Four people wandering up a large sand dune with a blue sky and some clouds.

Complexity

Current rampages.us stats . . . 11,772 sites remain of 11,900 created 12,029 users 229 plugins (not all visible to all users) 229 Themes1 (not all visible to all users) 153 GBs of data You throw a few other elements in there . . . 4 other WordPress installs, a separate server with its own WordPress environment, a Discourse install on Linode . . . you end up with a lot of infrastructure to manage. Things to upgrade, users to support, issues to track down and fix . . . not to mention learning the particularities of different server environments and software packages . . . most of it done on the fly. It’s a lot of pieces and a lot of people. I start to feel like things are complex. I start to understand why people lock stuff down, give users a plugin or two . . . streamline administration. It is sensible. It is hard to keep up and keep track. But I keep thinking about the two billion lines of code that Google deals with and how they do it. Google engineers modify 15 million lines of code across 250,000 files each week. Sure, some code is more locked down than other code but it seems pretty open.2 Clearly I’m not Google and, as is frequently the […]