How 'House of Cards' Killed My MOOCing

Lessons for the coming age of mobile learning?

February 24, 2014

So I was doing so well with my MOOCing.

Diligently (ish) watching the edX and Coursera videos on my iPhone while running on my treadmill in the morning.

Then Netflix released season 2 of House of Cards and it was all over.

All those hours that I would be spending learning about Public Speaking and Alexander the Great and the History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education got replaced by hours watching the masterful Kevin Spacey.

Binge Netflix viewing replaced discretionary lifelong learning.

My screen for media is consumption is an iPhone, and there are only so many hours in a week that I have to stare at the small screen. Give me 13 hours of addictive (if not very realistic) political drama and I’m going to watch very little until those 13 hours have been viewed.

Is there a larger lesson here about teaching and learning in 2014?  

Should we worry that the exponential growth of compelling distractions will end up crowding out studying?, 

Access to media, from games to videos, is now as close as our smartphones.

The quality of compelling content available on our phones is only increasing.  

House of Cards comes from Netflix.  Amazon is releasing original programming. Some folks are lucky enough to have passwords to HBO Go accounts. 

And this is only video. The real action is probably in mobile games and mobile social media platforms.

As higher education content migrates to our smartphones, as it surely will, this educational material will be competing with entertainment available on the very same platform.

The answer, of course, is that I was not really missing out on an education by missing out on my MOOCs.  

An open online course is a wonderful thing for many many reasons, but participating in a MOOC is not the same thing as investing in an education.  

Learning requires much more of us than is demanded from a MOOC.   

Learning requires creating as well as consuming.  

The best sort of learning is done at a human scale rather than a network scale.

The combination of a talented educator collaborating with a dedicated student remains our most powerful adaptive learning platform.

So what are the higher ed lessons, if any, in my latest iPhone / Netflix / MOOC experience?

How has your smartphone changed how you consume content, including educational content?

Did you watch House of Cards?


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