by Stephen Downes
Apr 27, 2016
I've always felt the case against realism is pretty definitive, so this article doesn't surprise me. And I love this analogy: "You could not form a true description of the innards of the computer if your entire view of reality was confined to the desktop. And yet the desktop is useful. That blue rectangular icon guides my behavior, and it hides a complex reality that I don’t need to know." It's not that our perceptions are not useful; of course they are. But it is an error to take them literally. Some people may then ask, well what happens to science. This is the thing: this is what science tells us. As Donald Hoffman says, "I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world."
I think this is exactly the wrong lesson, but it's the one being drawn nonetheless: "The fatal flaw in the “classic MOOC,” as Thrun noted in an interview with PandoDaily, is that it is free. “We learned we can drastically boost learning outcomes by adding a service layer around MOOCs… It’s not a MOOC [anymore] because we ended up charging for it." I think a better lesson is this: "putting up a lecture online without the rest of the traditional education infrastructure resulted in very low completion rates." The key is to do it without charging admission. Oh, and fwiw, Sebastian Thrun has stepped down as Udacity CEO.
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