Welsh writer Dylan Thomas, who was very fond of a drink, once quipped that ‘an alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.’
When I first came across the quote by Dylan Thomas I liked it because in my mind I was changing it to something akin to ‘a Learning Technologist is someone you don’t like who talks about MOOCs as much as you do.’ I guess my mind did this because it’s very easy to criticise some of the current theory behind online learning. At a recent meeting on the subject of work from a well-known Learning Technologist, I jokingly asked ‘Is he a brilliant satirist or is he serious?’
Later on that day and thinking about my question, I remembered back 10+ years to my colleague class where many of us were perhaps a bit too big for our boots; it was a computer programming BTech and had a classroom full of boys who were perhaps not top of their class in high school but suddenly found themselves getting excellent marks in something they enjoyed in an environment that afforded them much more freedom then school. The situation was a recipe for disaster but our personal tutor was very experienced and would gently drop the right piece of advice to calm down the lads without crushing their enthusiasm. I have a memory of some of the lads verbally insulting the tutor who calmly replied that calling out the flaws in others is recognition of some sort of personal flaws you are anxious about.
My own comment was about a learning technologist whose work is leading the field but whose work I am not comfortable with. The Dylan Thomas quote is scary because it’s easy to label him as one of those ‘Learning Technologists’ and instead of thinking really hard about why I am not comfortable with it I can just pretend that I am not the same. I’m pretty sure my college tutor would have something really good to say to me now.