Dystopia or reality. Students tagged like cattle. #edcmooc

I was struck recently to read about this piece of news:

Starting this fall, the fourth-largest school district in Texas is experimenting with “locator” chips in student ID badges on two of its campuses, allowing administrators to track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision.

This news has been reported in the media mostly as a story on how one student refuses to wear this FRID chip for religious purposes. Many articles like this one from the Huffington post explained how the student was associating the RFID chip to the “mark of the beast”.

But most articles i could find on the subject failed to underline that tagging students like cattle for budgetary reason reeks of totalitarian rule. Big Brother is laughing in its grave. Orwell must be crying.

It is particularly striking that this policy tries to enforce RFID tracking on a population who by definition craves freedom and liberty.  Teenagehood  is an age to earn and discover freedom from parents, from authority, from traditions, …

The day after I wrote this blog post, I discovered the amazing dystopian film Charlie 13. The film depicts a society where all kids are tagged with a ubiquitous tracking device implanted in their finger tip. The main character refuses to undergo the procedure and tries to escape to the wild where a community of free rebels may still live.

It is striking to see the rfid tacking chip imposed on school children as a premise of more tracking and loss privacy that may lead to a society similar to the one depicted in Charlie 13.

The film is part of the resources of the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC course by the University of Edinburgh. #edcmooc.  Charlie 13 is an episode in the mind blowing Future States series that explores What will become of America in five, 25, or even 50 years from today. Watch some of the other episodes, they are fascinating.

On a more personal note, my gut feeling is that forcing teenagers to be tracked with a total disrespect for their privacy as humans, is to me, a sign that a good chunk of our society is a already real dystopia.

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Think Again: How to Reason and Argue

Join me in the “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue” course from Duke University on Coursera #MOOC #thinkagain It started today. https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain

This blog is launched

This blog will serve several purposes.

As I am going to participate in MOOCs over the next few months, the blog will serve as a platform for assignments and connection tool with co-students;

Furthermore, my current employer, Berklee College of Music, recently joined the MOOC adventure by offering courses on coursera. I have seen been exploring MOOCs and expanding my knowledge of Innovation in Higher Ed. This blog will help me structure my findings.

OER, MOOC, Learning Analytics and Knowledge, Connective learning hold the power to disrupt the current structure of Higher Ed. Not only in the US where education is so expensive but also in developing countries and countries where education is more available for the masses (think Europe). This is fascinating.

As a life long learner, I have been teaching myself web design and programming, databases, prediction markets, Russian and Danish, English Rhetoric, to name a few subjects i’ve explored in the past few years. However, my personal experience in autodidactism has, to say the least, not been very efficient. 

MOOCs, connectivism, Network learning bring new approaches and hopes for ongoing personal learning.

Finally, as the father of 3 pre-k to middle school, enjoying the benefits of one of the best public school in the country (Driscoll in Brookline MA), I want to empower my children with better ways to learn and excel.