Monday, 25 April 2011

Blog 7: PHOEBE, or: When a goddess becomes a community tool.

Blog Thing 7
  1. What do you think of the ideas behind Phoebe? What was your impression? THE IDEAS behind the radiance of Apollo/Phoebus: "this is exactly what our tool sets out to do: provide timely and informed guidance on designing learning experiences that make appropriate use of technology.
    However, we envisage Phoebe above all as a community tool, owned by individual departments and colleges who will supplement the advice and examples that we have supplied with material directly relevant to their own context" ("Phoebe" site).  

    The "idea" behind the use of the term "appropriate" appears to be <serving the interests of our departments' own context>.  But did the departments themselves ask for technology's help?  Is Phoebe's vision ("we envisage...") shared by my department?  Or is the vision in question a product to be sold to departments that otherwise would see (and indeed have) no need for it?  

    I cannot help but doubt whether a divinely neutral or pure tool descending upon departments of academic learning uncalled-for from the summit of the mount of bureaucracy might not prove, upon careful reflection, to be fundamentally unhelpful.  

    Can any universal "form" meaningfully "supplement" the particular "matter" of any field of investigation UNLESS said form is first shown to emerge out of the real needs of this or that field of investigation itself?  I see a need for our new Phoebes to show me before all else why my department would need to change the way it has been or currently is presenting course outlines.
  2. What template(s) did you think were (most) useful? Or did you think there weren't any useful ones and would you consider creating one yourself?  The BASIC DESIGN TEMPLATE (cloned as "Template for 1066"), which came across as the simplest or most straightforward.  As the "tool" becomes complicated, it comes to distract from the educator's end--especially when the tool is constructed in vitro, instead of arising out of the field in which it is to be used.  Unless the tool is to serve as a Trojan Horse...                   
  3. What are your thoughts about using this to share Cambridge (or your course) specific templates and designs; as a tool to share your learning designs? I suspect some general suggestive guidelines would suffice to support educators in preparing course outlines.  If, on the other hand, the goal is to synchronize/monitor all educators within a network of bureaucratic expectations, then I am left with asking if educators will have the choice of sticking to antiquated course outlines?  Or must these, too, be digitalized?  Finally,must it be paranoia to suspect that Phoebe's "tooling" is a covert step in the direction of online courses--the ultimate bureaucratization of education?
  4. How do you compare it with learning design tools or systems you're already using; is it better or worse? In what way? Compared to others we have been presented with, this one seems to have the greatest potential for obtaining its goal.  Here, a menu of templates for course outlines is (or can be) presented for an educator to select and fill out one template, just as he would with most other online forms.

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