Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course : Contaminating the Subject of Global Education book cover
1st Edition

Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course
Contaminating the Subject of Global Education

ISBN 9781138940833
Published February 16, 2016 by Routledge
238 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Posthumanism and the Massive Open Online Course critiques the problematic reliance on humanism that pervades online education and the MOOC, and explores theoretical frameworks that look beyond these limitations. While MOOCs (massive open online courses) have attracted significant academic and media attention, critical analyses of their development have been rare. Following an overview of MOOCs and their corporate means of promotion, this book unravels the tendencies in research and theory that continue to adopt normative views of user access, participation, and educational space in order to offer alternatives to the dominant understandings of community and authenticity in education.

Table of Contents


List of Figures


The Massive Open Online Course

MOOC structures

MOOC Reactions: disrupting and ‘making sense’

Chapter 1: (Post)Humanism and Education



Humanism and education

Critical Posthumanism

New Materialism

Rethinking Educational Dualisms

Posthuman knowledge and the (non)representational


Chapter 2: Masters of the Universal: MOOC Education and the Globe


Humanism and colonialism

The Corporate World of the MOOC

World-leaning MOOC research

The MOOC Platform


Chapter 3: Colonising Communities and Domesticating Data


Immunizing communities and the anthropological machine

Measuring MOOC communities

Identifying participants and categorising participation

Connectivism and community

Lurking and the tyranny of participation

The Personal Learning Network

Individualism in the connectivist MOOC


Chapter 4: Housing the MOOC: Space and Place in ‘ModPo’


Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Spatiality and Mobilities Theory

The House of Possibility

The Kelly Writers House Tour

Other voices, other rooms: power and potency in the ModPo fora

The immutable mobile of MOOC pedagogy


Chapter 5: Monstrous Openings in the EDCMOOC


The E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC

The Monstrous

Outside of bounded educational space

Calls for cohesive community

Outside of the humanist subject



Summarising Posthumanism and the MOOC

Suggestions for MOOC practice, pedagogy and research

In closing


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Jeremy Knox is Lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, UK, where he designed, developed, and taught the pioneering MOOC 'E-learning and Digital Cultures'.


"A much needed critical examination on MOOCs through the lens of humanism and educational philosophy has been conducted and described eloquently by Jeremy Knox. Anyone who wants to have a closer look at the intricate and somewhat paradoxical nature of today’s MOOCs experiment in higher education will greatly appreciate this timely work."

--Paul Kim, Chief Technology Officer and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, USA

"Drawing on posthumanist and new materialist approaches, Knox breaks with utopian MOOC narratives, challenging readers to consider not only what it means to educate the masses but also what it means to be a student and what it means to be an educational site—questioning whether most MOOCs, despite the hype, have merely privileged the orthodoxy of established educational frameworks.

Knox offers a thorough consideration of the technopedagogical systems that purport to serve a universal community—providing an in-depth exploration of the evolution of educational philosophy and aspirations of MOOC providers—elucidating long standing Western educational ideals and models as a way to better understand the future design and delivery of education to a diverse audience."

--Karen J. Head, Ph.D., Director of The Communication Center and Assistant Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at The Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, and Editor of Southern Discourse in the Center: A Journal of Multiliteracy and Innovation

"Jeremy Knox provides a refreshingly critical take on a high-profile area of educational innovation which has been generally under-theorised. He does not shy away from addressing the ‘big questions’ surrounding massive open education, and in doing so he tackles with insight and clarity the shifting terrain of higher education itself."

--Siân Bayne, Professor of Digital Education in the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, UK