The MOOC and the radicant.

My gut reaction to this video was to immediately suspect that it was a marketing ploy, but I was interested to see that the man behind it was Dave Cormier, who has some pretty broad-reaching ideas as to what education should be. My only critique there is that I’m weary of any educational proposal that comes close to equating “online” with “real life.” Certainly, we live a lot of our lives online, and the digital is part of real life, but I’m personally uncomfortable with making them equal. Outside of that, I like where Dave is coming from, although MOOC is pronounced like “mook,” which by the definitons of Urban Dictionary, is something to be avoided at all costs. I’m mostly be skimming the surface of what he’s doing, but I believe it applies pretty handily when understanding information literacy as a “lifelong-learning” skill.

All of this sounds pretty good, but it made me think of an even more broadminded/scary plant analogy: Nicolas Bourriaud’s Radicant.

Let us wager that our own century’s modernity will be invented precisely in opposition to all radicalism, dismissing both the bad solutuion of re-enrooting in identities as well as the standardization of imaginations….To be radicant means setting one’s roots in motion, staging them in heterogenious contexts and formatsdenying them the power to completely define one’s identity, translating ideas, transcoding images, transplanting behaviors, exchanging rather than imposing – The Radicant, p.22

What really sets the two apart is the need for rootedness. While I just made an arguement for tradition and materiality, I don’t think there’s unresolvable tension here. At the heart of the radicant is that neither roots and traditions nor immediate locations define someone’s identity. Cormier is concerned with local conditions on the ground, and many traditions focus on internalizing themselves into someone’s identity, going back to a pure and stable root (this is part of Bourriard’s point). The radicant takes them for what they are and leaves the rest. It’s up to us to make the choice, some of us will do it because we have to, but in order to really get at the heart of things, we have to do it because we want to.

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