TIME 2012 Person of the Year – MOOC

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

[Updated 12.4.12: criterion added.]

It’s that time of the year when we begin to wonder who or what will be the Time 2012 person of the year. Keep in mind that the criterion is “the person who most influenced the news this year for better or worse.”

My heart says Pussy Riot.


My eyes and ears say PSY.


But I can’t ignore the elephant in the room.




15 Responses

  1. Yes, MOOC seems to have reached escape velocity and is headed for the stars. I can’t recall seeing anything in education happen this fast. Just wait until employers begin to accept MOOC certificates in employment applications.

  2. It’s interesting that, as of right now, the MOOC is conspicuous by its absence in the list of candidates. In the people’s choice polling, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is leading. (See the list below.) The actual choice will be made by TIME’s editors and published on Dec. 21. The people’s choice results will be released a week earlier.

    Kim Jong Un
    Mohamed Morsi
    Malala Yousafzai
    Stephen Colbert
    Undocumented Immigrants
    The Mars Rover
    Barack Obama
    Bashar Assad
    Jon Stewart
    Felix Baumgartner
    The Higgs Boson Particle
    Pussy Riot
    Hillary Clinton
    Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein
    Bill Clinton
    Gabby Douglas
    Michael Phelps
    Sandra Fluke
    Ai Weiwei
    Mitt Romney
    Chris Christie
    Joe Biden
    John Roberts
    Mo Farah
    Marissa Mayer
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    Michael Bloomberg
    Paul Ryan
    Tim Cook
    Mario Draghi
    Xi Jinping
    Bo Xilai
    Sheldon Adelson
    E.L. James
    Roger Goodell
    Karl Rove

  3. Based on today’s news, I think that it should be the Pope. He undoubtedly has garnered the most number of followers in the shortest time. As of now he has over 330,000 followers. Wow!

    Via @NYTimes:
    Pope Starts Personal Twitter Account http://nyti.ms/SGdHzV

    • Bert, I think there’s a story here, hinging on the MOOC idea that the greatest lectern (or pulpit, in this case) in the world is the social media. Gives the word “social” a whole new dimension, doesn’t it? But what’s truly amazing is that you don’t have to be the Pope or a Stanford professor. Anyone, everyone can publish in this medium, and with the right stuff, each person’s message has the potential to go viral.

  4. Even if the Time had listed the MOOC, people who care about the social impact of education would probably have voted for Malala Yousafzai all the same.
    Perhaps they might have voted for the MOOC had it been offered back in 2008, when it was about connective knowledge. But now it has become a “Hey look, we have a Coursera MOOC” image affair, a bit like “Hey look, we have a Second Life island” a few years ago.

    • Thanks for the comment, Claude.

      I disagree with your premise that those who don’t vote for Malala don’t “care about the social impact of education.” People have different reasons for their vote, but the key criterion is broad: “the person who most influenced the news this year for better or worse.”

      I don’t know all the facts about Malala’s case, but I am concerned about the press’s use of a seventh grade girl in an activity that clearly puts her and her family in danger. She began her publisher-sponsored blog anonymously, but the dangers should have been obvious. The cause is a noble one, but who ultimately pays the price? The publishers?

      Who shot Malala? Obviously, the person who pulled the trigger. But who helped to create the situation that placed her in danger? Could it be that, to some extent, we all did? In our need for inspiring stories?

      Re MOOCs in 2008 — again, back to the criterion. Did it blow away the media back then? Hardly. It wasn’t until this year, 2012, that MOOCs exploded into the media.

      I agree with your comment that the MOOCs causing all the commotion today aren’t true to the Siemens and Downes roots and many institutions are simply jumping on the bandwagon. But, again, that’s not the criterion.

      • Points taken, Jim: thanks. Yet what are “the news” since, say, 2002 when blogs became widely used, or 2005 when online video platforms did? Can “mainstream media” still be used as a yardstick for what is “the news”? As you replied to Bert Kimura: “Anyone, everyone can publish in this medium, and with the right stuff, each person’s message has the potential to go viral.”

        This obtains for PSY’s video, of course, where mainstream media caught on, albeit belatedly. But also, on a smaller yet still impressive scale, for Dumb Ways to Die, a short accident prevention PSA from Melbourne Metro: 30,715,141 viewings in 3 weeks: that’s a kind of niche virality unlikely to influence “the news” in the traditional mainstream sense.

        Back to Malala Yousafzai: children grow up fast in wars. There have been and there still are children militants in independence wars, there were children resistants in Belgium under Nazi occupation during WW2. Sure it would be better if they were able to live their childhood as their peers can in affluent societies where there is no war. But as they are forced into adulthood, their commitments are as serious as any biological adult’s. Malala Yousafzai probably owes her family the awareness of the importance of education for all. But her decision to literally stick her neck for it by making use of international media is hers.

        And that’s why her third rank in the Time’s survey, a good way ahead of the first Americans (both entertainers), is an important tribute to the cause she has chosen to risk her life to defend. It’s also a sign of what “the news” have fortunately become nowadays.

        • Claude, thanks for the opportunity to continue this discussion.

          Re your definition of “news” — I feel it’s a strawman since it doesn’t address anything I’ve said.

          Re Malala — you seem to have missed my point completely. My concern is the publication’s apparent decision to allow a 12-13 year old to make a decision that imperils her and her family’s safety. Why? For newsworthiness? To spotlight courage? To create a hero?

          By voting for Malala, are we holding her bravery up as an example for other children?

          As I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I am concerned about well-meaning adults endangering children to promote their agenda — for good or bad.

          Finally, I’m bewildered by your apparent glorification of children as combatants in war. Personally, I can’t equate “growing up” with engaging in combat when the “soldier” is a 12-year-old. I see nothing heroic in this. What I do feel is shame for the so-called “adults” responsible for exploiting children.

          Of course, you and everyone else have every right to vote as you see fit. My concerns are mine, and they’ll guide my vote.

  5. Are MOOCs just a VLE but open to everyone? With minimal instructor presence so dependent on peer-peer learning? If so, I have my doubts…. yes. I have participated in a MOOC

    • Thanks for the comment, Niall.

      You’re correct to an extent. However, the VLE is not “just a VLE.” It is extremely rich, with literally no limits to learning resources. If it’s available on the web, it’s a potential knowledge source. When the walls of classrooms come down and distance and time are no longer barriers to learning, the “classroom” becomes the world with everything and everyone in it. In this context, the teacher’s role changes. S/he is no longer the sole conduit of knowledge, of feedback. Everyone, including all the students, is.

      The question re peer evaluations is: Can students learn criteria and apply them to their own and their classmates’ work? The answer is yes. It had better be because if it’s not, then no learning is taking place. Each student has to understand the requirements for an assignment if she is to succeed. How does she learn to formatively and recursively evaluate her efforts? Perhaps the most efficient and effective method is to practice on her classmates’ work.

      Participation in a MOOC, by itself, is no guarantee that a student fully understands what a MOOC is all about or how to make the most of it. MOOCs are different in very significant ways, and these differences translate into powers that we’ve barely begun to tap into. In situations such as this, we may want to withhold judgment until we learn more, and we can’t or won’t learn more if we don’t give it a real chance to grow.

      Currently, MOOCs are in their infancy, and at this stage, to borrow a McLuhan principle, the medium is not yet the message. The content of this new medium is still the old medium of course, teacher, schedule, class, tests, and grades. Yes, the walls are gone, but the practice is still pretty much the same ole same ole.

      But it’s a start. A first giant step into a whole new world.

  6. […] By Jim Shimabukuro Editor [Updated 12.4.12: criterion added.] It’s that time of the year when we begin to wonder who or what will be the Time 2012 person of the year. Keep in mind that criter…  […]

  7. Sure. MOOCs are in their infancy and they are not all the same. I have been experimenting with and using learning technologies for years so I am always wary of hype. I was disappointed by the design (both pedagogical and technical) of the MOOC I participated in. However, I have registered for another with a different provider so first steps

    • Hi, lisdigimedia. Please consider submitting an article (to this journal, ETCJ) on: “I was disappointed by the design (both pedagogical and technical) of the MOOC I participated in.” This would be an opportunity for all of us to discuss and learn from your experience. Also, another submission idea is the MOOC that you’re currently registered in. Perhaps taking the rest of us “along for the ride” as you work through the course? There are far more questions than answers re MOOCs, and firsthand accounts may have the most potential for edifying discussions. Jim (jamess@hawaii.edu)

  8. What a fantastic post! The MOOCs are certainly offering us all a lot to think about, especially with Coursera now implementing career services! http://blog.coursera.org/post/37200369286/coursera-and-your-career

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: