ignorance and uncertainty

All about unknowns and uncertainties

My MOOC on Ignorance!

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After a year of preparation and hard slog, together with my colleague Gabriele Bammer, I’ve prepared a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Ignorance. The MOOC is based on my work on this topic, and those of you who have followed my blog will find extensions and elaborations of the material covered in my posts. Gabriele’s contributions focus on the roles of ignorance in complex problems.

The course presents a comprehensive framework for understanding, coping with, and making decisions in the face of ignorance. Course participants will learn that ignorance is not always negative, but has uses and benefits in domains ranging from everyday life to the farthest reaches of science where ignorance is simultaneously destroyed and new ignorance created. They will discover the roles ignorance plays in human relationships, culture, institutions, and how it underpins important kinds of social capital.

In addition to video lectures, discussion topics, glossaries, and readings, I’ve provided some html-5 games that give hands-on experience in making decisions in the face of various kinds of unknowns.  The video lectures have captions in Chinese as well as English, and transcripts of the lectures are available in three languages: English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. There also are Wiki glossaries for each week in both English and Chinese.

Putting all this together was quite a learning experience for me, and also a dream come true.  I’d come to realize that an interdisciplinary course on ignorance was never going to be a core component of any single discipline’s curriculum, because it doesn’t belong in any one discipline—It sprawls across disciplines.  So a MOOC seems an ideal vehicle for this topic: It’s free and open to everyone. I’ve designed the course to be short enough that other instructors can include it as a component in their own course, and fill the rest of their course with material tailored to their own discipline or profession.

The course will be provided in two five-week blocks. The first one begins on June 23, 2015 and the second on September 22, 2015. There are a lot of MOOCs out there, but there is no other course like this in the world. And ignorance is everyone’s business.  You can watch the promo video here or you can go straight to the registration page here.


Written by michaelsmithson

May 24, 2015 at 12:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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