Looking at this bit of the SXSW panel on Edupunk, I have this to say:
It seems that Edupunk really has become about anarchy, just as Gardner feared, at least in the minds of many. Downes’ social club theory of education is just the sort of pointless populist angst that punk exploited, and which differs, I would argue, from the more authentic (in quotes) Clash-like music, where one gets a sense of hope. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it’s there, and it’s also not calling for destruction. I think it’s this: the Clash knew the limits of the medium — rouse but do not prescribe, but also do not proscribe. After all, we’re just a band. Leave social change for others.
I am afraid that Downes comes off as a typical representative of a now commonplace millenarianism among instructional technologists, at least at conferences — where the Las Vegas principle seems to apply (“What happens at ELI stays at ELI”). It’s a cargo cult.
Jim Groom is no millenarian. For him, the essence of Edupunk is not in its anarchism, but in its communitarinism, if I may impose that word upon him — the relocation of decision-making and creativity in the hands of faculty, students, and technologists, and not in the hands of corporate business models that may appear to be logical and necessary from an administrative point of view, but which are in fact neither. This does not at all mean Kill the University, as Downes very clearly argues. It means, Let’s not go down this slippery slope that certain kinds of software seem to be pushing us. That’s pretty much it (which is a lot).
Ironically, Downes’ approach puts education much more in the hands of anonymous centralization, for without the residential campus, there is no mediating institution between Google or the Canadian government and the individual. Downes commits the classic fallacy of radically individualistic political thought — the destruction of supposedly oppressive institutions like colleges, families, etc. only creates the social conditions of anomie and totalitarianism. Good luck with that.
Edupunk, for me, is really all about what Gardner and Jim, like McCartney and Lennon, had going at the very beginning. A discussion about what sort of leadership is appropriate to academic technology, given this new millieux of technology. What do we teach our students and faculty, both critically and practically? We need to recover this thread; from what I can see, the SXSW panel did not achieve this.