6 The Straight and Narrow is the Path of Least Resistance, and I Believe, We Need Resistance, or at Least, We Need to Nuke Las Vegas First

Pat Lockley

In this piece,
words appear on the left, and
words appear on the right
This isn’t for political wings, more just mostly because it looks
and makes sure that i’m being really, really clear, because
and with
. apologies
for bad language aside, everything we do in design is a structure, or a form, or these days, a pattern. Patterns, and that if we are to be critical, then we must criticise our words, letters and full stops You can argue three columns is not enough range, or too simple, but then when your
only gives you
three options
that is sufficient? Elearning
bent into
is a victory purely for the blacksmiths of this world. If
Domain of One’s Own
is a pattern, then that is a pattern based on moving the voice of the designer to the fore, not
heating and hammering it,
via and series of
dropdowns and checkboxes
like the doomed child of
data entry forms
If we aim to design with tools that grant us more
do we need to question the role of ourselves in this process? If we are critical of instructional design, do we also need to be critical of our institutions, do we need to know where our criticism stops?

We live in a world of universities who can’t rename buildings named after

undoubted racists
because to do so would be to
“rewrite history,”
but those same universities require a new
$100 textbook each year
because, apparently history can be rewritten?
So are we really “rewriting history”? Can you imagine a timeline in which Oxford’s LMS is called
Because it’s both clever and you know, a
We know
negative stereotypes[2] worsen education,
this remains unaddressed, we know students of colour do not progress through to Masters courses[3]. We maintain the contradiction of being a site of learning, whilst not demonstrating what we have learned. Or perhaps, reader, we do know. Perhaps we aren’t concerned with history, but with place. Universities as a machine of place, universities as
No one can be a
unless someone has
built a wall.
The place offered to a student becomes a place in society via the university’s prestige. The pattern of becoming a Harvard man or a Yale man is the pattern of being a grade.

We’ve spent the last year with

medical grade,
and we’ve always had
making the grade.
The grade is not made by the student, it is made for the student, unless we choose a pattern without it, or maybe, critically, a pattern with it, but without its power. If we chose,
explicitly is the course seen as lesser, what if instead, as our pattern, we just choose to release everything to ensure the best grade possible.

I know,

dear reader,
you worry about it. What will
teen dramas
do if stripped of a storyline?
do not worry, Netflix has so many these days, that losing one story line only aids the rapid
burning of venture capital make rocket go vroom vroom money[4]
What of the universities? Well,
re-appeared during the great
MOOC, avalanches, tsunamis, or insert natural disaster of choice here,
But now we teach our
income streams
to be resilient. We jest
over burning through money, but with students the money that’s burning is theirs.

So what is the pattern we need?

Elearning remains obsessed with the new. A

of trends and not trend-settings. Of being a
perpetual thought leader,
of zeitgeist and not
shite guess.
It remains only a matter of time before the horizon (and the
Horizon report)
gains a new shadow.
Flipped learning,
mobile learning,
serious games
What do they all share? Taking time from students. Flipped learning is increasing the workload for a student, gamification and serious games are making the learning more addictive, mobile learning requires an “always on” mode.

None of this was moved into column as I want you

dear reader
to do it.
We know students are
but we need to understand what they are poor of. How many poverties does a person need to have before a change happens. Here’s another list
Time poor,
Financially poor,
Opportunity poor.
We can build a beautiful pattern, our elearning ink mellifluously making courses, but with the students as worker bees making this
stolen honey
So which pattern? The anti-pattern[5]

We can build a course to

inspire or encourage wider reading,
but if we know they are time-poor students, then what pressure is that? On a day to day basis, our students may be more concerned with their
gig economy star rating
to worry about their university grade. We need wider reading because
“We are training them for jobs that don’t exist yet”
Well, here’s some news,
those jobs may never exist
Is the anti-pattern minimalism, or is it friendship? Is it helping by freeing people to choose to spend what time they have how they want to or need to?

So is giving everyone the best grade bad?


Grains of sand do many things. They make

beaches to relax on, glass bottles to make molotovs
and in the case of the anti-pattern of grading highly, the grain of sand does too beautiful things. One, it is the grain of sand which makes the
which is very much the
oysters and not yours,
and it is the grain of sand wearing down the
teeth of the gears of the machine.
Which machine? Well I can promise you that
are already hunting through LMSs looking for patterns which lead to good grades. Imagine the machine learning that one pattern gets every student the best grade. Imagine that machine then recommending that as the best pattern.

Remember, the machine learns that the only way to win

thermonuclear war
not to play.
So how do we win thermonuclear education?
By choosing to play differently, by choosing the move no one expected, by understanding that you need to play, but that perhaps you’re playing with things that need playing with[6]


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Designing for Care by Pat Lockley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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