Regina Saphier: My Coursera Manifesto

Regina Saphier: My Coursera Manifesto

My Coursera Manifesto

How the death of open-Internet activist Aaron Swartz, the viral Warren video, Coursera and you demanding the best courses relate to each other, and how your Coursera experience is a political statement.

Thank you Carol E. for confirming my opinion (that I posted on Saturday via my Facebook wall) that Elizabeth Warren was in fact referring to the Aaron Swartz case (you confirmed it by sending me the Huffingtonpost article today that came out Sunday afternoon). On Saturday I simply wrote: “I think Warren is primarily referring to the Aaron Swartz case”.  The article that I got today (on Tuesday) also reinforced my feeling that I indeed have some insight into the workings of the intellectual mind and the daily sentiments of the progressive democratic and liberal elite in the US. Why is this interesting? Because the last time I actually was in the US was 10 years ago, and I still have this up to date and accurate insight. This would not be possible without the Internet and some daily and regular reading and writing for so many years.

Picture of Aaron Swartz

R.I.P.: Aaron Swartz 1986-2013 (Wikipedia)

English: Elizabeth Warren speaking at March 29...

Elizabeth Warren speaking at the Women in Finance symposium (Wikipedia)

I felt so angry and sad over the death of brilliant Internet activist Aaron Swartz, that I posted an obituary after his death via Facebook (on January 13. I posted and on January 14. I added a comment to the same post). Later, after watching a memorial that took place on January 24. at the Internet Archive (located in San Francisco) I posted the video links for that particular memorial (you can find those videos under my Facebook obituary post on January 13. … I posted the videos as obituary comments on January 30.).

Until today, I had no idea that Warren attended another memorial in admiration of Swartz on February 4. in Washington on Capitol Hill. I just felt like there was a connection when she spoke at the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (on February 14.) and she pointed out that the banks that caused the global crisis were never brought to justice, yet, (and this is what I was hearing in my mind as she spoke) Aaron was forced into suicide by the “legal” system because he was facing an “example setting” and unfair trial for liberating public information for people.

Here is the key quote of the article Carol sent me today (first I paste the original spoken bit that made me think on Saturday, February 16., and after that I quote the Huffingtonpost analysis from Sunday, February 17. that I got from Carol today, on February 19.):
1. “There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial,'” …
2.  – “… Warren told them in what appeared to be a reference to a Warren constituent, open-Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who recently committed suicide after being hounded by federal prosecutors who reportedly said they wanted to make an example of him. Warren had met and said she admired Swartz. After he died, she expressed her concern by attending his memorial in Washington.
Here is the article that Carol sent me today (the LinkedIn message landed in my Inbox early morning my time today when I was asleep).

I am hoping, based on what I see in this high ability female leader, that she will be the next president, and the first female president of the US. IMHO Warren has the stamina, the ambition, the intellect, the knowledge, the ability, the support, the power, the moral sense, the timing, the popularity, the insight, and the courage that it takes.

Why is this relevant to My Coursera Blog?

The morally broken bankers are the same as the big elitist universities, while Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren (a progressive, intellectually gifted democrat with a working class background) is the political female leader of a future that will be built by the audience and by the supporters of Coursera and similar MOOCs, based on a new level of mutual understanding and insight. People (like Aaron Swartz, unfortunately for everyone only in the past, and Coursera’s Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng fortunately now and in the future) are working to remove the financial, technological, political, geographical and elitist barriers and to make the utopia of billions of people having access to quality information and the highest level of education possible. These types of people think in global terms, and display a new attitude, based on a new feeling of being responsible for each other, plus pro-actively use uniting (education) technologies instead of supporting devasating wars. I used to think years ago that my civic activism was not political, but I have come to realize that wanting to influence how things are and make a change is always a political act.

So, in this sense My Coursera Blog is a highly political blog. Your Coursera education is an international education policy issue. The quality of your xMOOC education is a political statement from each MOOC educator!

If it is a high level course, it means that the Coursera professor wants you to be free, have dignity, have real knowledge, be motivated, enjoy the process, feel equal, and think (no matter what your background, if you have the ability and the diligence).

If your Coursera course is low standard, your professor is not interested in the future of global understanding (badly designed, fragmented, low input, narrowly targeted courses), and that professor is maintaining the establishments that isolate knowledge (that professor is trying to maintain his or her own position, but could not care less about your future).

Demand the best possible Coursera courses if you want a better global future for humanity. See beyond your self!

Look forward to an era of no wars, and no dictators, based on true democratic values and a real empathic, knowledge based dialog between humans. It would not happen tomorrow, but it will happen in the future. We should aim to teach each other to the very best of our knowledge. Anything less in not good enough. The best teaching, and the demanding of the highest possible knowledge is the minimum of true progressive democratic values. Demand the optimum from your Coursera professors (optimum is probably the best for a heterogeneous international student population, tens of thousands of people in some courses globally), not for you necessarily, but for those who are less advantaged, who are yet less able to articulate their opinion online, who are at the beginning of their digital exploration.

I hope now you see, why this blog note is:

My Coursera Manifesto

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