Monday, 22 June 2015

Understanding ignorance - a new MOOC

The world of MOOCs is a wonderful place. This are Massive Open Online Courses. They're available on the internet and cover more topics and themes than you can imagine. And they're free.

I haven't done a MOOC since the bunch I did early last year and I've been keeping an eye out for one. 

My new course starts tomorrow / Wednesday and it is hosted by edX. The course is called Ignorance! It is offered by the Australian National University and runs over five weeks.

In the course description they write:
Ignorance is everyone’s business. Ignorance is relevant to every discipline and profession, and to everyday life, both at work and at play. 
We will explore questions about ignorance such as: Where does ignorance come from? How do we impose ignorance on each other, and even on ourselves? And why? We usually think about ignorance as a bad thing, but can it be preferable not to know something? How do we use ignorance? What roles does ignorance play in social interaction, group relations, institutions, and law? Can ignorance sometimes be a virtue? When can ignorance be good or bad for us? How can we harness the unknown for learning, discovery, and creativity?
A few months ago the best friend of a lady-I-know passed away. Apparently she had a quick-onset cracking headache and was very ill. By morning she was dead.

The lady-I-know said her best friend has died because of the stress of her car being stolen a few days earlier.

I explained about meningitis - the onset, symptoms and prognosis. This seemed the most likely cause. I thought that the lady-I-know would think about this and consider that this (or something similar) could be the most likely medical explanation for her friend's passing.

A few weeks later in a random conversation she again mentioned the car theft as the cause of her healthy, mid-30s friend's sudden passing. It troubled me that she was ok with this.

Ignorance comes about when a person lacks knowledge. I'm not quite sure what you call it when you don't ask questions and you don't consider other possibilities?

I hope to learn more about ignorance over the next five weeks.

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