Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Distance Ed: No Significant Difference (Even Fictionally)

Hermann Hesse, Nobel laureate in Literature 1946Image via WikipediaI am reading Hermann Hesse's "The Glass Bead Game" aka "Magister Ludi." The perfect novel to get my mind off of work. The novel is about a student who navigates the labyrinthine academic and quasi-spiritual institution of the glass bead game. Throughout the course of the novel, our maverick hero even rises to become the Game Master. What is the game? There is not really a lot of information in the book about the game, but it does talk about how themes in one discipline, such as astronomy, and another, like music, is proposed and the participants set about to make connections. (Is this the first Connectivist novel?) The more elegant the connections, the better. I think the novel is really about our hero's relationship to institutions. Well something interesting happens: there is instruction and lectures around the games each year that lead up to the big match. The hero of the novel gets sent to a Benedictine monastery for a while but asks his superiors if he can still listen to the lectures over the radio and send his completed game in via post. He does. And guess what? He wins. So in other words, there was no significant difference between the outcome of the contest between those who participated face-to-face and those who participated virtually. In this case, 100% of those who participated virtually did better than those who participated face-to-face.

Even though I am only half kidding around here, Hesse has always been a favorite novelist of mine, I could not have survived my teens without Steppenwolf, Journey to the East, or Siddartha. I like to think he would appreciate my playfulness.

Laborare est ludare...
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