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The tip of the iceberg in the area of instructional technology

In response to: @suifaijohnmak:  Tell me more about this beginning of the instructional technology universe. Do you mean MOOCs or something more?

I definitely think that we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg in the area of instructional technology. MOOCs are solid and dynamic new paradigms; but in the near future, the possibilities in this area are so enormous that we cannot predict what this ocean of possibilities will be able to offer us. This area will become more accessible, and even more massive and affordable. This technology will not replace teachers but will enhance their performance. We will need more in depth theorization and research not only in the tools but specifically in the domain of instructional technology virtualization.

In the future, we will have platforms that are/have:

  • faster
  • capable of hosting an enormous amount of data and interaction
  • improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • more mobile-friendly
  • equipped with powerful syndication technologies
  • massive meta-courses that will replace the concept of MOOCs
  • user centered platforms instead of teacher centered
  • better accessibility: (including support for monolingual people – accurate and dynamic translation)
  • more SOE (Standard Operating Environment)
  • more relaxed audio-visual integration
  • equipped with better authentication tools to offer personalized support and clear interaction

and then…

  • intelligent software: like automated agents you can interrelate with using NLP and AI

Furthermore, the improvements will come from the physical classroom technologies projecting the physical classroom into virtual space.  Many of our classrooms are already equipped with HD cameras connected to the network and have friendly Wi-Fi interaction with multiple devices. All this technologies will become better and cheaper at an exponential rate.

Moreover, the real revolutionary explosion of new possibilities will arise when the instructors, not the theorists or developers, have the possibility of manipulating  these technologies. We are getting there.

Posted in response to a conversation about “changes in academia” with a friend of mine

It is not that simple here in the US my dear friend John. Perhaps things are different in Australia or Europe, I do not know; but here in the US in academia, if you are tenure track or looking for a job, you do not have the power to question the status quo. Graduate schools can be very tyrannical places; graduate students are controlled by very powerful ideologies. And if you resist these ideologies you end up isolated without mentors. Imagine if you are looking for a job and apply to a department that is getting resources from a specific organization or group that ideologically differs from your perspective. Then when you are hired in a department and you eventually become tenured, you have to think twice about what you propose when you are asking for resources. Many full professors, chairs, deans do not want to change and these are the same people that per review your work and control the resources. (When we talk about these issues in academia I think about people like Cantor or Boltzmann, they have paid for their honest and justified transgressions) And then, even if you acquire a lot of power, and you have the administration and the faculty on your side and the resources, you have the accreditation commotions…

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The day the MOOC invented Social Media (a very short perspective about MOOCs)

by Fabian Banga

After exploring this idea of the MOOC for several months, participating in several of them and reading everything I could find about this topic, I honestly think that the last C in MOOC should be seriously reconsidered or substituted for something more appropriate. Perhaps MOOE (for Event) would be more meaningful. Furthermore, we should also reconsider the M too, for reasons I will discuss later.

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2013 RMMLA-Vancouver (USA) – Call for Papers

Open Education: Challenges and Possibilities* 
Contact: Fabian Banga, Berkeley City College;
Description: Challenges and opportunities with the use of open learning materials and technologies, including any learning, teaching and research resources in the public domain; such as open courses and course materials (courseware), open textbooks, and MOOCs .


Contemporary Latin American literature – MOOC

Para los que estén interesados, vamos a ofrecer un MOOc (massive open online “course”) “spanish 38” que será una extensión del curso en BCC  Spanish 38, Introducción a la Literatura Latinoamericana, de la primavera del 2013. Este MOOC es enteramente en español, no es por crédito, no requiere asistencia obligatoria, no tendrá exámenes u otro tipo de evaluación y no requiere estar registrado.

¿Quiere seguir el curso y las discusiones desde espacios de social media?

hashtag en twitter:  #MOOC38

en facebook: spanish38mooc

en Google plus: grupo Las Americas

en youtube

Más información aquí:



The challenges of teaching online composition classes

(in-progress – for the 2013 edition of magazine Connections – FLANC)

The importance of confronting the challenges of online classes and preventing those challenges, I would suggest, is more important than foreseeing the opportunities the classes will offer. The possibilities are unlimited in every class. However, understanding its level of unpredictability, seem to be common ground on online classes.  My experiences training online instructors have shown me that many who are interested in teaching online classes do not anticipate these difficulties.  For this reason, I would like to discuss some of the more important challenges, perhaps not to suggest that I have a simple solution for them, but to place them in the center of the discussion with the hope that some of these ideas might be useful to the community of educators who are interested in exploring the field of instructional technologies and online education.

Online classes are basically not so different from regular face-to-face classes. The dynamics are similar but the representation of these dynamics in virtual space creates the illusion of discrepancy between these two modes of teaching. The forum in which the interaction takes place is the challenge. Furthermore the challenge becomes magnified by the fact that in many cases the students have a great deal of expertise in the area of virtual space and none in the subject studied while the instructor has exactly the opposite type of expertise.

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Dissertation: Brujos, espiritistas y vanguardistas: la representación del esoterismo y el espiritualismo en las obras de Roberto Arlt, Vicente Huidobro y Ramón del Valle-Inclán


Brujos, espiritistas y vanguardistas: la representación del esoterismo y el espiritualismo en las obras de Roberto Arlt, Vicente Huidobro y Ramón del Valle-Inclán
Fabián Marcelo Banga

Doctor of Philosophy in Hispanic Languages & Literatures
University of California, Berkeley
Professor Francine Masiello, Chair

One of the aesthetic projects of the vanguard literary movements in Latin-American and Spain of the early decades of the twentieth century was a declared attempt to separate from the aesthetics of modernismo. If poets like Ruben Darío worked on images of the elegant European-styled garden in order to consider the musicality of language and the breakthrough of poetic form, vanguard writers like Oliverio Girondo, Vicente Huidobro, or Roberto Arlt looked toward urban centers in order to capture the confusion and frenzy of the new metropolis. One significant aspect of this aesthetic project is that not every element used in this mission was new. There are cases in which elements characteristic of nineteenth-century literary styles were recuperated in the vanguard. One example of this continuity is the presence of esoteric and occult traditions in twentieth-century literary movements. This dissertation specifically analyzes the presence of spiritualism and theosophical beliefs in the works of Roberto Arlt (1900-1942), Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) and Ramón del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936). In the case of Arlt and Valle-Inclán, a deconstruction of images occurs in terms of the conservative catholic nation related to the use of the esoteric traditions. Even though Valle-Inclán and Arlt coincide in attacking the ideology of the conservative nation, they disagree in the objectives they want to reach. Arlt openly and directly attacks theosophical doctrine, finding it sectarian and associated with oligarchic thought. In contrast, Valle-Inclán finds this doctrine appealing and revolutionary since it clearly goes against the Catholic Church. Arlt reveals an ideology more allied with the working classes criticizing the oppression suffered by the masses, while Valle-Inclán’s ideology is connected to the intellectual revolutionary elite and the construction of new national imaginaries.  In Huidobro, by contrast to the first two authors, we see a project that allegorizes the confrontation of esoteric traditions with modern materialistic science, and the battle between the canonical interpretations of artistic values and the new vanguard movement.


Una de las características fundamentales atribuidas a la vanguardia es su proyecto de ruptura, ya sea desde el campo ideológico o estético, con las corrientes parnasiana y modernista del siglo XIX. La necesidad de cambio se puede ver en distintos manifiestos y proyectos estéticos de principios del siglo XX. Las distintas vanguardias propusieron la creación de un cuerpo estético nuevo, e independiente de la herencia artística anterior, con la fragmentación del discurso poético y la reagrupación de las imágenes que provocaron, por poner un ejemplo eminente, un corte con el realismo. La fascinación de la modernidad propició en la vanguardia la creación de nuevos artefactos, típicos de las urbes de principio de siglo, incluyendo la tecnología como tema estético, presente en las obras de autores vanguardistas como Tommaso Filippo Marinetti, Vicente Huidobro y Oliverio Girondo. En estos escritores el proyecto tecnológico-estético se manifiesta, por ejemplo, en el artefacto motorizado que cruza la ciudad cosmopolita moderna (Marinetti), en el viaje en un artefacto volador (Huidobro) y en la mirada del poeta que observa a través de un lente estético y lúdico que fragmenta y luego reagrupa los objetos, produciendo un resultado absolutamente nuevo (Girondo). Las nuevas tecnologías modelaban así una renovada percepción del mundo.

La vanguardia también explicitaba claros proyectos de ruptura, que se concretaban en manifiestos ideológicos donde se expresaba una voluntad de cambio respecto de la tradición, como en el caso de los Estridentistas Mexicanos. Éstos realizan un gesto rupturista al enfrentarse con un espacio canónico que poseía, de antemano,  autoridad suficiente para interpretar y legitimar proyectos estéticos y que, en consecuencia, debía ser negado y superado. A pesar de los múltiples y particulares fines de los movimientos vanguardistas, en todos los casos encontramos un espacio en común que podría resumirse en cuatro puntos fundamentales: un canto a la tecnología, un canto a la urbanidad, una ruptura con el pasado y una ruptura con la academia. Estas transformaciones que se evidencian en el campo de las artes, tuvieron su correlato en los profundos cambios que estaban gestándose en el campo político del mundo occidental: las dos guerras mundiales y las grandes convulsiones políticas y sociales. En América, los movimientos inmigratorios internos y externos modificaban el mapa social y racial de las nuevas naciones latinoamericanas. En tal contexto y en la órbita de la revolución soviética, se agudizó la lucha de clases,  el conflicto social que será el fundamental escenario de las obras de Roberto Arlt. Este autor presentó una Buenos Aires como territorio sobre el que se extendía una disputa estética, y a un tiempo política, con la emergencia de la nación moderna.

Analizaremos, entonces, estos espacios en transformación desde las obras de tres autores representativos de las principales tendencias vanguardistas hispánicas: Roberto Arlt (1900-1942), Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) y Ramón del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936). Se examinará, especialmente en los proyectos estético-ideológicos de estos escritores, el tema de lo oculto o esotérico. La intención es reconocer cuáles son los elementos de las diferentes doctrinas esotéricas que resultaron atrayentes para los proyectos de vanguardia.

Este estudio también pretende resolver una contradicción: ¿por qué razón, si los escritores de vanguardia buscaban quebrar la estética decimonónica, en el intento por crear un espacio nuevo recurrieron a elementos culturales antiguos y  presentes en la conciencia colectiva del siglo XIX, como si en el seno de un arte de futuro existiese un recurso del todo anacrónico? Tanto la vanguardia como el esoterismo son posturas desestabilizadoras de lo valorado como canónico ¿cuáles serían los aspectos comunes que admiten esta analogía?

Dos corrientes de carácter ocultista o esotérico fueron de singular interés para Arlt, Huidobro y Valle-Inclán. Éstas fueron la Teosofía, con su mayor exponente Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), y el Espiritualismo, sobre todo, su derivación francesa: el Espiritismo.[1] Estas corrientes interesaron profundamente a estos los tres escritores que nos ocupan, en cuyos textos existen también ecos de otras ideas y doctrinas ocultistas más generales, como el hermetismo. Antes de emprender el análisis textual, reseñaremos los aspectos fundamentales que caracterizan a estas corrientes espiritualistas.

[1] Cuando hablamos de “espiritualismo” nos referimos al  movimiento en general,  incluyendo los distintos grupos en América y Europa. Y con el término “Espiritismo”, nos referimos específicamente a los espiritualistas franceses, que tiene como mayor exponente a su fundador, Allan Kardec.