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zombie infotainment

September 5, 2013

Just yesterday Ezra Klein mentioned the Syria drama is a good geography lesson and in the same article mentioned that he spent 18 years in Irvine, California.

Is it coincidental that today’s news is about a new partnership between UC Irvine and AMC networks “Walking Dead” to create a MOOC massive online academic course about zombies.

There are, of course, many academic courses about zombies so the subject matter of the course is not new. What makes it interesting is that a commercial television show is partnering with a major university system to provide this mass education experience.

Television has always been mass-market consumer education but with university online mass courses the lines blur further. Recall STEM Hollywood zombies. This is a brave new world in which new academic courses are announced in Variety magazine; see “‘The Walking Dead’ Becomes Basis for College Class” by Alex Stedman.

How long before you can take enough television shows to get an accredited degree?

See more ZombieLaw education and consider the implications of the zombies in MOOCs – first because zombies were traditional enemies in MOOC fantasy-world computer games, and also because who are the zombies in this form of education? Are they the students, the teachers, the curriculum, the whole dead system? Are we educating for citizenship or for consumerism – some may not see a difference.

This is why the cable wars are important too. The battles between content providers and content distributors on television is the same battle between testing companies, curriculum developers, schools and teachers.

How do we educate the masses? Hopefully the universities do a better job than the advertising driving magazine news networks (I’m looking at you MSNBC). But pairing public education with hollywood doesn’t really give me much hope.

This Syria crisis and every other crisis become entertainment infotainment. Can I get a world history credit for watching a few hours? Maybe a physical education credit for sending a vote to Dancing with the Stars? The TV is already teaching us, so why not get the university professors involved? Who needs to go to college when you can watch if on reality TV and participate by texting your vote.

And recall Stepford-Zombie-Kardashians.

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