CFP: The Purpose of Education

CFP: The Purpose of Education

Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of most of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system. To the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new “culture of silence.”
—Richard Shaull, Forward to Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th anniversary ed., p. 33

Why do we teach? Is it to provide access to a community, ensure standards of excellence, share our love of a field, see the flash of insight in a student’s eye? Do we try and accept or exclude? Whose interests do we pursue in our classrooms? The motivations of faculty and administrators have combined to create an education system with peculiar goals. It often seems our schools exist to systematize the populace and ensure conformity — flying in the face of developing democracy and student self-interest. When we teach, whose side are we on? Read More

Digital writing – in my understanding, the act of creating texts or other products through digital tools which are designed to be shared with readers via digital means- diverges significantly from the private hand-written journaling I did for years. From my laptop and occasionally from my tablet I draft texts which I primarily publish immediately … In both cases, these texts are out there for anyone and everyone with reasonably free internet access to see, read, and also ignore. ~ Sherri Spelic

Digital Writing Month 2015 is entering its first few frenzied, frantic, fanatical days, and immediately upon entry into November the questions arise: what is digital writing? who reads digital writing? who authors it? where does it end up? For the last four years, we’ve been asking these questions alongside participants in this month-long MOOC-like thing. And this year is no different.

Except that it’s very different.

Where Jesse Stommel and I ran DigiWriMo for three years, each time adjusting course to explore new waters of collaboration, massive writing, and the nature of text, image, and sound online, this year our exquisite colleagues Maha Bali, Sarah Honeychurch, and Kevin Hodgson have taken the helm… and they’re directing us into new waters indeed. Never has Digital Writing Month been this international, this focused on issues of identity, inclusion, and voice. Our brave new leaders are bringing us closer to the issues of global digital writing than ever before. Read More

In November, Hybrid Pedagogy begins a new iteration of our Digital Writing Month (#DigiWriMo) event — a 30-day adventure through the world of digital narrative and art. It’s free, open, and created for any skill level. Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris first started the event in 2012, and ran it again in 2014 with Chris Friend. This year, we — Maha Bali, Sarah Honeychurch and Kevin Hodgson — are excited to be co-facilitating the month, coming to you from Egypt, Scotland and the USA, respectively.

Would you like to spend a month experimenting with new forms of writing, or even just focusing on writing goals you have for yourself, amongst a supportive community? Would you like an opportunity to get inspired by other digital writers, and learn about different forms of digital expression? Would you like to find collaborators for your digital projects?

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As I’ve said before, pedagogy is praxis, at the intersection of the philosophy and practice of teaching. Digital pedagogy turns that thinking toward digital platforms and communities. It does not instrumentalize teaching into a set of things we do, and it does not atomize the digital into a series of tools. While I am not averse to teachers and students developing new literacies, I don’t think the answer is mere tutorials, but rather balancing the how of digital tool-use with the whether and why. There is currently a surfeit of professional development opportunities that focus almost entirely on the how of teaching — on best practices at the expense of pedagogy.

When we launched Digital Pedagogy Lab, the on-ground institute and online courses, our hope was to create a space for thinking through pedagogy and teaching as intrinsically, not just instrumentally, valuable. This Summer, Kris Shaffer taught our first online course about the “Flipped Classroom.” I just finished teaching a two-week intensive online course on “Teaching with Twitter.” Our next offering, “Learning Online,” will examine a broader and somewhat more abstract set of concerns. This course, taught by Sean Michael Morris and myself, will be less about teaching and more about learning. The focus will not be on best practices for online teaching, as so many similar courses are aimed, but on thinking about and talking through how we learn online.

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The semester begins. Servers everywhere fire up. And students across the globe introduce themselves in discussion forums. In Canvas, in D2L, in Blackboard, in Moodle. Teachers from every field, students of every subject — from mathematics to Russian literature, from astrophysics to marine biology — spend the first days or week of an online class saying hello. “What are you studying? Where are you from? Do you have pets / hobbies / recreational activities? Include a picture!” For five years as an online English instructor, the first week of class meant the monotonous drone of my keyboard clicking away as I typed furiously responses to each of my 120+ students. One-hundred and twenty hellos. One-hundred and twenty ways to welcome learners to the semester.

But does the discussion forum really do the work it’s supposed to, that we hope it does? Jesse Stommel and I observe:

“Instead of providing fertile ground for brilliant and lively conversation, discussion forums are allowed to go to seed. They become over-cultivated factory farms, in which nothing unexpected or original is permitted to flourish. Students post because they have to, not because they enjoy doing so. And teachers respond (if they respond at all) because they too have become complacent to the bizarre rules that govern the forum.”

Instead of becoming the thriving, intersectional space that a physical classroom can become (under good stewardship), the discussion forum too often limps along through the term, a repository of half-thought essays pried from the overtired minds of students who, if they have a community of learners, find solidarity away from the screen rather than within it.

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Pedagogy is not reducible to 140 characters. Pedagogy is, in fact, not reducible. However, it can (and does) happen in spaces as small as 140 characters. Pedagogy looks to the larger philosophical implications of teaching, but begins at the level of practice in the smallest maneuvers — the smallest gestures. What we ask to be called. Where we sit in a classroom. The online platforms we decide to use. The first word of our syllabus. A single tweet.

I signed up for a Twitter account in 2007, shortly after the platform launched, but for years I didn’t occupy the platform personally, but only as a tool for teaching. I started by using the platform once or twice a semester for an assignment I call “The Twitter Essay,” which remains one of the most successful activities I’ve done with students. I since experimented with other ways to integrate Twitter into my face-to-face, hybrid, and fully online teaching.

Starting in just under a week, I’ll be teaching a short, intensive online course focused on Teaching with Twitter. The course is part of a series of professional development opportunities emerging from the educational outreach work of the Hybrid Pedagogy 501(c)(3) non-profit. The courses in this series are small with reduced rates offered for adjuncts and students.

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“The proliferation of the digital may feel like an invasion at times (and at times, it is), and so it is in our ability to choose — to decide, decipher, discern — that our power lies, not in a bull-headed commitment to ignore the digital altogether. That’s a desert island mentality.” ~ Sean Michael Morris, “Digital Pedagogy: A Case of Open or Shut”

There’s no easy way into a discussion of laptop policies. The relationship of laptops to classroom work is frustrating at best, incendiary at worst. Even if you jump in with a wink and a smile, reactions are quarrelsome, feisty, or flatly hostile.

Jesse’s seemingly coy response to the online debate about laptop policies opened some floodgates and led to a sprawling conversation on Twitter.

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“It’s time to embrace our very human inefficiencies.” Audrey Watters struck a post-digital note as she wrapped her opening keynote on the first day of the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2015 Institute. She reminded the audience that teaching is affective labor, that it requires heart, patience, diligence, and creativity — things which technology fails in its attempts to mimic — and she asked, “What happens to love, to our soul, to our labor as we digitize the world?”

The Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute took place August 10-14 in Madison, WI. More than 75 participants joined three tracks — Praxis, Identity, and Networks — to explore what happens when teaching and learning meets technology. Although educational technology is not new, the Institute asked attendees to step away from their assumptions, to return to “square one” in their approach to digital pedagogy, and to inspect their own role as learners in digital spaces. We expect that many blog posts, articles, and videos will rise up from the work of the week. For now, we’ve collected here the Institute’s keynotes.

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When one is overwhelmed, as everyone must be from time to time, by a sense that School is too firmly implanted ever to change, it is helpful to contemplate the political changes across the globe that were until recently considered quite impossible.” ~ Seymour Papert, The Children’s Machine

In truth, it hardly bears saying any longer: school must change. To pretend otherwise is to ride a wild unicorn into the rainbow sunset of a world where standardized assessments lead to a fuller mind, where grades are — instead of dismissive of inherent learning skills — representative of who learners are and what they bring to their own efforts, and where the increasingly autonomous LMS is a benign wizard with the ability to make each and every learner more fulfilled, more successful, and more empowered. That, however, is not the Education we occupy. In our Education, it is yet possible to turn a blind eye to the pervasive nature of the digital in our own and learners’ lives. It is yet possible to create online courses that are little more than Powerpoint slide decks. And it is yet possible to assign for students measures of success that have no bearing whatever on their capacity to learn on their own, to invest in their interests through connected networks of friends and peers. Our Education resists change, even while our culture has the digital in every corner.

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This July we are launching Digital Pedagogy Lab Courses, a series of professional development opportunities for educators, librarians, technologists, and instructional designers.

Our project has had many starts. We have started it over and over again during long walks, late night discussions, pacing in parking lots, sudden text-message chats. As with teaching and learning, Hybrid Pedagogy itself is iterative. At the core of every iteration, though, is the commitment to educational outreach, to helping teachers and learners navigate, employ, resist, and understand their work in physical and digital classrooms.

The journal was born from questions that rise up when we consider what happens to critical pedagogy in digital, or digitally-influenced, environments — where does agency arise; where does learning happen; how does the digital change or reinforce traditional student and teacher roles and power dynamics; how is our humanity subject to or amplified by the digital; what becomes of scholarship; what does access mean, and how does it affect learning; what do we (or can we) do with the wild innovative possibility of the Web within the architecture of academic institutions.

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On Friday, May 1, at 12PM EDT we will talk about digital tools and praxis, and how they intersect in our professions. We’ll consider questions of adoption, criticality, and hype — questions which will move us toward Digital Pedagogy Lab, which Hybrid Pedagogy is co-sponsoring in August, 2015.

Technology is trending in the education industry. Schools, Colleges, and Universities already strapped for cash still find space in their shrinking budgets to invest in innovative tools. These institutions do so because they have been told that these tools will democratize learning, amplify access, eliminate disparity, and revolutionize the classroom. It take much more than an app to realize these goals. Education technology, at its core, is not about tools, but about teaching.

Educators have been experimenting with new technologies for a long time and debating their utility since Socrates first critiqued the use of written language circa 370 BC. The potential of teaching with technology has filled educators with both excitement and concern for over two millennia, and yet it remains a vital conversation even today.

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Call for Editors

Call for Editors

Note: the Call for Editors is now closed.

The place of the editor is not above the writer, but beside. Editors are not meant to correct but to suggest, not to admonish but to inspire, not to coerce but to collaborate.

To write is to enter a unique space of potential. To enter that writerly space as an editor requires that we recognize the fragility of the ecosystem of those words on the page. The first draft is a learning environment, a classroom for writer and reviewer alike — and all drafts are first drafts. No words nor any writer should ever be sacrificed upon the pointed pen of an editor protecting his reputation. The editor’s work is to preserve and refine, to shine and polish, not to sanitize, circumcise, or amputate. No words nor any writer should be left outside the gates. The editor need not guard the gate, for there are no gates worth guarding. The miscreant has a voice. The dropout has a voice. The insolent silent one in the back of the room, too, has a voice. The adjunct is a teacher when she writes. The undergrad, the grad student, the alt-ac and the post-ac — all teachers when they speak. The artist is a teacher; the poet, the musician, the anarchist, too.

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On Friday, April 3, Bonnie Stewart will join our #digped conversation (which Sean introduces below) to discuss digital networks, a subject connected directly to the track she’ll teach at Digital Pedagogy Lab, which Hybrid Pedagogy is co-sponsoring in August, 2015.

I am @slamteacher. My friends call me Slam. It’s a moniker I came up with after running my Slam Teaching blog many years ago, a project that was as unexpectedly successful as it was brief. The blog’s title came out of the idea that teaching, like slam poetry, could be delivered in ways that were exciting, spontaneous, responsive, empathic, and generative. But most of my meager 2,251 Twitter followers don’t know that. They don’t call me Slam. They just know me as @slamteacher — a bio, an avatar, a handle, an assortment of only sometimes disparate 140-character tweets.

In her blog post, “Networks of Care and Vulnerability,” Bonnie Stewart says that, “Participation enrols us in a media machine that is always and already out of our control; an attention economy that increasingly takes complex identities and reduces them to sound bites and black & white alignments.” My own experience of Twitter affirms this: the personality that I craft online is also the personality that is crafted for me, by the responses I receive, by the nature of my followers and who I follow, by the conversations I choose or do not choose to be a part of. My presence becomes expected in certain circumstances, a surprise in others, and unwelcome in still others. And because the community to which I adhere my moniker is one upon which I exert the same kind of influence, my participation involves, like fiction, a willing suspension of disbelief.

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After a brief hiatus during MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy, our regular monthly #digped chats return for a discussion of National Adjunct Walkout Day and #afterNAWD — the next steps in the conversation about precarious academic labor.

On Wednesday, February 25th, adjuncts and their allies across the country rallied together for National Adjunct Walkout Day (#NAWD). This demonstration was intended to bring attention to the harsh realities of contingent labor in higher education, where as much as 70% of teachers and professors struggle to earn a livable wage. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites covered the event with discussions and debates, and among those conversations were the many voices of those who weren’t able to actually walk out of their classrooms — for fear of losing their job, or for a variety of practical and technical reasons, such as not wanting to give up a day with the students or, for a growing number of adjuncts teaching in digital environments, they had no physical classroom from which to walk out.

Despite these vastly different situations, many adjuncts and their allies found ways to stand in solidarity, seeking ways to become visible.

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“It is possible to think critically about technology without running off to the woods — although, I must warn you, it is possible that you will never be quite so comfortable again about the moral dimensions of progress and the part we all play in it.” ~ Howard Rheingold, “Technology 101

The scene: Highway 36 as it descends into the Boulder valley. Flatirons in the springtime evening. The towers of CU-Boulder glowing like a village in Tuscany. Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris drive along the road, taking in the landscape.

Jesse: Let’s start a school.
Sean: (laughs)
Jesse: (undaunted) A school for teachers and also for students, where they could learn about learning and teaching. Too many teachers aren’t taught to teach. Learners should be empowered to be teachers.
Sean: You’re not wrong.
Jesse: Let’s start a school.
Sean: When?
Jesse: I don’t know. Tomorrow?

The year was 2002.

Thirteen years later, the need for a school of critical digital pedagogy is tremendous. The most recent Babson Survey Research Group report states that 6.7 million students are enrolled in online classes. This number doesn’t account for the millions more who use digital technology in hybrid environments — collaborating in Google Docs, discussing on Twitter, using SlideShare to share presentations, interacting virtually with learners across the globe to conduct research, and more. Digital teaching and learning has become more and more ubiquitous, and as much in K-12 as at the college level. All this requires that we think more critically about when and how (and also whether) to use digital tools in classrooms.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP) is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. During our final week, we’ll be discussing Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms, and Paulo Blikstein’s “Travels in Troy with Freire: Technology as an Agent of Emancipation.” Our discussion will center on the relationship between Critical Pedagogy and all things digital. Feel free to read/watch as much or as little as you are able (or find useful). There will be no quizzes.

Schedule of Events:

  • Read Seymour Papert, Mindstorms, Preface and Introduction
  • Read Paulo Blikstein, “Travels in Troy with Freire: Technology as an Agent of Emancipation”
  • Wednesday, February 25 at 12:00 pm EST — #MOOCMOOC Twitter chat
  • Friday, February 27 at 5:00 pm EST — Google Hangout with Audrey Watters, Jesse Stommel, and Sean Michael Morris
  • Ongoing – Participant blog posts, casual conversation, and questions shared on the community hashtag #moocmooc.

“The understanding of learning must be genetic. It must refer to the genesis of knowledge … Thus the “laws of learning” must be about how intellectual structures grow out of one another and about how, in the process, they acquire both logical and emotional form.” ~ Seymour Papert, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas

“It is one thing to write down concepts in books, but it is another to embody them in praxis.” ~ Paulo Freire

As Utopians go, Seymour Papert is a very different sort than those currently running rampant in educational technology. He did, in 1980, advocate that every child should have access to a computer, but he also said quite definitively that “the child should program the computer,” instead of the computer being allowed to program the child. Computer aided instruction (CAI), where much of human-computer learning has its roots (not to mention instructional design and the worst-intentioned strategies of most LMSs), “consisted of a learner seated in front of a dumb terminal. The basic computing program presented piecemeal bits of information to the learner. After, the learner was asked to complete a number of questions written specifically to determine if she had learned the content” (Matthew Kruger-Ross). This response-to-stimuli approach to learning has not only persisted in digital education, but too often exemplifies precisely what Papert objected to.

We cannot replace agency with response to stimuli.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP) is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. For this fifth week, we’ll be discussing Henry Giroux’s Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom, Ivan Illich’s Why We Must Disestablish School, and Ricky Lee Allen’s Whiteness and Critical Pedagogy. Our discussion will center on the sites of learning and the oppression of institutions. Feel free to read/watch as much or as little as you are able (or find useful). We promise there will be no reading quizzes.

Schedule of Events:

  • Ongoing – Participant blog posts, casual conversation, and questions shared on the community hashtag #moocmooc.

The origins of critical pedagogy are outside the classroom, indeed, outside the common imagination of a school. Many critical pedagogues today continue to see the school itself, and not just the classroom, as an institution to be challenged, subverted, undermined, or ultimately, completely dismantled. Schools as a model for organizing learning are fundamentally oppressive: they force learning into a narrow schedule and space and simultaneously reinforce the notion that learning does not happen in important ways anywhere else.

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What is new and which affects the idea of the work comes not necessarily from the internal recasting of each of these disciplines, but rather from their encounter in relation to an object which traditionally is the province of none of them.” ~ Roland Barthes, Image, Music, Text (155)

The suppression of self-expression is impossible.” ~ Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing (9)

By and large, digital work is not considered appropriate material for tenure and promotion at institutions of higher education. This despite the fact that nearly seven million students are enrolled in digital (online or hybrid) courses, many institutions of higher education have entered the arena of MOOCs, and that professors — those same whose digital work is not acceptable for T&P — are expected to work with facility in online environments (69.1 percent of “chief academic leaders say that online learning [and teaching] is critical to their long-term strategy”). The digital has proven to generate revenue, produce volumes of research, and to be a field rich with scholarship and innovation — and the grants that follow. Yet traditional tenure and promotion committees expect even digital work to be catalogued in the tombs of print journals, subject to double-blind peer review. The creative field of digital scholarship is not offered an equally creative reception. It is as if the dust upset by digital ingenuity must settle upon the same dry, fossilized bones that have always stood in the archive.

The reliance upon peer review — as much in its role in publishing as its role in tenure and promotion, employment, and the multifarious ways it’s structural to academic life and work — demands inspection in the digital age. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick has said,

The work we do as scholars is repeatedly subjected to a series of vetting processes that enable us to indicate that the results of our work have been scrutinized by authorities in the field, and that those results are therefore themselves authoritative.

But … the nature of authority is shifting, and shifting dramatically, in the era of the digital network.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. During this fourth week of MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP), we will be discussing Jeffery Shantz’s  essay, “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool” (chapter 7) in Anarchist Pedagogies and considering the impulse to dissent as seen in Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience.” Feel free to read as much or as little of these selections as you are able. We promise there will be no reading quizzes.

Schedule of Events:

  • Wednesday, February 11 at 5:00 pm EST – #MOOCMOOC Twitter chat
  • Friday, February 13 at 8:00 pm EST – live, digital roundtable featuring the author of this week’s reading, Jeff Shantz.
  • Ongoing – Participant blog posts, casual conversation, and questions shared on the community hashtag #moocmooc.

Critical pedagogy asserts that learning is an act of freedom, the practice of becoming free. And, yet, the education system, of which we are all products (and which many of us continue to participate in), is a highly regulated and structured environment. Students, teachers, support staff, and administrators all lack the personal autonomy they deserve and are therefore often limited in their actions. Anarchist educators, working both within and beyond the formal education system, resist these limitations, seeking to maximize personal freedom and autonomy.

This is no easy task.

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The Teacher Wars: A Review in Two Parts

The Teacher Wars: A Review in Two Parts

The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein. 349 pages. Doubleday: New York, etc. 2014. ISBN 978-0-385-53695-0.

A Review by R L Widmann

This book is the type that you want to inhale as fast as possible, throw across the room at the wall in furious rage, or read slowly, slowly, page by page. Or all three.

Dana Goldstein gives a substantive account of the history of how teachers in the US have been supported, demonized, idealized, and/or pilloried over several centuries. In so doing, she also keeps the students in the classroom in focus. These two strategies make her book compulsive reading, especially for people who know only the very recent history of the teaching profession in the last decade or two.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP) is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. For this third week, we’ll be discussing Chapter 4 of Henry Giroux’s On Critical Pedagogy and work and thoughts posted to the #FergusonSyllabus hashtag. However, feel free to read/watch as much or as little as you are able (or find useful). We promise there will be no reading quizzes.

Summary of activities:

  • Read Henry Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy, Chapter 4, “The Promise of Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Globalization: Towards a Pedagogy of Democratization.”
  • Explore some of the #FergusonSyllabus posts on Twitter.
  • Create an online resource (blog post, video, syllabus, lesson plan) that encourages the empowerment of students to be transformative agents in the world and share it on Twitter with the #moocmooc hashtag
  • Participate in the Twitter #moocmooc chat, 2/4, 5pm EST
  • Participate in the Google Hangout On Air, 2/6, 12pm EST

“Pedagogy is a moral and political practice.”Henry Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy, p. 71

What do we as educators owe our students? Accurate, up-to-date content? Efficient delivery of information? Effective building of skills? A clear road map to predicted outcomes?

The power to transform the world?

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP) is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. For this second week, focused on feminist perspectives, we’ll be discussing Chapter 1 of bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress and two short videos from Anita Sarkeesian. However, feel free to read/watch as much or as little as you are able (or find useful). We promise there will be no reading quizzes.

A summary of activities for the week:

  • #moocmooc Twitter chat January 28 at 12pm EST
  • Create your own feminist video/blogpost (e.g. critiquing sexist/patriarchy in pop culture such as children’s cartoons, fairy tales, political behavior). Post your video or blogpost to #moocmooc and others can respond to it. We consider your posts primary texts alongside the “official” assigned readings — in fact, many of the ideas in this post have been inspired by Twitter conversations and blogs from week 1.
  • If you have culturally-specific examples of patriarchy or feminism, Tweet or blog them. (We love that participants have already made connections between CP and Maori pedagogy.)

In the Introduction to Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes, “any radical pedagogy must insist that everyone’s presence is acknowledged” (8). She describes the process through which we become self-actualized in the classroom. “Teachers must be actively committed to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to teach in a manner that empowers students” (15). And it isn’t just that students should be empowered to show up as full selves, but that teachers must as well, in order to model, but also to show the kind of care for the work that only comes when we make ourselves at least somewhat vulnerable.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. For this first week of MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP), we will be discussing Chapter 2 of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and this pedagogical moment from Emily Dickinson. However, feel free to read as much or as little of Freire’s book as you are able. We promise there will be no reading quizzes. Our discussion will begin on Twitter at #MOOCMOOC on January 21 at 5:00 PM EST. We also encourage you to write blog responses each week during MMCP and post links on the hashtag. We consider your posts primary texts alongside the “official” assigned readings.

One of the most difficult things to reconcile as critical pedagogues is the exercise of our own authority. Yet it is there. In the interest of learners, we often enough jeopardize our own philosophy in order to “free” minds. The contradiction is as obvious as it is obstinate. At times we are too ready to drag learners kicking and screaming into their own learning process. Or, in the company of our fellow academics and teachers, we insist on our philosophy and praxis, laying out line-by-line the wrong things our colleagues are doing in their classrooms or with each other.

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On May 4, 2012, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted its first hashtag chat using #digped (digital pedagogy). The chat revolved around a discussion of the first chapter of Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. Since that time, the journal has hosted dozens of chats centered on aspects of digital pedagogy — from what it means to learn online and MOOCs, to the intersections between K-12 and Higher Education, the adjunctification of education, and even a hashtag chat about hashtag chats. Within each of these discussions, and throughout the emergent conversation with educators worldwide which resulted, one idea surfaces more than any other: that educators are not given the tools they need to teach effectively using digital technology. More than any other, we have fielded most often the request to offer examples of, or provide ourselves, professional development in digital pedagogy.

From August 10-14, 2015 in Madison, WI, Hybrid Pedagogy, in collaboration with University of Wisconsin-Madison, will offer a 5-day institute on critical digital pedagogy. Digital Pedagogy Lab is a practical institute that will help prepare learners, educators, librarians, administrators, and others to teach and work with digital technology. Participants will practice hands-on solutions for the common challenges teachers and learners face when working digitally. However, in keeping with the philosophy and ethos of critical pedagogy, this will not be simply a 5-day tutorial. Instead, the institute will ground itself in philosophical, theoretical, and even political discussions of digital technology, identity, and pedagogy.

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On Friday, December 5 a crowd of accidental pedagogues met on Twitter via #digped to raise their voices. We considered the notion that critical pedagogy is not only a theory of teaching, but also a social movement. An eclectic group of educators (loosely defined) joined together to discuss the expansive world of critical pedagogy, seeking to (re)define its borders.

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MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy

MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy

  “To engage in dialogue is one of the simplest ways we can begin as teachers, scholars, and critical thinkers to cross boundaries, the barriers that may or may not be erected by race, gender, class, professional standing, and a host of other differences.” ~ bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

Over the last year, we’ve watched the discussion of pedagogy in higher education shift. The MOOC crisis, the urgency to move toward the digital, the welfare of our contingent colleagues, and an imperative to confront directly issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality — both within the university and outside its walls — have us asking more and more critical questions about how we should teach, where we should teach, and why. The contents of our Twitter streams have made clear that we can’t go on talking about pedagogy as though business is usual. #Ferguson, rape culture, and the often inhuman conditions under which adjunct teachers work make clear that teaching can and must be politically aware, even socially active. Many of us live and work in situations that require what Paulo Freire would call “hopefulness” — but a hopefulness that demands and results in real action.

Teaching as action, pedagogy as praxis, a how-to for Critical Pedagogy begins, as hooks implies, with dialogue. In “Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition,” Jesse argues, “pedagogy, and particularly Critical Pedagogy, is work to which we must bring our full selves, and work to which every learner must come with full agency.”

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“I am not alone. There are accidental pedagogues everywhere, teachers without classrooms who left the academy but kept their ears and eyes open for when a discussion of a new future for higher education might take place . . . And their minds are full of ideas.” ~ Sean Michael Morris

Critical pedagogy is everywhere, or at least it should be. It does not come prepackaged for the classroom or only affect teachers and students. Regardless of context, there remains space for critical pedagogy. It’s there in administrative offices, libraries, and interface design. However, if that space goes unused, the emptiness lingers there, waiting to be filled. And too often that space is filled with something awful.

Audrey Watters recently announced at University of Mary Washington that “there’s a problem with computer technology.” And she reminded her audience that not only is there a problem, but as a woman in the industry, she has received death threats for saying so. Somehow, we continue to occupy a world that responds to this message with something other than outrage.

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On Friday, November 7, several brave souls joined a conversation working towards uncovering and discovering the mysteries of the digital experience. It didn’t take long before the digital/physical dichotomy began to fall apart. And as the façade fell, new visions took its place among the real.

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“Algorithms control the way we write, the way we interact with one another, the way we find each other in the digital, and whether or not what we say ever gets heard how and by whom we intended.” ~ Sean Michael Morris, Risk, Reward, and Digital Writing

In a recent episode of Doctor Who, the crew encountered (no surprise) a new species. As a species of only 2-dimensions, they were desperately reaching out into the third, trying to understand a confusing new world. Trying to communicate in a radically different context. To the “boneless” — as they were later named — the actions of 3-dimensional beings, when noticeable at all, looked random and disconnected. Like footprints on glass. Like a Pollock painting.

We, too, have been tasked with reaching out into a radically new environment: the digital. Yet, in a way, the scenario may be reversed in our own lives. As 3-dimensional beings, we wander into and through a nebulous, digital landscape. In many cases, we welcome the literal flattening of our world as we type it, scan it, speak it, and record it into our many electronic devices. We mustn’t be convinced, however, that these are perfect copies. The entirety of our complex physical experiences cannot be captured in terms of 0s and 1s.

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We are all animals of speech and expression, we are creative beasts with crayons, we are all authors, and we are all founding mothers and fathers of a territory yet unclaimed. So write because you want to, write because you need to, and may the echo of your voice stir others to say more and say again. ~ Sean Michael Morris, Creative Beasts with Crayons

Adeline Koh has said that “You are already a digital humanist, whether or not you know it.” All of us, to one extent or another, create with the digital. We write e-mails; we post to Facebook; we write concise, short poetry on Twitter; we put our selfies on Flickr; we write e-mails and text messages; we tell the world who we are, where we are, and what we think almost automatically, and usually instantaneously, every day. We put concepts into action. We are the creators of artifacts. “We are no longer responders to History, no longer makers of Literature. We are the writers of partially-realized ideas and their rewriters.”

Hybrid Pedagogy is about to begin a new iteration of our Digital Writing Month event, our month-long free, open, hybrid digital making extravaganza that first made its debut in 2012. When Jesse Stommel and I first started the event, we did so with a certain abandon, hoping that our enthusiasm would be contagious and all manner of invention would follow. We set up reckless challenges, invited in the online chorus, created viral zombies, and dared to encourage every single person we could find to become madcap digital-writing humanists. We were happily overjoyed by the response.

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The dissertation is a curious beast. It has eyeballed me for years. Even now, having tucked it safely in a drawer since 2010, I still catch it looking at me. The word alone, “dissertation,” evokes a certain awe — a kind of fear coupled with an almost giddy excitement. When I was writing mine, I would wake in the middle of the night with my heart racing, thoughts of the thing scuttling about my brain. There’s nothing like scrambling out of bed to write at 3:30 in the morning as though your life depends on it.

I’ve wondered frequently about the value of the dissertation — about the various expectations of the form — about the compromises I made — about what the writing of one awoke in me. Recently, as I’ve begun to turn the raw matter of my dissertation into articles and book chapters, I’ve realized how little the dissertation actually prepared me for the work I’d ultimately do. And as I’ve found myself serving as a mentor for other dissertators, I’ve wondered increasingly about its pedagogical value. For me, the dissertation is a container that seems most useful and pedagogical at its breaking point. At its worst, a dissertation is a mere exercise, designed to prove the merits of a student to a committee. The ideal response to a dissertation, though, instead of “this meets expectation,” might be “what am I even looking at?” At its best, then, a dissertation is a genuine surprise, an encounter with something a committee couldn’t anticipate, which is why I find recent experiments with the form, like Nick Sousanis’s comic dissertation, so compelling.

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Hack This Book: Announcing <i>Open Music Theory</i>

Hack This Book: Announcing Open Music Theory

Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing is proud to announce its first textbook: Open Music Theory, “beta” edition—co-authored by Kris Shaffer, Brian Moseley, and Bryn Hughes. Open Music Theory, or OMT, is an open-source, interactive, online textbook for undergraduate music theory courses. As we write on OMT’s About page, we hope that this textbook will “support active student engagement with music in the theory classroom” and that the text will “take a back seat to student music making (and breaking).”

In OMT, we strive to create what I have called a “critical textbook.” In fact, this is a core part of the vision that Robin Wharton and I have set for Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing. We intend HPP to support “works that are born out of, or facilitate, community (inter)action — works that are crowdsourced or collaboratively authored, openly accessible, encourage remixing and republishing, and/or blur the lines between author and reader.” And as I wrote in “The Critical Textbook,”

While [Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing] will be casting a wide net, textbooks are an ideal target. Critical textbooks do not take students from beginning to end at the same time and place. Instead they facilitate student access to existing knowledge, and empower them to critique it, dismantle it, and create new knowledge. That’s what we want to create.

This is why OMT is open-source and not simply open-access. We have made it legally and (as much as we can) technically possible for instructors, and even students, to contribute to the text, translate it, publish it in other formats, copy it—in a word, to hack it. (Those interested in doing so may visit OMT’s project page on GitHub, and consult my articles “Open-Source Scholarship” and “Push, Pull, Fork: GitHub for Academics” for further philosophical and technical information on academic “hacking.”) We hope that this ”hackable” textbook will empower both instructors and students to critique and create knowledge during the course of their musical studies.

With OMT, we also introduce a new interactive music notation tool for the web, developed by Trinket (with some advising from me over the summer), which allows students to engage musical concepts directly from within OMT and to “hack” some of the musical examples in the text. You can see this tool in action on OMT pages such as Composing a cantus firmus and Composing a first-species counterpoint. These music “trinkets” have already made an appearance in my first-year music theory course, and they have already proven to be a useful tool for music instruction. You can read more about how this technology works here.

Because this textbook is in “beta” edition, that means that there will still be a few kinks to work out. While the content for the first edition is more-or-less complete, there are a few things missing. For example, you may visit a page and see a note that says “insert trinket here,” or “updated graphic needed.” Also, some of the video content is a bit rough-and-tumble, as the videos were created originally for individual classes, rather than the public at-large.

Throughout this academic year, the three authors will be using the textbook in our courses, noting where updates need to be made, replacing rough-and-tumble video content with more professional videos, and adding more interactive music trinkets. However, we are announcing the beta edition publicly, in the hopes that a few others will join us in testing it out. For example, many theory instructors already supplement a standard textbook with more exhaustive or up-to-date materials on two-voice counterpoint, classical form, pop/rock music, or post-tonal music. We invite instructors to examine those sections of OMT that might work as a supplement for their course’s current textbook, and use it in their courses. We also invite those instructors (or their students) to submit feedback or, better, “pull requests” (GitHub language for suggested content to add/change in the text). If you have specific suggestions for the textbook, please email Kris or fork the textbook in GitHub and submit a pull request. This will not only help us improve the textbook, but will also help it move towards being a more community-driven resource. We also welcome more general comments about the project and Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing in the comments section below.

The writing of OMT was supported by a crowdfunding campaign. Trinket generously matched our first $2500 of community donations with $2500 of their own. We are beyond grateful for all of this support. A full list of the non-anonymous financial supporters can be found on the About page. If you know one of them, please thank them!

[Photo, Slicing Through, by MTSOfan licensed under CC BY–NC–SA 2.0.]

“Each novelist, each novel must invent its own form.” ~ Alain Robbe Grillet

The Generative Literature Project is now underway on seven campuses, as a murder mystery unfolds in the hallowed halls and on the carefully manicured quadrangles of Theopolis College. What has emerged from the project thus far is part mystery novel, part role-playing game, and part social media performance. In their work over the course of the semester the faculty and student participants will of necessity confront, and perhaps reconsider and adapt the conventions we use to distinguish one genre or one kind of narrative from another. Like most digital hybrids, the Generative Literature Project resists traditional classification schema that have evolved to describe and identify the artifacts of print culture. At the same time, though, because it is “both . . . and . . .” as well as “neither . . . nor . . .” the project depends to an extent on reference to or iteration of such schema to make itself known to its audience as narrative.

From Sunday, September 28th, through Tuesday, September 30th, participants in the Generative Literature Project will take to Twitter using the #GenLit hashtag. Over the course of an extended — at times synchronous and at times asynchronous — conversation, they will provide a window on their process and progress, and engage the broader community following the project in a discussion of how their distributive, collaborative, digital composition both uses and breaks with formal, aesthetic, and generic conventions.

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The murder of Theopolis College president Cadence Mackarthur has not yet happened. It’s Fall, and the college hasn’t yet made public their choice of ten “Distinguished Centennial Alumni”; indeed, Theopolis College is only starting to make plans for its 100th anniversary. For now, things are quiet.

But across the United States, in the Marshall Islands, and in Puerto Rico — much more sinister plans are brewing as writing students — graduates and undergraduates — take to their computers to inhabit characters in and create the artifacts for a grisly murder  mystery that will become The Generative Literature Project (GLP), a gamified digital novel that will be published in 2015 by Hybrid Pedagogy.

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On Friday, September 5th, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a #digped discussion on Twitter about classroom discussion and the pedagogy of inclusion. Foremost in the conversation were concerns about social anxieties, race relations, class assumptions, personal desires, and diverse power dynamics which are at play in almost every classroom environment. Critical pedagogy insists that these issues never be overlooked in any facet of teaching and learning, and so the hashtag chat fronted these issues head-on.

“Indeed, little of the teaching makes our students see the relevance, necessity, or beauty of the subject.” ~ Paul Goodman, from Compulsory Mis-education, 1964

Many tensions lurk beneath the surface of classroom discussion. Social anxieties, race relations, class assumptions, personal desires, and diverse power dynamics are at play. New instructors may feel the pressure to manage these conversations immensely and experienced professors tend to develop a mantra that guides them through the chaos. This challenge is not new nor is it going away anytime soon. In fact, as lectures and content knowledge move beyond the classroom walls, discussion-based alternatives replace them. So, how do we make the most of this time together?

The discussion-ending comment is a well-known classroom phenomenon; one moment, the classroom is alive with discussion, and the next: silence. Fortunately, however, these moments are neither isolated nor unpredictable and pedagogues have long considered the origins of this challenging classroom dynamic.

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This Friday, August 1 from 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern, Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to consider ways to enact what Kris Shaffer calls “underground teaching”. Critical pedagogy calls for our teaching to be ethical, to strengthen agency in our students, and to abdicate the authority of the podium in our classrooms. But this isn’t always easy given institutional expectations and restrictions on how we teach. As Kris says in his article, “Three Lines of Resistance: Ethics, Critical Pedagogy, and Teaching Underground”,

As a critical pedagogue, I can go along with something less effective much more easily than with something that goes against my newly pricked conscience. So when I disagree fundamentally with the direction something is headed, but am powerless to change it singlehandedly, what do I do? Do I forget about it and wash my hands of the situation? Do I leave in disgust? Do I bide my time until I can really do something? (And hope it doesn’t get worse in the mean time!) Do I try to make incremental changes, appeasing my conscience with the knowledge that I am improving things, albeit slowly?

Finding ways to implement changes that make a difference, that begin to get at a pedagogy more in line with our ideals, can be a challenge.

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This Summer, Hybrid Pedagogy launched a new long-form publishing venture, spearheaded by Robin Wharton and Kris Shaffer: Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing (HPP). HPP began with a call for participation in The Generative Literature Project and followed with a crowdfunding campaign to build an open-source, interactive music theory textbook that is easy for instructors to use, customize, and augment with their own resources.

Thank you to everyone who supported and publicized the open, interactive music theory textbook crowdfunding campaign! (see below) It was a rousing success, exceeding our $5000 goal. We raised enough money to support Robin Wharton and myself to work on developing the platform and curating content, as well as to support two authors who will work with me to create the remaining content.

A huge thank you goes out to the folks at Trinket, who matched the first $2500 of donations and will help us develop the interactive music notation features for our textbook.

More updates (and perks for those who donated!) will be coming over the next few weeks as we build the text. Please follow the new Twitter account for Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing to keep up with our progress. Major announcements will also be posted here, on Hybrid Pedagogy, Page Two.

Financial supporters of the open, interactive music theory textbook (non-anonymous donors of $15 or more):
Adam Heidebrink, Andrew Charlton, Alex Dunn, Andre Mount, Ben Lloyd Pearson, Benjamin Zwickl, Brian Bennett, Brian Moseley, Chris Ogden, Christopher Edwards, Daniel Shanahan, Daniel Stevens, Dave Easley, David Huron, David Kulma, David MacDonald, The Marca Development Team, Jesse Stommel, Jill T. Brasky, John Moore, Jon Scott Smith, Joseph Casamento, Julia Silge, Kyle Gullings, Lindsey Sudbury, Maeve Sterbenz, Marianne Kielian-Gilbert, Mark Easley, Sr., Mark McGuire, martinlugton (screen name), Max August, Moeruze.Burning (screen name), Molly Sweet, Pandel Collaros, Paul Bond, Paul David Johnson, Peter Kaminsky, Peter Newbury, Philip Duker, pkay3 (screen name), Robert Kelley, Robert Talbert, Rolin Moe, Trevor Pittman, Trevor Rowe, University of Delaware Dept. of Academic Technology Services, University of Delaware Dept. of Music, University of Colorado Dept. of Music Theory, Wanda Terral, William O’Hara, and several anonymous donors.

[Photo, “Go for it!“, by Martin Fisch, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]

This Summer, Hybrid Pedagogy launched a new long-form publishing venture, spearheaded by Robin Wharton and Kris Shaffer: Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing (HPP).

Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing seeks to encourage active public discourse by publishing works that are born out of, or facilitate, community (inter)action—works that are crowdsourced or collaboratively authored, openly accessible, encourage remixing and republishing, and/or blur the lines between author and reader.

HPP began with a call for participation in The Generative Literature Project. That call reached its goal of finding 10 faculty willing to join their writing classes with this collaborative, multi-institutional, creative writing project.

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On Friday, June 6, Hybrid Pedagogy held a conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #digped to discuss the present and future of books — digital, print, and even the idea of what the book is, what it represents to us, and the work it does in the world. Hybrid Pedagogy is launching a new project in long(er)-form publishing, led by Robin Wharton and Kris Shaffer. This isn’t just a technical innovation in how to make and distribute print books in digital form. We want to take the new technology at our disposal as a springboard to ask fundamental questions, like what is a book? what is the social function of a book? to whom does a book belong? what can we do in digital form that we cannot do in print (and vice versa)? and what if the book is just the user interface? In this chat, we explore some of these questions. No doubt we’ll return to many of them as Hybrid Pedagogy Publishing grows.

“While the form of the ‘book’ is now going through a period of general upheaval, and while that form now appears less natural, and its history less, transparent, than ever, and while one cannot tamper with it without disturbing everything else, the book form alone can no longer settle–here for example–the case of those writing processes which, in practically questioning that form, must also dismantle it.” ~ Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson

Kris Shaffer and I have been playing a game lately; it’s called “Martian codicology.” The idea behind the game is to pretend you’re an interstellar visitor to Earth. You understand books as a concept, one with resonance in your own planetary culture, but you don’t know a lot about the kinds of books we have here on this one. What would such a person think about the books we’ve made, about the socio-economic and regulatory structures that have accreted around them, about libraries?

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Frederick and I are unlikely friends. We met as faculty members at Clark Atlanta University. We didn’t really know each other that well when we worked together, but after he left to take a job in Maryland and my job at Clark Atlanta started to shift, we talked more often, regularly sharing “war stories” of faculty life and administrative hassles. Then we started to talk about pedagogy, theory, and sometimes crazy ideas — like creating a huge generative digital literature project.

“What would it be like if we could have writers do project based writing, you know, having them write something that actually mattered in the ‘real world’?” I pondered aloud, pinching my phone between my shoulder and ear as I turned chicken wings on my backyard grill and refereed my kids’ latest fight.

“What are you thinking?” he said.

“I don’t know . . . something that they could create, but something fun.”

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“Digital pedagogy is becoming, for me, coterminous with critical pedagogy, given the degree to which the digital can function both as a tool for and an obstacle to liberation.”
~ Jesse Stommel, “Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 2: (Un)Mapping the Terrain”

Click here to read the articles that responded to this CFP.

Hybrid Pedagogy is not ideologically neutral. The threads of our discussions and the underlying philosophy of the journal are grounded in critical pedagogy — an approach to teaching and learning predicated on fostering agency and empowering learners (implicitly and explicitly critiquing oppressive power structures). As a digital journal, our work is further nuanced by a consideration of technologies and cultures — how the digital changes the way we work, think, and create, and how we as humans can use tools (like chalkboards and computers) to form critically engaged communities.

Pete Rorabaugh writes in “Occupy the Digital: Critical Pedagogy and New Media”: “Critical pedagogy, no matter how we define it, has a central place in the discussion of how learning is changing in the 21st century because critical pedagogy is primarily concerned with an equitable distribution of power. If students live in a culture that digitizes and educates them through a screen, they require an education that empowers them in that sphere, teaches them that language, and offers new opportunities of human connectivity.”

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Net Neutrality Will Not Go Quietly

Net Neutrality Will Not Go Quietly

On May 2, 2012, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a discussion about Net Neutrality, considering the broader implications for educators and learners. You can read the original announcement here and we’ve gathered together highlights from the conversation.

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Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

As the Federal Communications Commission threatens to change the nature of the open internet, those of us who have relied on that openness are battening down the hatches, preparing for the worst case scenario: the end of the internet as we’ve known it and used it since it came wailing into the world.

Open access is a decidedly activist proposition, and always has been. On an open web, we can create, broadcast, share, communicate — all without anyone’s permission. The openness of the internet has allowed people of color, LGBTQ folk, and people of every demographic to gather, to communicate, to surge forward in important, democratic ways that the increasing corporatization of the internet will threaten. Every writer, artist, activist, student, and teacher should be concerned about ‪net neutrality.

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All pedagogy is necessarily adaptive because it takes place within and regards the extant world. Digital pedagogy must be even more adaptive because it relies upon, at least in its manufacture, the whims and invention of engineers, code creatives, and a marketplace driven by the distraction of the new, the shiny, the better-than-last-year, the perpetual 2.0. Digital pedagogy is a pedagogy of machines as much as it is a pedagogy of minds and bodies — and not machines just as tools, but machines as environments, as extensions of our own learning processes, as approaches. And so, while “pedagogy is essentially a critical thinking exercise directed at learning and teaching,” digital pedagogy is a critical thinking exercise that considers our use of machines, and our lives as co-dependent with them.

In the last few years, teaching/learning and the digital have increasingly collided/colluded. The MOOC, the broadening of the LMS, the calcification of some approaches, and the response to that calcification — all have waged (mostly) friendly conversation about what it means to learn and teach and create in digital and online spaces. At the beginning of this year, Cathy N. Davidson asked, in a collaborative learning experiment, whether all our traditional approaches to education were invalidated by the encroachment of the digital into our professions. The answer was a resounding “maybe,” with exuberance for new media balanced out by a reluctance to embrace it.

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CFP: Calling Adjuncts to Action

CFP: Calling Adjuncts to Action

“Our visible invisibility means universities sit in the comfortable position of never having to justify to parents the ever-increasing cost of a college tuition coupled with the reality that many of their children’s professors may be making as little as $16,000 a year.”
~ Margaret Betz, Contingent Mother: The Role Gender Plays in the Lives of Adjunct Faculty

Any movement, any effort toward greater social and economic justice, is only as strong as the voices behind it. When we speak up, when we pull back the curtain on the ways we’ve been oppressed or treated unfairly, it’s the stories we tell that make our struggle human. Social justice isn’t political, it’s personal, and the struggles happen every day in living rooms, classrooms, coffee shops, kitchens, and conference rooms. Broadcasting our voices on the internet creates a web of narrative that is as effective as any march to the capitol, any rally.

When Daniel Kovalik published “Death of an adjunct” in his column on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last September, it opened the floodgate for the adjunct movement in the U.S. The internet came alive as it had not previously with information about the treatment of adjuncts and contingent faculty, statistics about pay and hours worked, and details about the rights afforded (or exactly not afforded) a staggering 70% of higher education’s teachers. Many had been gathering this information for years — the New Faculty Majority, for example, or the Adjunct Project — but suddenly, through the very public death of Margaret Mary Vojtko, the statistics and data became personal.

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MMDU: Left Behind

MMDU: Left Behind

MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly (MMDU) is a rambunctious series of discussions about the past, present, and future of higher education, focusing on topics rising directly from Cathy N. Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring.

When we call out, we must listen for an answer. Cathy N. Davidson’s (and all our) “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education” pivots on the idea of a call. A call to action. A call to pay attention. A voice in the desert calling for change. We have, in the last six weeks, all become activists and advocates, each venturing out of our own comfort, each looking critically at our assumptions. A community has formed, a hashtag has flourished, and all that is under way has promise for a new “education from scratch”.

Now that we’ve rallied, we need to talk about who we’ve left behind: lurkers, introverts, the marginalized and contingent among us.

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MMDU: The Missing Manual

MMDU: The Missing Manual

MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly (MMDU) is a rambunctious series of discussions about the past, present, and future of higher education, focusing on topics rising directly from Cathy N. Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring.

There is no more pedagogical an act than conscientious objection. There is no better way to teach than to smile, sit down, and refuse to do things in ordinary ways. No better way to learn than to organize a revolt. Because learning is always a process of unlearning, of letting go of previously cherished notions and ideas, every teacher must be a revolutionary, and she must inspire in her students the willingness to dismantle.

HASTAC has as its motto “Difference is our operating system.” Difference is necessary to revolution and to change. It is only in the space of the exchange of difference, the dialogues of disagreement and discernment, that we can see the frayed edges of our reason and experience and redefine our understanding. Making friends is an act of radical political resistance. And being kind, remaining open, unbiased, and disregarding the at-the-ready hierarchies of higher education is an operation of embracing difference. It is also a nuanced, careful, and meaningful form of conscientious objection.

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