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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MMDU: Unpedagogy

MMDU: Unpedagogy

Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει ~ Heraclitus

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 Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring.

Learning must catch us by surprise, demand of us a compromise, a suspension of disbelief. Learning reminds us that we’re always a little bit stuck, but also that we have the ability to see our way out.

Last week, I was stuck in Washington DC under the oppressive gray clouds of winter storm Pax. But rather than be shackled by the conditions, I used the opportunity to visit museums and monuments. In the “Our Lives” area of the National Museum of the American Indian, I found myself surrounded by voices. They emanated from the multiple television displays, from audio that played only in this part or that part of the exhibit. The voices seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. Ghostly, musical, they washed over me from every direction — north, south, east, west, from above and from below — giving the impression of omnipresence, of never being alone or separated from those voices. And yet this was a presence as invisible as it was ubiquitous, as nascent as it was ancient.

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MMDU: “I Would Prefer Not To.”

MMDU: “I Would Prefer Not To.”

MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly (MMDU) was a rambunctious series of discussions in early 2014 about the past, present, and future of higher education, focusing on topics rising directly from Cathy Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring.

This week, among other topics, the #futureEd MOOC-ish course-like thing considers assessment: how we fund and accredit institutions and how we measure learning. In 2009, Cathy Davidson offered a risky and still novel post about “How to Crowdsource Grading”, in which she describes foregoing external summative assessment in favor of peer feedback and her own “feedback to the feedback.”

Assessment and standards are elephants in almost every room where discussions of education are underway. My goal here is not to demonize assessment but to dissect it — to cut right to its jugular: Where does assessment fail? What damage can it do? What can’t be assessed? Can we construct more poetic, less objective, models for assessment? In a system structured around standards and gatekeeping, when and how do we stop assessing?

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Things aren’t looking very bright for the arts and humanities at the moment. In our current age of austerity, arts and humanities budgets are easy targets for spending reductions. In both the United States and Canada, politicians seem focused on cuts. During his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney identified the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts as programs that should be “eliminated.” Even after softening his tone regarding the arts and humanities, Romney continued to advocate for harsh cuts that legislators are still trying to pass.

Things are not better in Canada. In 2012 the Government of Canada cut the budget of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council by 14 million dollars. In efforts to make the most with their budgets, some Canadian universities are also restricting admission to arts and humanities program, like the University of Alberta that suspended admission to 20 humanities programs in 2013.

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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 Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring. Our first chat focused on chaotic learning environments, vulnerability, and internet trolls. Some highlights from the conversation:

This week, we’ll shift focus a bit, as we continue to circle our prey.

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MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly

MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly

“Too many people are drinking the MOOC Kool-aid (or dumping it out hastily) when what we need to do is look closely at the Kool-aid to see what we can learn from it. At this point, MOOCs are all untapped potential, mostly misunderstood and only potentially gangrenous.”
~ Jesse Stommel, “March of the MOOCs: Monstrous Open Online Courses”

In higher education, no ideas stay dead. MOOCs were festering at the verge of irrelevance, the arguments about them bloated and tired, then along comes a MOOC worth joining. Just when you thought it was safe, the meta-MOOC returns, this time all grown up with Duke University, HASTAC, Cathy Davidson, and her students at the wheel.

Paulo Freire claims in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that “the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed [is] to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.” It’s a conundrum, but an important one. For without this mandate, those waging their way out of oppression may suffer themselves to become oppressors in their own right, and then their efforts may be waged against those seeking liberation.

Hybrid Pedagogy’s editorial board is made up of three gay men, two straight women, and two additional straight men. We are all white. We are all educated. We, of course, are more than these identity categories imply, yet to one extent or another, our lives are lived with whatever modicum of privilege these things, born and earned, give us. As critical pedagogues, we are aware that our rights and privileges are not valid unless we fight for the same rights for others. And so our journal has always illuminated the struggles of the outcasts, the orphans, the contingent — those voices that go otherwise unheard by the staid and layered pages of the everyday academic journal.

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#digped Storify: Assessing Assessment

#digped Storify: Assessing Assessment

The most recent #digped conversation covered questions of the value of grading. The focus was in a higher-ed environment. At times, participants challenged the very definition of ‘assessment’ and explored questions about the future of grading, grades, and assessment practices. This was a conversation intended to wrap up the year in Hybrid Pedagogy, and incite a rather controversial discussion on a topic we think about a lot: assessment. We wanted to ask ‘why’ we grade. We wanted to talk about ‘how’ people grade, and what they do to intrinsically motivate their students.

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Grading the Grade: a #digped Discussion

Grading the Grade: a #digped Discussion

On Friday, December 6 from 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern (9:00 – 10:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss the process, practice, and theories of grading. The Twitter chat is Storified here, but we invite you to continue the discussion in the comments below.

In one of the first articles published in this journal, “The Tangle of Assessment,” Pete and Jesse write, “Grading and assessment are curious beasts, activities many instructors love to hate but ones that nonetheless undergird the institutions where we work.” This early article barely flirts with the topic, and now we find ourselves coming full circle, putting the question of what, how, and why we grade back out to the community.

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The case of Margaret Mary Vojtko made much more public a conversation that’s been heating up in academe. Vojtko, an adjunct professor at Duquesne University, passed away at 83, shortly after the university didn’t renew her teaching contract. Although many facts and facets about the woman’s life, wages, health, and relationship with her employer have been uncovered and discussed — and opinions aren’t equal on all sides about her story — Margaret Mary has quickly become the patron saint of the discussion of fair labor practices related to adjunct and contingent workers. The plight of the adjunct is not only very real, it also serves as a marker for the kinds of employment available for those who receive an advanced degree.

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On Friday, October 4, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a #digped chat to discuss the appropriate pedagogical responses to the increasing crisis of contingent labor in education. In particular, we wanted to engage a conversation about two significant, and potentially related, consequences of a neoliberalist socio-political agenda: the adjunctification of college and university instruction, and the creation of zero-opportunity employment for recent graduates. We were not only concerned with the difficulty faced by part-time and adjunct faculty, but also with how their marginalization affects the future of students looking at careers in teaching.

On Friday, October 4th from 12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern (9:00 – 10:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss whether and how pedagogy should respond to neoliberal arguments that education should focus on creating a productive labor force. In particular, we want to engage a conversation about what some have argued are two significant, and potentially related, consequences of a neoliberalist socio-political agenda: the adjunctification of college and university instruction, and the creation of zero-opportunity employment for recent graduates.

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On Friday, September 6, Hybrid Pedagogy hosted a #digped chat to discuss the experiences of students in MOOCs and other open learning environments. The journal has always sought out a diversity of voices on matters educational, and we realized that the voices of students in MOOCs have been largely silent or ignored, and we wanted both to explore why this is so, and to give them a platform. We took to this task from a particular perspective, as stated in the announcement for the hashtag chat: “we want to think about learners — and less about the MOOC itself — especially as learners make learning a more incessant, hybrid, and lifelong experience.” We wanted to hear from learners of all sorts about where learning truly happens, and how that learning can or should be brought into more traditional structured environments. To approach this discussion, we knew we’d first have to figure out the difference between formal learning and “learning in the wild”.

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On Friday, September 6 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss the experiences of students in MOOCs and other open learning environments. While MOOC innovators have rallied around their numbers, their platforms, and their approaches, the voices of students who take MOOCs have been largely unheard. Yet, it is often in the students’ participation that MOOCs survive or perish.

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Inspired by Charlotte Frost‘s article “Hashtag Classroom” last week on Hybrid Pedagogy, we hosted a #digped chat on Friday, August 2, 2013 to explore the pedagogical utility and variety of Twitter hashtag chats. As Jesse wrote in his announcement of the discussion, “Given the robust search functionality of Twitter, all of the words in a given tweet are searchable. The hashtag, though, adds another dimension . . . [It] puts one tweet alongside other tweets, drawing very intentional lines between one idea and another — and allowing those ideas to be curated together with a single left-click of a mouse or trackpad.” A collection of over 60 participants from a variety of backgrounds gathered around their screens to post questions, offer advice, and explore the nature of the “#” and its mutiform application to teaching and learning.

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On Friday, August 2 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss the use of Twitter hashtags in forming learning communities, doing scholarly work, and research. The often ironic, sometimes humorous hashtag can actually be used to create lasting communities of discourse among educators and students across a network.

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In one of our bolder moves, Hybrid Pedagogy decided to hold a #digped discussion focused on the idea of lifelong learning. But embedded in this broad topic were many considerations, brought to the fore by recent articles from journal contributors Robin Wharton and Sean Michael Morris. In her article, “Building in the Humanities Isn’t New“, Robin discussed the idea that recent innovations in post-secondary pedagogy may indeed have roots in — or be replicative of — the pedagogies of elementary and secondary teaching. She says in that piece that, “I see a potentially useful convergence between the long-standing and relatively well-studied use of certain pedagogical strategies in early childhood settings and the still-emergent, and relatively untested use of what appear–on the surface at least–to be similar pedagogical strategies in post-secondary education.” And perhaps more importantly, she recognizes that learning, as well as teaching, may be more continuous than our hierarchical systems of education acknowledge; that all learning is lifelong learning.

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“There are better forums for discussion than online discussion forums.”
— Jesse Stommel

This is how it started: forums, we decided, don’t work. They are slow, lumbering, impersonal, and hard to follow. And yet, we wanted to create a dynamic, interesting place for people to discuss issues related to teaching, learning, digital writing, Digital Humanities, higher education — and more — on the pages of Hybrid Pedagogy. Since its inception, the journal has maintained a forum, but it was seldom visited and all but silent. As a journal devoted as much to praxis as to discourse, we were unsatisfied.
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Of what use is education? Of what use are the educational institutions we’ve erected in the 20th and 21st centuries?

On Friday, June 7 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to inspect how traditional education prepares us (or does not prepare us) for a life of learning. As Sean has argued, “The learner has changed, evolving before our eyes into the autodidact, and so our institutions and pedagogies must cooperate (or at least compensate) by becoming responsive, flexible, and decentered.” Embracing pedagogies that speak to lifelong learning may be a matter of looking more intently at our goals, looking back at our earliest learning experiences, and looking out to the communities that will foster us later.

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Don’t throw the past away.
You might need it some rainy day.
Dreams can come true again,
When everything old is new again.
—Peter Allen, “Everything Old Is New Again”

My oldest daughter started kindergarten this year. And when my partner and I found ourselves in the very difficult — and also very privileged — position of deciding where she would go to school, I realized I knew next-to-nothing about primary school pedagogy. The process of choosing a school and of learning about a new thread in the multi-stranded discourse of critical pedagogy provided me with a renewed perspective on my own pedagogical practice. I have a much better appreciation for how the learning spaces and experiences I create with students relate to, and have drawn upon, pedagogies first imagined by early innovators in education such as Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, and Anthony Benizet. I’ve shared my thoughts on what I learned and the profound effect it has had on how I see myself as an educator in my recent article on Hybrid Pedagogy, “Building in the Humanities Isn’t New”. Now, we are asking those of you with expertise in primary and secondary school pedagogies to share your wisdom with us.
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Most of us are not strangers to the concept of the forum. Forums are attached to nearly every type of community building platform that hopes to encourage continuing discussion. But what do we do with forums? If you’re anything like me, you dip your typing fingers in the forum pool about twice a year, but mostly forget they exist. In their recent article “The Discussion Forum is Dead; Long Live the Discussion Forum,” Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel claim “the forum itself does not automatically promote meaningful conversation — or conversation at all.” In truth, the forum, any forum, is a metaphorically empty room when no one is in it. But it is much more than just a potential place to gather. It is a space with potential: “In the right hands, it can do wonders,” Sean and Jesse remind us.

In his chapter on “Spatial Stories” out of the book The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel deCerteau explains the difference between ‘place’ and ‘space.’ A ‘place’ defines a location — it “excludes the possibility of two things being the same location.” Place is stable, it can be marked on a map. “Space,” deCerteau tells us, “is a practiced place”: “Space is composed of intersections of mobile elements. It is in a sense actuated by the ensemble of movements deployed within it.” The forum can be marked on a digital site map, and by that delineation, it is a place. But once we inhabit it with mobile ideas — once we begin to move those ideas around within it — the forum becomes a space where we practice community building around a theme.
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This #digped chat about peer-to-peer learning, or learning in the collective, was inspired by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas’ book, A New Culture of Learning. In that book, the authors propose that the nature of and methods for learning have changed with the digital age, and that how learning happens now is not necessarily in the hands of teachers; rather, learners — and in this case, all learners are lifelong learners — are beginning to take matters of education into their own hands. They open their book with this “very simple question”:

What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?

Our discussion on May 3rd focused on ideas presented in the book’s fourth chapter, “Learning in the Collective”, where the authors looked at peer-to-peer learning, or how learners help one another learn. We wanted to investigate how this happens successfully, what happens to the role of the expert/teacher, and… ?

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