We have an immense amount of power, if we reach out and harness it. This is not just some new age abstraction. To be specific: anyone can create a website, a video, a tweet. People like me, from a working poor family, can go on YouTube and watch a lecture given by the authority of most any field for free. We have access to public spaces where we can define our own identity.

One part of this narrative is about me as a writer, figuring out that I wouldn’t settle for selling out and giving up my ideals. The other part is about how my experiences as a contingent faculty member informed my decision to start a project, which I hoped would spark critical participation in my community and set a good example for former students, as well as help teach people — some of whom I had never met — how to find their voice.

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The Pedagogy of Trolls

The Pedagogy of Trolls

Andrew Shaw’s “The College Experience: A Modern-Day Paddy West?” demonstrates the value of asking undergraduates to prepare and publish assignments. As an historian of the early modern world, Shaw was able to make a meaningful contribution to an on-going discussion of #FutureEd that was taking place on the HASTAC website as well as other venues. Reflecting on her experiences of engaging in a global discussion, undergraduate Suzanne Hakim comments that never in her academic career has she “been able to connect and share thoughts and opinions with my peers and multiple professors on an intellectual level.” The experience of publishing was refreshing because she was treated with respect as a colleague with independent thoughts.

Asking students to participate in scholarly dialogues gives them the ability to participate in scholarly conversation, to manage different viewpoints and different ways to express them, and to participate in thorough and respectful debate about important issues.

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Insoumis.

Insoumis.

In Submission. 22nd May 2015

In January 2014 I signed up to study on Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning Course, known often by those in a know by its hashtag #rhizo14.

This course, acted as a catalyst in helping me develop a voice, in enabling me to make certain connections…

What had started as rather irregular writing became very regular writing.

What had stopped me writing in the past had been not only a lack of desire but an instinctive opposition to simply reproducing forms…

I think back to that teacher at university, who had encouraged me in my attempts to write differently, while kindly explaining to me that the way that I wrote didn’t necessarily correspond to ‘what was expected…’

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Why isn’t school more fun?

Fred Rogers, famous in America for creating Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Why do we assume, though, that adults don’t also learn from play? In this episode, I assert that “serious learning” happens through play at any age, and that a playful approach to classes, professions, and identity has benefits that too often get ignored in academia.

Unfortunately, school is often anything but playful. Between compulsory attendance, state-mandated testing, and the regimented routine of bell schedules, students are often expected to conform and comply, rather than to improvise and experiment. It seems there should be a way to incorporate play into education, making school something that students enjoy, look forward to, and find productive.

Adeline Koh writes that “play is serious business,” and this episode explores that assertion and tests the ways in which it can be applied to today’s educational environments.


Chris Friend is managing editor for Hybrid Pedagogy.

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Homework is a Social Justice Issue

Homework is a Social Justice Issue

This article was originally published in Educating Modern Learners.


When a teacher assigns homework, she makes some big assumptions about students’ home lives. Do they have the requisite supplies? A quiet place to study? Supportive parents or guardians who will motivate them to work? Knowledgable guardians who can assist with challenging problems?

But even these questions have significant assumptions underlying them. Do students have a stable family life? Or does the return home in the afternoon bring an increase of stress and anxiety about their family’s well-being? Single parents working multiple jobs, for example, may put the “parenting” of young children onto the shoulders of their older siblings. The increased responsibility likely increases the stress experienced by the older child, while simultaneously reducing time for academic study outside of school.

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At the Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Conference (#et4online) held in Dallas Texas (April 22-24), I worked with Rebecca J. Hogue to create a pilot program, known as #et4buddy, that allowed me to attend the conference virtually from Egypt and still participate in the informal and social parts of the conference. The #et4buddy pilot program took advantage of mobile technology and cloud-based video conferencing services to provide opportunities for virtual participants to interact with onsite participants through a variety of videos, livestreamed and recorded with Google Hangouts on Air.

Entering the Conference with a Purpose — Rebecca’s Onsite Experience

I (Rebecca) initially signed up to go to Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Conference (#et4online) in Dallas, Texas, because Maha was planning on being there. I figured if she was traveling all the way from Egypt to attend, I could make the effort and travel from Santa Clara, California. I had attended #et4online last year. It was a marker into my past — the last academic conference I attended before being diagnosed with breast cancer. What followed after diagnosis was four long months of chemotherapy and three surgeries. This year’s #et4online was a milestone in my recovery: It was the first time I traveled on my own since diagnosis. It was a chance to reclaim my identity as an academic.

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A few years ago, Sean Michael Morris and I wrote, “Meaningful relationships are as important in a class of three as they are in a class of 10,000.” In the rest of that article, we wonder at questions of scale: how to scale up, when to scale down, and what it might mean to scale sideways. My question here: is it possible to scale up and down simultaneously — to create more and more intimate learning experiences for larger and larger groups of learners?

I’m currently co-teaching Shakespeare in Community, a Massive Open Online Course from University of Wisconsin-Madison. The goal of the course is to bring thousands of learners into conversation. While I’ve taught MOOCs since 2012 on several platforms, this is the first time I’ve developed a Coursera MOOC. Coursera is a platform well-oiled for content-delivery. In fact, when I sat down with Daphne Koller, the founder and president of Coursera, she used the word “content” several dozen times. I asked about “conversation”, “dialogue”, and “community”. Her responses showed that these are, for Coursera, an afterthought. And after playing around inside the guts of the tool, it remains clear to me that these are, indeed, an afterthought. All the proof I need is that it’s about ten times easier to upload a video, and track the watching of that video, than it is to administer the discussion forum. But Coursera does content-delivery incredibly well. My content feels stroked and adored by the platform. It feels genuinely loved. As learning management systems go, I am happy to go on record saying that Coursera is one of the best.

However, I remain certain that learning is not something that ought to be managed. The better we become at managing learning, the more damage we do to learning. This is the cruel irony of the learning management system. The better designed it is for doing its core function, the worse off the learning that happens inside of it. As a technology, the learning management system is genuinely Orwellian. I like best the learning management system when it is still a baby, before it has fully grown up, before it has earned its stripes. But every learning management system is almost immediately on its way toward extinction. They die quick deaths at the point they forget that learning is an encounter, not a spreadsheet. The gradebook, and the demands it places on every single other feature, ultimately kills the learning management system. (Thus, I wouldn’t blame the technological systems so much as I’d blame the institutional and political climates that drive them.)

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Keeping Time

Keeping Time

What do we mean when we use the phrase, “in the real world”? As many of us are in a state of transition between school and work, styles of work, or a balance of both, are we living a less real life if we don’t work for a corporation? Indeed, the different ways humans interface with the world is hybrid. The column below is an inquiry into the meanings of culturally problematic phrases like “the real world,” and “proper use of time,” and the ways these interplay. It will ask questions concerning digital humanities, critical pedagogy, and agency. It is an exploration, a discussion, and a journey. Join us.


If you’ve been reading this column since it was born in January, you know that it has so far been a series asking for a variety of voices to answer the following question: “How does your training (vocational, traditional, etc.) inform the way you spend and/or value your time?” Time, for me, is a complex set of largely socially constructed ideals that we all adhere to — though differently in different cultures. And so I sought out three very different people in three very different walks of life. Here’s number three.

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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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Learning is Not a Mechanism

Learning is Not a Mechanism

This article was originally published on Educating Modern Learners on January 26, 2015.


“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility.” ~ bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress

Digital pedagogy is not equivalent to teachers using digital tools. Rather, digital pedagogy demands that we think critically about our tools, demands that we reflect actively upon our own practice. So, digital pedagogy means not just drinking the Kool-Aid, but putting the Kool-Aid under a microscope. When I lead workshops for teachers interested in developing digital skills, I say right up front that I have little interest in teaching teachers or learners how to use the technologies they’ll use in classrooms for the next three years. I am much more interested in working with teachers and learners to develop the literacies that will help them use and evaluate the educational tools they’ll be using in ten or twenty years. Often, this means knowing when and how to put tools down, as much as it means knowing when and how to take them up.

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Pedagogy of Care—Gone Massive

Pedagogy of Care—Gone Massive

Sometimes, the most valuable thing we can offer our students is genuine care for them, their well-being, their happiness. Not just their grades. Not just their learning. But their whole selves.

This article is inspired by a discussion with a friend who suggested that medical ethics should not be about “do no harm” but rather about caring. As one who comes from a family of doctors, I often hear about how medical people sometimes focus on the body and forget to look at the whole person. The same reductionism can be found in education. bell hooks critiques this, calling for educators to engage with students’ whole selves, with their souls. Inspired by her, Jesse Stommel and I recently wrote that in seeking to empower students, “teachers must…show the kind of care for the work that only comes when we make ourselves at least somewhat vulnerable.”

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Adeline Koh will be teaching the Identity track for Digital Pedagogy Lab in August 2015. To find out more about her track and to enroll, visit Digital Pedagogy Lab’s main page.


I am often asked about the digital humanities and how it can update, make relevant, and provide funding for many a beleaguered humanities department. Some faculty at underfunded institutions imagine DH is going to revitalize their discipline — it’s going to magically interest undergraduates, give faculty research funding, and exponentially increase enrollment.

Well, the reality is this: what has until recently been commonly understood as real “Digital Humanities” is already belated and is not going to save humanities departments from ever bigger budget cuts and potential dissolution.

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LibGuides: Pedagogy to Oppress?

LibGuides: Pedagogy to Oppress?

You have to be a pretty tenacious researcher to find any criticism about LibGuides, the practical and convenient tool that librarians use to create online guides to research. My search for “LibGuides and critique or criticism” taught me a great deal about how to interpret literature, while keying in “LibGuides and problems” merely returned information about the occasional scheduled downtime. It was not until I limited my search to wordpress.com and then traced a bunch of links and pingbacks that I could even start to gather a sense of the conversation round the topic. Yet, ironically, it is exactly this twisting, infuriating and (occasionally) joyful process of research that is stifled by the way that most librarians structure and organize their LibGuides. Web-based research guides have helped to bridge the gap that the growth of online resources has put between the library and its patrons. However, their typical focus on librarian-defined notions of value and authority conceals an industrial-era adherence to library-centric, behaviourist learning theories and provides a textbook example of Paulo Freire’s banking model of education. In short, while librarians have started to think about the nature of critical pedagogy in the classroom, a failure to subject instructional materials to the same processes of reflective, critical thinking serves to dehumanize both our students and the nature of research and inquiry.

What is a LibGuide?

If you have never seen a LibGuide before, a quick browse of the LibGuides Community site will turn up a typical example of how librarians employ this proprietary software. Most simply, librarians use LibGuides as a guide to relevant or recommended sources and sites that students can use to search for information on a topic. Mirroring typical research assignment prompts that may ask for 5-10 scholarly articles, guides are typically created for courses or for general topics such as criminology or art history and organized by source format, for example, databases or images. Today, 78,000 librarians from nearly 5000 libraries have produced over 400,000 LibGuides. Providing an easy way for even the most non-tech savvy librarian to produce or highlight content on library websites that are often heavily locked down, or poorly designed and cluttered, LibGuides have now expanded beyond their original research guide design, and are marketed as a core instructional tool for academic, public, school and special libraries. Simple and practical, LibGuides are deservedly popular. However, by failing to consider LibGuides within the context of broader pedagogical practices, librarians run the risk of misrepresenting both the nature and the scope of research and inquiry.

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Bonnie Stewart will be teaching the Networks track for Digital Pedagogy Lab in August 2015. To find out more about her track and to enroll, visit Digital Pedagogy Lab’s main page.


The idea of publics is central to scholarship. Scholarly pursuits are financed in part through public purses, and scholarship — in its idealized form, at least — contributes back to publics. Research. Knowledge. The public good. These are the returns through which scholarship justifies its place in society.

Yet scholarship has never been particularly open to the public. It operates, in increasingly-rationalized incarnations, as a carefully-managed ecosystem of gatekeeping measures: the prestige hierarchies of academic credentials and the academic publishing system comprise a powerful inside-baseball discourse. Contemporary scholars have tended to be far more accountable to the system itself than to actual publics, except in rare cases where the scope or consequence of the work — as in the cases of McLuhan or Milgram — has been rendered public by media.

Until now.

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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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This article is a response submitted for our series on the Scholarly and the Digital. See the original CFP for details.


On a beautiful June morning, I hurried through the streets of Bloomsbury to the University of London. These streets carry a great deal of imaginative and emotional resonance for me, layers of time and story. I think of Virginia Woolf and her luminous conjuring of a London morning in Mrs. Dalloway. Maybe she hurried like this to give a lecture, a lecture not unlike the one that formed the kernel of A Room of One’s Own. That book makes a space for the play of ideas; when I teach it I suggest to my students they might strive for the same kind of openness, the same kind of playfulness, the same kind of light handling of heavy questions I see Woolf performing there.

The hurrying was more out of nerviness than out of a concern for time. I was heading to the annual board meeting for the organization that had just made me the new editor of its scholarly journal The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945. Part of my charge in accepting the job would be to transition the journal from print to digital, and at this meeting I was to present my proposal for doing so. This transition was deemed necessary due to cost; producing a print journal for an organization of several hundred members and fewer library subscriptions was not sustainable. This probably sounds familiar to anyone who belongs to a professional organization, subscribes to a scholarly journal — or doesn’t, opting out because the costs are prohibitively high, hiked over a number of years by groups and presses that serve a necessary purpose but find it harder and harder to do the work for their members and subscribers due to the roiling economic state of scholarly publishing.

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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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Embracing Subjectivity

Embracing Subjectivity

Embracing our subjectivity as teachers can be tricky; I’ve written several times about how complex it is when teachers make the choice to be non-neutral. I’ve admitted it could be seen as indoctrinating. But believe me: pretending to be objective or neutral only hides our subjectivity, it does not actually remove it. For example, it takes sensitivity and caution to not make male students feel silenced during discussions of gender, but it’s also impossible for a woman to pretend to be neutral in this context. This explicit non-neutrality is a characteristic of critical pedagogy. As Davies and Barnett suggest, the “critique” inherent in critical pedagogy is focused on uncovering what might be hidden behind claims or arguments, which is different from more traditional notions of critical thinking that focus on identifying weaknesses in arguments in some objective way. Critical pedagogy and critical approaches to curriculum are creative and subjective processes, inherently influenced by the teacher’s (and learner’s) lenses of looking at the world. This is so different from traditional notions of critical thinking, which is why I think it sometimes takes a while to express it and discuss it with others.

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What do we mean when we use the phrase, “in the real world”? As many of us are in a state of transition between school and work, styles of work, or a balance of both, are we living a less real life if we don’t work for a corporation? Indeed, the different ways humans interface with the world is hybrid. The column below is an inquiry into the meanings of culturally problematic phrases like “the real world,” and “proper use of time,” and the ways these interplay. It will ask questions concerning digital humanities, critical pedagogy, and agency. It is an exploration, a discussion, and a journey. Join us.


In January, I sought the aid of other voices in answering the question, “How does your training (vocational, traditional, etc.) inform the way you spend and/or value your time?” When I asked, I knew that I would receive wonderful, rounded responses, but I continue to get unexpected insights that have me thinking differently every time I read through them.

Caroline Stauss, a new K-12 instructor who decided to wait until later in life to begin her career as a teacher, reveals some discontent she feels in her community. In responding to the question above, Caroline goes deep about the outcome of the more difficult experiences of this phase of her journey. She leads us through a narrative situated within scenarios many of us may find familiar, and which may sound rather foreign to others. Like me, Caroline understands the institutionalization of education that I mention in my introduction to these responses, but reacts to it in a much different way than I do. And here is where I find the meat of what I am attempting to do with my questioning: if we think about unions and what the types of communities unions can build up, as well as the ones it can break down, we are thinking as learners all along the way. Take a look what community does for Caroline:

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The traditional take on assessment positions the teacher (or the state) as the one with all the answers and asks students to prove that they can figure out what the testers want them to know. Think of AP exams, SATs/ACTs/GREs, and loads of other acronym-derived test names, notably including statewide benchmark testing made widespread in America by No Child Left Behind legislation from 2001. In short, there’s significant inertia behind standardized assessment that critical pedagogy needs to address in order to reform traditional education.

In this episode, we’ll return to Kris Shaffer and Asao Inoue to pick up the assessment-focused parts of their conversations that didn’t make it on the air, and we’ll hear from Lee Skallerup Bessette to consider institutional assessment, empathy, and student needs. We’ll look at assessment in music classes and writing classes, classrooms of composition and classrooms of compassion. We’ll find ways of assessing students that prioritize their abilities and new experiences over their ability to do exactly what everyone else has done before them. We’ll ask how we can give students greater authority in the assessment process, and we’ll even address the idea of standards within the context of Critical Digital Pedagogy.

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“[W]hat is broken and twisted is also beautiful, and a bearer of knowledge. The Deformed Humanities is an origami crane—a piece of paper contorted into an object of startling insight and beauty.” Mark Sample

Folding: Theory

The Digital Humanities are actively being invented in this very moment. They have not taken shape as a concrete thing, but evolve as an ongoing and collaborative process still taking shape. This can be seen in how the Digital Humanities are being negotiated as a debate between building and breaking. What’s being built: word clouds, wikis, blogs, maps, games, comics, prezis, films, crowdsourced articles, MOOCs, curated social media stories, and greater access.  What’s being broken: traditional pedagogy, poems, images, borders, and potentially even the law.

While this has been the dominant narrative, I want to propose a counter narrative where transformation and invention occur not through the building or breaking binary, but rather as a result of folding, unfolding, and refolding. This origami metaphor, I think, aligns with Freirian Praxis as a process of “engaging in a cycle of theory, application, evaluation, reflection, and then back to theory.”

The need to develop this counter narrative was apparent after co-teaching an upper level English course. The course had two distinct instructor personas — a luddite and a cyborg — and we were on the path to creating another iteration of the dissonant building and breaking narrative. My assignments allowed students to build digital and multimodal artifacts. The other instructor urged students to break down texts from critically informed perspectives. However, by folding these two personal pedagogical approaches together, we were able to collaboratively realize Freirean praxis as a cycle of theory-practice-theory.

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Twitter and the Locus of Research

Twitter and the Locus of Research

Hybrid Pedagogy recently announced a CFP focused on The Scholarly & the Digital. This piece is a response to that call and an invitation. While we have begun to review submissions, this is a rolling call, so visit the CFP for more details if you are interested in reflecting further on any of the conversations started here.

It isn’t that a single tweet constitutes scholarship, although in rare cases one might, but rather that Twitter and participatory media more broadly disperses the locus of scholarship, making the work less about scholarly products (the bits) and more about community presence and engagement (the scrawl).

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Traditional college students of today are completely mediated. They can tweet, text, and post to Instagram all day long; they swim through a sea of media, and are savvy with an array of technologies; they use phones that are smarter than the computers of just a few years ago. Students are continuously, and rapidly, improving on basic computer skills and often work with the computer intuitively to perform tasks and to solve problems when they get stuck. When students come together in a computer classroom, they bring with them a great variety of experiences and skills. Some students can navigate any task brilliantly at lightning speed, some get the same results at slower speeds, and some need more instruction for developing skills they may not have had the opportunity to practice previously. In my experience, this variety opens up spaces filled with possibilities for learning.

Finding out more about where students are when they enter the classroom, meeting them there, and then working with them to move beyond basic forms of communication and consumption into thinking more deeply about hyper-media, social media, the media industry, technology, and other cultural topics can now be endeavors for instructors in the computer classroom. Critical pedagogy emphasizes participation, engagement, and collaboration so that students become active producers and critics, and are not simply passive consumers ingesting course content. Bringing this philosophy into the computer classroom further opens the space for critical and thoughtful conversation about culture to happen naturally, and in which critique is often extended beyond surface commentary. This combination of physical space, technology, and engaged pedagogy can also foster another effect of working in the computer classroom, and that is the organic way in which community-building happens.

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Teaching as Wayfinding

Teaching as Wayfinding

The 21st century learning landscape demands a significant shift in the role, but not the importance, of the teacher. Smart use of relevant technology can help make that shift easier.

In June of 2014, The Atlantic magazine published a piece by David Zweig: “How You Know Where You’re Going When You’re in the Airport.” The piece was a short profile of Jim Harding, a designer who created the “wayfinding system” at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, the busiest airport in the world. His specialty? “The process of designing cues — from signage to lighting and color, even the architecture, anything at all — to help people navigate a built environment.” Harding’s system ensures that travelers can smoothly navigate from point to point in the airport, be it from one gate to another, from baggage claim to the taxi queue, or from security to the nearest restroom. He melds sophisticated technology, like the trains that whisk passengers from terminal to terminal, and small but critical details, like the font on bathroom signs, so they cohere into a kind of invisible hand that gently pushes the traveler around the airport without unnecessary distractions or diversions.

Harding’s work helped me think about the demands placed on learning in the 21st century. Harding does not create the environments in which his wayfinding systems live; he is handed a complex system — an airport, a mall, a hospital — and asked to simplify it for the user. More importantly, he has found that his systems are “most effective when they function as a kind of transient, touching just the most superficial (or perhaps, conversely, subconscious) part of our brains, conveying information without drawing attention to the conveyer.” Travelers’ minds are fixed on their own journeys and destinations, as they should be. Harding’s challenge is to leverage that intrinsic motivation as he wayfinds, creating a system flexible enough so travelers feel they are forging unique paths.

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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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Inner Voice, Criticality, and Empathy

Inner Voice, Criticality, and Empathy

I am deeply disturbed by dominant discourses in society that silence the voices of others, particularly women and ethnic minorities. I am frustrated by people who put others down, particularly online. And I am always surprised by teachers and academics who talk of empowering and encouraging their students while they constantly put others in academia down, by belittling their research, providing harsh and hurtful feedback, stifling dissent, and harming them in countless micro-aggressive ways.

How do we (women, young academics, minorities) protect ourselves from this micro-aggression? One solution can be found in self-reflection, by listening to our inner voices and not allowing others to put us down or question our self-worth. But this worries me, too.

Over-listening to our inner voice might blind us to diverse perspectives that may otherwise benefit us. We risk becoming egocentric or sociocentric because, as Barry Dyck says, when we think alone, we are not really alone: our thoughts are really the product of social interaction and thinking. This is a point Deleuze and Guattari emphasize in saying “we are multiple.” We may even reinforce social expectations rather than breaking free from them. Listening to our inner voice can be an act of reinforcing our own biases based on social discourse that has become internalized, rather than an act of critical consciousness. In short: over-listening to our own voice may blind us to the many diverse perspectives available.

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Faculty, Mobilize for Equity!

Faculty, Mobilize for Equity!

“The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. What is your income?” ~ Oscar Wilde’s formidable Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Act I.

And how about traditional higher education in America? What is our income?

After reading the steady stream of contingency narratives that expose unfair labor practices, the stigma of adjuncting, and attempts to quell organized advocacy, one thing is certain: the state of higher ed reveals intentional structural economic violence. It’s time to focus attention on the laws governing contingent labor and hold institutions, boards, and legislators accountable.

According to the United States Department of Labor, Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, Section 5: Contingent Workers, two general recommendations are made:

  1. The definition of employee in labor, employment, and tax law should be modernized, simplified, and standardized. Instead of the control test borrowed from the old common law of master and servant, the definition should be based on the economic realities underlying the relationship between the worker and the party benefiting from the worker’s services.
  2. The definition of employer should also be standardized and grounded in the economic realities of the employment relationship. Congress and the NLRB should remove the incentives that now exist for firms to use variations in corporate form to avoid responsibility for the people who do their work [my emphasis].

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Compassion in the Classroom

Compassion in the Classroom

Maha Bali’s featured column on Hybrid Pedagogy prompted the topic of this episode—compassion—but from an unusual angle. She and I talked about the problems we see with the way plagiarism is presented, discussed, and treated systemically. We thought that common systems that check finished work for signs of plagiarism turn it into a punitive situation, rather than a teaching opportunity. That’s the big difference between the student experience of plagiarism and the academic understanding of it. What if we looked at citation as a compassionate authorial act? Could we situate quoting and referencing as an act of academic kindness?

We also hear from Asao B. Inoue, who explains his efforts to make compassion an integral part of his teaching and learning practice. For him, compassion starts with the act of reading, and focusing attention on others helps students work in the moment and in the actual situation of class.

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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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How do we know if the new ‘it’ technology will work in our classroom? Will it create meaningful learning for our students, or even for ourselves as educators? As an educator whose research focus is on digital identities and technology in youth culture, I spend a lot of time concerned about my practices with technology integration. I believe that knowledge building and understanding how our personal pedagogy affects our use of technology should play key roles in the process of integrating various technologies into our learning environments, and in using those technologies to create learning spaces. But how an educator approaches the process of dealing with technology and the digital generation can be a very individual experience.

When introducing any type of technology into a learning space, I want to be able to reflect on the purpose and practice. When it comes to introducing a particular new kind of technology in a classroom, such as Twitter, I do so using pedagogical practices that revise, evaluate, and negotiate the technology alongside my students. I see Twitter as a unique social medium that has its own rules and best practices in the digital realm. Twitter poses some challenges for educators as its potential as a learning environment is only one of its many identities. A well-informed “Twitter Pedagogy” comes from reflecting, for example, on the volatile nature of trolling, and on exploring the technology through praxis.

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Training to Work in the Wet

Training to Work in the Wet

What do we mean when we use the phrase, “in the real world”? As many of us are in a state of transition between school and work, styles of work, or a balance of both, are we living a less real life if we don’t work for a corporation? Indeed, the different ways humans interface with the world is hybrid. The column below is an inquiry into the meanings of culturally problematic phrases like “the real world,” and “proper use of time,” and the ways these interplay. It will ask questions concerning digital humanities, critical pedagogy, and agency. It is an exploration, a discussion, and a journey. Join us.


Last month, I set out on a journey to explore values and how the ways in which we spend our time accounts for those values. First, I introduced the following question: “How does your training (vocational, traditional, etc.) inform the way you spend and/or value your time?” Then, I set out to find 3 very different people who might bring interesting perspectives to the question. The results were unexpected, fun, and insightful.

The story below is written by a man — Arlo Daniels — who chose to leave academia and learn vocationally. And though I’ve known Arlo my entire life, I am still surprised to learn the rationale behind his journey. As we worked through this piece together, I learned that engagement and readiness both played a large part in what stuck with him. For teachers, it is important to hear stories like the one below, to understand why some students leave the system, and why others make it their careers. As someone who admits to being fully institutionalized by the educational system, I am delighted to get the opportunity to showcase the idea that training (or more specifically, learning) is not a formal, isolated experience in this world. Communal learning is business as usual. It’s us, as academics, who try to identify it, dissect it, and analyze it. That might be what makes academic work feel less ‘real.’ So let us set aside our dissection tools for a moment and consider another way to learn:

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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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What We Can Learn from Homeschooling

What We Can Learn from Homeschooling

Our homeschooling journey began nearly a decade ago, when our three year-old daughter started preschool. I was certain she would love school.

She didn’t.

We cycled through three schools. At one, teachers thought putting blue eyeshadow and rouge on the girls, using the same applicators for all, would be fun. They also allowed my husband to walk in, take my daughter by the hand, and walk out without saying one word to him, though no one had ever met him. In another, the teacher was perpetually unhappy, yet the principal couldn’t understand why our daughter wasn’t bonding with her. Finally, a third principal took me aside to report that my daughter had been disruptive. Apparently she had wanted to dance rather than sit in a circle and listen when the teacher turned the music on. Then, the principal said, in a hushed and solemn voice, all the other two and three year-olds had wanted to get up and dance, too.

By Thanksgiving, we were homeschooling.

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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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Embodying Openness as Inclusive Digital Praxis

Embodying Openness as Inclusive Digital Praxis

It is much easier to pay lip service to notions such as critical pedagogy and open education, than it is to truly embody those ideals in our own practice. One of the struggles I share with Ellsworth (1989) is my discomfort with how theoretical and abstract some critical pedagogy texts are, and how difficult it often is for a teacher to feel able to apply the ideas in them. Applying the ideals is complex and challenging. I think the same applies for open education, which I consider to be one way of embodying critical digital pedagogy (even though openness as a philosophy goes beyond the digital). I tend to agree with Adam Heidebrink-Bruno that an “open” philosophy should be inclusive (but often, in practice, is not).

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This piece is a follow-up and response to “Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture.”


There is a fear among University educators that the students they have received are damaged goods. Frustrations are vented frequently in the faculty and graduate lounges about the student who avoids homework, and the one who never does the reading. It’s far too easy to complain about the students who are products of mediocre high schools and are grossly unprepared for the rigors of academia. But labels are terribly powerful. We must not give in. We must resist the urge to label a student, and we must destroy the very foundations upon which that urge is built.

Classrooms are an experiment too. Whether one wants to or not, each semester educators are asked to define what “student” and “teacher” means in the context of their course. This is done for the first time on the class syllabus. For many, this is a routine task that is often dreaded or regarded as mundane, frequently completed with help from templates and requirements being handed down from administrative teams. But a close, critical look at your syllabus will reveal more than an attendance policy and reading list.

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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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Struggling with Time — An Introduction

Struggling with Time — An Introduction

What do we mean when we use the phrase, “in the real world”? As many of us are in a state of transition between school and work, styles of work, or a balance of both, are we living a less real life if we don’t work for a corporation? Indeed, the different ways humans interface with the world is hybrid. The column below is an inquiry into the meanings of culturally problematic phrases like “the real world,” and “proper use of time,” and the ways these interplay. It will ask questions concerning digital humanities, critical pedagogy, and agency. It is an exploration, a discussion, and a journey. Join us.


Having spent about 30 years in the school system, most as a student, some as a teacher, I am often told that my life will change “when I get out into the ‘Real World.’” This phrase has always troubled me; it sometimes even angers me. I don’t do a fake job, eat fake food, or pay fake bills, do I? My rent sure feels ‘real’ every month. And yet, for some reason, simply because my income comes from a university, my life is less ‘real’ than those who pay the same bills by some other means. Despite the university’s foothold in the capitalist system — despite my substantial role in training young minds to go out into that ‘real world,’ the industrial educational complex somehow maintains a protected status — disconnected from the places people go when they leave. I am well aware that education does not stop when I stand up from my desk. And it doesn’t stop when there are no longer grades involved. Still, there is a divide we tend to maintain between the ‘in here’ and the ‘out there.’

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Faithful Listening

Faithful Listening

 

When you read through and comment on your students’ work, how do you assess the twenty-fifth essay you read as faithfully — as painstakingly, as generously, as truthfully — as you did the first?

My answer is that I literally listen as I read. Using a text-to-speech program like TextAloud, I listen to each paper as I simultaneously read it with my eyes. When my eyes are tempted to skim, I make sure my ears hear every last word.

This kind of listening, I argue, promotes fidelity to our students and their work and encourages us to read more truthfully and generously.

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For the last three years while I’ve worked with Hybrid Pedagogy, I have been flip about Digital Humanities as a field, a practice, or a pursuit. I have largely dismissed the work of digital humanists as arcane, irrelevant, boxy and tiresome, or as posturing by hungry, over-educated academics needing to stake a claim in the rapidly disintegrating educational institution. Among other things, I have echoed Matthew Kirschenbaum’s idea of Digital Humanities as “a term of tactical convenience”; and I have asked again and again: “What can Digital Humanities do for me?”

I remain largely unmoved in my opinion that a lot of DH projects are arcane, inaccessible, and of questionable relevance to the understanding and enjoyment of the Humanities. But I chalk this up in part to the nature of the work, and in part to my admittedly liminal involvement in the field. I am an outlier among outliers — not as much in the Ivory Tower as tilting at it — and among the least qualified to offer an opinion about whether or not Digital Humanities projects have or will result in meaningful scholarship with long-sustained impact. What makes my contribution to this discussion relevant, coincidentally — if I am to believe Jesse Stommel, my longtime friend and collaborator — is my distance from that discussion, and the perspective which that permits me. And also I am a pedagogue deeply invested in offering space for voices that are left out. I do not suppose to speak for anyone but myself, but I do suppose that my own voice can be joined by a chorus of others.

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There seems too often to be an explicit agreement that instructors lead and students respond, that instructors advise as students seek guidance, that when instructors talk about their pedagogy, it should be outside of earshot of the students they instruct. Open digital platforms can break these implicit rules to make spaces for joint inquiry among all members of the college community in the spirit of Freirian ideals of critical pedagogy. Using open digital tools creates space for productive dialogue within and across courses and departments, allowing for critical co-investigation not just within a single course but in the college community. An open learning space in which everyone can work together enables browsing and viewing each other’s work, and empowers students to participate more fully in their education.

Open digital pedagogy is the use of cost-free, publicly available online tools and platforms by instructors and students for teaching, learning, and communicating in support of educational goals, can, as Kris Shaffer has argued, “facilitate student access to existing knowledge, and empower them to critique it, dismantle it, and create new knowledge.” This approach can bring critical digital pedagogy to higher education and equip students to actively participate in their education. Jim Groom and Brian Lamb describe innovative customizations of open digital tools in use at various colleges and universities, including the University of Mary Washington, the University of British Columbia, and other CUNY campuses like Baruch College. At our college — New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) — a grant has allowed us to develop the City Tech OpenLab, an open digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating. Also built with open source software, the OpenLab enables the entire City Tech community to take advantage of open digital practices in courses, projects, clubs, and eportfolios. Our examples here are drawn from the work that members of our college’s community have contributed via the OpenLab.

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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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