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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Friday, May 3 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped focused on the notion of the learning collective, an idea put forward by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas in A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Collectives, the authors point out, are different from communities, especially in that they “are defined by an active engagement with the process of learning.” The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
Brown and Thomas argue that technology has changed the nature of learning in collectives. In a culture now defined by the way we connect with one another, how we share, what we share, and how that sharing becomes participatory (evidenced equally by sophisticated online collaborations as much as by the ever present, banal, entirely spreadable meme), connecting and working together is no longer only a practice, it is quickly becoming a habit, a mode, a preferred behavior.
Our #digped chat about teaching composition massively (either within a MOOC, or as part of a “MOOCified” on-ground or hybrid course) was first and foremost inspired by Chris Friend’s article, “Will MOOCs Work for Writing?“, in which he proposes that the strategies employed in massive courses could be used to great benefit in smaller, on-ground courses. These ideas were further pushed by the #digped announcement, which proposed: “Writing, and the teaching of writing, is undergoing a fundamental shift; and it may be only within the massive, networked environment of a MOOC or other similar approach that we can investigate the nature of this shift.”
This Friday, April 5 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to consider the place of composition and writing curricula within massive open online courses. MOOCs do not just offer an opportunity to reexamine the way we teach writing, and the way writing is learned, they may well ambush us into doing so. The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
Always when we talk about massively-scaled learning, we must first face the gargoyle of our resistance. Despite their inexorable march, and subsequently proliferating PR, MOOCs have not been embraced by the majority of educators. In fact, MOOCs are seen as an experiment rife with poorly executed pedagogies, troubling colonial overtures, and corporate origins that threaten to prey upon traditional higher education. And yet, MOOCs are upon us and resistance may well prove futile. Perhaps instead of erecting an ed-tech Berlin Wall, with MOOC adopters on one side and holdouts against this massive technology on the other, we should consider ways of making these MOOCs work for us, not against us.
In the original prompt for this discussion, Sean Michael Morris writes, “Issues of ownership, intellectual property, and plagiarism are as old as the academy itself. But new media, and the permeability of text and image within them, create dilemmas not previously faced in our classrooms, research, and professional disciplines.” This isn’t to say that there haven’t been other dilemmas, or even other similar dilemmas, but the nature of our work and the modes of its dissemination are changing at an incredible rate. And our discussions of the ethical and legal implications do not always keep pace.
This Friday, March 1 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped focusing on the issue of ownership and plagiarism in the digital age, when reusing, remixing, and repurposing are common practices — even creative ones. The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
Issues of ownership, intellectual property, and plagiarism are as old as the academy itself. But new media, and the permeability of text and image within them, create dilemmas not previously faced in our classrooms, research, and professional disciplines. Today, reuse, repurposing, even outright copying can serve artistic and creative purposes; but how these practices affect the original creators of content, how they can or should be viewed by the law, and how we — as producers and consumers of content — make determinations of ethical behavior are active questions in intellectual and pedagogical arenas.
This Friday, February 1 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss student involvement in teaching, learning, and pedagogy. If you’re an educator, please invite your students to participate.
The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age was published on January 22, 2013. The document, a collaboration between twelve educators, proposes on its surface 9 rights and 10 principles that affect students and their work in any learning environment, with an eye toward those which are hybrid or online. The document has generated a great deal of discussion about its context, but little about its implication: namely, students are so integral to the process of education that how we conceive the institution and the practice must evolve. As educators, our work is not to better understand and defend our own positions, but to abdicate those positions in meaningful, thoughtful ways.
This Friday, January 11 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped centered on the notion of “breaking” the course. The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
In his article, Online Learning: a User’s Guide to Forking Education, among other arguments, Jesse Stommel foresees a need to break or rebuild the idea of the course. “We need to devise learning activities that take organic (and less arbitrary) shapes in space and time. We need to recognize that the best learning happens not inside courses, but between them.” As part of his larger discussion of “forking” education in order to bring learning more effectively into the digital medium, Jesse suggests that the course is only one of a set of components that needs to be taken apart, scrutinized with care and with playfulness, and then rebuilt. The inspection of education and educative methods needs to be so complete that no assumptions are left unexamined.
This Friday, December 7 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific),Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to consider the future of higher education. The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
Over the last twelve months, Hybrid Pedagogy has published 74 articles by 16 authors. It’s no surprise for us to report that the articles we’ve published about MOOCs have been some of our most-read articles of the year. The MOOC is not a bandwagon, though, but something needing careful interrogation with “discernment but not judgment.” Jesse argues in “Online Learning: a Manifesto,” that “to get lost entirely in the stories being told about MOOCs is to miss the forest for the trees, so to speak.” There is a deeper discussion underlying our anxieties (and excitement) about MOOCs — a discussion about the efficacy of open education, online learning, and digital pedagogies. A discussion about the future of education.
The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
This Friday, November 2 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to question whether current systems of academic citation are appropriate for new media environments. During a recent exchange on Twitter, Mark Sample and Joshua Eyler remarked on a recurrent problem presented by traditional citation styles and conventions for those of us who work with new media.
The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
This Friday, October 5 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the #digped hashtag to explore how our writing in online, multimodal, and social media environments might inform our definitions of “scholarship.” The old models of writing are changing and new models are emerging in the online environment. In “Show Not Tell: The Value of New Media Scholarship” Cheryl Ball writes, “most authors who do publish online in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals publish texts that do not break print-bound conventions and rarely travel into an apparent experimental realm of scholarship.” Most people have not been trained to view online forums as scholarly. We are encouraged to read and write, in any and every way, but “new media scholarship may be dismissed as having an unnecessarily fussy ‘advertising aesthetic’… making it unworthy as a scholarly text in the eyes of the reader.” Increasingly though, we are collaborating on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, and asking how communication in these forums fit into the bigger picture of scholarly writing.
This is not to say all digital publication is worthy of the title ‘scholarship’ just because scholars produce it. Amidst all the discussion about what social media and online journals (like this one) can do for us, it is increasingly important to think critically about the potential dangers. If we are going to embrace the composing pedagogues, students, and scholars who are going online without any goading, how do we decide the value of texts produced in non-traditional platforms? Can a series of Tumblr posts create an argument as valuable as a traditional print-style journal article?
This Friday, September 14 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to consider the promises and pitfalls of open source and open access learning resources. The work of students and pedagogues alike depends upon our ability to access, use, remix, and transform the texts and technologies we study. In her recent post, “Doing DH versus Doing Digital,” Lee Bessette writes, “I might not know much about coding (and only slightly more about encoding and mark-up languages) but I am getting tired of being at the mercy of the software that I use (she says while typing this in her least-favorite program ever, Word).” Bessette continues by observing how she is drawn to Digital Humanities as a discipline because it offers us “the possibility we might create interfaces and software that give us environments that critically engage with and produce what we want, rather than limit ourselves to what we’re told we can do.”
The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
This Friday, August 31 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under hashtag #digped to explore the changing political economies of higher education. The practicality and future of the university has fallen under scrutiny. “There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in our graduates, the out-of-control tuitions and crippling student loan debt,” Debra Leigh Scott writes in “How the American University was Killed in Five Easy Steps”. Few who have pursued life in higher education can deny an affection for the college campus. From the quad to the cafeteria, from the library to the biology lab, universities are sites of charm, intellectual industry, and perpetual nostalgia. However, “Attention is finally being paid to the enormous salaries for presidents and sports coaches, and the migrant worker status of the low-wage majority faculty.” The nostalgia is wearing off, and many are proclaiming the end of higher education as we’ve known it.
We certainly recognize the dangers of the increasing corporatization at many institutions of higher learning, a move couched in the rhetoric of efficiency, shrinking budgets, and a “culture of scarcity”. However, as long as there are students eager to learn, teachers and learning institutions have a responsibility to them first and foremost. The question, then, is how do we address our concerns about the shape of higher education within a pedagogical framework? Can we make education more widely available (and more economically viable) without sacrificing good pedagogy?
This Friday, August 3 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under hashtag #digped centered on the difference between content-delivery and learning in online education. We’ll use as focal point for the discussion the problems and advantages of, and future potential for, the video lecture as utilized in flipped classrooms, MOOCs, hybrid courses, and more. In “Broadcast Education: A Response to Coursera”, we suggested that video lectures used to create large-scale, “auditorium”-style learning environments may not be the very best application of technology. Our discussion on Friday will inspect how this technology is being used and abused, and how it might be used better.
The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
This Friday, July 20 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped focused on collaborative teaching and shared pedagogies. In “Digital Humanities Made Me a Better Pedagogue: a Crowdsourced Article,” we assembled ideas on the subject from a team of authors, who surveyed the thinking of a much larger group via hyperlinks, crowdsourcing on Twitter, and workshopping at several THATCampun-conferences.
The article begins with the assertion: “Pedagogy is inherently collaborative. Our work as teachers doesn’t (or shouldn’t) happen in a vacuum.” While this might not seem like such an audacious claim, collaborative teaching is rarely institutionalized at an administrative level. It is still customary to have only one instructor of record assigned to each class. This practice obscures — and discourages — the collaborative work of colleagues, teaching assistants, and often the students themselves. We have previously argued for the importance of an increased focus on “participant pedagogy,” and we should remain equally attentive to the fact that our pedagogies are (and must be) developed in concert with fellow teachers.
The conversation curated and archived via Storify.
This Friday, July 6 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern time (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific time), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion group under the hashtag #digped focused on the matter of the “digital divide”. Or, more to the point, what the digital divide can teach us. The discussion will circulate around ideas raised in the Hybrid Pedagogy article, “It’s About Class: Interrogating the Digital Divide”, as well as ideas posed by the articles cited below.
For at least a decade, the notion that internet access and digital literacy create a “have” and “have-not” division in American and global culture has inspired everything from outrage to activism. Is the digital divide a new site of social justice, or just a rhetoric of inequality?