“There is more than one way not to read, the most radical of which is not to open a book at all.” ~ Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Not reading is serious scholarly business. It is a crucial part of the work of critics, students, teachers, and reviewers. Pierre Bayard writes that not reading constitutes “our primary way of relating to books. We must not forget that even a prodigious reader never has access to more than an infinitesimal fraction of the books that exist.” Stephen Ramsay writes similarly in “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books,” “The world is vast. Art is long. What else can we do but survey the field, introduce a topic, plant a seed.”

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Toward an Interactive Criticism: House of Leaves as Haptic Interface

And now,’ cried Max, ‘let the wild rumpus start!
~ Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

When I first read Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, I barely got through 50 pages before I stopped doing what most would call “reading” and began to do what most would call “browsing.” While I was indeed playing across the book’s surfaces, flipping rapidly back and forth from one page to another, I wouldn’t describe my experience as a superficial one. This was a browsing that felt more like a frantic burrowing. I didn’t absorb every word, not more than a mere fraction of them, but I was building something substantial nonetheless. My first encounter with the text was a series of glancing blows, a play between the words, the spaces between them, and the shapes the words and spaces make together on the page. Reading the book that first time was more like venturing into the site of an archaeological dig. To this day, when I pick up House of Leaves, I feel like I’m still moving dirt, burying one thing as I uncover another. In this way, the book is about the acts of reading and interpretation, about the various ways we organize data and our own experiences of that data. House of Leaves is about matter and affect — about how we move stuff and how that stuff moves us.

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MMDU: The Missing Manual

MMDU: The Missing Manual

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

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

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

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MMDU: “I Would Prefer Not To.”

MMDU: “I Would Prefer Not To.”

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

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

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

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MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly (MMDU) is a rambunctious series of discussions about the past, present, and future of higher education, focusing on topics rising directly from Cathy Davidson’s distributed #futureEd experiment and its various offspring. Our first chat focused on chaotic learning environments, vulnerability, and internet trolls. Some highlights from the conversation:

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

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MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly

MOOC MOOC: Dark Underbelly

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

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

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

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

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This article closes out a series that reflects at a meta-level about the work of the journal itself. Here, we offer a Hybrid Pedagogy mix-tape with a few special guests.

It is the season of lists. Shopping listsTop 100 lists. Lists of who’s been naughty and who’s been niceLists about what mattered in 2013. Even lists about what 2014 might bring. December 2013 marks Hybrid Pedagogy’s two-year anniversary, and so we thought the time was ripe to jump in with a few short lists of our own.

The journal has grown exponentially over those two years; and our readership has remained as broad and diverse as those who have written for us. Since January 2012, Hybrid Pedagogy has published 172 articles by 51 authors, and we’ve had approximately 100,000 unique visitors and a total of 300,000 pageviews. Readership went from 8,800 views in October 2012 to 27,000 views in October 2013.

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Does our academic work exist if nobody sees it? I watch far too many colleagues spend countless hours building, teaching, researching, and writing with little to show for it. Or, at least, little that gets seen, given their effort. And the conventional academic publishing industry certainly isn’t helping anyone do work that reaches a significant and diverse audience.

While we’re graduate students, academics are given a nearly endless parade of mixed messages: It’s all about who you know. Apply for every grant and job in sight. Focus with blinders on an extremely narrow discipline. Do work that has a broad impact. Be a good teacher. Teaching will never get you tenure. Network like crazy. Take down your social media profiles when you’re on the job market. Be collegial. Don’t collaborate; only publish monographs. Write cover letter after cover letter after cover letter about yourself. Don’t shamelessly self-promote. Think about nothing but your work.

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Grading the Grade: a #digped Discussion

Grading the Grade: a #digped Discussion

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

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

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Intellectually rigorous work lives, thrives, and teems proudly outside conventional notions of academic rigor. Although institutions of higher education only recognize rigor when it mimics mastery of content, when it creates a hierarchy of expertise, when it maps clearly to pre-determined outcomes, there are works of exception — multimodal, collaborative, and playful — that push the boundaries of disciplinary allegiances, and don’t always wear their brains on their sleeves, so to speak.

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

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

How to Build an Ethical Online Course

The best online and hybrid courses are made from scraps strewn about and gathered together from across the web. We build a course by examining the bits, considering how they’re connected, and creating pathways for learners to make their own connections.

The design-process is what distinguishes online teaching most from traditional on-ground teaching. When we teach an on-ground class, the room in which we teach has been built for us in advance. Usually, it’s in a school, on a campus, has chairs, desks, tables, windows, walls, a door. Sometimes there’s a computer, a projector, a screen. Hopefully, the desks and chairs are moveable and there are chalkboards on multiple walls. When we enter these rooms, we still make (or, rather, should make) intentional design decisions. How will the chairs be arranged? What direction will we face? Will the blinds be open or closed? Where will the teacher’s desk be? Will the room have a front? Will we re-arrange from day to day or maintain a consistent configuration?

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

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Many have argued that the digital humanities is about building stuff and sharing stuff – that the digital humanities reframes the work we do in the humanities as less consumptive and more curatorial, less solitary and more collaborative. I maintain, though, that the humanities have always been intensely interactive, an engaged dance between the text on a page and the ideas in our brains. The humanities have also always been intensely social, a vibrant ecosystem of shared, reworked, and retold stories. The margins of books as a vast network of playgrounds.

The digital brings different playgrounds and new kinds of interaction, and we must incessantly ask questions of it, disturbing the edge upon which we find ourselves so precariously perched. And what the digital asks of us is that every assumption we have be turned on its head. The digital humanities asks us to pervert our reading practices — to read backwards, as well as forwards, to stubbornly not read, and to rethink how we approach learning in the digital age.

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

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“Building community doesn’t mean that learning happens.”
~ from an audience comment at InstructureCon 2013

Learning in a MOOC
Instruction does not equate to learning. This is the fundamental fly in the ointment of instructional design, and the epistemological failing of learning management systems and most MOOC platforms. Learning, unfortunately, is something no instruction has ever quite put its finger on, and something that no methodology or approach can guarantee. Instead, pedagogical praxis creates roads along which learning may take place (along with plenty of other experiences); and assessment is merely a system of checkpoints along the way to evaluate how well the road, the vehicle, and the driver are cooperating. In other words, assessment doesn’t measure learning. Assessment measures the design of the instruction.
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From all the jails the Boys and Girls
Ecstatically leap—
Beloved only Afternoon
That Prison doesn’t keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,
A Mob of solid Bliss—
Alas—that Frowns should lie in wait
For such a Foe as this—

— Emily Dickinson

Sometimes all you need is a Petri dish to grow an epidemic.

The point of any pedagogy is not the length of the course, size of the classroom, the headcount, or the completion or attrition rates. Pedagogy is unfazed by numbers; it is never outweighed by scale. Good pedagogy can be enacted in a room with one or two students, or in an online environment with thousands. This is because pedagogy is responsive, able to grow to the space it must inhabit, and its goal is a shift in thinking, which is spreadable by a single learner or by ten or by tens of hundreds.
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In one of our bolder moves, Hybrid Pedagogy decided to hold a #digped discussion focused on the idea of lifelong learning. But embedded in this broad topic were many considerations, brought to the fore by recent articles from journal contributors Robin Wharton and Sean Michael Morris. In her article, “Building in the Humanities Isn’t New“, Robin discussed the idea that recent innovations in post-secondary pedagogy may indeed have roots in — or be replicative of — the pedagogies of elementary and secondary teaching. She says in that piece that, ”I see a potentially useful convergence between the long-standing and relatively well-studied use of certain pedagogical strategies in early childhood settings and the still-emergent, and relatively untested use of what appear–on the surface at least–to be similar pedagogical strategies in post-secondary education.” And perhaps more importantly, she recognizes that learning, as well as teaching, may be more continuous than our hierarchical systems of education acknowledge; that all learning is lifelong learning.

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There are better forums for discussion than online discussion forums. The discussion forum is a ubiquitous component of every learning management system and online learning platform from Blackboard to Moodle to Coursera. Forums have become, in many ways, synonymous with discussion in the online class, as though one relatively standardized interface can stand in for the many and varied modes of interaction we might have in a physical classroom.

The rhetoric of a physical classroom — its pedagogical topography — can certainly dictate how we teach within it: where the seats are, which direction they face, whether they’re bolted down, what kind of writing surfaces are on the walls, how many walls have writing surfaces, whether there are windows, doors that lock, etc. The same is true of the virtual classroom: is it password protected, what kind of landing page do we arrive on when we enter the course, how many pages allow interaction, can students easily upload and share content. Each of these predetermined variables allows (and sometimes demands) a certain pedagogy. The physical classroom, though, can usually be rearranged (to some extent) on the fly. Most online learning platforms make customization slow or difficult enough to deter responsiveness or impulsivity. The pedagogies of most online classes, then, are fixed in advance.
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This #digped chat about peer-to-peer learning, or learning in the collective, was inspired by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas’ book, A New Culture of Learning. In that book, the authors propose that the nature of and methods for learning have changed with the digital age, and that how learning happens now is not necessarily in the hands of teachers; rather, learners — and in this case, all learners are lifelong learners — are beginning to take matters of education into their own hands. They open their book with this “very simple question”:

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

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

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This is the first of a four-part colloquy of articles. Each piece has been contributed by authors who have intimate experience with the struggles, failures, and successes of online learning programs. One new article will publish each day following this: “The Failure of an Online Program” by Sean Michael Morris on Wednesday; “The Early Days of Videotaped Lectures” by Audrey Watters on Thursday; and “How Not to Teach Online: A Story in Two Parts” by Bonnie Stewart on Friday.

Online learning in its current iterations will fail.

The failure of online education programs is not logistical, nor political, nor economic: it’s cultural, rooted in our perspectives and biases about how learning happens and how the internet works (these things too often seen in opposition). For learning to change drastically — a trajectory suggested but not yet realized by the rise of MOOCs — teaching must change drastically. And in order for that to happen, we must conceive of the activity of teaching, as an occupation and preoccupation, in entirely new and unexpected ways. We must unseat ourselves, unnerve ourselves. Online learning is uncomfortable, and so educators must become uncomfortable in their positions as teachers and pedagogues. And the administration of online programs must follow suit.

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Higher education needs more bravery. Digital pedagogy, or any experimental critical pedagogy, is necessarily dangerous, often with real risks for both instructors and students, much of which can be valuable for learning. But when we experiment with our pedagogies, we confront an establishment that can be hostile to anything new — an establishment that often punishes rather than rewards innovation — that increasingly enforces the standardization of curriculums and classroom practice. With approximately three-quarters of all classes being taught by contingent faculty, any deviation can trigger a non-renewal, leaving the critical pedagogue on the outside looking in.
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Digital pedagogy is not a dancing monkey. It won’t do tricks on command. It won’t come obediently when called. Nobody can show us how to do it or make it happen like magic on our computer screens. There isn’t a 90-minute how-to webinar, and we can’t outsource it.

We become experts in digital pedagogy in the same way we become American literature scholars, medievalists, or doctors of sociology. We become digital pedagogues by spending many years devoting our life to researching, practicing, writing about, presenting on, and teaching digital pedagogies. In other words, we live, work, and build networks within the field. But this isn’t exactly right, because digital pedagogy is less a field and more an active present participle, a way of engaging the world, not a world to itself, a way of approaching the not-at-all-discrete acts of teaching and learning. To become an expert in digital pedagogy, then, we need research, experience, and openness to each new learning activity, technology, or collaboration. Digital pedagogy is a discipline, but only in the most porous, dynamic, and playful senses of the word.
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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.

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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 conversation curated and archived via Storify.

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.
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On December 14, 2012, a group of 12 assembled in Palo Alto for a raucous discussion of online education. Hybrid Pedagogy contributors Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel gathered together with folks from a diverse array of disciplines and backgrounds, representing STEM fields, the humanities, schools of education, corporations, non-profits, ivies, community colleges, and small liberal arts colleges. Among us were adjuncts, CEOs, a graduate student, several digital humanists, and two outspoken educational technology journalists. As a group, we’d chaired online programs, designed MOOCs, dropped out of MOOCs, and the term “MOOC” was even coined in one of our living rooms. The goal of the summit was to open a broader conversation about online learning and the future of higher education. See the story in The Chronicle. This co-authored document, which calls for hacking and open discussion, was the result. 
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At exactly this moment, online education is poised (and threatening) to replicate the conditions, courses, structures, and hierarchical relations of brick-and-mortar industrial-era education. Cathy N. Davidson argued exactly this at her presentation, “Access Demands a Paradigm Shift,” at the 2013 Modern Language Association conference. The mistake being made, I think, is a simple and even understandable one, but damning and destructive nonetheless. Those of us responsible for education (both its formation and care) are hugging too tightly to what we’ve helped build, its pillars, policies, economies, and institutions. None of these, though, map promisingly into digital space. If we continue to tread our current path, we’ll be left with a Frankenstein’s monster of what we now know of education. This is the imminent destruction of our educational system of which so many speak: taking an institution inspired by the efficiency of post-industrial machines and redrawing it inside the machines of the digital age. Education rendered into a dull 2-dimensional carbon copy, scanned, faxed, encoded and then made human-readable, an utter lack of intellectual bravery.
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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.” I argue 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. On December 7, we focused our#digped discussion on issues large and small, loud and quiet, the questions we keep circling around and also the harder ones, the ones that unnerve us.

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.

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Online Learning: a Manifesto

Online Learning: a Manifesto

Online learning is not the whipping boy of higher education. As a classroom teacher first and foremost, I have no interest in proselytizing for online learning, but to roundly condemn it is absurd. Online learning is too big and variable a target. It would be like roundly condemning the internet or all objects made from paper.

Much of the rhetoric currently being used against MOOCs is the same rhetoric that has been used against online learning since the 90s (and against distance education since the mid-1800s). There are important questions to be asked, such as how do MOOCs change the business models of higher education, or how do we maintain online the intimate and tailored experiences some of us create in the classroom, but these are not new questions. What I find exciting about the rise of the MOOC is that it brings with it a new level of investment in discussions of online learning. This isn’t to say that MOOCs are necessarily good or bad (they are, in fact, a lot of different things, depending on the MOOC), but to get lost entirely in the stories being told about MOOCs is to miss the forest for the trees, so to speak.

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A MOOC is not a thing. A MOOC is a strategy. What we say about MOOCs cannot possibly contain their drama, banality, incessance, and proliferation. The MOOC is a variant beast — placental, emergent, alienating, enveloping, sometimes thriving, sometimes dead, sometimes reborn.

There is nothing about a MOOC that can be contained. Try as they might, MOOC-makers like Coursera, EdX, and Udacity cannot keep their MOOCs to themselves, because when we join a MOOC, it is not to learn new content, new skills, new knowledge, it is to learn new learning. Entering a MOOC is entering Wonderland – where modes of learning are turned sideways and on their heads — and we walk away MOOCified.

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In “Notes towards a Deformed Humanities,” Mark Sample writes, “I want to propose a theory and practice of a Deformed Humanities. A humanities born of broken, twisted things. And what 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.” Citation practices on the web have begun to contort and twist like the origami crane Sample describes here. For many, this leads to a certain despair, but I find myself reveling in a moment, a threshold, across which our scholarly practices now teeter. Citation is becoming less about name-dropping and positioning and more about generosity and collaboration.  Read More

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 andJoshua Eyler remarked on a recurrent problem presented by traditional citation styles and conventions for those of us who work with new media:

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The most recent #digped conversation covered questions of the value of publishing in a new media environment. At times, participants challenged the very definition of ‘to publish’ and explored questions about the future of academic publishing and classroom practices.
Introduced by Valerie’s #digped announcement After #twittergate, the conversation began with a question about thoughts and perceptions regarding the dangers of using social media.
Prompted by some of the initial responses to Robin’s #digped announcement, “Blurring Lines, Breaking Rules,” the discussion began with consideration of working definitions for and distinctions between “Open Source” and “Open Access.”
Then, as a number of participants observed, the distinctions between open access and open source approaches to intellectual property sharing stem from how we define “open,” and the discussion quickly turned to existing and potential paradigms of “openness.”

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?

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This sentence is a learning object. Wayne Hodgins, the “father of learning objects,” first came up with the idea for them while watching his son play with LEGOs. The basic notion is that we can create units of learning so fundamentally simple and reusable that they can be applied in different ways to different objectives and lessons, no matter the context. Hodgins’s dream was of “a world where all ‘content’ exists at just the right and lowest possible size.” Like a single sentence. Like a single question on an exam. Like a photograph, a moment in a video, a discussion prompt. As online learning has grown, learning objects have become something of the Holy Grail of instructional design… Or the windmills at which it tilts.

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MOOCs are a red herring. The MOOC didn’t appear last week, out of a void, vacuum-packed. The MOOC has been around for years, biding its time. Still, the recent furor about MOOCs, which some have called “hysteria,” opens important questions about higher education, digital pedagogy, and online learning. The MOOCs themselves aren’t what’s really at stake. In spite of the confused murmurs in the media, MOOCs won’t actually chomp everything in their path. And they aren’t an easy solution to higher education’s financial crisis. In fact, a MOOC isn’t a thing at all, just a methodological approach, with no inherent value except insofar as it’s used.

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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.

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Pedagogy is inherently collaborative. Our work as teachers doesn’t (or shouldn’t) happen in a vacuum. In “Hybridity, pt. 3: What Does Hybrid Pedagogy Do?,” Pete and Jesse write, “Teaching is a practice. Good teaching is an engaged, reflective, and generous practice. Pedagogy is not just talking and thinking about teaching. Pedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet (aka “praxis”). It’s vibrant and embodied, meditative and productive.” There is an important distinction here between teaching and pedagogy, between work that is productive and work that is productive and also reflective.

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There’s nothing wrong with Blackboard, except in the way that there’s something wrong with all of it.

At InstructureCon 2012, we noticed a lot of hate being directed at Blackboard, a bit of indifference about Moodle, and cheer after cheer offered up for Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) created by Instructure. That there was enthusiasm for Canvas at a Canvas-based event wasn’t unexpected; however, the conference spurred us to dive deeper into this LMS to see what it’s really about, and whether it’s as flexible and progressive a tool for education as Instructure says it is.

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This is the third in a series of articles that investigates hybridity as it relates to our positions as teachers and scholars, but also as learners, composers, and community members. We also consider the impetus for the naming of this journal and propose various directions the conversations might take us. Click here for part one, “Virtuality and Empiricism,” and here for part two, “What is Hybrid Pedagogy?”

Teaching is a practice. Good teaching is an engaged, reflective, and generous practice. Pedagogy is not just talking and thinking about teaching. Pedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet (aka “praxis”). It’s vibrant and embodied, meditative and productive. Good pedagogy takes both teaching and learning as its subjects.

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Ideas from this discussion were curated and archived via Storify here.

Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion group about participant pedagogy this Friday, May 25 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST (10:00am-11:00am PST) under the hashtag #digped. While the conversation will be, in part, inspired by our previous #digped discussion about Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart, you don’t need to read the book in order to join the conversation.

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This sentence — this one right here — is the first sentence I’ve written in two months that wasn’t co-authored in a Google Doc. It’s the first sentence, outside of e-mails and tweets and notes I’ve written to myself, that has my name (and only my name) on both its front and back ends — the first sentence I can look at and say with certainty, “I wrote that entire thing without help and without anyone else watching it get written.”

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The Twitter chat archived via Storify.

Howard Rheingold’s recent book, Net Smart: How To Thrive Online (MIT Press), feels almost custom-written for discussion on Hybrid Pedagogy. The book is not aimed exclusively for pedagogical application but addresses a method many of us are using in teaching and learning — a new digital epistemology. It “strives for a balanced approach that is neither a techno-utopian sales pitch nor a neo-Luddite moral panic.” Sounds like hybridity to us!

Hybrid Pedagogy will be hosting a Twitter discussion group on Rheingold’s book in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Start by reading the introduction and join us on Twitter for a conversation about its implications next Friday, May 4 from 12:30pm-1:30pm EST (9:30am-10:30am PST) under the hashtag #DigPedNet Smart’s introductory chapter is free for PDF download on MIT’s site for the book; however, since we hope to continue our discussion over the next few weeks, we encourage you to get the whole book. If you aren’t able to join us at 12:30pm EST on May 4, feel free to jump into the discussion asynchronously anytime on or around that day. We will conclude by capturing the content of the discussion via Storify a few days after the event.

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In digital space, everything we do is networked. Real thinking doesn’t (and can’t) happen in a vacuum. Our teaching practices and scholarship don’t just burst forth miraculously from our skulls. The digital academic community is driven by citation, generosity, connection, and collaboration. The work we do as hybrid and critical pedagogues, digital humanists, and alternative academic publishers depends on our sharing ideas as part of a much larger project or conversation.

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How to Storify. Why to Storify.

How to Storify. Why to Storify.

We’ve threatened to publish reviews and how-to-guides for digital tools since we started Hybrid Pedagogy, but we haven’t really gotten around to it. Every time we sit down to do this work, we get caught up in philosophizing about bigger issues related to educational technology — caught up in a desire to theorize the room before we fully enter the room. It’s important, though, for us to turn our minds (and typing fingers) toward both process and practice, hence our concordance of digital tools, and now this article about Storify.

Intended to serve as a stop-motion camera for the torrent of information we get from social media, Storify allows the user to arrange pieces of conversations to construct a narrative. When we first began teaching with Twitter, we wanted to contain conversations that would eventually evaporate. Twitter allows us to go back through someone’s stream to see everything, but the simple organization that a hashtag brings to an organic conversation has about a two-week window. If we start a back-channel conversation in a lecture one day, Twitter requires that we look at it, learn from it, and let it go soon after. Storify emerged on the scene last year to cull these kinds of social media contributions (not just on Twitter) and freeze them.

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Encouraging learning is an act of subtle manipulation. When we enter a classroom, we’re stepping onto a stage. This is true no matter how student-centered our classroom is, because our students are also stepping onto a stage (or into an audience). Even in the most open learning environments, we all play roles: the teacher, the student, the devil’s advocate, the reporter, the questioner, the dictator, the grader, the teacher’s pet. It’s in the careful modulation of these roles that we can actively control a learning environment. [Jesse writes this last sentence fully aware that his co-author and much of his audience will balk at the word “control.”] This issue of control is a delicate one, because the work we do in classrooms (as both teachers and students) depends on a very deliberate attention to how we manage the space and how we express ourselves within it. The work we do in classrooms depends on us finding a careful balance between asserting control and ceding it.

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This is the third in a series of articles that works to get feedback on the program I’m directing and helping to develop at Marylhurst University in Portland, OR. Marylhurst is a small liberal arts university focused on non-traditional students and adult learners. I teach (in the classroom and online) for the English Literature & Writing department, which has concentrations in LiteratureCreative Writing, and Text:Image. The new online degree program, which opens January 2013, integrates literary studies and the digital humanities with a focus on service and experiential learning. 

With the feedback on my first and second article in this series, we’ve crafted the following brief description of the program:

Marylhurst University offers a high quality English and Digital Humanities Online degree that integrates literary studies with the digital humanities, a hybrid approach to online instruction, and an emphasis on service and experiential learning. Courses in this small, selective program (capped at 100 students) are taught by a predominantly full-time faculty from the on-campus department.

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This is the second in a series of articles that investigates hybridity as it relates to our positions as teachers and scholars, but also as learners, composers, and community members. We also consider the impetus for the naming of this journal and propose various directions the conversations might take us.

In a broad sense, my own scholarly work is about the (sometimes wondrous, sometimes horrifying) relationship between bodies and technology. As our flesh is made intangible in the digital age, we find ourselves increasingly interested in bodies, dead and otherwise–in cadavers, crime scenes, bodily mutilation, and torture–in shows like Six Feet Under and The Walking Dead, films like Saw, video games like Gears of War, and novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. This is, by no means, a newfound fascination, but reflects a far more universal fear: a fear Shakespeare explores in Hamlet, beginning with the ominous words “Who’s there?”; a fear Mary Shelley explores in Frankenstein, wondering about identity and physicality from the first phrase, “I am by birth”; and a fear Herman Melville explores in “The Tartarus of Maids,” where he describes “blank-looking girls” working in a paper factory, slaves to a new-fangled machine.  Each author wonders what constitutes a self, of what sort of matter are we made, what it is to be a body, to be human. Each wonders where our (technological and political) machines end and we begin.

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This is the second in a series of articles that works to get feedback on the program I’m directing and helping to develop at Marylhurst University in Portland, OR. Marylhurst is a small liberal arts university focused on non-traditional students and adult learners. I teach (in the classroom and online) for the English Literature & Writing department, which has concentrations in LiteratureCreative Writing, and Text:Image. The new online degree program, which opens January 2013, integrates literary studies and the digital humanities with a focus on service and experiential learning.

I’ve been thinking about my audience for this series of posts. Initially, I had thought to bring digital humanities, literary studies, and educational technology experts into conversation, allowing my ideas for the program to be considered and influenced by a much larger network. I’m realizing, though, that there’s another group of experts from whom I particularly want feedback and suggestions: students. Ideally, this would include input from prospective students for the program, but since the program is only just barely beginning to germinate, what I’d like to do here is ask both students and teachers in existing programs to think about how the English degree is being transformed by digital technologies and about how online learning can be re-imagined through the use of new (and increasingly social) media.

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This is the first in a series of articles. Click here for part two on design principles. Click here for part three on the degree requirements.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working to get feedback on the program I’m directing and helping to develop at Marylhurst University in Portland, OR. Marylhurst is a small liberal arts university focused on non-traditional students and adult learners. I teach (both in the classroom and online) for the English Literature & Writing department, which currently has concentrations in Literature, Creative Writing, and Text:Image. The new online degree program, which opens January 2013, integrates literary studies and the digital humanities with a focus on service and experiential learning.

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One of the most innovative educational ideas of the last century, we propose, came from Paulo Friere, the Brazilian educational theorist and populist. In his critique of “the banking model of education” in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire writes,

“Those who use the banking approach, knowingly or unknowingly (for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize), fail to perceive that the deposits themselves contain contradictions about reality.”

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In this article for the Guardian, George Monbiot calls academic publishing “economic parasitism” and academic publishers “monopolists,” which brings up a broader discussion about the purpose and promise of peer review. The academic publishing peer review process is an institution, and as an institution, it has a set of tenets or laws that undergird its existence. While investigating the institution itself is a useful endeavor (see Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s excellent work in Planned Obsolescence), perhaps a new alternative to academic publishing is better off to cast itself as far as possible from this (overly stable and politically-charged) institution.

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Technological Panic

Technological Panic

The computer and the LMS for an online or hybrid class are merely a medium. Still, so many instructors and students in technologically-enhanced classes spend the majority of their time grappling (and coming to terms) not with the ideas of the class but with the delivery device. We struggle to log in, to format our work correctly, to find information in an endless parade of contextual menus, and to bring some semblance of ourselves into the interactions we have in forums and chat tools.

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The Twitter Essay

The Twitter Essay

Consider the tangible violence technology has wrought upon grammar. We rely on automated grammar and spell-check tools in word-processing software (so much that they’ve become a crutch). E-mail shorthand fails to live up to the grammatical standards of typed or handwritten letters. And many believe our language is being perverted by the shortcuts (and concision nearly to the point of indifference) we’ve become accustomed to writing and reading in text messages and tweets.

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The Tangle of Assessment

The Tangle of Assessment

Grading and assessment are curious beasts, activities many instructors love to hate but ones that nonetheless undergird the institutions where we work.

Peter Elbow begins his essay “Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgment” with the mission to “attempt to sort out different acts we call assessment” (187). It’s interesting to note his specific phrasing here. He doesn’t say that he intends to “sort out assessment” but rather that he intends to “sort out different acts we call assessment.” From the first sentence of his essay, Elbow makes clear that assessment is a complicated and potentially fractious subject, one that he treads lightly. He continues, “I have been working on this tangle not just because it is interesting and important in itself but because assessment tends so much to drive and control teaching. Much of what we do in the classroom is determined by the assessment structures we work under” (187). The choices we make about assessment, often at the outset of a course (in the syllabus), guide much of what happens within the course. Assessment is a “tangle” for Elbow, both because it is difficult to navigate with any true objectivity and because ideas about assessment influence so much of what happens at institutions and in classrooms.

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The Student 2.0

The Student 2.0

Students are evolving. The student 2.0 is an altogether different animal from the student 1.0. And our classrooms are ecosystems, an environment all their own, where we each must decide how to engage this new species of student. We teeter at a slowly disintegrating threshold, one foot in a physical world and the other in a virtual one. Our students are no longer just bodies in desks; they are no longer vessels. They have become compilations, amalgams, a concatenation of web sites. They are the people in front of us, but also their avatars in World of Warcraft and the profiles they create on FaceBook. They speak with mouths, but also with fingers tapping briskly at the keys of their smart phones. When they want to “reach out and touch someone,” they use Skype and Twitter. They have become more than just ears and eyes and brains to feed. Now, they feed us, and themselves, and each other, with an endless parade of texted and tweeted characters. Shouldn’t we, as teachers 2.0, work with not against the flow of these seemingly errant 1s and 0s? Shouldn’t student-centered learning address itself, as fully as possible, to this new breed of student? Shouldn’t we understand our students as more than just inert flesh?

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