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39 minutes | Jun 13, 2019
Why do we teach students how to write? Is it for their benefit or for ours? That’s a serious question—composition classes, and the five-paragraph essay, were initially invented as a service to teachers, not because students needed specific skills for life after college. How can we teach meaningful writing classes that are designed to address student needs beyond the classroom? To get help looking for an answer, I talk with Cheryl E. Ball about the ways she gets professional editing, modern publishing, and digital pedagogy to intersect. [A complete transcript of this episode is available.] Back in 2012 and 2013, Cheryl wrote a three-part series of articles for Hybrid Pedagogy in which she introduces what she calls “editorial pedagogy” — a combination of the real work of the publishing process (which should teach authors how to write better) and the classroom environment (which should teach students how to write better, using “real-world” projects). Cheryl’s editorial pedagogy is a sensible approach, but it needs a bit of explanation. This episode dives in to how it works, what it looks like, and how it changes her teaching. We also chat about the Vega publishing system, a massive multinational project to create a new open publishing system that supports multiple workflows, from double-blind review to the open mentorship approach. Along the way, we talk about assessment and (of course) outcomes. This episode focuses heavily on composition and professional-writing courses, but Cheryl’s editorial pedagogy can be applied to any number of disciplines. It’s all a matter of using real-world experiences to drive student learning. The post Publishing appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
46 minutes | Dec 6, 2018
With each new technological development promising to “revolutionize education”, we need to start asking how…and at what cost. Platforms that provide services allegedly for free often do so in exchange for data about its users—forming a deep layer of surveillance over our online lives. Asking students to use online platforms and services raises ethical questions that often get overlooked, or even noticed. Chris Gilliard joins us to walk us through the concerns he has about the state of online surveillance, the dangers lurking behind the expansion of the Internet of Things, and the caution we should use when inviting—or expecting—students to work online. He explains why we need to pay more attention to the technologies we use, to the technologies we expect students to use, and the kinds of information those technologies extract from us. Filled with real examples of how technologies used in our lives and our classrooms can erode our autonomy and shape the way we perceive the world around us, this conversation shows how, while we think we’re using our devices and services, those things may end up using us instead. As students use increasingly more services and accounts to conduct their affairs, we’re less likely to know what data is being collected and how that data is being used to lead them to make decisions or take actions. From digital redlining to racial profiling to round-the-clock surveillance, this episode is packed with stories of things we often take for granted without even realizing we’re doing it. The post Platforms appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
32 minutes | Jun 22, 2018
Asking the Right Questions
If you’ve listened to this podcast before, or if you follow its associated journal, you know that connecting with students ranks among our most important values, right up there with my personal soapbox of really listening to them. This episode (full transcriptavailable) follows that same trend, but through some unusual avenues. (more…) The post Asking the Right Questions appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
40 minutes | Mar 8, 2017
In this episode (full transcript available), I spoke with Robin DeRosa about a broad issue that affects the way we do things in our classrooms; the way programs design their courses; the way institutions support their faculty and learners; and the way knowledge, education, and publication are funded. I’m talking about the issue of access — particularly open access — to course materials, course content, teaching tools, and even student work. Ensuring that students have access to available networks of knowledge is just one piece of a very large and complex problem. We also need to ensure teachers have access to materials that help them teach. And everyone in the classroom has to have access to whatever tools are being used, whether that’s a #2 pencil that Betsy Devos seemed unable to find on her first day of work or a laptop that students could use to help them annotate or even publish online articles. That’s what we’re exploring in today’s episode: What does it take to access an education? Learners must know how to navigate the system; how to self-advocate when needed; and how to distinguish among necessary processes, bureaucratic obstacles, and genuine injustices. Without these institutional social skills, navigating — and getting to — an education takes more effort than the learning itself. Music used in this episode: Solutions (c) — Lee Rosevere, CC BY-NC 3.0 After Dark — Lee Rosevere, CC BY-NC 4.0 Gentle Whispering — Lee Rosevere, CC BY-NC 4.0 Thoughtful — Lee Rosevere, CC BY 4.0 Soft Euphoria — Lee Rosevere, CC BY-NC 4.0 Please support this project, through donations of finances, publicity, or attention — whatever’s in your budget right now. The post Access appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
11 minutes | Nov 28, 2016
I attended a funeral last month. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t — not for the lump in my throat or the tears in my eyes or any of the affective, funereal reasons. No, I didn’t speak only because of logistics. When the officiant asked for volunteers to step forward and offer their remembrances, she made eye contact with That One Brave Soul who said before-hand that she would talk. Once she was at the podium, the speaker dazzled us by donning a feather boa and a festive costume hat (the deceased loved Halloween). The speaker made us laugh with character descriptions that were just on the truthful side of slanderous. She made us cry with confessions of missed opportunities to share her feelings in time. Then she stepped down from the podium, and The Silence set in. (more…) The post Essential Silence appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
7 minutes | Sep 4, 2016
Giving Voice to Written Words
Writers should talk more. We write to make ourselves heard. We use writing to tell a story, contribute to conversations, add our voices to a chorus, raise the alarm against injustice, call for help. Readers, then, look for a strong voice from authors or get emotional over a text that speaks to them. In each of these cases, text evokes a sound. Indeed, the very word audience originates from the Latin word meaning “to hear”, same as the word “audio”. Writing allows us, in a fashion, to hear words and language. As we read, we recreate what the words might sound like in our voices, rather than exactly how they sounded to the writer. Reading transforms print into sound, even if it’s all internal. This is a call for authors to make more noise with their writing. I mean that literally: Use vocal sounds to convey words, not just letters on a page. Let readers become listeners. Tell your story to their ears. Spoken word demands a synchrony of attention that written words cannot duplicate. When confronted with written text, we can skip, skim, scan, and speed-read. With audible speech, while we can skip to a different spot in a recording, we then lose all the content we skipped; there’s no way to get an overview of spoken text. While at first this may seem a limitation, I believe the opposite: Spoken text offers an opportunity for richer involvement with the content than the printed word ever provides. Jonathan Sircy discussed this idea in the context of teachers reviewing student papers in an article on Hybrid Pedagogy titled “Faithful Listening”. In it, he explains how listening to student work creates a more genuine appreciation of their texts. Writing teachers, especially those in K-12 schools, often work to help their students develop a voice in their writing. (I would argue that academic writing is often specifically intended to eliminate that voice, but that’s an issue for another time.) Writers who express their voice use words distinctly and purposefully, crafting a unique style recognizable as their own. But why do we limit ourselves like this? Our perception of writing should expand to include the spoken word, not just the written. We deserve to hear one another’s meaning. The sound of language helps readers. I’ve been an avid fan of audiobooks for decades; my blind grandfather got me hooked on them, often bragging that he could read a book while doing the dishes while those who used their eyes to read couldn’t pull off the same trick. Audiobooks take the written word back to the oral tradition of storytelling, allowing the narrator to infuse the text with expressiveness and emotion that, for all the wonder of written language, is nonetheless challenging to capture in print. Think how much texture and richness are added to poetry when it’s read aloud. The sound of words endows language with beauty and meaning. Those of us who read books with our ears hold a dual-layer appreciation for the text, and it baffles me when people claim — as I often hear — that listening to an audiobook isn’t “real” reading. On the contrary: Listening to a text is more real than merely reading it. I’m also a huge fan of podcasts, listening to them in my car any time I don’t have an audiobook queued up. Unlike traditional radio programs, which require an audience to listen at the same time as the program is broadcast, podcasts allow the audience to listen to a program on their own schedule, with a caveat: The program still takes the same amount of time to listen to regardless of when it is played back. Timing is integral to audio programs; good programs captivate audiences with well-timed narrative and keep listeners involved in the audible world they present. Speaking of timing, silence is underrated. When we tell stories to our friends, we pause at certain points and rush at others, to help deliver the story the way we intend. Audible storytellers need to keep in mind that their audiences might need a moment for something to sink in. Silence is also a foreign concept for people who work in text. While paragraph breaks or visual dividers do a little to affect the speed at which readers experience writing, there is no way with the written word to force readers to stop and ponder an idea. The reverse is also true: Visual readers can pause anytime they need to think for a moment, resuming from wherever their finger held the spot. Audio, though, needs to account for the necessary time to think. Audio storytellers need to embrace silence on occasion so that listeners can digest. And finally, audible texts create an intimacy that doesn’t exist in print. This essay is a call for more of that intimacy. The spoken word physically works because the speaker vibrates vocal chords which move molecules in the air, which then tickle follicles of hair in the listener’s ear. Even if that sound is recorded by microphone, translated to 1s and 0s, saved as an audio file, transmitted over the internet, and played back through a set of headphones, whoever spoke the words in that initial recording ultimately used their body to affected the listener in a physical way: Spoken words move people. As Anne Fernald put it in an episode of Radiolab, “sound is…touch at a distance.” I challenge you to do more to move your audience more intentionally. Let’s even get intimate with our words. Take out your microphone, make some noise, and give your writing a voice. A version of this piece was originally published as part of Digital Writing Month 2014. The post Giving Voice to Written Words appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
28 minutes | Aug 19, 2016
Making and Breaking Domain of One’s Own: Rethinking the Web in Higher Ed
On Friday, 12 August 2016, Martha Burtis gave one of two closing keynotes at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute held at the University of Mary Washington. Below is the text of her talk; the audio above is edited from the video recording of that morning’s keynotes. I thought I’d start today by telling you a little bit about myself. While some of your faces are familiar, I don’t know most of you, and I doubt you know much about me. I trust you know my name, and you now know from my introduction that I run the Digital Knowledge Center at the University of Mary Washington, which provides peer tutoring and consulting to our students working on digital projects and assignments. Here are a few other things I’d like to tell you about myself. I attended this school (although at the time it was known as Mary Washington College), and I graduated from here 20 years ago this past May. I received a B.A. in English, and when I graduated I was dead set on going to graduate school, studying early modern British literature, getting a PhD, and, hopefully, eventually, teaching at a school just like this. Instead, a couple of other things happened. The year I graduated from MWC was pretty close to the year the Web “broke big.” I discovered the Web between my junior and senior years in college (in a summer medieval literature course, of all places), and my primary use of it that following year was as a research tool for policy debate (I was on the debate team). By the time I graduated, I had been thoroughly charmed. What I actually ended up doing in the year after I graduated was going to work at one of the finest places in the world: the Folger Shakespeare Library as a program assistant for the Folger Institute which organizes and runs seminars, workshops, and summer institutes for faculty and postdocs in early modern studies. I spent a lot of time around mid- to late-career scholars who were fully and meaningfully employed in teaching and research positions and a lot of time around struggling graduate students who were working construction to make ends meet. And I was lucky enough in my job to be able to start doing stuff with the Web. The confluence of those two things — falling in love with the Web while falling out of love with the idea of never getting the job I wanted — took me down a different path. I ended up getting a masters degree in instructional technology from Teachers College at Columbia University. I moved back to Virginia, and a few months after completing my thesis project and getting my degree I got a job — right back here at Mary Washington. I was hired as an instructional technology liaison, and I worked up the hill a bit from this building supporting faculty in fine and performing arts. It was 2001, and I loved the faculty and the students, but I hated my job. At that time, I was basically providing technical support for faculty and their departments: fixing printers, setting up lab computers, and, occasionally, teaching someone something about Word or Powerpoint or Excel. We had one tool in our instructional technology tool shed at that time: Blackboard. And faculty primarily seemed to use it to distribute digital files, email students, and post grades. So that was my first full-time professional job in instructional technology. I wasn’t using anything that had to do with my degree. My boss at the time suggested that for professional development I consider becoming an Apple Certified Technician (this was pre-Genius days). I did work with great people in my department, and, like I said, I loved the faculty and students and I loved, and still do love, this place. I would like to say that lots of faculty were coming to me for help thinking through how they could use the Web to transform their classes, their teaching, and their students’ experiences — and that I was regularly inundated with bold, imaginative ideas and that I was capable and empowered enough to partner with them on these adventures. But I felt neither capable nor empowered, and the truth is, neither were they. When I was working at the Folger and in graduate school in the late 90s the Web seemed like a place of infinite possibility, a great democratizing force, and a space in which anyone could build themselves something remarkable. Now, I was younger then, and I was, of course, naive. And the history of the Web is more complex than that, and technology nostalgia is like any other nostalgia — colored and softened by the long lens of the future. But I do remember, for example, a tool that I played with in graduate school (this would have been spring of 2000) that allowed multiple people to leave public annotations on a Web site. And when I used it, I felt like I was connecting with people in a way that had never been done before. It felt like magic. And it didn’t work that well. The truth is bandwidth and code hadn’t caught up with our imaginations. But the Web was this powerful force that was washing over us, and we were all — in every field, in every industry, in personal and professional domains — trying to stay afloat and figure out what it meant. It seems only reasonable to assume. No, not reasonable. It seems impossible to not assume that in the domain of education, a domain that is entirely about the creating, the building, the sharing of knowledge and learning that this new force of creation and knowledge sharing would be fully and authentically realized. How on earth could it not be? How could we all not see the power that this new medium was affording us and not be drawn to it, in every way? Most importantly, how could we not, in fact, see it as our job to shape this new medium and to help the rest of the world understand what it could do? As a platform for transformational teaching? As a space for public research and dissemination of knowledge? As a place for collaboration on scales never seen before? And yet. Blackboard. What happened? I have a few theories. I think the Web hit us at a critical moment in higher education where we were already struggling with doing our work less like schools and more like businesses, and the tech industry and its vendors had already begun to infiltrate us with promises of how technology could help us achieve this goal. We had already bought into student information systems (which eventually became everything information systems), and with the promise of those systems came the promise of lots of data which would allow us to become more efficient and streamlined. The first LMSs were actually built at schools, often under the guidance of faculty. I like to imagine that those people were as charmed as I was about the affordances of the Web for teaching and learning. I want to believe their intentions were very good, but what they focused their efforts on was building systems for disseminating content. Systems with common interfaces. Systems with standard tools. Systems that could integrate with other systems to make our work more efficient, our experiences cleaner, and our teaching and learning, as a result, more sterile. What if the early Web adopters in higher education had imagined Domain of One’s Own instead of Course in a Box? Why didn’t they? In part this question is about why our systems use courses as a unit of measure instead of people. And the answer to that is really complex and stretches far back into the history of education, which is beyond the scope of my 25 minute co-keynote. But, suffice it to say, courses have long been the way we have measured our institutions and the way we have organized our administrative processes. We understand ourselves and what we offer to students through the unit of the course. But I would argue that with the greater adoption of administrative systems in higher education we doubled-down on that unit of measure. And with the LMS we did something even bigger. Because even if we had decided for centuries that in our schools the course would be how we’d standardize administration of our schools, we didn’t, systematically, believe that courses themselves were standardized. We valued the notion that within one professor’s course she had the freedom to enact and explore the topic at hand using the pedagogies of her own choosing. And, by extension, presumably the tools and technologies of her own choosing. But when the LMS goes beyond merely providing administrative and management features and instead is offering features designed (perhaps badly) to build community, share information, and collaborate with others, it is obviously influencing pedagogy. I don’t think we acknowledge this nearly enough when we talk about the technologies we use in education. We like to think that a tool is easily defined by its basic functionality: discussion board, wiki page, synchronous chat, quiz builder. But all of these tools are of course far more complex than that. They’ve been designed and coded and engineered by companies to provide functionality in particular ways. And that design and code guides our students’ and our experiences through their use. Imagine, if you will, if someone told you that from now on when you conduct a discussion in your classroom you are bound by a series of rules, procedures, and steps. You must follow those at all times, and, everyone else at your institution must also. From now on, every classroom discussion at your school must be conducted using these sames rules, procedures, and steps. If you don’t like them? You’ll have to wait and see if the next update to them addresses your concerns. You would probably balk at this suggestion — and you should. But rules, procedures, and steps are exactly what code defines, and when we fail to acknowledge this we fail to see the pedagogical power that technology and the LMS can have in our classroom. So the LMS underscores and further codifies a set of beliefs and values: courses should be used as a unit of measure to more
22 minutes | Aug 16, 2016
Not Enough Voices
On Friday, 12 August 2016, Sean Michael Morris gave one of two closing keynotes at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute held at the University of Mary Washington. Below is the text of his talk; the audio above is edited from the video recording of that morning’s keynotes. I do my best to stay quiet. It’s only on Jesse Stommel’s insistence that I’m here. It’s not that I don’t like to talk. My family will tell you I like to talk plenty. It’s that when I speak, you listen to me. You listen because I have a podium. I have slides. I have this script in front of me. All your training tells you to listen to me. I do my best to stay quiet because when I’m quiet, I can hear you. And it’s you I’m interested in. Your stories. Your efforts. Your insights. Over a year ago, I was having dinner with a friend of mine. He does social justice work related to small businesses. Unions. Minority business owners. Underdeveloped neighborhoods. Very worthwhile work. He told me that when he sits down with a group he’s facilitating — made up largely of people of color, and LGBTQ business owners — he starts by saying that everyone has stories they want to tell, but at that table, everyone is equal. That, of course, is not quite right. We’ve heard something like it before. It’s the “all lives matter” argument. All stories are equal. All stories matter. This is not how we get to hear stories we need to hear. This is not how we amplify silenced voices. (more…) The post Not Enough Voices appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
42 minutes | Aug 5, 2016
You can also view a complete transcript of this episode. Our typical focus on this journal and podcast is on students — advocating for their agency and authority over their own education. We’re taking a brief diversion with this installment and instead focusing on the needs of teachers. No, it’s not a selfish approach to demand for compliance out of students. Instead, it’s a look at when teachers need to be open and honest with students if they are to establish an environment in the classroom that encourages the sort of agency we normally discuss. For some teachers, creating a classroom environment that encourages trust, understanding, experimentation, and risk can be tricky. Each of those characteristics requires a degree of vulnerability, and that can come at a cost — sometimes a tangible one — when people open up and share with their colleagues. This episode of HybridPod explores that decision to be open, for teachers to tell students about themselves, particularly about their sexuality. As we’ll hear, this maddeningly complex decision has to be made again and again with each set of students we encounter, at each institution where we work, in the context of each class discussion. It’s a tough situation to manage, and it deserves careful consideration. To help us examine these scenarios, I speak with Greg Curran from Pushing the Edge and Paul France from InspirEd about how, when, and why they opt for openness in their classes. The following music was used in this episode: Featherlight (remix – vocals by Heather Feather) — Lee Rosevere; CC BY 4.0 Quizitive — Lee Rosevere; CC BY 4.0 Heat Haze — Lee Rosevere; CC BY 4.0 Featherlight — Lee Rosevere; CC BY 4.0 Say Something Like That — Lee Rosevere; CC BY-NC 4.0 Pre-Vertex (Limited Functionality Is My New Jam) — Lee Rosevere; CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Thoughtful — Lee Rosevere; CC BY 4.0 The Life and Death of a Certain K. Zabriskie, Patriarch — Chris Zabriskie; CC BY 4.0 The post Openness appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
41 minutes | May 19, 2016
You can also view a full transcript of this episode. In episode nine, I spoke with Janine DeBaise about her style of responsive teaching. It’s her answer to the idea of “best practices”. The trouble with best practices, according to Janine, is that they are created by someone else and said to be the unqualified “best” idea for everyone in any situation. Now when I put it that way, you might object, saying that I’m carrying the meaning to an absurd extreme. “Not every situation,” you might say. “Just the regular ones.” But think about learners for a minute. What’s going on in their minds? What do they want to learn about, and what importance does that learning hold in their lives right now? The answer will be different for everyone. Even in a lecture hall of medical students, they might want to understand the same material and pass the same exam, but the way they understand or remember that material will be different for each person. The associations they make among concepts will be distinctive. An oncologist and a pediatrician would take very different things away from the same session because they see things from different angles and with different interests. If you throw in personal background, previous learning experiences, and current life situations, those differences only increase. So the idea of “best practices” is built on an assumption of standardization — standardized content, standardized delivery, and standardized humans. Those assumptions strip away the individuation and personal interest that drives us all to actually learn things for ourselves. If all we’re left with is standardization, the personal purpose is gone from learning, subordinated to the systemic purposes of cranking out more standardized, credentialed clones. But again, I may be over-stating things. To help bring perspective and clarity, I talk with Amy Collier, Associate Provost for Digital Learning at Middlebury College. Amy talks and writes a lot about the liminal state of working through something but not completely getting it yet. It’s that wonderful (or unsettling, depending on your view) time when you’re playing around with an idea and seeing how well it works in various situations without actually feeling like you really get what’s going on. You’re working on building your understanding and experience, but you’re not quite there yet. That feeling is what Amy and her colleague Jen Ross have taken to calling “not-yetness”, and it’s the idea I wanted to chat more with her about. Amy’s been friends with the folks from Hybrid Pedagogy for quite some time, and she presented one of the keynotes at Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo in March 2016. In her talk, Amy presented not-yetness to a group of people interested in critical digital pedagogy. (more…) The post Questioning Learning appeared first on Hybrid Pedagogy.
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