I’ve been teaching a Graduate research methods course for several years now at CGU, Visual Research Methods. But this Spring, I have encountered some surprising findings, ones that are echoed in my undergraduate student’s work as well, where I also assign digital coursework that asks students:

  • to account, reflexively, for the changing affordances of doing their school-work online
  • for staying thoughtful about the Internet itself as part of their topical attention
  • while also creatively expressing their findings in a multi-modal environment and vernacular
  • and then, also of course, clearly expressing findings from their own original research

Now, that’s a mouthful, right? And on first pass, I certainly wouldn’t want to be a student with that as my final assignment rubric! I think all my students (this semester in Visual Research Methods, and also, at Pitzer, in Feminist Dialogues in Technology and Feminist and Queer Documentary) start the semester with fear, agitation, bemusement, uncertainty, and maybe even annoyance about the weird assignments. Understood! And yet …

Somehow, this semester, all my students didn’t just do it and do it well; they got it. And, I said to several of them after the fact, I can’t imagine that’s because they are smarter than students who have taken these classes in previous years and semesters … So what gives?

Two, interrelated things, I think:

  • the tools have actually caught up with the radical teaching aims of multimodal scholar/teachers who wish to push our students to think, write, research and engage critically within and about the digital and the world
  • our students’ literacy with these tools, and also within digital spaces, has already been primed

This is to say, that for the first time, this year, I’d tell my students to leave the classroom and make some little digital something (instead of say, “breaking out” into a discussion group then presenting); and they would and they could. This is something I have also been asking audiences to do for the past two years, and their competency has increased markedly in this short time as well. That’s because in 2013 people are making things all the time, and these things are already smart, self-aware, self-reflexive, multimodal, and interactive.

This semester, my students used the analytical frameworks from class, the histories of movements and ideas, and analyzed both new and old objects for new and old audiences. They debated the politics of Digital Storytelling with some of the movement’s founders. They re-wrote Wikipedia pages. They made mash-ups of feminist theory and memes. They found and analyzed multivoiced and third-person stories (on Twitter and Tumblr) and talked to animals. Some of my students engaged for a semester with another group of undergrads at Bowling Green State University, and with students from grad courses at USC who made amazing digital learning resources for us to use.

Others made mobiles or diagrams for a yet-to-be invented feminist UML, some refined and critiqued possibilities for the feminist body and bra!

They worked on and about podcasts, and stories about Study Abroad and Queer Chicanos. They found new forms for telling the stories of Youth Violence and Violence Against Women. One performed a close textual analysis of Facebook commentary while others made keyword videos on feminism and technology.

Given all their amazing work (and I do hope you’ll hit some of these links; you won’t regret it!), what am I (t)here for, then? If literacy has been gained, and critical practice is already happening online, what is the role of the critical digital pedagogue? Well, most likely neither more nor less than what the role of the professor has always been. Remember when we taught writing? Sure, students arrived with literacy and tools, and the professors’ function was no mere thing: to add history, theory, a framework, a community, evaluation, and caring, careful, critical dialogue.

I am blown away by my students’ skills, and hereby simply provide this shining frame at yet another semester’s end. Well done all!

DOCC v MOOC

May 1, 2013

Here is the info graphic, hot off the press, for the DOCC 2013, the pedagogy project that FemTechNet is producing for Fall 2013.

MOOCvsDOCC InfoGraphic April 2013

MOOCvsDOCC InfoGraphic April 2013

Image produced by Tony Germano for Anne Balsamo, 2012.

Use with permission under a CC BY-NC-SA license.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

I begin my talk with this video about repurposing social media spaces, such as this one, for the specific purposes of multi-disciplinary and multi-modal teaching and learning, as well as for its scholarship by showing this video, so representing, in form, my feminist commitment to engage in self-reflexive, situated critiques of the Internet that model here the kind of culture I hope it to be, a place that enacts collaboration, connections between the classroom and the world, intentional and ethical links between and within real and virtual experiences and private and public knowledge, and a commitment to finding, teaching, and using the forms of literacy best suited for these places and practices.

I self-reflexively argue above, here, and in the talk: engaged, situated pedagogy and research in the digital humanities demand new writing and speaking forms, as well as the presentational and publishing platforms to hold them.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending some of THATCamp Feminisms West. I had to leave just before the much-deserved beer-part to pick up my son, and knew I was in good company when this sacrifice made sense as such, nothing more needing to be said. But in my afternoon there, I was privy to conversations and processes that remind me of why we need to meet and work as feminists about and in digital culture. I will indicate a few of those reasons here, and I’m also going to to do quickly and on my blog.

Now, why this quick “work” on a Saturday morning. First, I have to give an interview to a college student this morning, in an hour, about (my) queer family: another important digital feminist act. Secondly, I want to blog about this while it is still happening (day two is starting now), because it may allow a few people who might want to know about it to follow the twitter-feed, and thereby attend. Third, I acknowledge and mark the value of my colleagues’ work when I blog it, and I feel this is a particular kind of feminist mentoring that senior women in academia can and do provide online. There’s been some great posts about academic blogging in the past few days (brought to my attention my Adeline Koh on Facebook). All by women, iterating what we get here. I wrote a similar post last year.

In our unpanel, DH400, we had the rare opportunity to talk about DH beyond 101. I was particularly interested to meet the women behind #TransformDH who I’ve been following for awhile. Our conversation focused upon our various, precarious, disruptive, transformative, outsider/insider relationships to the academy: as grad students, as archivists, as activists. To me it is was less the DH, or even the digital, that made this conversation matter, but the feminist: because we shared values, the will and capacity to be critical as well as intellectual while being supportive and trying to distribute authority and voice around the room all the while working, quick. Mia Ridge asked us “What would a feminist Digging into Data project look like?” And Jacque Wernimont said: “It would probably be related to little ‘dh’ and the owning of ephemerality.” Yep.

In the other panel I attended, on feminist digital pedagogy, I brought people up to speed on the DOCC 2013. And then we talked productively and honestly about teaching. With undergrads, librarians, grad students, jr and snr profs in the room, (or as@miriamkp tweeted: A really nice mix of students, faculty, librarians, nonprofit professionals (with diverse interests) here at #tcfw) we were able to be vulnerable, uncertain, and also wicked smart. Anne Cong-Huyen and Viola Lasmana discussed power sharing, doing things in public, acquiring skills, risk-taking, modelling ownership of our content and controlling our online identities (for their students and themselves), as well as the perennial contradictions of anonymity, discipline, and grading in classes with hands-on, experimental components. One hour, so much said and done: together, in a room, and on twitter, and now here, doing all the things that these technologies afford to us as communities, and as individuals.

I write quickly on my blog on a Saturday morning because this kind of work makes me feel like an academic in a conversation with politicized others. I make this to mark that.

On Sharing

March 15, 2013

Please feel free to share:

Children “share” during “sharing time” at school: my mouse, mom, yo-yo trick. Academic bloggers share details about what is behind-the-scenes: my lunch, boss, anxieties. Sharing as inclusion of personal experience into public spaces where such information has been deemed inappropriate, off-limits, non-academic. Sharing at its juvenile and narcissistic best and worst. The risks are both obvious and gendered: an embarrassing myopia, a gross mis-step in propriety, a female fall into feelings. No professional wants to be treated like a child (or a woman). The risks are in vetting; the rewards come by way of expanded expression …

I continue on Media Commons

 

 

Long Story Short, NYC

February 22, 2013

3_5_13_Long Story ShortNatalie’s film is an inspiring mix of digital storytelling and artistic vision. Hope to see New Yorkers there!

WikipediaParty_Flier

Feminist-IT-SaveTheDate-lowres

By Chelsea B.

Portland, Oregon; White Stag Building: Papé Forum
Saturday & Sunday, 9-5 pm; 9-10 February 2013

Slightly over a year after Fembot launched its first feature, Laundry Day, members of the collective will meet in Portland, Oregon, for a two-day unconference to discuss Fembot’s past, present, and future. Goals for this event include:

  • To think collectively and critically about the features Fembot has experimented with over the past year
  • To think about the Fembot Project holistically and in light of its more-or-less organic unfolding over the past eighteen months
  • To collaboratively assess the site’s design and functionality, as well as its aesthetics, particularly in relation to our sister project, FemTechNet
  • To establish goals for the coming year, including discussion of a Fembot ThatCamp (July 2013, Portland).

The unconference is free and open to all members of the Fembot collective. If you can’t join us in Portland, follow along and participate on Twitter at #fembotjam.

We’re excited to announce the following confirmed participants:

Karen Alexander (Rutgers), Radhika Gajjala (Bowling Green), Kim Sawchuk (Concordia), Paula Gardner (OCAD), Nina Huntemann (Suffolk), Alex Juhasz (Pitzer), Sarah Stierch (Wikimedia), Carol Stabile (Oregon), Sarah Kember (Goldsmiths), and Kate Mondloch (Oregon)

Blogging as Public Pedagogy

November 19, 2012

At the ASA conference in Puerto Rico I drank some rum, swam in the ocean, saw dear friends, and went to a terrific roundtable on blogging with GayProf, Historiann, Roxie, and Tenured Radical. As I said to my friend Planned Obsolescence, who sat beside me at the workshop and was the person who actually turned me on to blogging, this is yet another one of those professional pastimes that we engage in privately, rarely sharing the logic, feeling, and changing rationale of the work with others who expend similar amounts of time and soul. It was a real pleasure to hear four others at this: something I tried to share this summer.

As ever, locked as we are in the neo-liberal logics of counting, tabulation, and credit, the speakers and blogger-audience spent some useful attention on what kind of work this is and whether and to who it matters. Remedying intellectual isolation, personal survival, finding new audiences and speaking in new languages (often including humor) were discussed by several of the panelists. This seemed familiar, and thereby reassuring.

However, it was Tenured Radical’s discussion of commenting that was at farthest reach from my own thinking and experience, and therefore also the most generative. First off, she gets comments—tons of them it seems—as do the other bloggers at the podium. Now, I’ve lamented here often enough about the fact that I can see that you are reading, but rarely hear form you, but as the years have gone by, I’ve taken this to be the state of this state and have grown pretty accustomed to it. Later, beach-side, I spoke with Marilee Lindemann about this (she actually teaches a course on blogging, Writing for the Blogosphere, as well as being Roxie), and she listed some pretty obvious things that I don’t do that might initiate a commenting culture here: asking questions rather than making sttements, not writing arguments that are closed and complete, having a more chatty style and fun content …

And, I realize, I don’t not do these things not because I can’t but because much of what comes along with commenting is not what blogging has become for me: what Claire Potter called Skooling and Being Skooled. This arguing, flaming, deliberate disrespect, and enforced education without the assurance of discussion or responsibility that attends to places of learning that I like better, like the feminist classroom, has been something my students I and think a lot about in FeministOnline Spaces and even Learning from YouTube, for that matter. Of course, Potter is right: by learning from comments, just like from YouTube, one gains insight into the narrative rules of others’ lives, not just one’s own. A light shines on the larger Internet, and its darker places, not to mention its super silly (supercilious) ones:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 181 other followers