Digital Pedagogies

 

Teaching Writing with Digital Media:

Over the past two years I have explored different ways of integrating  blogs and other social media

into my course design. For example, linking individual student blogs to a blogroll on a course site can

provide a collaborative  forum that encourages students to think about their scholarship on the written

page as more than information, but as analysis shaped by their own voice in a broader dialogue. Building

on formal modes of scholarly citation conventional to the traditional essay, "carnival" blog events, in which

students link to each others' and external posts, encourages students to sift through primary and

secondary material critically, attenuated to differences between sources and their framing. As research

continues to move in the direction of taking place almost completely in digital environments, it is 

imperative that we teach our students, and ourselves alongside our students,  to recognize the

"human in the machine." In other words, it is imperative that we resist the impulse to divide technology

from its own discourses on language, but participate in creating the shape of the broader conversation

that includes not only what we can say, but also how we communicate. 

 

My participation in the recent Data Life Writing Conference at Univ. of Michigan's Institute for the

Humanities corroborated many of the ideas about teaching with writing that I later discussed with my

peers at a professional workshop on the topic. One key component to the media industry's definition of

a blog, as opposed to an op-ed or a public journal, is the personality of its author. While there is often

quite a bit of overlap between authorship in print culture and the blogosphere,  success in the latter platform pivots more on the design of the blog  and its content delivery, than it does on the singularity of an author's  identity preceeding the text. A blog offers writers the ability to compress the many varied social identities that they feel they embody into images and text that they can then change and edit. Much has been written on the authorial voice in terms of blogs, especially with an eye to how the increasing rate at which readers consume media impacts an author's self-fashioning. Commenting, sharing, and posting features in online platforms have created a situation in which authors and readers are often indistinguishable. Issues involving privacy and copyright are important to take into account if we are to truly transform our classrooms into global, public learning spaces. From the vantage of online publishing, many of our students are already published authors. Part of the ethics in teaching writing with social media involves guiding our students toward developing best practices for asking more nuanced questions. The very public nature of online media and the "noise" factor of echo chambers of opinion have worked, sometimes en tandem, to create situations in which tendencies toward censorship and provocation can weigh too heavily on an otherwise balanced conversation. A "prototype blogosphere" limited to students enrolled in the same course extends in-class dialogue on primary texts by established authors, creating a socially structured environment that does not trade flair for rigor, but integrates voice with methodology to pose difficult questions.

 

Learning Outcomes Specific to Teaching with Digital Media:

Apply disciplinary concepts of close reading and discourse analysis

Critically analyze current events

Support student dialogue and engagement

Increase research skills

Encourage collaborative projects

Facilitiate peer-to-peer mentorship

Introduce students to networking

Raises students' personal investment in their learning

Individual, periodic reflection on class material increases students' ability to connect and apply their learning to their personal goals

Increase opportunities for students to build an online professional portfolio

 

Teaching Philosophy (click to view)

 

Sample Methods Syllabi:

Teaching and Learning with Digital Media

Uses of New Media Theories for Humanities Researchers

Visual Discursive Analysis: Principles and Techniques

Social Media for Research

Historiographical Trends in Writing with Digital Tools

Qualitative Research Methods for Virtual Interviews

 

 

Resources in digital pedagogies and research in new media:

Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the Univ. of Victoria

Univ. of Michigan Institute for the Humanities

Univ. of Michigan Third Century Initiative

FemTechNet

 

Univ. of Michigan Ctr. for Research on Learning and Teaching GTC+ Digital Media:

 

Teaching Writing With Blogs