If you weren’t at THATCamp Prime or weren’t watching us live on UStream, you can now either listen to Digital Campus Episode 88 or even (shudder) watch the recording of the live broadcast. Unlike most episodes of the podcast, in this one we largely took questions from the audience, so it was even more free wheeling than usual. Is that good? Is that bad? You decide.
The final session of the day was on disruptive pedagogy. And although my name was in the program as the discussion starter, it’s not me! Heather Munro Prescott was the person to propose this session and so I’m just here because, obviously, it’s a subject I have a lot of interest in.
Heather began with a discussion of her public history graduate course and the challenges she faces teaching that course. Given those challenges, she asked why she was spending all this time organizing the course if students know something already when they walk in? She also discussed setting up a grad course as an “un-course” rather than the conventional course.
One person there raised the question of whether or not the idea of disruption is idiosyncratic to a particular institution’s student population? In other words, if you have a population that is creative or not, or rules followers or not. Another worried about student evaluations and how a loss of structure might effect that. It’s a good reminder to me that not everyone has the same tolerance for what we might call “teaching risk” that I, or Mark Sample, have. It’s also a good reminder that students need to know, clearly, what the expectations are in a course, regardless of how disruptive or deformative our pedagogy are.
Much of what people were circling around was coming up with assignments that challenge students’ expectations of what was going to happen in a class.
I raised the question of the tension between the tried and true and the disruptive. This question, I think, needs to be at the heart of any conversation about how much “breaking” is appropriate in our approach to teaching. Not everything should be broken just for the sake of breaking. But, as I have argued many times, I think a lot of the conventional approach to history teaching ought to be thrown out and started over from scratch (for a reasoned dissent, read the comments on this post).
There is definitely interest in this idea of disruption. Whether it will go somewhere as a project or not remains to be seen.
In the first afternoon session I sat in on “Technology and International Scholarly Partnerships Across the Digital Divide” [facilitator: Peter Alegi]. I am interested in this topic, both because I am one of the founding editors of Global Perspectives on Digital History and because I am a trustee of the Romanian-American Foundation, which is spending a lot of money to promote the transformation of education and research in Romania (but in a more connected, more global context).
Topics discussed: “digital imperialism” by the global north at the global south; dealing with chaotic situations at the other end (Tunisia); how underrepresented groups are connecting to digital resources; how to fund these sorts of collaboration, especially since so much of the money is locally designated — our citizens only; should projects include a for pay version/service to help sustain it; how to make sure funds, if available to local partners, are actually spent on what they were assigned to; using projects such as these to help build local capacity to apply for funds; how local partners get “credit” for doing digital work in their local contexts (complicated enough in the US as it is).
The initial schedule is now up. I’m going to attend a morning session on open peer review, an early afternoon session on comic books and playing with scholarship and will be a discussion starter on the session on disruptive pedagogy. I’m hoping, in the session that I’m helping facilitate to, among other things, that there might be some interest in a collection of essays (book/website) on pedagogies of disruption.
Open Peer Review session
Discussion starters: Sarah Werner, Folger Shakespeare Library; Jack Dougherty, Trinity College (editor of Writing History in the Digital Age)
Things that made their way into the conversation: Risks associated with open peer review (public rejection); how OPR is different from the standard peer review process; how some authors get more encouraged than others and what that means in an open solicitation model like the one used in Writing History in the Digital Age; what happens when editors in a process like the one used WHDA encourage some authors more than others (as opposed to the crowd doing so); how slow standard peer review is and how uniterative as compared to open peer review; how long should open peer review remain “open”; how open peer review is exhausting for authors, especially because the time window for revisions by authors is often short; are authors giving up the rights to a paper once they put it up in open peer review (and then what happens if it is rejected); who do the comments belong to (important to stipulate that commenters abdicate their copyright); process of OPR–inviting authors/commenters, etc. (community management); has OPR improved the quality of journals/book; are some works more “commentable” than others and does that lead authors to offer these sorts of contributions, which are not necessarily “better” in the sense of scholarly value; value of this sort of approach for students–seeing how the sausage is made; OPR has the advantage of providing one way for reviewers to gain credit for their work, where traditional peer review is a private matter for which we receive no credit (might one begin to build a reputation as a commenter?); what does OPR not do well (speed is the enemy of good prose/careful arguments, what happens if you open the review process and almost no one takes part).
One of my interests in attending this session was to see, if my idea for something “book like” on pedagogies of disruption flies, what sort of publishing model/peer review model, to use. Advice from Jack — think ahead and be very specific about your editorial policies. One of my other interests here is for what we’re going to do with original content solicited for Global Perspectives on Digital History (as opposed to republished content).