My friend and colleague, Laura Wexler and I had the opportunity to present the DOCC at the EduTech Horizons workshop held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for members of the International Association of Research Universities (IARU) of which Laura’s school, Yale University, is a member. We were in friendly, interesting, and interested territory even as we presented the project to technologists who weren’t necessarily feminists, and to a truly international crowd with representatives from a significant number of continents and disciplines. Given that internationalization and feminist education are both core values of FemTechNet, it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm in this diverse audience.
I knew we were at home when in his opening address, Professor Lakshminarayanan Samavedham from NUS’ Centre for Teaching and Learning reminded us to think beyond efficiency towards effectiveness in digitally-enhanced education, explaining that by this he meant experiences that were built to be engaging, personalized and authentic, just like the DOCC … (Professor John Traxler, from England’s University of Wolverhampton, a specialist on mobile computing and education, suggested we all stop using the term “technologically-enhanced” and instead dub those efforts not up to speed on technology as “technologically-deficient learning.”) Given this start, Laura and I felt fully supported to share the passionate, active, distributed, techno-feminist, co-production of knowledge at the heart and daily practice of the DOCC.
Getting ready to discuss the keyword PLACE: L to R: Sharon Irish, Radhika Gajjala, Alex Juhasz
The Video Dialogue Placewith Radhika Gajjala and Sharon Irish, moderated by Alex Juhasz, is featured this week, November 10-14, 2014. There is an abridged (35-minute) version of the video available as well. Alex Juhasz, professor of media studies and director of the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry at Pitzer College, conducted this dialogue in November of 2013 in Claremont, California. Radhika Gajjala is a professor of media and communication at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Sharon Irish is an art and architectural historian and project coordinator in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
FemTechNet, collaborative makers of “the anti-MOOC,” were graciously, no I’d even say studiously received by leaders of the bellies-of-the-beast at last weekend’s Online Learning Summit, hosted by Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford (the great research institutions who put money and a spotlight on what would first be the year, but quickly the boondoggle of, the MOOC.). President Hennessy of Stanford started us off by indicating that the Massive of MOOCs should really be rethought as the moderate; and Open ended up generating a host of problems people hadn’t quite predicted (particularly the great differences of skills, knowledge, and attention of the masses who came; demonstrating “a dynamic range of ability.”)
Enjoying a much-deserved drink with highly-Twitterate Jessie Daniels (@JessieNYC) after a few days of talk, workshops, and video dialogues in Ann Arbor, Michigan about Feminist Digital Pedagogies, I was discussing with her the changing culture of blogging, and other social media forms in relation to our own ever-changing digital metronomes. Which is a fancy way to say here what I said there: “I always used to blog about conferences, but now it feels like it takes too long to blog; the work is too hard. What’s the deal with this quickening?”
Digital Pedagogies Panel, University of Michigan, L to R: Inderpal Grewal, Laura Wexler, Lisa Nakamura, Maria Cotera
This week Professor Alex Juhasz’s Feminist Dialogues on Technology class at Pitzer College and Professor Sharon Collingwood’s Gender, Sex and Power class at Ohio State University (OSU) attended class with OSU students, digitally…in Second Life (SL). Professor Collingwood teaches class every week in Second Life, but SL was new for the majority of students in Professor Juhasz’s class.
To prepare for this class, the students went through an independent orientation using Virtual Ability Island, an island on SL that is designed by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. There they familiarized themselves with SL, getting acquainted with how to navigate and interact with the space. They were asked to answer questions such as, A virtual exhibit has many ways of communicating its message. For example, it could put up big signs to tell you why you are there. That’s a pretty obvious way to do it, but there are also subtle ways of having an effect on the viewer. It could be something that you see out of the corner of your eye, it could be something that moves, it could even be something that you trip over. Has the creator included anything like this in the exhibit? What effect did it have on you? Following this orientation, Pitzer students began preparing for Professor Collingwood’s class by doing her assigned reading.
This week’s topic was Reproductive Justice. We read articles that included “Do Pregnant Women Have the Right to Refuse Surgery?” and “The Only Good Abortion Is My Abortion”. We also took a quiz offered by the Guttmacher Institute that tested our knowledge of sexual and reproductive health. When all of this work was done, the plan was that we would be able to participate in OSU’s digital class, along with the rest of Professor Collingwood’s students.
Sure enough, there were Pitzer students and OSU students, all sitting around a presenter screen with Professor Collingwood’s avatar front and center. On this research and teaching center within SL, known as Minerva Island, we were given the lesson plan for the class and eagerly awaited the field trip that we had been told we would be going on (to a women’s clinic in SL).
Professor Collingwood led a quick voice check, and eventually, most students got their microphones in order and were able to participate both visually and aurally. She began with a short lecture about the confrontation of women’s biology with traditional social structures. Then one of her students gave a fascinating presentation on cesarean births. This jumpstarted the Pitzer students’ involvement, and soon students from both classes were interacting with each other about the subject matter.
An hour flew by, and before we realized it, we were teleporting to the Slenz Midwifery Project, a birthing center that is inspired by the real life natural birth centers that are currently being built by the New Zealand government. Our students were in awe of the clinic and how much they learned about Reproductive Justice through this digital medium. I have already received enthusiastic responses from Pitzer students about their time within SL. FemTechNet seeks to bring students together, in dialogue, both physically and digitally, and this specific joining of two very different classroom setups speaks a great deal to the work that FemTechNet is doing to make its mission a reality, virtual and otherwise.