Event: Pedagogy Lab 2016

The Digital Liberal Arts team is delighted to invite all faculty and staff to our semi-annual Pedagogy Lab on August 31st, 2016, 1PM – 5PM at Wardman Library. In the past, these labs have been fruitful meetings organized around the interests of attendants, so we hope you’ll join us for an afternoon of informal discussion …

Destination Denmark: Digital Stories as Pocket Documentaries

I recently found a picture taken of me on a hill overlooking the Krak des Chevaliers in western Syria during a 2003 trip.  I am pictured with my video camera, tripod and a bag strapped to my waist that holds brick-like backup battery packs and as many mini DV recording cassettes as I could carry.  I was filming a documentary on women, history, and the middle east.  I remember the challenges of the heat and the altitude along with the heavy gear I had to trek on some of the expeditions. But once I got the shots I wanted: Magic! Exhilaration! So many ancient stories to tell, beginning with one picture.
I’ve held on to this feeling and I’m thrilled to begin an idea I’ve had in the works for some time: pocket documentary filmmaking.
Krak des chevaliers, 2003
Later this spring, Kathy Filatreau (Instructional Technologist & partner in Digital Storytelling projects) and I will be traveling with 20 students from Whittier College’s anthropology and social work 300 course to Copenhagen, Denmark.  The course taught by Professors Paula Sheridan and Lisa Ibañez are studying the ways in which welfare and workfare states contribute to the well-being of children and families.  For many of the students in our group, this will be the first time they are traveling abroad.  Along with their excitement to visit a different part of the world they also bring specific topics they would like to research.  Some of these include education systems, clean energy plants, and the Dane’s renowned culture of happiness.  Their main assignment is to create a digital story that reflects their research and findings.  In 2016, the tools students will use to create their digital stories are all in their pocket.  We will use our mobile devices, including phones and tablets to take photos and gather interviews and footage to edit with a personal narrative.  The result will be a series of pocket documentaries that students will share with each other and a group of Danish faculty and students.

Our trip will include class meetings hosted by Metropolitan University College’s Social Work Program and we will share workshops on creating digital stories with our Danish partners.  Students will take part in field visits relevant to course content and cultural excursions that will include a photography tour of the city focusing on techniques for capturing images and sound that will add dimension to student narratives. We will be blogging our learning adventure and sharing our digital stories on DenmarkDS.soniachaidez.com.  We hit the ground running on May 20, 2016!

Storytelling, Creativity, and Learn By Doing

Anthro 211
Students creating digital stop motion stories in Jenny Banh’s Anthro 211 course. 1/8/16

Why do we tell stories?  “To transfer knowledge” replied a student in the Anthro 211 course as he read off one of my slides.  Yes, but thinking creatively, how can we make information transfer more story-based I asked?  Crickets.  I find that teaching information is more engaging when you invite the audience in with a story. I asked students for some examples of storytelling in their everyday lives and some mentioned that they call their parents to update them on things they are working on. Others tell stories about their day at the Campus Inn where they have their meals with friends.  There are many ways to tell stories.  What about social media, I asked?  I wouldn’t consider myself to be a Yelper I continued but I had a meal last night that warranted a review because I wanted to share information, as in tell others that they should eat at this place too.  “The food tasted like it was made with love” I read from my posted online review.  That’s a story or at least the beginning of one as I described the events that brought me to that restaurant the night before.

 I don’t know if students consider themselves to be storytellers but they are.  We all are.  In my workshops I often instruct that stories should be more personal and less instructional as a way to invite the audience into the story.  But how do you make an instructional video interesting with story elements?  This is the challenge for the Anthro 211: Peoples and Cultures of Asia courses taught by Jenny Banh.  Professor Banh is teaching two sessions of this course during Jan Term (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).  The assignment is for students to create digital stories using stop motion tools to illustrate the information they’ve learned on given subjects like; Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Tokyo Disneyland, chopsticks  and Power Rangers.  

Before we looked at digital tools we discussed story. Some beginning stories read like Wikipedia entries.  The interesting stories were informative with facts and figures on the subject but they also included insight and evidence of knowledge about the content taught in class.  This is an assignment that asks students to create a story using digital tools.  But more importantly it’s asking them to write a well-thought out, informative and entertaining narrative.

At the end of this week we will work on storyboards and record student narratives to be used as voice overs for their digital projects.  Students then have the option of using stop motion apps on their mobile devices (one group created this in our first class: chopsticks video) or to create illustrations and edit them on WeVideo.  My hopes are that students will learn by doing projects like these that asks them to demonstrate knowledge through storytelling that is informative yet engaging and in the process they can also discover the enhancement that digital tools can provide.  I’ll post completed digital stories at the end of Jan Term.

I believe creativity is an important part of this assignment which leads me to new questions: how do you teach creativity and how do you measure it?  To be continued…

As promised, student/stop motion animation projects on our YouTube Channel!

Learning Just in Time (and not a moment sooner)

A Short History of (my) Networked Scholarship The title of this blog post could also be “how to embed a Google slideshow into a WordPress blog,” since that’s what the images embedded below teach. But I also thought I’d write about searching for WordPress tricks, since so many of us are using WordPress (and other platforms) in our teaching, research, and personal… Read more →

Digital Pedagogy and Transformative Digital Humanities

The following are notes from a brief talk I was invited to give recently at UCSB for their annual Research Slam, #SyncDH.

Some context:

Coming back to my grad school institution, I reflected on my own experience as a student there, and I planned this talk to help those grad students with little to no pedagogical training. For example, in my time at UCSB, I had two days of TA training, and then anything I learned by osmosis from observing faculty or TAing for them. I was very fortunate to have worked some amazing teachers, but teaching, as I have learned the hard way, is not something I was born doing well. I takes a lot of work, a lot of risk, and occasional failures.

For this talk, I reflected on some experience I’ve gained over the past year as the Digital Scholar for the Digital Liberal Arts Program at Whittier College, where I hold an alt-ac position supporting digital pedagogy and research at a small liberal arts college and Title V minority serving institution in South Los Angeles. I should say that I’ve worked with faculty in a range of different departments across our liberal arts curriculum on designing large semester-long projects and small one-off digital activities, so these are some observations gained from that experience thus far.

The presentation itself was about 10 minutes long, so I simply prepared some bullet points for the talk which are shared below along with the slides.

What is digital pedagogy?

Brian Croxall and Adeline Koh, organizers of the #MLA13 Digital Pedagogy Unconference, explain it broadly as “the use of electronic elements to enhance or to change to experience of education.” (citation)

The most important aspect is “pedagogy”. Jesse Stommel of Hybrid Pedagogy states: “Pedagogy is not synonymous with teaching or talking about teaching, nor is it entirely abstracted from the acts of teaching and learning. Pedagogy is praxis, the place where philosophy and practice meet.” (citation)

It’s not just about using technology or digital tools. We’re not looking for new tools to do the same old job. Instead, it’s important to reflect on those tools, why we bring them into our classes, and what they add to the process of learning. Likewise, I would suggest we consider what it is about the digital that we want to infuse in our classes: networked connectivity, modularity, collaboration, etc.

Ideally, there are a few ways that digital pedagogy can improve our teaching:

  • Interactivity – social and active learning
  • Brings together theory and practice (Freire and bell hooks)
  • Reflexive and critical
  • Encourages experimentation, creativity, play, problem solving
  • Helps students develop information literacy

Why might you want to take up digital pedagogy in your own classes? 

  • Improve student participation, interest, and ownership of work
    • Give them choices and make them responsible to one another
    • Encourage undergraduate research and student/faculty collaborations
  • Students are given the opportunity for/to:
    • Collaboration – collective intelligence
    • Communication – learn effective skills to produce content, revise, and share
    • Problem solving
    • Project management skills
      • Delegating duties
      • Problem solving
    • Learning Information literacy
      • Work with your librarians! They know stuff and are so helpful!
        • Copyright
        • Creative commons
        • Open access
        • Fair use
        • Public Domain
    • Community engagement (but discuss with offices of service learning on your campus so you design classes that are beneficial to students and the communities or community orgs)
    • Gain awareness of contemporary issues, work toward social justice

When we get to the end there, and examine the potential for digital pedagogy, it starts to look an awful lot like critical or radical feminist pedagogy. This is education that is democratic and non-hierarchical, in classroom that are perforated, bringing contemporary issues, non-students and instructors, etc. into the classroom.

How do you do it?

  1. You can start small. You don’t have to design fully online classes or convert entire courses into flipped ones! Toe-in-the water assignments or in-class activities. If you’re used to using Moodle of Gauchospace, here, try adding a discussion board, or a gallery, or a small wiki assignment.
    • Live-tweet a film screening
    • Create a timelineCollectively map historical locations
    • Make a video essay
    • Design an infographic
    • Build a blog or website
    • Edit Wikipedia
    • Produce a digital book in Scalar
  2. Learn the tools and skills you ask your students to learn. Create your own example (video, digital book, etc.), and then you can teach and troubleshoot with your students.
  3. Scaffold Everything: break up assignments and build your way up to a larger projects. Guide students to be critical readers of media and help them to gain skills needed for their assignments and for the future: writing, editing, citation, hyperlinking, annotating
  4. Evaluation – Assessment should be secondary to learning. Design rubrics to fit your class and its learning goals! Tweak existing rubrics, or design them collaboratively with students to meet the specific goals of the course. Have students assess their peers and each other.
  5. Take risks and allow for failure – Know that there is always a learning curve and that as a class you are experimenting and learning together. Learn from those mistakes and issues and revise the activity for next time.
  6. Share your successes and failures, and ask for advice and assistance – there’s a large community of people working and developing their own teaching who share and build together. Add your voice to the conversation, and learn from the work of others! Use twitter, search blogs, scour GradHacker and ProfHacker on the Chronicle.

I always come back to my own institutional context, a teaching college where 60% of the student body is students of color, many first-generation, working-class students. Always keep your students in mind. How can we best prepare them for the future? What skills do they already bring to your class? They’re not just media consumers. They’re already using social media, producing content, circulating and sharing media – but we can help steer them to do this same activity critically, responsibly, and with purpose.

**For a more extensive discussion of digital pedagogy I’d recommend checking out the work ofLisa Spiro, whose blog posts and presentations have been infinitely useful. Her presentation “Digital Pedagogy in Practice” is especially helpful.