We are pleased to introduce Issue 4 of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. To say that this issue features five articles from a variety of disciplines would understate the quantity of material gathered here and oversimplify the range of approaches these authors have taken in presenting their work. Our contributors share the messy, exciting process of experimentation in pieces that range from traditional essays to blog-style reflections to expansive, multi-authored projects branching out from the node of this journal. Since its inception, JITP has sought to showcase scholarship that operates outside the traditional essay format, and our editorial collective has struggled to find language that invites innovation, while still providing clear expectations to guide our contributors. We have debated at length how to word our call in a way that does not privilege papers; we have (until recently) resisted specifying a word count in our submission guidelines because we were wary of inadvertently discouraging non-textual submissions; we continue to question how we can push the boundaries of the peer review process without unduly frustrating authors and readers. As Luke Waltzer, co-editor of Issue 3, recently told Inside Higher Ed, “It’s tough.” Although the contents of Issue 4 are primarily text-based, we are excited to offer a range of scholarship that expands our understanding of what academic “articles” can be.
In putting together this issue, we discovered that challenging traditional notions of academic publishing often means blurring the line between student and expert. Two of the projects featured here are the work of student groups guided by faculty. A third is the work of a professor reflecting on a student-directed project, while a fourth calls on professors to be as adaptable in teaching research as they are in practicing research. An essay on how we might use interactive technology to ease the transition from student to professional rounds out the issue.
In “Can You Digg It?: Using Web Applications in Teaching Research,” Shelley Rodrigo explores how “non-scholarly resources” like YouTube, Wikipedia, and personal blogs can be used to foster a critical approach to research. Far from promoting lax research techniques, these tools can be incorporated into scaffolded research assignments to help students connect with their projects in new ways and develop an attitude of resourcefulness that will “prepare them for the variety of research processes they will undertake in their future academic, professional, and civic lives.”
“BeardStair: A Digital Humanities History” documents how a group of undergraduate and graduate students employed this kind of resourcefulness in researching the history of a mysterious trove of illustrated books left in the book-return bin at the San Jose State University campus library. David Coad, Jonathan Cook, and Kelly Curtis guide us through a research process that began in 2011 and culminated in a scholarly digital edition. They chart assignments, responses, and discoveries along a timeline that incorporates work and critical reflection from numerous collaborators. Their interactive history models how similar projects might engage both textual history and digital possibility.
In “Online Discussion Boards as Identity Workspaces: Building Professional Identities in Online Writing Classes,” Patricia Boyd argues that online discussion boards – which have long been used as supplements to in-class discussions – might be repurposed as spaces for students to develop and reflect on professional identities. Through a series of guided interactions with their peers, students test out new identities and practice being experts.
Whereas Boyd’s students use interactive technology to engage each other as experts, Nancy Ross’ students use data visualizations to question the expertise of art history texts. “Teaching Twentieth Century Art History with Gender and Data Visualizations” tells the story of how a student-designed data visualization project revealed gender bias even in exhibits that had been praised for including female artists. By devising and implementing their own digital research strategies, Ross’ students effectively critiqued secondary sources, turned a critical eye to received knowledge in a conservative community, and learned to trust their own abilities as budding experts.
The final project featured in this issue is the culmination of a long collaboration between Roger Whitson and JITP. Like the other contributors to this issue, Whitson sought to create a learning environment that did not just prepare students for the outside world, but actively engaged it. He approached JITP to ask if any members of our editorial collective would be willing to work with his fall 2012 English class on a digital publishing project, and Kimon Keramidas and Amanda Licastro responded enthusiastically. The materials collected here document how Whitson’s students created multimodal content responding to nineteenth century novels, then worked with Keramidas and Licastro to edit and produce a class journal fit for online academic publication. We are proud to present this journal to the public, and we are honored to have been involved the journal’s creation. Reflections on the process from Whitson, Keramidas, and Licastro are included in this “article,” and serve as the “Behind the Seams” section for Issue 4.
The emergent theme of student expertise in this issue is particularly fitting, given JITP’s ongoing commitment to equal representation of students and faculty or staff members in our editorial collective. We have struggled to maintain this balance as we struggle with its implications. Does our insistence on maintaining an even split provide students with professional opportunities or artificially reinforce the distinction between students and experts? Are we inadvertently privileging the traditional academic path from doctoral student to professor and ignoring other possibilities: the students who are also staff, the Ph.D.s who educate outside the classroom, the educators who never sought a Ph.D.? And as those of us who were studying for Orals when the journal first launched now approach the dissertation defense, what happens when we pass through the ephemeral state of “student” to the other side?
We look forward to addressing these and other tough questions as our journal continues to grow. Onward to Issue 5!
Leila Walker and Stephen Klein
Issue 4 Co-Editors
About the Authors
Leila Walker is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she expects to defend her dissertation–“Touching Time: Forms of Romantic Temporality”–in March 2014.
Stephen Klein is the Digital Services Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he assists and supports students and faculty access, extract, use, massage, and present (digital) information.