Tagged introductions

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Introduction, Issue Thirteen: The Push and Pull of Our Technological Moment

The current technological moment is perhaps best defined by a recent collective and critical awareness of the ways technology shapes our lives and practices both explicitly and implicitly. These technologies are so embedded in our daily practices that they are no longer ‘new’ or ‘surprising’, but commonplace—an assumed facet of modern life. In this moment where we are so deeply entwined with our technologies, it is important to evaluate and reflect on the affordances and challenges of digital technologies in the context of our curriculums, classrooms, and research. Unprecedented access to a wealth of multimodal information about the world has deepened university curricula in ways unimaginable only a decade ago, yet it has also blurred the boundaries of reality, giving rise to a cultural climate in which the very notion of truth has come into question. In his now classic schema on the intellectual and ethical development of college students, William Perry proposed that students evolve from dualistic thinking to multiplicity, then to relativism and, finally, to making commitments to their ideas (Perry 1970). Considered through the lens of this schema, our technological moment is emblematic of a state of relativism, where knowledge, truth, and reality are viewed as relative to the speaker’s own positionality. And it is in this moment, in this climate, that we are asking our students to actively participate in the construction and production of knowledges—a process that realizes the profound power and reach of technology, yet is also in tension with students’ vast access to information and computing power. So, while the majority of students have enough computing power in their pockets to research, create, and publish a variety of media with incredible quality, this power has become overwhelming to some, leading to fractured or distant relationships with others and confusion about what constitutes a reality they can trust, engage with, and contribute to. As the scale of information around the globe increases exponentially, and with it the ease of access to that information, it is our job as educators to guide students as they grapple with the realities of a hyper-connected world—a unique challenge, as many educators are grappling with their place in this new world themselves.

Issue 13 of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy features a series of articles that can help us, as educators, think through how we utilize the affordances of digital technologies, while also revising our pedagogical practices to respond effectively to the associated challenges. Although Issue 13 is a General Issue and the topics covered by these articles are diverse, they remain centered around three themes: using digital content to broaden and deepen materials for consumption, using digital tools to contextualize relationships and expand communicative methods, and developing digital literacy across the curriculum. Each piece on its own invites the reader to consider digital pedagogies as essential to students’ educational experiences; taken together they highlight the benefits students can derive from engaging critically in both the consumption and production of digital media.

The Issue begins with David Haeselin’s essay, “Beyond the Borders of the Page: Mapping The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” In it, he describes a course in which he invites students to construct maps of both the characters’ and their own lived experiences, drawing on the spatial narrative detailed in Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Where the novel draws the reader’s attention to the porousness of national, linguistic, stylistic, and generic borders, the practice of mapping is itself an exercise in drawing and redrawing points, lines, and polygons. In this context, Haeselin argues that the process of map making allows students to engage more deeply in the experiences of Junot Díaz’s characters and, correspondingly, draw connections between the characters’ perspectives and their own. By implementing multi-modal deep mapping projects in undergraduate core curriculum courses, Haeselin invites us to consider the potential of the digital humanities to help students from across institutional disciplines see the world in novel ways.

Kelly Josephs articulates a different perspective concerning the relationship between multi-modal production and the classroom in her article, “Teaching the Digital Caribbean: The Ethics of a Public Pedagogical Experiment.” In this piece, Josephs discusses both the methodology of developing an interdisciplinary course about digital humanities (“The Digital Caribbean,” at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York) as well as the challenges she faced in teaching such a course. By focusing on the ethical considerations of designing this course as well as the impact that a single course can have, Josephs encourages us to reflect on the broader implications of all our teaching, both digital and analogue (a division that is increasingly nonexistent). While both Haeselin’s and Joseph’s articles chronicle interdisciplinary courses, and both draw on digital technologies as a means to enhance students’ experience of the content, Josephs is using these methodologies at the graduate level rather than the undergraduate, and exploring the ethical implications of requiring public-facing work as a part of a graduate education. Josephs invites us to consider how both the collection and production of digital work in an educational setting has broader impact not only for students, but the communities being studied. Throughout the article, she returns to this theme: exploring what it means to “work publicly with graduate-level research on the Caribbean in academia, particularly with students who have set ideas about their own personal and intellectual relationships to both digital technology and the region.”

The theme of exploring one’s intellectual relationship with digital technology continues in Trevor Hoag’s article, “From Addiction to Connection: Questioning the Rhetoric of Drugs in Relation to Student Technology-Use,” where Hoag discusses how educators, unsure of how to describe students’ relation to technology, typically employ the rhetorics of drugs and addiction by claiming their students are “hooked” on technology. This assessment prompts educators to adopt restrictive in-class device-use policies and creates an environment where technology is seen as an impediment to critical thinking. In an effort to dispel some of these negative assessments, Hoag asks his students to describe themselves and their relation to different media platforms. While some students did describe themselves as “addicts,” many students highlighted the importance of connection in their lives in terms that reflected a healthier attitude about the use of technology. Hoag suggests that, at the very least, students and teachers need to work together to create a new narrative around technology use in the classroom that captures these alternative assessments.

In a similar vein, the article, “Video Essays and Virtual Animals: An Approach to Teaching Multimodal Composition and Digital Literacy” by Christina Colvin explores how the design of social media platforms and video games influence one’s understanding of the world by persuading players to act in certain ways during gameplay. Colvin assigns students a video essay project that requires them to analyze how video games represent nonhuman animals. The project asks students to engage with the architectural designs of video games to recognize how they are constructed to achieve certain rhetorical ends by representing (in this case) nonhuman animals as related to players in particular ways. Through the recognition that game design can encourage players to adopt certain behaviors and understandings, students begin to understand that other artifacts, including texts, are constructed to achieve rhetorical ends as well. As such, immersive technology can be used to enhance the classroom experience for students.

If immersive technology can be used to improve students’ classroom experiences, it can also be used to improve students’ written work. In “Using Digital Rhetoric in a Multimodal Assignment to Disrupt Traditional Academic Writing Conventions in a First-Year Writing Classroom,” Melanie Gagich suggests that educators use digital rhetoric as an analytic tool to critique traditional writing assignments. She argues that students’ anxiety about writing academically for college audiences results from students framing it as “writing to the teacher.” This construction of a particular kind of audience hinders students’ abilities to write academically. Gagich argues that using digital rhetoric as a framework creates an environment for multimodal composition practices, and this new environment provides opportunities for students to engage with “real” audiences. Structuring assignments this way, Gagich argues, promotes student agency and teaches them how to effectively integrate rhetorical strategies that connect with real audiences.

Building on this theme, Stadler and McDermott highlight the importance of information literacy as a key outcome of higher education and writing instruction. In their article, “Advancing Information Literacy in a Semester-Long Library Instruction Course: A Case Study,” they investigate the efficacy of explicitly teaching Information Literacy (IL) through teaching internet research strategies at the lower undergraduate level. Where they argue that IL is a critical component of higher education, and a central tenet of librarianship, they also acknowledge that instruction in IL and internet research is often implied rather than explicit in higher education. Drawing on their experiences in teaching such a course at LaGuardia Community College and using ePortfolio as the primary platform for student production of work, they highlight both the successes and the challenges of teaching IL. This piece serves as both a guide and a reflection on the importance of IL in a quickly changing and evolving world.

Taken together, these articles invite us to consider the ways that we can prepare students for the technological moment they have inherited. The enterprise of education is grappling with a constantly evolving technological landscape that mirrors society’s larger struggle to balance the benefits of technological innovation with the challenges such rapid innovation poses. With this in mind, as well as with the recognition that there are ethical implications to the kinds of technology we employ inside and outside of the classroom, this issue of JITP presents an opportunity for each of us as educators to share our knowledge and experiences with the goal of refining our pedagogical practices to reflect the needs of our current techno-cultural realities. So, as we define and redefine the relationships between technology, the classroom, and the societies in which these structures exist more broadly, we take these essays as an opportunity to iterate on the methods that shape not only our classrooms and students, but the societies and global publics we enter into every day.

Bibliography

Perry, William G., Jr. 1970. Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

About the Authors

Laura Wildemann Kane is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at The University of Tampa. Her research focuses upon issues central to Social & Political Philosophy, Ethics, and Feminist Philosophy. She is primarily interested in how different conceptions of the family affect the relationship between the family and the state, and the responsibility both institutions have to provide care for citizens. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy and a certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2017.

Michelle A. McSweeney is a Research Scholar in the Center for Spatial Research at Columbia University. She is the author of The Pragmatics of Texting: Making Meaning in Messages (Routledge 2018), and co-host of the podcast, Subtext. Her research focuses on digital writing in romantic relationships, particularly how we establish intimacy and trust through text messaging. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics and a certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 2016.

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Introduction: Re-viewing Digital Technologies and Art History

 

A widespread opinion within the academic community is that art historians have been left behind by the digital turn in the humanities (see Greenhalgh 2004, Zorich 2012, and the essay by Elizabeth Honig in this issue). According to many researchers and educators, the field of digital art history (DAH) — that is, the application of computational tools and analytical techniques to art-historical research questions — has not fulfilled its potential and remains a marginal branch of the discipline (Zorich 2012, 6). As Benjamin Zweig has argued, however, the assumption that art history has lagged behind other humanities disciplines in employing digital technologies is not entirely correct. In a 2015 article, he documents a selection of pioneering DAH projects, initiatives that emerged as early as the 1970s. Examples include the 1983 collaboration between the Getty Trust and the Architectural Drawings Advisory Group to produce a cataloging standard for digitized drawings that would allow scholars to search across all electronic repositories of works on paper as well as manipulate this information in ways that could stimulate new views of the material and thus, new research questions. The ambitious MORELLI project, launched in the mid 1980s by William Vaughan, a professor of art history at Birkbeck, University of London, is another example of an early DAH project. MORELLI, named for the nineteenth-century Italian connoisseur Giovanni Morelli who developed a system of identifying an artist’s “hand” by means of the close examination of a few key details that the artist executes consistently, was a pattern recognition tool that sought to classify and evaluate the formal qualities of images (Zweig 2015).

Unfortunately, these and similar initiatives did not fulfill their potential. Issues of funding, sustainability, archiving and access, copyright, and technological barriers ensured that what few gains were made were quickly undermined. In short, art historians faced challenges sourcing the software, maintaining and supporting collaborations and staff, and building and maintaining the datasets necessary for sustained intellectual engagement with DAH. As these early projects foundered, the field of literary studies advanced in the digital humanities — and with good reason. When the dataset is a text that can be scanned, when the “catalog” — in this case, the set of words included in that text — is readable across all platforms, it is easier to explore research questions using widely available digital tools, such as topic modeling and word embeddings. Unfortunately, these tools are not as useful for art historians, unless they want to analyze the oeuvre of an art historian, critic, or the writings of an important art-historical figure. Such an approach could be useful, but what about working with images? Isn’t that what art history is about?

This is one of the reasons why there remains anxiety among art historians that they have fallen behind their academic peers: art history is different. What defines art history is the study of the visual. Thus, the tools used and methodologies developed for DAH should support visual analysis and learning. Unfortunately, in the rush toward working digitally, many art historians and museum professionals have enthusiastically borrowed theoretical models and technical terms from disciplines and sub-disciplines such as literary theory, computer science, and cultural analytics without careful consideration as to how these methods and terms function within the specificities of the field of art history. Equally troubling is how many art historians have adopted a software developed for other disciplines and industries without due appreciation of how it structures data and thus might privilege certain information and promote certain trends (see Jaskot and Van der Graff 2017). In short, art historians require different tools — such as image-recognition software — tools that allow them to search, organize, catalog, and investigate images effectively, and few tools that fulfill these needs are available. Fortunately, with recent advances in the fields of computer vision and Artificial Intelligence, this will change. The future is looking bright.

But what about the present? Despite the challenges outlined above, we would argue that it is still possible for art historians to benefit from embracing existing current digital tools and computational techniques. As the essays in this special issue attest, there is a place in the discipline right now for the digital.

The issue begins with Alison Langmead’s analysis of art history’s longstanding engagement with image-based reproductions and how these “significant remediations” have affected the development of the discipline. Far from being marginalized by the digital turn, she argues for art history’s central role in the digital humanities as a model for the “mindful” adoption of technology. The discipline, she concludes, “can offer objective lessons on the risks of taking both the technical and social affordances of [digital] tools for granted” and thus, may promote awareness of how technologies impact the research process.

The remaining essays are divided into two groups that analyze DAH at work in the art gallery and the university. C. Richard Johnson, Jr. and William A. Sethares’s “Hunting for Weave Matches: Computation in Art Scholarship” outlines the pioneering application of signal processing to a traditional technique of painting analysis — thread counting. Determining the weave density of the canvas support of a painting offers conservators crucial technical information as well as useful clues regarding the painting’s origin and approximate date of execution. Manual techniques for thread counting, however, are time-consuming and laborious. Johnson, a professor of engineering at Cornell University, realized that this process could be automated by means of algorithmic analysis of x-rays of paintings. Using this method, the canvas supports of different paintings may be matched. These matches suggest that the paintings may have originated from the same bolt of cloth, a discovery that in turn suggests the paintings were in the same place at one point in their history. In their article, the authors outline the procedure for comparing possible weave matches in full, stage by stage, providing increased understanding of this ground-breaking technique and offering a model for future collaborations between art historians and scientists.

Animated Shadows on Virtual Stone: Ancient Sundials in a Gallery Setting” by Sebastian Heath, Rachel Herschman, and Christine Roughan describes the use of animated displays at a 2016–2017 exhibition held at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW). The exhibition introduced audiences to more than one hundred time-tracking devices from Greco-Roman antiquity. To illustrate how ancient audiences experienced these devices, the organizers formed collaborations across multiple departments, including the work of graduate students, to develop a series of 3D animations using the open-source animated suite Blender. The resulting digital surrogates were cost-effective and highly informative, not only helping the public to understand how the objects on display functioned but also showing examples that could not be included in the exhibition due to size or location. Happily, these “exhibits” will enjoy an afterlife on the journal’s site.

Appropriately, many of the articles in this issue examine the use of digital tools and new methodologies in the classroom. Elizabeth Honig provides an honest and enlightening analysis of two courses she designed that disrupt the art history lecture, the cornerstone of art-historical instruction. As she notes, transitioning from the lecture format, reliant on the projection of images in a darkened room as well as the instructor’s expertise, to an interactive model that requires students to engage with data collection, digital technologies, and each other is not a simple process. Professors of art history will have to gain new skills in computer science and statistics; what will be more difficult is learning to embrace the serendipitous encounters, unplanned epiphanies, and failures of project-based learning. The professor “cannot control either process or outcomes” as in a lecture course, Honig observes. Reworking the traditional art history class, however, will ultimately enable students to develop new skills in critical analysis and knowledge production.

3D Modeling in the Urban Classroom: Using Photogrammetry for the Study of Historic Architecture in Coral Gables, Florida” presents an additional, highly innovative approach to rehabilitating the traditional art history course. Instead of focusing on the formal qualities and construction history of the architectural monuments in lectures and emphasizing art-historical research and writing in assignments, Karen Mathews, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Miami, and her team seize the opportunity to teach students about data collection and curation, collaboration, online exhibitions, digital tools and storytelling, and public art history as well. The materials, textual and visual, that are produced during the semester are published on an interactive website, a project that not only increases the students’ but also the public’s engagement, creating “bridges between the university and the community around it [and] promoting awareness of cultural heritage sites and their preservation.” The authors’ thorough explanation of their process generously allows other educators to investigate this innovative pedagogical paradigm.

Two articles in this special issue focus on Pre-Columbian topics; this may not be coincidental but instead indicative of how specialists of non-Western cultures have often been critical of conventional research methods and pedagogical strategies and are more willing to explore novel approaches in their scholarship and instruction. Ellen Hoobler’s article, produced in collaboration with three of her students, presents an additional example of how 3D modeling can offer increased understanding of the material past. Hoobler’s original plan was to expand on her dissertation research examining the tombs of Monte Albán in Oaxaca, Mexico, built by the Zapotec peoples in ca. 500 BCE–850 CE, by producing an interactive model of one of these tombs, including all of its contents. During the course of two summers, her team created dozens of 3D models, visualizations, and videos as well as a website documenting their work. While the completion of her original vision proved a much more difficult process than anticipated, the experience of Hoobler and her students yields instructive insight into issues of collaboration, sustainability, funding, and community engagement. Hoobler notes that perhaps the most important lessons her students gained from this DAH project were the “byproducts” of their contributions: increased skills in visual analysis and archival research as well as a deeper comprehension of the process of contextualization.

Outlining the incorporation of DAH methods and tools into a Pre-Columbian art history survey course, Lauren G. Kilroy-Ewbank’s essay expands on several of the themes developed throughout this special issue, including the instructive byproducts of the student-centered DAH project. The centerpiece of her course is the creation of a collaborative online exhibition using Omeka, a popular open-source content management system for the production of online exhibitions, focused on the Mixtec Codex Zouche-Nuttall (ca. 1450). The assignment requires students to source and annotate images, create metadata, and assess online resources as well as undertake traditional art-historical research; it also encourages students to consider issues of digital visual culture, digital storytelling, and the possibilities of public art history. Like Honig and Hoobler, Kilroy-Ewbank finds that student engagement with DAH is not always a straightforward process. Yet, she argues, students receive valuable lessons regarding responsibility, both to their team and the discipline, from the experience. Helpfully, Kilroy-Ewbank includes her course syllabus as an appendix, making it easy for similar-minded pedagogues to integrate these types of assignment in their own classrooms successfully.

The issue concludes with two non-peer-reviewed pieces that record experiences of working within the field of DAH. John B. Henry documents his evolving research on David Wojnarowicz and how information resources created by the Artist Archives Project that guide researchers through the collections held by New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections affected his understanding of the artist. Henry argues that this tool not only facilitates research but also offers the opportunity for additional knowledge creation through the incorporation of online comments and the institution of an online community. More than a digitized collection, it is in effect an “ambitious project in digital art history” that offers new models for academic study.

Finally, Naraelle Hohensee presents her 360-degree video of Seattle’s Olmsted Brothers-designed Volunteer Park (1904–1910), an educational resource that offers an immersive environmental experience as well as presentations of historical documentation. Her literal exploration of this public space fuses design history with urban studies and offers an embodied understanding of the site, thus — like many of the DAH projects introduced in this issue — providing increased comprehension of how people interact with the built environment. The result is both an informative and entertaining mediation on the designers’ accomplishment and a subtle analysis of the evolving role of the historian in the digital age that raises questions regarding the use of digital storytelling in the academy and across cultural institutions.

Technology that allows art historians to work with images rapidly and effectively will be available in the near future, and art historians must take an active role in determining how this technology is developed. After all, who better than art historians to direct these advancements? Or, as Kilroy-Ewbank observes: “Art historians (and our students) are […] positioned to think critically about digital visuality and analyze how digital visual environments encode ideas.” Art historians should remain alert to these new developments in computer vision, stay informed, and, when possible, collaborate with technologists, computer scientists, and other digital humanists to ensure that these professionals and their projects benefit from their expertise. In this way art historians will once again become significant contributors to the digital humanities.

Bibliography

Greenhalgh, Michael. 2004. “Art History.” In A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, 31–45. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/9780470999875.ch3.

Jaskot, Paul B., and Ivo van der Graaff. 2017. “Historical Journals as Digital Sources: Mapping Architecture in Germany, 1914–24.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 76, no. 4 (December): 483-505. DOI: 10.1525/jsah.2017.76.4.483.

Zorich, Diane. 2012. Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship. New York: Samuel H. Kress Foundation. http://www.kressfoundation.org/research/transitioning_to_a_digital_world/.

Zweig, Benjamin. 2015. “Forgotten Genealogies: Brief Reflections of the History of Digital Art History.” International Journal for Digital Art History 1. DOI: 10.11588/dah.2015.1.21633.

About the Authors

Kimon Keramidas is Associate Director and Clinical Assistant Professor in NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities and Adjunct Assistant Professor for the CUNY Graduate Center Doctoral Certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Kimon is one of the founding member’s of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, as well as being a founding member of NYCDH.org, co-director of OutHistory.org and co-investigator of History Moves. Kimon has worked extensively on digital exhibitions, and is currently co-curating an exhibition for the Freer|Sackler Asian Art Galleries of the Smithsonian Institute on the Sogdians, a middle ages mercantile culture from Central Asia. His most recent project is The Interface Experience, a multi-platform exhibition which included a physical exhibition, web application, and award-winning catalog for the Bard Graduate Center. Kimon’s web site @kimonizer

Ellen Prokop is the Associate Head of Research and a member of the Digital Art History Lab at the Frick Art Reference Library, New York, and Adjunct Professor of Art History at Hunter College, City University of New York. She was the lead author and editor of Art History in Digital Dimensions: A Report on the Proceedings of the Symposium (2017), and has published several articles and essays on Spanish art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including most recently a chapter in El Greco Comes to America: The Discovery of a Modern Old Master(2017). Please contact her at prokop@frick.org

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Introduction

Welcome to Issue Eleven of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP). In the ten issues that have been published since Issue One of JITP appeared in 2012, the journal has continuously probed the nexus of pedagogical experimentation and theories of technology in a variety of long-form and short-form formats. In doing so, the journal has co-evolved with the academic fields that it explores and has become an important space for scholars to discuss their work in and around the classroom. Issue Eleven continues this trend as we look forward to the next ten issues of JITP.

As a non-themed issue of the journal, Issue Eleven presents a typically broad set of topics, concerns, and approaches. Among the five articles in this issue are two that take stock of, and offer re-evaluations of, the field of digital humanities (DH) — one a set of personalized reflections on the origins of the field, and the other a quantitative survey of DH programs. The three other articles published in this issue use multiple perspectives to test our understanding of common classroom practices, such as online instruction, employing tools like Google Drive, and using online research journals. Across all of these pieces lies a common interest in experimenting with new methods, as well as a practice of subjecting those methods to rigorous evaluation and sustained critical reflection.

Our issue begins with two pieces that focus on the past, present, and future of the digital humanities, with particular attention to the place of digital pedagogy within it. In “Confessions of a Premature Digital Humanist,” Stephen Brier offers a strong rebuttal to the prevailing origin story of the digital humanities, which typically focuses on the literary concordance work of Father Roberto Busa. Arguing that existing narratives of DH place too much emphasis on early work in digital literary studies and computational linguistics, Brier provides a personal account of his own DH work in the field of history. Brier’s work situates the emergence of some of the most well-known digital humanities centers, such as the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and the American Social History Project, within a broader account of the use of technology in historical research over the last fifty years. We believe that Brier’s account will become essential historiographical reading within the fields of digital history and digital humanities.

In “A Survey of Digital Humanities Programs,” Chris Alen Sula, S. E. Hackney, and Phillip Cunningham aim to assess the current state of the digital humanities by exploring existing degree and certificate programs in DH. By analyzing the field through the ways it is taught and instantiated in credit-bearing programs, the authors provide a snapshot of DH as seen through its pedagogical activities. Using the TaDiRAH framework to describe the kinds of work undertaken in DH courses and programs, the authors explore differences between DH programs as they have been formed across geographical, institutional, and disciplinary boundaries. In addition to providing analysis and visualization of various elements of the survey, the authors have shared their data in an associated Github repository as a resource for future scholars. We encourage anyone experimenting with this dataset in the future to let us know by leaving comments on the article.

In “Practicing Digital Literacy in the Liberal Arts: A Qualitative Analysis of Students’ Online Research Journals,” Jennifer Jarson and Lora Taub-Pervizpour reflect upon the research journals they have employed in an undergraduate media-studies course titled “New Information Technologies.” Tracing the development of the course assignments over a number of years, the authors describe the metacognitive benefits of online journal-keeping for students and then embark upon an effort to collect and analyze the types of ways that students engaged the journal-writing practice. As Jarson and Taub-Pervizpour take readers through their data, they demonstrate what data literacy looks like for undergraduate students and describe ways that instructors can best support them in that work.

As the title suggests, in “A Constructivist Approach to Teaching Media Studies Using Google Drive,” Chris Harwood and Alison Mann outline how constructivist learning theories have informed their design of a Grade 11 Media Studies unit. Taking us through their unit plan, the authors illustrate how each activity is informed by theory and put into practice using the Google Online Learning Environment (GOLE). They are careful to show how their design of the unit supports constructive collective learning, while also stressing the importance of iterating on the unit design based on careful evaluation to ensure that theory and GOLE come together to create the most beneficial learning space for students. This article is a useful resource for teachers and instructional designers who want to be integrate technology into their courses in thoughtful and theory-informed ways that support student learning.

As a great complement to Harwood and Mann’s piece, Karyna Pryiomka brings a fresh approach to blended learning in her article, “Care, Convenience, and Interactivity: Exploring Student Values in a Blended Learning First-Year Composition Course.” She presents the results of an ethnographic study in which she evaluated blended learning through the framework of care, encouraging us to include the experiences of non-traditional colleges students when designing blended learning. Through surveys and an analysis of interviews with students, coursework, and the instructor’s teaching journal, she identifies how “care” manifested itself through the course. Pryiomka shows that focus on instructor feedback, interactions with students, and allowing students flexibility in expressing themselves can ensure that students feel cared for, thus increasing the likelihood of their success. Based on these findings, she provides advice on how to thoughtfully design blended learning environments to ensure that digital tools are used thoughtfully to support care rather than replace it.

Taken together, these articles offer cogent reflections and guidance on current practices in digital pedagogy, as well as reflections on the larger import and contexts of those practices. And as always, we invite readers to engage with the articles and authors in the comments.


It is with gratitude and sadness that we note several shifts in our editorial collective with the publication of this issue. We say goodbye to several longstanding members of our collective: Stephen Brier (co-editor of Issue Six), Kiersten Greene (co-editor of Issue Six), Amanda Gould, Andrew Lucchesi (editor of Issue Eight), Carlos Hernandez (co-editor of Issue Nine), and Tyler Fox (co-editor of Issue Nine). This issue also marks Laura Kane’s last as our tireless and gifted Managing Editor, though she will be continuing on as a member of the editorial collective. We thank all of these EC members and editors for their dedicated service to the journal and wish them every success in the years ahead.

Even as we say goodbye some members of our journal, we are delighted to welcome some new voices to the Editorial Collective: Lisa Brundage, Jojo Karlin, Anke Geertsma, and Christy Pottroff, and our new managing editor, Alessandro Zammataro. We look forward to working with you!

We want to acknowledge our gratitude to those who helped bring Issue Eleven to fruition, including Jojo Karlin, who served as Associate Editor, Managing Editor Laura Kane, lead stager Luke Waltzer, and the copyediting and staging teams. We are very grateful for your hard work.

Finally, we want to send a special note of gratitude to Stephen Brier, founder of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy doctoral certificate program at the CUNY Graduate Center and the driving force behind the creation of JITP. Steve’s vision of the academy has always placed pedagogy at the center of scholarly activity, even as pedagogical activities have been overlooked or diminished by the profession at large. But Steve, a labor historian and — as he calls himself in the article that appears as part of this issue — a “premature digital humanist,” has always advocated for a particular version of pedagogical practice that advances egalitarian principles and shared practice, along with a passionate commitment to public education. We have an editorial collective, and not an editorial directorship, because of Steve’s formative experiences in founding the Radical History Review; he has passed on those values of collective endeavor to our own journal, and we are a strong collective because of it. commitment to JITP and to shared labor practices was evident in his contributions to the journal: from co-editing Issue Six to serving as our most rigorous copyeditor, Steve pitched in at every opportunity and at every level of the journal’s work. Though we will miss him, we are very glad to publish a piece by him in this issue that — like Steve’s entire career — represents an important, necessary, and vital contribution to the scholarly record.

About the Authors

Matthew K. Gold is Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

sava saheli singh just completed her PhD in Educational Communication and Technology from NYU. The title of her dissertation is “Academic Twitter: Pushing the Boundaries of Traditional Scholarship”, which represents her interest in the use of social media in higher education.
You can find her on Twitter @savasavasava.

Image courtesy of Flickr user UNESCO Africa
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Introduction

Practice and Reflection: The Affordances and Issues That Accompany Pedagogical Innovation

Tyler Fox, University of Washington
Carlos Hernandez, Borough of Manhattan Community College

All instructors, no matter the discipline nor the level of instruction, have a near-endless supply of woeful stories that recount how their best-laid lesson plans failed when it came time to actually teach them. It therefore behooves every instructor to study, slowly and carefully, how pedagogical theory can be best made manifest in our pedagogical practices. The Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy has a strong tradition of articles that focus heavily on pedagogical theory. Issue Nine, by contrast, concerns itself largely with praxis. It features articles that scrutinize attempts to actualize theory and invite, thoughtfully and meaningfully, technology into the complex reality of 21st century instruction. The articles presented herein are deep dives into the chaotic system that is the classroom: they are proof-of-concepts, experiments, and instructional meditations. They document their attempts to improve instruction by means of novel uses of technology, greater metacognition, and/or political awareness of students, and review, unflinchingly, both the successes and where they see need for improvements. They do not shirk away from offering up to readers the questions that remain unanswered after less-than-ideal results.

As a general issue, the topics and techniques the authors of Issue Nine employ are manifold. But perhaps the heart of our issue is the affordances and costs of digitally-enabled reflection. Digital tools offer collaboration, anytime access, and intuitive experiences (at times), and open new modes of analysis for both students and practitioners. Our authors offer a number of suggestions and modalities for teaching such practices: informal video reflection, collaboratively constructed learning environments, collaborative annotation, broad approaches to digital humanities, and an in-depth analysis of Twitter feeds from three conference panels. The breadth and depth of technical possibility is ripe for new forms of reflection. Yet, they also raise questions about the broader political economies that undergird these tools. Our authors employ various digital tools in order to encourage students to rethink the purpose of the classroom and confront the myriad design challenges that effort entails.

We find a prime example of these design vs. implementation issues in Kimberly Mair’s article “Participatory Culture and Distributed Expertise: Breaking Down Pedagogical Norms or Regulating Neoliberal Subjectivities?” In a junior-level course titled “Digital Culture and Society,” Mair attempted to, in her words, “disrupt conventional assumptions of the economy of knowledge in the classroom by positioning the students as collaborative knowledge producers.” In two different iterations of the course, she has two very different experiences. Students in her first class more engaged and ready to interrogate knowledge production and the agendas of Neoliberalism; students in the second class seem much less eager to engage those questions. Mair must ponder the question of why different groups of students interact so differently with the same material, even while she argues for the unambiguous value of a decentered pedagogy that requires students to interrogate knowledge and examine how it is used and valued.

A “best practice” becoming more prominent in pedagogical literature centers around the idea of “authenticity.” Two articles in Issue Nine explore “authentic learning,” which seeks to take problems found in the “real-world”—with all their concomitant, messy complexity—and introduce them into the classroom as challenges for students to overcome, using the paradigms, concepts, and methods of the course’s discipline(s). In the cases discussed within these articles, the online tools and video served as the “authentic” tools in question. In “Designing ‘Authenticity’ in Digital Learning Environments,” Allan Johnson describes a year-long study across two different English courses meant to document how well students tackle “authentic” problems using the tools of Web 2.0. One finding from the student evaluations demonstrates how much student perceptions of the role of these technologies cast an interesting pall over learning: the effectiveness of these tools in the classroom environment are influenced by students’ preconceptions of the tools themselves. Specifically, some students believed those tools were for “entertainment” purposes even after using them for a semester in a college course. Similarly, in “Reflecting on Reflections: Using Video in Learning Reflection to Enhance Authenticity,” Emma J. Rose, Jarek Sierschynski, and Elin Björling try use video as a means of creating less academically mediated and more “authentic” responses from students in a summer camp for underrepresented middle- and high school students. Again, the researchers run up against the reality of pedagogical practice when they find that the participants’ “own assessment of their experience did not include an expression of awareness of these changes.” In both articles, we see researchers finding interesting points of success in their experimental use of technologies, but those successes are colored and finally limited by numerous factors, not the least of which is student buy-in.

When courses use the subject of the Digital Humanities itself, the number of tools, pedagogical approaches, and theoretical frameworks available are so numerous that navigating the design and implementation of such of course comes with additional problems that the instructor must negotiate. How much should we assume students already know? What theories, literature, and technologies would best serve as the scaffolding tools that will lead to deeper, more meaningful learning? In “Teaching Literature Through Technology: Sherlock Holmes and Digital Humanities,” Joanna Swafford introduces us to her pedagogical mantra of “Read, Play, Build” as one viable approach. Theoretical readings, meticulous hands-on instruction, and project-based assignments provide a careful introduction to current digitally supported methodologies: visualization, archiving, markup, mapping, and more. Swafford’s approach ensures that “students receive both theoretical and practical experience with each methodology and can see first-hand its strengths and weaknesses” and serves as one potential model for anyone interested in designing an introduction to digital humanities level course.  Such an introduction, however, requires guided and supported use of tools, as the author notes: “Students from the so-called ‘digital native’ generation are often anything but.” It is a reminder that the adoption of tools always requires on-the-fly shifts in the classroom.

Emily Schneider and Stacy Hartman also discuss pedagogical shifts required to incorporate online, social-annotation tools into sustained practices of teaching and learning. In “Making Reading Visible: Social Annotation with Lacuna in the Humanities Classroom,” they provide an in-depth overview of new software for annotation and its impact on both teaching and learning. The authors note that for any tool to inspire change, it must be “intentionally integrated into pedagogical practices.”  Instructor teams must review annotations before class, requiring new workflows for students, teaching assistants and instructors. Yet, the instructors report that student thinking is “rendered visible” prior to class, increasing teacher engagement in the course and quickening the pace and depth of discussion. As with many contemporary technologies, there are multiple, concurrent shifts at play. In addition to the technical shift of new interfaces, interactions and affordances, the act of annotation undergoes a shift from the private to the public. This shift, regarded by the authors as largely beneficial, does create new learning challenges that must be addressed. They note that, “From the student perspective, shifting to social reading can demand higher levels of self-awareness than what students are used to from solitary reading practices…. Self-regulation must be taught and practiced.”

The shift from private to public is the focus of our last article as well. It is the least like our other articles in that it concentrates not on the classroom, but on the state of our profession as academics using technology in real time to conduct the business of our disciplines. Shawna Ross explores, in an information-rich series of web pages, the Twitter stream from two different panels at MLA in “A Bechdel Test for #MLA16: Gendered Acts of Care on Academic Twitter.” Ross positions “carework” (Lauren Klein’s term) as the central tenet for understanding how tweeters—composed “largely [of] a community of women who, donating their attention to this task, may be performing this labor at a certain personal cost”—engage in the task of “support[ing] other scholars, whether that scholar is a panelist, another audience member, or someone not present at the conference or that particular panel.” She concludes that the 2016 MLA passes both the Bechdel test for representation of women and (albeit with lesser surety) the DuVernay test for representation of race. Her closing advice for academic tweeting provides guidelines that may help foster a better system of care for ourselves and others: fearlessly citing ourselves, for instance, and putting Twitter aside so as to engage a debate in the moment, rather than preserving it for posterity, are just two suggestions.

We hope that you find within these articles insights that encourage reflection, both public and private, in the classroom and in discussion with your academic colleagues, in theory and in practice. You may even find a new tool or approach that can spur new pedagogical praxis in the coming academic year. If nothing else, we hope this issue will encourage more scholars to experiment with new technologies with equal parts bravura and forethought.

About The Authors

Tyler Fox is Lecturer in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. His research and art focuses on the ways in which nonhuman relations shape our experience of, and relationship to, the surrounding world. He received a PhD from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University.

Carlos Hernandez is an Associate Professor of English at BMCC and a member of the doctoral faculty in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Program at the Graduate Center, both at CUNY. He is a writer of SFF fiction, a game designer, and a digital humanist with a focus on game-based learning. @writeteachplay

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Introduction

Peter M. Gray, Queensborough Community College
Renee McGarry, Sotheby’s Institute of Art

1. There are articles here on collaboration and mentoring. We like them. We think you’ll like them, too.

2. We began our own years-long series of collaborations in the early 2000s, first in a graduate seminar focused on pedagogy for interdisciplinary graduate students, and then later extending our work together to professional presentations. We have seen our professional relationship shift and grow through our various kinds of collaborations, have weathered it when it has become fraught and complicated and messy. We have celebrated it when it has felt rewarding (and produced welcome results), when it has provoked us. And we continue to value collaboration and mentorship as fundamental to how we work within our different areas of academia. This special section has allowed us to cultivate writers who take up ideas around mentorship and collaboration in interesting ways, and we’ve welcomed the opportunity to work with them.

3. With much of our lives woven through shared Google Docs, around Twitter feeds, and with visits to LinkedIn, the spaces where personal and professional collaboration happen have become ubiquitous — once there were the Yellow Pages, now there is Yelp. Facebook, for example, has for some become useful “for professional conversations and [as] a social network that enables users to create and maintain social capital” (Briggs). This special section, as you will read, helps us think more slowly, with more clarity, about how and why we might use and revise our uses of interactive technology a writers, as teachers, as colleagues.

4. The writers collected here for this special section think large, pushing our uses of interactive technologies toward serving and enhancing international service-learning projects (Oppenheim, O’Shea, and Sclar). They also consider the pedagogical implications and complexities of mentoring in graduate and undergraduate course work: Macaulay-Lewis articulates a project for graduate students to develop digital skills that will serve them professionally, while Crocco challenges undergraduate writers through critical simulation pedagogy to collaborate on joint projects. Others, like Kuhn, Wipfli, Lipshin and Ruiz, place their seemingly disparate courses together pedagogically in order to enhance the intellectual experience of both courses. Skallerup Bessette tests our assumptions about how we represent collaboration (and how we recognize collaborative academic work: variously, inconsistently) through narrating her experience in a Twitter community around #FYCchat (take a look and jump into the fray). Zabrowski and Rivers formally enact their inquiry into their own mentorship and collaborative relationship, reflecting on rhetorical and material “space” in intriguing ways.

5. In this time of (relatively) easy heightened interaction through technologies, we holler encouragement to friends around the globe in comment sections, we make suggestions, we offer critique. We hope you consider this section as an invitation to do the same.

Peter M. Gray and Renee McGarry, Issue Co-Editors

Bibliography

Briggs, Timothy J. 2012. “Writing a Professional Life on Facebook.” Kairos 17 (2). n.p. http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/17.2/disputatio/briggs/index.html

 

 

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