For the past 8 years, I’ve been working on a co-edited volume, Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, that includes the stuff of teaching, syllabi, assignments, rubrics, that are often the unsung and often an invisible labor of our teaching jobs. To write a clear, concise, well-situated assignment prompt is an art form, especially considering that our students’ abilities and needs have experienced a profound shift in the last 10 years.
What am I talking about?
Those full-fledged computers we carry around in our pockets.
Or, the need for wifi at all places all over campus to research, write, engage.
Or, the network of friends we’ve all established in a virtual world.
In the last post, “It’s Not About the Tools,” we got a look inside the pedagogical theories behind a collaborative, project-based learning environment in a Humanities course. Students were offered a broad research question at the outset and an established goal. But, as you can see, that goal had to change due to resources and the needs of the project. Since no one had written about Beardstair prior to this course, or, more accurately, publicized/published a piece on its process and progress, the graduate students deemed it appropriate and in line with Digital Humanities scholarship to publish a history and process piece.
In that post, I gestured towards the technology, but the technology did not govern the course. In fact, the students offered a critique of the digital tools, their failings, and their limitations foisted onto the project. The seamless tech, blogs, Facebook groups, Google Docs, photography, were used for the purpose of collaboration and documenting the progress. A Facebook group was established by the student teams (Tech Team & Literature Team) as the easiest form of facilitating constant contact — primarily because of the seamless integration between mobile and laptop platforms along with notifications of recent postings to their groups. (They discuss this choice for collaboration space in their peer-reviewed article for the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, “BeardStair: A Student-Run Digital Humanities Project History, Fall 2011 to May 16, 2013.) Continue Reading…
I’ve spent a lot of my career here at SJSU converting my research-oriented practices towards a more forward-facing collaboration with my students in project-centered learning environments. During my first forays into adventures with SJSU English and Composition students more than a decade ago, I taught the way that faculty had taught me at Cal State L.A. so many years ago: lectures with lots of interesting discussion centered around a novel or poem or philosophical musing. Grad school was like that, too, until I got into my dissertation area. And, I just assumed, even while teaching at multiple schools in the City University of New York system, that all students were as fascinated as I was about literature, culture, news, politics, the world. The CUNY students at Hostos Community College, Queens College, and Lehman College taught me differently, but in the throes of finishing a dissertation, living in the vibrancy of NYC, and moving across country for a job, I didn’t quite get it.
And, I didn’t quite get it when I arrived at SJSU an Assistant Professor in 2005, though I had just finished a traditional dissertation PLUS a project-based dissertation where my advisors let me roam around, ask questions, fail, and discover for myself. I hadn’t yet found a bridge to be able to facilitate that kind of learning…at least until Digital Humanities methodologies became much more transparent.
This is a good follow up to Yingjie’s previous post about the upcoming Immersive Learning Institute for 2019. As I wrap up my thoughts on my conference experiences for this year, I’m most delighted that I was able to attend the sixth annual OpenSimulator Community Conference 2018 on December 8th and 9th. This was my second year attending this virtual world conference, and it allowed me to network with educators, artists, and others from around the world, all of whom are passionate about this open source alternative to a virtual worlds platform such as Second Life.
Presenting in a Virtual World
This was also my first time presenting in a virtual world! Originally I was to co-present with a colleague, Dr. Valerie Hill, the director of the Community Virtual Library (CVL). Valerie wasn’t able to attend, however, so it gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to this community, and tell them about CVL’s plans for a hypergrid resource library on two different virtual worlds that are using the OpenSimulator platform. As the project lead, my presentation included screenshots of the two buildings I’ve put in place where all our content and resources will be housed, along with the portals that allow for visitors to jump easily from one virtual world grid to another.
Since the concept of hypergridding is likely to not be familiar to you, here’s a simple explanation. There are many virtual worlds built on OpenSimulator, and those worlds can be on anybody’s computer or server anywhere in the world. So if virtual worlds are like 3 dimensional websites, hypergridding is the protocol that allows a user to jump from “website” to “website”. Instead of just navigating the different pages of one virtual world, a visitor is empowered to travel from different computers or servers to another.
While there is a bit of a learning curve, and the technology is still kind of wonky, I think of open source virtual worlds and hypergridding as kind of a 2.0 mashup of the internet and social media. It’s every sci-fi geek’s dream – the emerging metaverse!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, winter is generally a good time for eCampus staff to focus on their own professional development. I was delighted to be able to attend the Online Learning Consortium’s Accelerate 2018 Conference in Orlando, Florida. This was my first time at this enormous national convention and it was a whirlwind of learning and networking! There were over 500 presenters, and I was fortunate to be among those chosen to do a table-top interactive presentation. My topic was on Integrating 360 Content with Instruction, and for 45 minutes I went through some of the basic concepts, terminology, possibilities and pitfalls of using Canvas to share 360 content.
I had several mobile devices, two tablets, a couple Samsung phones, a Samsung 360 gear camera, and two Samsung Gear360 headsets along with a Google Cardboard, so that participants could view 360 content in multiple ways. I also created a public Canvas course, Integrating 360 with Instruction!, participants could access via a QR code or bit.ly link so that participants could see how the content could be presented in Canvas. In particular, I strongly encouraged them to visit the course on multiple devices, just like their students would, to really get a feel for the challenges and opportunities this kind of technology presents.
I also attended many excellent lectures and discussions with my peers from all over the country. I took a lot of notes that I shared with my eCampus team, and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with faculty!