Like a Beginning: ETMOOC, Twitter vs. Zombies, and Networks

These days, everything feels like a beginning.

This week, I presented at Emory University’s Symposium on Digital Pedagogy, Undergraduate Research and Writing with an array of diverse academics including Jim Groom and Tim Owens of the University of Mary Washington. Groom and Owens served as the main event for the symposium because of their experience pioneering A Domain of One’s Own, an initiative at UMW centered teaching students digital literacy by providing their own web domain. My presentation at the Symposium — Focus on Methods, Not Tools — was an overview of several pedagogical experiments I’ve either built or collaborated on in the last year, most growing out of my work as co-founder and managing editor on Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Teaching and Technology. A friend of mine, Josh Boldt, a lecturer in English at University of Georgia and creator of The Adjunct Project came down from Athens to attend the symposium.

While preparing for the symposium, I’ve also been busy shaping the content for Alec Couros‘s ETMOOC (Educational Technology Massively Open Online Course) which launched two weeks ago. Collaborating closely with Laura Hillger of the Mozilla Foundation, we’ve constructed a two week segment in ETMOOC on Digital Storytelling, roping in Groom and his colleagues, Alan Levine, Darren Kuropatwa, and my research partner Jesse Stommel as session leaders. I’ve been busy with all of this while launching my own four classes at Georgia State University where I teach, the most innovative one being the Electronic Writing and Publishing course I’ve themed as “Technology, Anxiety, and the Post-Apocalypse”. We’ve re-dubbed the class #TechApoc on Twitter.

This is where things get rather entwined. After designing and facilitating Twitter vs. Zombies last semester — an online post-apocalyptic simulation game focused on investigating participatory culture and teaching Twitter literacy — I decided that I wanted to fold the game into my work on ETMOOC and #TechApoc. I’m partnering with Janine DeBaise at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry and we’ve handed off facilitation of Twitter vs. Zombies 2.0 (links to come) to our students who are madly building their own version of the game for the ETMOOC community next week. It’s an experiment in pedagogical mentoring, as these students, some of whom are brand new to Twitter, will serve as moderators in an online narrative and pedagogical experience that could see hundreds of players.

As Josh and I were driving away from Emory’s Symposium on Tuesday, we decided to check out a location in Atlanta that might serve the needs of another nascent project which you can read the seed of here. Brimming with ideas after an impromptu, two-hour conversation with other educational innovators in the area, Josh and I committed to more conversation and a shared reading of Anya Kamenetz‘s DIYU: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. I stepped into the house and sat down to skim the book’s fifth chapter, “Independent Study”, and came across this:

“[Jim Groom’s] day job . . . is educational technologist at the University of Mary Washington  in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His secret identity is open-education blogdaemon and coiner of the term ‘edupunk.’ . . . What edupunk — DIY education, if you will — promises is an evolution from expensive insitutions to expansive networks; it aims to fulfill the promise of universal education, but only by leaving the university behind. Educational futurist John Seely Brown talks about ‘open participatory learning ecosystems.” Alec Couros at the University of Sasketchewan [currently he’s at University of Regina] calls my blend of news sources and contacts on Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and email a ‘personal learning network’.”

On one single page, Kamenetz weaves together the work of Groom and Couros (along with cMOOC theorizers and facilitators George Siemens and Stephen Downes).  All of this connectivity, organization, and creativity is intoxicating, and I am excited to have stumbled into classroom experimentation and reflection that puts me anywhere close to that neighborhood. In my work with Josh, Janine, Laura, and my students, we’re participating in a growing conversation about how economies and ecosystems of learning are evolving.  Much of this work is happening beyond the formal teaching requirements at my current institution, but it’s this digitally spliced-together, connectivist community that’s feeding me. So, while I am on the market looking for an institutional home for my work, I will keep innovating and experimenting with the network that supports me, academically if not financially.

And every project feels like a beginning.

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Resources for New Teachers

In preparing to discuss digital pedagogy with grad students and early-service English instructors at Emory, I prepared these resources of personal and Hybrid Pedagogy-related content. I also recommend that critical/digital teachers become familiar with ongoing work at HASTAC, DML Central, ProfHacker, Hack Education, and TECHStyle (at Georgia Tech), among other places.

Critical/digital tools
Hybrid Pedagogy’s digital tool Concordance
“Theorizing Google Docs: 10 Tips for Navigating Online Collaboration”
“How To Storify. Why to Storify”
“The Twitter Essay”
Introduction to Twitter for #gsuhybridize

Critical/digital activities
“Experiments in Mass Collaboration”

“Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs”
Video: “Hybridity and New Media Literacy”
Video: “Extension and Perforation: Twitter in the Classroom”
Petra Dierkes-Thrun’s “Public Literary Twitter Role-Play”

Critical/digital events and plans
MOOC MOOC and MOOC MOOC²
Twitter vs. Zombies
Video: “Digital Pedagogy, Play, and Mass Collaboration” at Duke (presentation notes here)
ENGL1101/New Media Literacy Pilot at Georgia State University
Syllabus: ENGL1101/New Media Literacy (fall 2012)
Syllabus: ENGL3120/Occupy Class (spring 2012)
Occupy Class 

Re-Defining Hybridity for Higher Education

Online presentation to SAE curriculum directors
November 16, 2012

Traditional definitions of “hybridity”
Reasons for a new definition
Lessons from our work

Resources for the conversation:
“Hybridity” on Hybrid Pedagogy
Pt. 1: Virtuality and Empiricism; Pt. 2: What is Hybrid Pedagogy?; Pt. 3: What Does Hybrid Pedagogy Do?
Hybrid Pedagogy’s MOOCMOOC
Video: What is a MOOC? by David Cormier
Video: “Changing Education Paradigms” by Sir Ken Robinson
Presentation: “Digital Pedagogy, Play, and Mass Collaboration” by Pete and Jesse

Digital Peer Review on #literacies chat

This evening, as a guest of Anna Smith and Emily Pendergrass, I will be helping to host the #literacies chat from 7:00pm-8:00pm EST. We’ll be talking about the theories behind and the opportunities of digital peer review  — plenty relevant for anyone beginning DigiWriMo, AcWriMo, or NaNoWriMo today! I’ve opened  a Google Document (#literacies/Digital Peer Review) for use before, during, and after the chat, especially for anyone who is interested but cannot attend.

For about three years I have been developing a process of peer review using two distinct but compatible metaphors: the organic writing and digital collaboration. It involves leading students through a generative writing process that uses vigorous peer review facilitated through online tools. I divide the composition process into three phases. We talk about writing as seeds (thesis)  and organs (brainstorming) in the first phase as writers are generating ideas and researching. Our second phase involves the organization of a composition, comparable to bones and skeletons. The final phase — which most people call editing — becomes the skin of the composition, the outer surface on which it’s often (sometimes unfairly) judged. We use open web applications throughout the process (lately I’ve used Crocodoc) to peer review each phase. I demonstrate the feedback that is appropriate for each specific phase, and we look at the text of a peer review together to shape subsequent sessions. I published an article on the the first part of this process (Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs) this summer on Hybrid Pedagogy. I am in the middle of writing its complement.

Any teacher who values writing in the classroom knows that peer review is tricky. We wonder how to best prepare our students for reviewing each other’s work and how to manage all of peer interactions that can happen outside our pedagogical reach. We look for ways to make peer review efficient and keep it from being an experience of surfaces. I suggest that use of peer review must be integrated as step into that process and that the connectivity of the web permits new, previously unavailable opportunities. My questions for tonight are:

  1. How is “peer review” a kind of compositional literacy?
  2. What useful adaptations have you found for teaching the skill of “peer review”?
  3. How have you used digital tools to revise “peer review” in the writing classroom?
  4. Would you like to try a digital “peer review” experiment with your #literacies peers?

ENGL1101/New Media Literacy, Exploring Forms Assignment

My students have already built two web-based compositions in our ENGL1101/New Media Literacy course (program description here, composition assignment sheet here). Today, I’ve asked them to locate model examples online of the form they are using for the third checkpoint assignment. Here are the tasks for the day:

  • Locate a blog, essay, presentation, or bibliography as your model to study. Post a link to it on Twitter with a short description. Use our class hashtag (#gsunml) and a one of the following tags: #pres, #essay, #bib, #blog. (10 mins)
  • Write a short blog post (100 words) describing why you chose that artifact and post the link to Twitter using the hashtags. (15 mins)
  • Post questions about the form that your reading raises. Keep both tags. (10 mins)
  • Suggest answers or give advice to others using tags from compositions you’ve already completed. (10 mins).
  • Open a Storify account, collect your interactions and blog post, and post the Storify link to Twitter. (10 mins).