Virtually Connecting with Digital Pedagogy Lab

Last week I got to attend the first (annual?) Digital Pedagogy Lab in Madison, WI. The week was intense: attendees spent an average of 5 hours per day in one of three workshop tracks (Praxis, Networks, Identity) and also attended unconference sessions, keynote lectures, and daily meals together. It was exhilarating, exhausting, inspiring, and frustrating, all at the same time. The week left me with as many unanswered questions as it answered, and I’m still sorting through what I learned, and how to integrate that learning to improve my own teaching.

In addition to the regular activities, I was also one of a few people who acted as “conference buddies” connecting virtual participants to those who were able to attend physically by co-hosting brief, informal webcast conversations. There were live (and recorded) streamed hangouts each day of the workshop, and I participated in four out of five of them: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Here is the Virtually Connecting page with links to each of the sessions, and here is the overall schedule for the hangouts during the week.

Why Be a Buddy?

Rebecca Hogue () and Maha Bali () first introduced me to their concept of a “virtual buddy” who could facilitate informal chats between live conference presenters and/or attendees and virtual attendees at #et4online in Texas this spring. At that conference, Rebecca used her devices to connect Maha and other friends to a series of panels at the conference for brief “hallway chats” about the content of the panels. The style was informal and conversational, the purpose not to re-present conference papers, but rather to enable virtual participants (who watched live stream or Twitter feeds during the panels) to ask questions and discuss ideas.

Conferences are expensive and location-specific, so the virtual buddy concept that Maha and Rebecca developed is an attempt to address structural inequities that discourage so many academics from being an equal part of conversations. I love this idea, and I was (and am) delighted to be part of a project that encourages real inclusiveness. I have limited conference funding at my institution, so I am often the one watching the Twitter feed of a conference longingly, and I hope to get to participate as a virtual attendee one day soon. So far, I’ve participated as an attending buddy at three events this year: HASTAC, DHSI, and Digital Pedagogy Lab and as an attending guest at the inaugural #et4online conference.

How to be a Buddy

Now that I’ve been a buddy three times at different types of events, I thought I’d record my reflections. My overall feeling is delight and gratitude that Rebecca and Maha asked me to join their project. As a facilitator of conversations, I’ve gotten to chat with a bunch of folks at each conference–some I know well and others I’m meeting for the purpose of the hangout. The project opened doors for me, giving me a reason to approach Alex Gil (whose work I had admired from afar), and Amy Collier (whose keynote knocked my socks off). And facilitating an online conversation was something to offer back to friends whose work and ideas have influenced mine, such as Adeline Koh, Anne Cong-Huyen, and Chris Friend. Being a conference buddy–acting as a vector to connect virtual and physical attendees–is one of the most embodied modes of participant culture I’ve experienced. I love it!

Being there and being virtual: Balancing two ways of connecting

The most complicated aspect of being a buddy is the fluidity of connecting an embodied experience (conference attendance) with a virtual experience (streaming discussion). Ideally, the two should dovetail seamlessly, with the embodied bridging effortlessly to the technologically-facilitated virtual (which is, of course, embodied differently). In the best of all worlds, I’d hope that the VirtuallyConnecting hangouts provide the virtual participants a point of access into the sensibility of a conference, to the side conversations and serendipitous juxtapositions that transform conferences into coherent events rather than merely sequential presentations. Additionally, the virtual group, by participating in the conversation, can spontaneously generate fascinating connections and create their own shared sensibility, since such event coherence is produced by each conference attendee, or by small groups of attendees who share ideas.

But the part I find tricky is being the conduit: the “buddy” who acts as fulcrum between physical and virtual. I want to make my conference experience visible to the virtual participants, while also making space for them to produce their own collective focus during the discussion. And I want to achieve all that while being mentally present during conference sessions and also fully committed to the streaming discussion. So far, I’ve not quite mastered how to do all that. As a virtually connecting session approaches, I notice that I get nervous: will I be able to round up the on-ground participants elegantly? Will the hangout initiate smoothly? Will our conversation develop naturally out of the collective sensibility of the conference as well as of the virtual participants? How can I invite virtual participants into conversations that feel ongoing among the on-ground attendees with as little repetition as possible? How do I enjoy my own conference-going fully, while also adhering to the preset Virtually Connecting schedule? This last is one of the most challenging aspects of being a buddy: you have to interrupt your own conference to help others connect in. But, so far, that complexity has yielded enormous benefits for me. And, more importantly, I get to feel that I’m giving back to others by bifurcating a bit of my own conference time by linking multiple communities together. It’s one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of these last few conferences I’ve attended, and I look forward to becoming better at it.


DH and Social Justice

(Click HERE to jump to links.)

Yesterday I asked a question on Twitter and Facebook:

Do you know of a ‪#‎DH‬ project or tool that addresses a social justice issue? I know this is a broad request, but I’m looking to compile a list of interesting projects for students to analyze. Plz share links, resources, or references and I’ll share the list we come up with.

In less than 24 hours, I’ve received dozens of links and suggestions, and also many requests to share the list. To make sharing and contributions simpler, I’ve created an open Diigo Outline, which you can access here, or see below.

First–thanks to everyone who has sent links and resources. Please keep adding–this is a huge area, and the more work we collect the better for our students/scholars/activists.

Michelle Moravec asked a crucial question about the method and scope of my request:

Are you looking for just contemporary social justice or historical?

As you see from the list below, I’ve included both and tried to tag and categorize to make finding easier.

The inspiration for my request comes from a class titled “Just Hacking” I will be team-teaching with my colleague Bill Kronholm in Fall 2015. Here’s the catalog description:

“Hacking” is often viewed as a criminal endeavor; however, at its core it is the art of creative problem solving. In this course students will hack the information flow of new media to conceptualize, design, and implement responses to real-world social justice issues. As a class, we will identify a specific issue and then learn data visualization, basic programming, and/or design skills as needed to build a project to address it. No prior programming experience is assumed. 4 credits. CON2

The course is designed for people with no prior programming experience who share a conviction that we are all responsible for improving our world. Students will learn efficient problem-solving and basic coding (especially Python) using an applied project-based learning approach in which they will collectively identify a social problem, design potential projects to address it, select an approach, learn the skills they need to implement their choice, and then collaboratively implement their solution. The course will teach basic programming skills as a literacy that can help address social problems, while also exploring ways technological solutionism can obscure or exacerbate existing social problems.

I’d love your feedback and thoughts about our concept. We are developing the course modules this summer, and the projects on this list will be both inspirations and opportunities for students to analyze existing projects in order to imagine what is possible, what can be improved, and what works.

Diigo DH and Social Justice Outliner:

DH and Social Justice

When cows can fly: In the heat of the #TvsZ 6.0 moment

#TvsZ 6.0: A giant game of Twitter Red Rover

This weekend, I’ve been playing #TvsZ 6.0 with friends and students. The game is both like and unlike previous iterations. I have loved every version I’ve played so far, but this one may be my favorite.

Why? Because, though I love zombies, it turns out that getting rid of zombies has opened up more imaginative freedom for players. Zombies are such a dominant narrative, that when we are within that paradigm, as fun as it is, it controls our sense of possibilities. The various zombie tropes we know get deployed, reworked, and remixed in endlessly fascinating ways.

But take away the zombie master narrative, revise the underlying game action from involuntary or even violent transformation (#bite) to the more constructive valence of community building (#recruit), and the ethos of the game transforms. We still play for fun, and players feel loyalty to their teams (more on that in a moment), but tweets tend toward “I want you on my team, so I #recruit you” rather than the “I’m going to get you despite your protest, so I #bite you”.

Of course, there’s still a LOT of trash-talking (and I may be among the worst offenders in this realm). I don’t have time to paste in tweets to show this, but search on the #TvsZ hashtag and you’ll see the banter among players from different teams.

Why I’m a #teamtech member

I began as a #teamtech member because I figured it would be the less popular of the two initial teams (nature vs technology). Also, our plan as we developed the game concept was to invite players to hack the binary of the two original teams, so I figured I’d be moving on to a third team in fairly short order.

Very quickly–more quickly than we’d planned–a third team (#bovine) established itself, and for a while a fourth (#dragon) and even fifth team (#fish). Then the cows and the dragons combined forces in what can only be described as the triumph of creative imagination: and so was born the team I call “the flying cows”, team #dragonbovine, a group of fun-loving, firebreathing flying cows.

I immediately wanted to join them. Who doesn’t love the sheer silliness of it? And I was gratified when a few #DB players made attempts to #recruit me to their team. Part of me really wanted to join them, to glory in the linguistic punning and visual potential of such an imaginative identity.

But I resisted, out of a sense of loyalty to my (at the time, dwindling) team. Ah, what a tough call 🙂

Technology, Nature, and Imagination

As I think of it now, these three teams embody three sets of values and bases of human thought. They are, clearly, not incompatible. In fact, I’d argue that the (constructs) nature, technology, and imagination are entirely interdependent and deeply interconnected. And maybe that the real beauty of this version of #TvsZ: instead of opposing sides (humans vs zombies), this time we have interconnected, interdependent perspectives working separately but with awareness of each other.

If I were trying to build a game that would suggest an avenue of hope for our collective future–a future threatened by so many challenges at both local and global scales–I’d want something like #TvsZ 6.0, as it has emerged through the players’ own initiative. We need technological solutions to some gloabal warming challenges, but we also need imagination and creativity and lightness-of-touch to choose among and advance those solutions, and we desperately need people who care deeply about our environments, be they natural or participatory communities.

Many players embody this ethos. Here’s one example. One player was confused about the rules, and another player helped her out:

#Teamtech ethos

So what is the ethos of #teamtech? I can’t speak for my teammates, but my sense is that we are motivated by a desire to improve our collective way of life by recognizing the sheer variety and richness of human innovation. We defend the pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake (#gogeeks), and we trust that people in teams imagination (the flying cows) and nature will balance us with their wisdom and kindness.

Plus, we seem to love to make Star Wars, Star Trek, and other nerdy film references. #Gogeeks!

How do I keep the research/conversations going during the semester?

This is a perennial question for me, and one I have never “solved” adequately. Some semesters I get more of my own research done than others, but I always find that I feel unsatisfied with my ability to remain connected to my larger academic discourse community during the semester.

I teach at a liberal arts college, which I love, but which means that my 3/3 teaching load is fully on my own shoulders. Each course is an individual prep, and I rotate courses on a two-year schedule. So I do a lot of prepping in order to stay up to date in the fields of my active courses. I find I need to catch up on each field, reinsert my brain into those concerns, and reread all the materials for each course–for each course each semester.

This rotation of courses means that, in any given semester, I am likely NOT teaching a course directly related to the article or project I’m working on for my own research. I just can’t move through projects that quickly. So my research trajectories don’t line up with my teaching very well.

Recently, though, as I’ve been doing more and more digital pedagogical experiments, they are enabling me to realign some aspects of my work with teaching. That’s exciting.

And I find that, if I can carve out time to interact with my Twitter account multiple times a day I can stay connected to my colleagues.

So–my resolution this semester is counterintuitive: spend more time on social media–especially Twitter–in order to stay “in the conversation” with my own research and with others who are doing related projects.

Have you ever made such a resolution? How do you keep your head in your research during heavy teaching times?

Connected Homework & the shock of getting a reply to a “study” tweet

I am really excited for Monday’s Connected Courses webinar on “Social Capital” and the value of a “personal learning network.” The resources are already helpful, but I am looking forward to hearing how other faculty members have actually mentored students through this process.

I set up the course I’m connecting with Connected Courses as my first giant leap into this kind of teaching. The course, as I’ve said elsewhere, is an interdisciplinary seminar designed to launch students into designing their own educational path (ie: self-designed major). As I conceptualized the course last summer, its key purpose became clear to me:

provide a semester-length structure through which students with widely various–and often quite undefined–interests can define their interests for themselves by discovering role models and mentors both on campus and off.

We began the semester by reading essays on how people learn NOW, in the age of Google voice searches on every smartphone and Wikipedia and Yelp and Youtube. Alongside those theoretical readings, students discussed where they personally learn, from whom, and how they learn best. We also spent a week becoming aware of our own digital practices, and whether we were satisfied by our own individual attention management. Many of these ideas came from Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart, and from Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It. I also borrowed liberally from Jade Davis’s work about teaching students about privacy on social media.

All this has been going well. Very well. Students seem engaged in the class. They arrive having done the reading (!) They hotly debate questions about social media use, privacy, online identity (real name or pseudonym), whether devices should be allowed during seminar classes, whether colleges should continue to require “breadth” courses or allow immediate specialization, etc. They are invested in the class discussions. Members of the class keep commenting that “this is the first time I’ve been allowed to think about ______ in school.”  That is heart warming. Seriously exciting.

I’ve also been asking them to be full co-teachers. We just spent a class period coming up with the criteria for their blog posts. Students post blog assignments about once a week on Medium. We decided on the criteria for “excellent” posts, which will be added into the class collection. Additionally, after reading an essay on networked learning (the basis for the syllabus structure), I asked them to spend a class period discussing WHETHER this approach can really work for us as a class, and how or what to do instead.

Whew. That was scary! What if they said “No?” And, in fact, the discussions were pretty significant. They talked in small groups; I bit my nails and tried not to eavesdrop. Students have some serious reservations, often deriving from their mistrust of social media in general, their concern that publishing their undergraduate musings on the Web could cause them difficulty in the future (one is an aspiring politician), their worry about politeness from other students, their feeling that social media should be fun and uncorrupted by serious or scholarly work. They had many many many reservations.

But they were also interested in trying something new. In the end, we reached consensus that networked learning could work for us this semester–but they are wary. Very wary. And they decided that their blog posts and tweets should not be evaluated based on their “social life”, on audience response or retweets or any such indicators.

In fact, they are not all sure they like connecting with scholars via Twitter. A couple of the writers of articles we’ve been reading responded to student tweets about their reading; students were surprised and a bit scarred. One student said that he didn’t feel he could engage in meaningful conversation in 140 characters. Another, that she wasn’t sure it was the “real” writer. And, in general, they are not sure they want their homework to be so interactive, so public, so…important.


I had assumed–what is the saying?, “assumptions are premeditated disappointments”–I had assumed that connecting homework, reading, thinking, ideas to the outside world would be invigorating for students. These are real living people we are reading, and they take their ideas so seriously that they respond (and very graciously indeed) to tweets from strangers!

Now, I realize in retrospect that I need to help students adjust to this whole new way of learning. Their “homework” is to actually share thoughts–and therefore potentially engage in discussions–with real people about real things that matter to others in the world. That requires a new vision of oneself as a student and a scholar.

Homework isn’t just some throw-away exercise anymore, an empty ritual performed to get a grade. Instead, it’s an opportunity to participate in debates and discussions. But I am also requiring them to participate in discussions on topics of my selection, and those topics may not be the ones closest to their hearts and minds. (Later in the semester they will be working on their own topics, but we haven’t reached that point yet.) All this is so enormously different from what they are used to that it’s disorienting.

So next week, we will talk about trust in class. Stay tuned. One thing I’m sure of: I will discover some (probably unarticulated) expectation of my own that will be overturned by the process.

Jonathan Worth on the “Why?” of connected learning:

“[T]here is this thing called transitive trust where you can ‘borrow’ from other people’s trust. Trust by proxy. I looked at the Heith Ledger moment [sic], the fourteen-year-old girl who pointed her trust at me and I borrowed from it. So I said right, who are the cultural influences here? Who are the people within these communities that we should draw into this; but draw into the process of building it, not sell the product but draw into the process of building it. Who knew that it was graffiti artists in Egypt and poets in Algeria, and its street artists in Tunisia?” –Jonathan Worth

Attention Mindfulness Journal

A friend recently asked for the “attention journal” assignment I am using in my introduction to digital scholarship course (WSP101 on this blog). I’ve pasted the assignment in below. This post is a description of what I want to accomplish by the assignment and how I am conceptualizing it. I’d love your feedback and comments!

I got the idea for this assignment from reading Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart. He discusses David Levy’s (University of Washington) mindfulness assignments:

Levy created a college course called “Information and Contemplation.” In addition to teaching breath awareness to his students, Levy asked them to keep a log of their email behavior for a week, noting how their body and emotions felt, and how they were breathing while they were online.

(Rheingold, Net Smart, 73)

Here’s a brief feature on David Levy (I’d love to learn from him!) And here’s a Google Tech Talk by David Levy. While Levy is an expert on teaching technology and awareness, this semester is my first foray into this field. I backed into deciding to teach awareness after deciding to have my students use Twitter and to blog and share all their coursework for a class this semester. I knew that I would need to confront many issues: screen fatigue, differential device access, social media concerns, identity and FERPA questions, etc. And I’d also need to explain to my students WHY I was trying to get them to spend MORE time on social media–Twitter and Medium. Most messages students receive about social media is that it is a waste of time, a threat to their future (drunken posts, etc.), merely a platform for marketing (true enough sometimes), etc. Here I was arguing against all of that.

So I wanted to begin the semester by asking students to really think about their own engagement with technology. What do they do? What do they like and dislike? How conscious are they of their own body and breathing when scrolling through a social media feed? How aware are they of their own technology practices?

I also want to put students in the driver’s seat. What are their interests in relation to their own technology use? The course will be both investigating these questions and also practicing skills related to developing personal learning networks. It is crucial, then, that students come up with their own questions about these topics. I want them to learn something useful, to find a reason that this class will help them in their own learning goals.

Here is the assignment I developed. It is largely borrowed from an assignment in a course titled “Contempletive Practice” taught by David Ambuel and Angela Pitts at University of Mary Washington. I left the terms of the assignment deliberatedly vague: what counts as “technology use,” for example. Phones? Laptops? Video games? Students asked these questions in class, and I turned the questions back to them to answer. They also asked “am I doing it right?” in various ways and I consistently told them that there is no right and wrong in this observation of themselves. They also asked “what am I trying to find out?” (which is a great question, really), and I bounced that back to them as well–“what do you want to learn about your own attention/technology combination?”

I haven’t yet seen their blog posts, but I’m excited to discover what they made of this assignment.

Here’s the assignment:

Attention Log

Throughout Week 2 of the course, you should keep a regular “attention journal” to notice how your attention moves while you are online. This exercise is to help you become more aware of how your mind–in combination with the Web–works. There is no right or wrong way to place your attention for this exercise. My hope is that you will simply observe your own attentional practice.

In order to do so, please keep a log of your engagement with online media for one week. Each session should be a minimum of 15 minutes, and you should observe at least 5 sessions.

As you surf, or do homework online, or scroll through social media, remind yourself to notice what you are thinking, how you are breathing, what position your body is in, if you are feeling anything (emotionally or otherwise). Again, there is no right or wrong answer to any of this–just mindfulness of what you do. In making entries to your journal, you want to strive for brevity, accuracy, and precision.

Make a separate entry for each session.  Use the entries to describe your practice in detail, but you do not need to be repetitive, i.e., you may combine similar traits.

For each session, respond to the following questions:

1. Date,
2. Physical Space and means of access to Web
3. Duration of session,
4. What occurred,
5. How you noted it,
6. What happened to it,
7. What worked,
8. What did not work,
9. Other comments.

This assignment is gratefully adapted from a meditation journal assignment:

Blog Post & Tweet

After students complete the journal itself, they then are asked to write their first blog post of the semester (week 2.5) summarizing and narrating what they learned from the journal. They then tweet the link to the post to the class hashtag, so everyone can read it.

Digital Skills for Designing Your Own Major

Here is a syllabus I am trying out for the first time. The course is an introductory course for students who plan to self-design their own interdisciplinary majors:

Whittier Scholars Program 101

This course is the foundation course for the Whittier Scholars Program. It is designed to enable students to explore issues such as: human beings in a social context; the relationship between the individual and the community; the role of education and the life of the mind; and the ways in which values and affect play a role in asking and understanding enduring questions and analyzing issues. Themes are addressed in terms of different historical periods, disciplines, cultures and identities. Director’s permission required. 3 credits.

Course Goals

  • Initiate you into Whittier Scholar’s academic community (participate)
    In class we will practice what it takes to be a successful Whittier Scholar, including participating in discussions, note taking, attention management, envisioning your own curriculum, using campus and digital resources, etc. You will also be required to attend a few campus activities, digital meetups, and Whittier Scholars events during the semester.
  • Explore methods for taking charge of your own education (question)
    The Whittier Scholars Program gives students (with the help of a group of faculty advisors) the responsibility for designing your own curriculum. Why design your own? So that you can explore questions that YOU care about. This class offers tools and practice in researching possibilities, seeking mentors, and seizing opportunities to ask burning questions. These skills prepare you for success not only in the WSP but also in a rapidy-changing world, a world in which you may often need to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” as your interests and contexts change.
  • Practice communitication, including writing, as a process (communicate)
    Communicating artfully is a process that involves listening to others, evaluating evidence, analyzing your own questions, advancing ideas, offering and accepting criticism, adapting your speech and prose to suit a specific audience, and practicing precision and persuasiveness. Note: error-free writing is the assumed starting point of this class. We will not study grammar, but will address “mechanical” issues as needed.
  • Participate in social media to advance your learning and life goals (collaborate)
    This class will explore new avenues for overcoming distinctions between learning and doing, education and work, and public and private identities via social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.). We will practice participating in social media collaborations and spend time shaping our individual digital identities to reflect our ethics and goals.

What do you want to learn?

Discovering that is the central purpose of this course. Along the way, we will play with various tools and develop skills that will hopefully help you place your own questions at the center of your Whittier College education. In class and via social media, we will pursue the learning that you wish to explore this semester—and, potentially, in your Whittier Scholars major and project. In order to provide a framework for your explorations, we will read some texts chosen for their interdisciplinarity and elegance. You should read (or watch) them carefully, attentively, and take notes as you do so, focusing on how they might relate to your central questions.

The seminar format gives you the privilege and responsibility of regularly participating in discussions. In this class, we are not only each other’s discussion partners, we are also each other’s reading audience. Collaborative learning, including reviewing each other’s writing, will be a regular part of the course. In addition, since most of your writing for this class will be posted publically on the Web, the whole world is your potential reading audience. As your questions take shape, we will develop learning networks to help you pursue your questions both within Whittier and in the world—and Web—beyond.

As the semester progresses, you will take increasing control over the course. In the final unit, “Community,” you will lead class for about 40 minutes in order to bring the classroom community into your “big question”—the topic you’ve been pursuing over the semester. Your leadership will begin with you giving a short TED-style talk about your big question. What you do next is up to you: maybe it will involve a discussion, or a game, or a

Learning Objectives of the Course

  1. To enable students to generate and address “fundamental questions” about the individual, community, society, and the relationship(s) between and among them;
  1. To expose students to a range of disciplines and perspectives that will enable them to begin to formulate answers for themselves;
  1. To increase students’ ability to respond critically to ideas presented in a variety of media, i.e., text, film, oral presentation, etc.
  1. To increase students’ understanding of the social environment in which they live and their place within it; and
  1. To help students begin to think about their education and their own goals as a first step toward designing their own education for the WSP.

Required Texts

Most texts for this class will be articles and talks available online and/or in PDFs that you can download onto your device or print out. Whether you choose to read them on screen or on paper, you will need to read them carefully and attentively, to make notes in them, and to bring them to class according to the reading schedule below. The only book you need buy is the following: Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist.

Online Materials –your grades are available to you on Moodle throughout the semester

Participate in the course Moodle website regularly. Go to and login using your my.whittier login and password. You should be automatically enrolled in the class. I will post syllabus updates, PDFs, useful links, and assignments, and you will post some assignments. Visit the course Moodle website at least twice a week, before each class session. All grades will be posted to the Moodle Gradebook during the semester so that you can keep track of your progress in the course (though there will often be some delay between marking and posting—please be patient!). There are also many writing resources available through links on the Moodle page. Explore them! You’ll be amazed.

Writing for the Public

You will write and revise blog posts regularly throughout the semester. You will write most mornings in class. You will regularly tweet your ideas and links to your blogs. Also, you will regularly read and comment on classmates’ writing.

Most of the writing you do for this class will not only be shared with your classmates and myself, but also with anyone who finds you on We will therefore discuss early in the term your options for your online presence: you may choose to publish your work under your own name or to use a psdeunym. We will read about what trade-offs are involved in this decision so that you can make an informed decision, and you will sign a contract with the class identifying your individual choice.

You will also be reading—and publically commenting—on each others’ writing. These comments, as with all work you do for this class, should be constructive and helpful. The more specific your comments, the more helpful they will be for the writer. Generalized compliments should be avoided. Take your review responsibilities seriously, and make significant suggestions to others!

For additional help with writing throughout the semester, I encourage you to come see me in office hours and also to visit the writing center in the Center for Advisement and Academic Success (CAAS).

Initial Course Schedule

Since this is a seminar, reading and other assignments should be completed BEFORE CLASS on the date indicated so that you can participate fully in the discussion. The only exception to this are assignments listed as “in class” on the syllabus. Always bring relevant books to class. Our schedule will usually change during the semester: the most up-to-date schedule will always be available on the course Moodle website.


  Read and àWrite before class In class
Unit One: Individual: How do you want to learn?
Week One  
R 9/4 In class:

Wallace, David Foster: “This is Water” Commencement Speech on Youtube.

Abridged (illus)


Attention Experiment

After class: Update your Moodle profile.


Week Two àKeep Attention Log this week to discover your attentional practices
T 9/9 Cronon, “Only Connect…”

Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”

[Optional: Nussbaum, “Liberal Education and Global Community” AACU Winter 2004]

àSummarize Cronon reading (1-2 pgs)


Discuss readings and two types of summaries: 140 character summaries and purposeful summaries for writing.
R 9/11 Topic: What is your digital identity and footprint? What do you want it to be? Sign individual publishing contract for class work.


Read: Terms of Service for and Twitter.

Hogan, Bernie. “Pseudonyms and the Rise of the Real-Name Web.”


In Class Workshop Day: Medium, Storify, and Twitter


F 9/13 àTweet Link to Profile Last day to add classes
Week Three
T 9/16 Davidson, “The Classroom or the Worldwide Web?” from The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (8-25)

àTweet at least 2 interesting claims from reading.

Discuss tweets and claims, make collaborative summary.
R 9/18 à Blog 1: What you learned from keeping an attention log. àTweet link & summary. Workshop w/ John Jackson: Multimedia annotation strategies and Zotero
Week Four
T 9/23 Davidson, “Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy: Ten Principles for the Future of Learning” from The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (26-35) (pdf)

àBlog 2: Five Personal Learning Principles (5- 7 mins read). àTweet link & summary

Discuss personal learning principles in relation to Davidson’s institutional principles.
R 9/25 Sall, Mike. “The Optimal Post is 7 Minutes”

àWhat is an “attention minute”?

Sall, Mike. “Double the pain, double the gain.”

à Blogs 1 & 2 revised and submitted for publication by classtime

àTweet summaries and links for them.

  9/27 last day to Drop
Unit Two: Identity: What do you want to learn?
Week Five
T 9/30 Topic: Begin Big Question project: What is your question and why use TED, Youtube, etc?


àBlog 3: What is your big question? What do you want to know? (minimum 7 mins read)

àTweet summary/link.

Develop rubric for evaluating blogs and working collaboratively.
R 10/2 Rheingold, “Attention and Other 21st Century Social Media Literacies” (pdf)

à Blog 3 revised submitted for publication by classtime.

àTweet summary and link

Discussion of mutli-modal composition: what are modes, and why not write essays like everyone else?
Week Six  
T 10/7 Peer Revision Workshop

à WSP Application Essay

Class decides: bring paper copies? Or laptops?

Set Unit Three schedule for class leadership.


R 10/9 “Behold the Mustache”: Howard Rheingold’s visit

àTweet three questions for Howard before class.

Attend talk at 5pm

Live Tweet his talk? Class should discuss and decide.

F 10/10 WSP Applications Due  
Week Seven
T 10/14 The Alchemist

àTweet 2 interesting quotations from The Alchemist before class, including page numbers.

àBlog 4: Embed a TED or Ignite talk that relates to your big question (blog 3). Describe why you find the talk inspiring. How does it relate to your big question? How does the speaker capture your attention? What would you do differently? (5-7 mins read)

àTweet summary and link

Explain why each quotation interests you to a partner and together develop a question for the class.
R 10/16 The Alchemist

à Blog 5: Title blog with a question you want to explore. Begin with an interesting quotation from The Alchemist and explain why you find it compelling and how it responds to your question. (5-7 mins read)

àTweet summary and link

Think/Pair/Share: discuss tweets and reading in relation to your own plans.
Week Eight
T 10/21 àBlog 6: Your Lesson Plan. Begin with links to resources we—your students—must read, and a blog or twitter assignment we must do in advance. (minimum 7 mins read)

àTweet summary and links.

Workshop Blog 6
R 10/23 The Alchemist

à5 tweets about The Alchemist. They may respond to class questions from previous session or they may assert a new idea about the novel or ask a question for the class.

Storify tweets into topic categories. Discuss key topics.
Unit Three: Community: What will you teach us?

Topics and assignments to be input by student teachers at least one week before session!

Week Nine
T 10/28 àBlog 6 revised and submitted for publication by classtime.

àTweet link and summary.

R 10/30 àBlog 7: Your Learning Network: Who are you connecting with to pursue your big question? How are you connecting? Where are you sharing information? What have you learned? (minimum 5 mins read)
Week Ten (Weeks 10 & 11 are Advising)
T 11/4  
R 11/6  
Week Eleven
T 11/11
R 11/13 Prepare for Twitter Game
Nov 14-17: Play TvsZ
Week Twelve
T 11/18 àBlog 8: What did you learn from playing TvsZ? (minimum 5 mins read)
R 11/20
Week Thirteen
T 11/25
R 11/27 Thanksgiving Break
Week Fourteen  
T 12/2 Final Blog: What is your next step? How will you use your connections, skills, and questions to get you there? How has this class contributed to your ability to pursue your own learning? (7 – 9 mins read minimum, carefully revised and submitted for publication)

àTweet summary and link

R 12/4 Last Day of Class

Connective Pedagogies: Feminist Social Media Literacies and Gamification

Here’s a presentation Anne Cong-Huyen and I gave recently at University of Toronto’s Digital Pedagogy Institute. We spoke about gamifying what Jade Davis calls a “pedagogy of risk” by connecting students via social media.


Reflections on Playing TvsZ

Games that build community

I’ve been playing the latest installment of Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh’s Twitter tag game Twitter vs Zombies this weekend. (Quick shout out to my hubby: sorry for ignoring you last night.) Follow the #TvsZ hashtag now through Sunday night to see the game play, or sign up at to participate. It has been fun to play, though I became a zombie within the first couple hours :(.

Now, I look like this:

By Zarateman (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Zarateman (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
So, I’m motivated to write this quick reflective blog by a recently announced rule that “substantive blog posts” will result in being converted back into a human. Yay! What a great motivator.

As I’ve been playing, I’ve been thinking what a wonderful introduction to Twitter this game really is. In order to survive, human players use direct messages to coordinate and strategize.  They band together and strategically use their few defensive plays to protect themselves as much as possible. In fact, I was surprised to read on a player’s blog (she posted it to get an hour’s safety) that humans feel that the rules favor zombies. According to one very deft player’s blog:

The rules are severly slanted toward the Zombies and since I’m still human the rules don’t allow for me to have much playing time. I sit back, watch, learn and strategize.

Occasionally announced rules encourage players to use multiple Twitter functions to strategic advantage, including, so far, attaching photos, linking to blog posts, etc. [Update: and also posting multi-media links,  writing Twitter poetry that furthers the game narrative, Storifying verses to create collective Twitter poems, working with other players to create coordinated attacks and safezones, linking to vlogs, and much more. See the Game Rules for complete description of the forms of media players learn to exploit to survive or to attack more successfully.]

In order to keep up with the timelines on the various players and game actions, I’ve been using Tweetdeck, as I imagine most players are. It’s crucial to know exactly when an action tweet happened, as in most cases players have only 5 minutes to respond.

Finally, the structure of the game–it is the player’s responsibility to list change their status from human to zombie on a public google spreadsheet, for example–both trusts players to play “by the rules” and invites us to participate in inventing new rules. The game action is therefore collective and emergent, rather than rule-bound and hierarchical. For example, the official game account just posted, requesting players to suggest new rules for the final 24 hour period of play:

All this fun makes me think, of course, of adapting the game for use at my campus. It is the best inclusive, community-building introduction to social media that I’ve seen. So… maybe a game built around introducing the campus to DigLibArts? Or maybe a game among students at various DHSoCal colleges?

There are so many options for emulation. I’m curious to read more by Peter Rorabaugh and others on building and running the game. How many folks share the labor of the administrator’s account during the 72 hours of play? How many of the secondary websites (rule changes, narrative complexity, etc.) are built ahead of time? Do they use a bot to send the regular “infection rate” tweets? What does the back end of the game look like? This would be a great “how to” article! (Hint, hint). The article by Jesse Stommel (@jessifer) and Pete Rorabaugh (@allistelling) on Jesse Stommel’s blog  is wonderful, but I’d like more!

[Updated on June 24, with the primary goal of removing embarrasing typos left in the original post due to the exigencies of posting within the game timeframe.]