Platforms for Pedagogy: Transformational or Instrumental

I see both Brier and Waltzer’s respective articles responding, in part, to the larger question: Can DH help transform the university or will the university transform DH? One way both Brier and Waltzer insist on the DH to University trajectory is through highlighting the importance of teaching and learning practices and bringing to the fore DH projects that model particular kinds of collaborative ones.

Whereas we’ve learned from our previous readings on the history of the American University system, how it has become increasingly designed and driven from an administrative/management perspective, a focus on the importance of teaching and learning has the potential to shift the frame towards more “liberatory” and student-centered pedagogical practices (Freire, Shaughnessy and Elbow).

Many of the DH projects that both Brier and Waltzer highlight in their respective articles, from Matthew Gold’s “Looking for Whitman” to NYC College of Technology’s “A Living Laboratory” present new models of collaboration between faculty and students. DH projects like these seem to flourish when the larger institution has already embraced aspects of radical pedagogy as both a philosophy and practice.

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One thought on “Platforms for Pedagogy: Transformational or Instrumental

  1. While I was reading I was also thinking about how DH sustains collaboration, and what that means for the university, and schools.

    It seems like many of the effective DH programs and projects that Brier mentions (WAC Fellows, ITF, Whitman Project) focus on creating space for students to communicate with other students. Brier talks about the Whitman program as a “bridge” between very real “geographical, economic, and cultural gaps among and between universities and colleges.” So, if we agree that these bridges are necessary, and help students to communicate and think critically about their ideas, then there need to be pedagogical tools and content that focuses on the kind of communication and specific literacy that DH requires. Brier mentions “blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and podcasts” as DH tools. These tools are meant to “to support collaboration, integrative learning, community building, and student-centered pedagogies.” These are certainly spaces where this can happen, but they requires a very specific kind of literacy. We’ve all seen comments sections that devolve into chaos. I’ve run a blog in my classroom that had spanned from successful, to repetitive, to tense. These tools work, but only if the pedagogy teaches students the literacy skills necessary to work in a digital academic space.

    We have students come to us who have never experienced life without access to the internet, but that doesn’t mean they are well versed in what it means to communicate in a digital classroom space. We pedagogy that supports digital literacy, and that includes reflection and reaction in the classroom. What happens in digital spaces can’t remain there. Collaboration done on blogs and wikis should be a part of the physical classroom and visa versa.

    However universities (and schools) have a responsibility to think about how these changing pedagogies and DH impact where school work begins and ends. Using DH tools can help students deepen their work, but when not used thoughtfully it can simply extend work, for both instructors and students. Like any educational tool, this work requires careful consideration of when and how DH tools and pedagogies should be used.

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