Digital Pedagogy Fall Lineup

Autumn Leaves, by Luan Anh CC-BY-SA

This year AC Digital Pedagogy will once again offer regular (more or less weekly) workshops and sessions to provide opportunities for faculty, students, and staff to explore and experiment with digital resources. We’ve decided to try an approach in which we devote each month of the semester to a specific theme or topic around which our events will be organized. Here’s what is currently planned for the fall:

  • September:  “Geographical and Spatial Literacy–Using Digital Map Resources in Teaching and Learning”
  • October:  “3D Scanning, Modeling, and Printing–Introduction and Use Cases”
  • November:  “Digital Publishing Options and Opportunities”

We’re starting with digital mapping and geospatial literacy because there are already quite a number of faculty/student projects of that type. Terry Hoops’s C/I class has a strong digital story map component (about which see more below), Tom Blake and Randi Tanglen will be using digital maps in their literature courses, Lourdes Bueno is planning a map project in conjunction with an upcoming study abroad course in Spain, Don Rodgers continues to implement GIS in his community development courses, and the Psychology department  is interested in digital maps for a departmental project. And there are probably others that I’m leaving out here.

Our first workshop sessions will be Tuesday, September 6, at 4:30 pm, with a repeat on Friday, September 9, at 1:30 pm. Location is the Digital Pedagogy Studio (Abell 102). We’ll ease into the mapping theme with an introduction and exploration of Google My Maps. Then in succeeding weeks of September we’ll continue to critically examine and discuss the pedagogical opportunities of digital maps.

As always, we are flexible and welcome ideas and suggestions. If folks express interest in a topic, we’ll go there. Looking ahead to the spring, we’re thinking about monthly themes focused on topics such as games and learning, text mining and analysis, and a reading colloquium on critical digital pedagogy. Of course, any time you want to consult on any topic or issue related to digital pedagogy, Mo and Brett are available and ready to help.

As the new semester swings into full gear, the workshop series is just part of how the Digital Pedagogy initiative at Austin College continues to gather momentum. Thirty-three AC faculty are implementing digital pedagogy projects, practices, and applications in their courses, thanks to grants from the Mellon Foundation. Beyond this number, other faculty and students are exploring new ideas and activities that draw on digital resources. It’s particularly encouraging to have several of the freshman communication/inquiry courses incorporating practices such as student blogging and the creation of digital story maps. Introducing students to knowledge creation on the open web at the beginning of their college experience lays the groundwork for a deeper appreciation of what is coming to be known as the “digital liberal arts.” This is a term that a growing number of schools are using to describe their own initiatives in digital pedagogy and scholarship (see, among others, Whittier, Occidental, Middlebury, and Grinnell).

Among those C/I classes I would again note Terry Hoops’s course, “Restless Wanderings: Musings on Travel and the Human Condition.” Using a combination of Google My Maps and the ArcGIS Story Maps Journal platform, Terry’s students are building story mapping projects to more deeply interpret the travel writings of authors such as Bruce Chatwin (In Patagonia) and Che Guevara (The Motorcycle Diaries). For example, here is our initial map of key sites in Chatwin’s journey through Patagonia. This map will leverage the geo-tagged imagery and data associated with each site in Google Maps, and will then be embedded into a Story Maps Journal, where students will provide further narrative and visual content to enrich their understanding of Chatwin’s travels.

Another C/I using innovative digital pedagogy is Patrick Duffy’s Two Hundred Years of Solitude. Strange Tales from the Americas. All the students in the class have set up their own WordPress websites and are writing about texts such as Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Lispector’s The House of the Star. Having students make their work visible in a public networked space that they own, design, and manage enhances student agency and opens their work to connect and interact with authentic audiences. Furthermore, this course is using a WordPress feature that uses syndication to aggregate all the student blog posts back to the main course website. With each post tagged with appropriate categories, it thus becomes easy to pull together related content for reading, analysis, and comment.

Again, we hope your semester is off to a good start. Let us know how we can support your teaching and learning.