Springtime for Digital Pedagogy @ Austin College

Bluebonnets at Sunset in San Saba
Bluebonnets at Sunset in San Saba. Photo by Earl McGehee. CC BY.

Hey folks…after a hiatus for the holidays and Jan term, Digital Pedagogy @ Austin College is back in business for the spring semester. We’re looking forward to a new semester of activities and projects to support student and faculty learning across the curriculum.

As in the fall, we’ve planned a series of digital pedagogy workshops. These will be one-hour, hands-on tutorials designed to give faculty ideas and skills to use in the classroom and for professional development. We will offer each workshop twice a week–once on Tuesday from 4:30–5:30 pm, and then again on Friday from 1:30–2:30 pm, in the Johnson Center at Abell Library (Abell 102). Facilitators will include Mo Pelzel (Digital Pedagogy Designer), Brett Boessen (Digital Pedagogy Fellow), and Andrew Smith (Coordinator of Instructional and Public Services Librarian). We’re particularly happy to welcome Andrew and to benefit from his experience as an instructional librarian.

Here’s what we have planned:

      • Feb 2, 5:   ”All the News that’s Fit to Read: Designing Your Reading Workflow with RSS” (Mo)


      • Feb 9, 12:   ”Standards-based Grading using Wikis and Online Forums” (Brett)


      • Feb 16, 19:   “Visualizing Course Materials with Infographics” (Andrew)


      • Feb 26:   Final Friday Faculty UnWorkshop (1:30–5:00)


      • March 1, 4:   ”Crap Detection 101–Assessing the Credibility of Online Information” (Mo)


      • March 7-11:   Spring Break


      • March 15, 18:   “If This, Then What? Using IFTTT to Automate Apps in Your Class (and Your Life)” (Andrew)


      • March 25:   Final Friday Faculty UnWorkshop (1:30–5:00)


      • March 29, April 1:   “Video Essays as Alternatives to Traditional Papers” (Brett)


      • April 2:   Mellon Grantee Workshop (for Mellon grant recipients in cohorts one and two)


      • April 5, 8:   ”Where in the World? Digital Maps for Teaching and Learning” (Mo)


      • April 12, 15:   ”Now Hear This: Podcasting Basics” (Mo)


      • April 19, 22:   ”Online File-sharing for Class and Group Work” (Brett)


      • April 29:   Final Friday Faculty UnWorkshop (1:30-5:00)


      • May 3, 6:   Contemplative Pedagogy in a Digital World: Mindfulness and Mind-Wandering” (Mo)


      • May 9-13:   Finals Week


As you can see, we’re also trying something new this semester–a once-a-month “unworkshop” scheduled for the final Friday of February, March, and April. This is a riff on the “unconference” model that has become popular in education and technology circles. It is the basis, for example, of THAT Camp gatherings (THAT = “The Humanities and Technology”). So, what is an “unconference?” According to THAT,

The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

So, what we have in mind for those “final Fridays” is a time and space for faculty to propose their own topics to pursue in a collaborative setting. Our thought is that during the week leading up to each of those Fridays, folks will be able to post ideas online ahead of time about topics and issues they would like to work on and discuss. On Friday afternoon, those who gather will take the first 15-20 minutes to establish a schedule, and then we’ll move forward to address and work on whatever the group decides. Everyone can teach and learn from each other. Think of it as a co-working space; you can come and go, drop in for just part of the afternoon, or whatever fits your schedule. These will also take place in the Johnson Center space in Abell 102. We’ll try to provide some light comestibles and libations, and then wrap things up around 4:30 or 5:00.

We’re also working on a couple of other possible activities for the spring, so stay tuned here at the blog. This schedule is flexible, so we can make adjustments and revisions on the fly, especially if you’ve got ideas or suggestions for what might be helpful to you as an AC faculty member. Mo and Brett are always available for conversation, consultation, and support for your questions and issues of pedagogy and digital technologies. So give us a shout, and follow us here on the blog, in our Facebook group, and on our Twitter feed.

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