Several years ago, as part of an experimental offering from a Digital Pedagogy Lab still in its infancy, I offered an online class called Learning Online. The course was, very intentionally, held inside a learning management system (Canvas), as it went about exploring what it means to learn online. Specifically,  we undertook to ask questions revolving around one primary inquiry: What happens when learning goes online? At that time, discussions of critical digital pedagogy were still nascent, and taking place mostly on the pages of Hybrid Pedagogy, and the cleverness of switching "online learning" to "learning online" was, well, clever.

It was a simpler time. Before Canvas started selling the data we provided them. Before Trump's Twitter. Before a pandemic forced us all to discover what happens when learning is pushed online.

Learning online today—in the very much today—can't be just a matter of asking interesting questions, of theorising toward something better. Digital pedagogy has become more urgent, especially as we're finding that learning online (re)surfaces inequities that we have barely scratched at in our classrooms, and which can profoundly change access to education in the digital.

For many, questions of equity and anti-racism on/through digital platforms that we had no hand in designing can cause a kind of "that's the way it is" resignation. We pray we'll be better teachers, but the platform has the power. However, the moment we say "that's the way it is"... that's our cue to get critical, to read the world before us and find imaginative, creative ways to intervene.



Twitter Chat

At 6:00pm EDT (UTC -4), we'll be hosting a hashtag chat on Twitter using #digped. We'll be talking through some questions about learning online, specifically in the context of our current situation. Some questions we may ask include:

  • What does it mean to prepare to learn / teach online?
  • Administrations have made a lot of choices about what teaching and learning will look like in the Fall. Do we agree with these choices? And if not, what can we do to push back?
  • Online and remote learning is inequitable for many students. What strategies can we employ to try to give equal access to education to all the students we teach?

Your Thoughts and Reflections

In partnership with the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, Digital Pedagogy Lab wants to hear your voice! Visit the podcast's Speakpipe site and record 1-3 short voice messages reflecting on the following questions:

  • “What’s making you hopeful in your teaching?”
  • “What’s a concern/challenge/fear you’re experiencing in your teaching?”
  • “What advice do you have for others desperately trying to navigate the impact of COVID in their teaching?”

After DPL 2020 closes, Bonni Stachowiak, creator of the podcast, will work up a episode featuring your reflections.


1) Join one of two threads in Discourse.

  • In the first, we'll think about how embodiment—our bodies—encounter learning online, how they are affected, how they can be forgotten, why it's important to remember them.
  • The second thread is a bit indulgent on Sean's part. He has recently been toying with an idea that there is no "online" and no "asynchronous", because learning always takes place somewhere (not on a screen) and synchronously for the learner. How does that sit for you? What are the consequences if we consider that learning online doesn't happen online at all? Why do we think it does in the first place? Do we teach to a screen, or through a screen?

2) Join Sean and Jesse for an informal live chat in Zoom today at 12:0opm EDT (UTC -4). Register for this and all our chats this week here.

~ Read next post in Critical Digital Pedagogy ~

Wednesday: Design and Design Justice

Posted by Amy Collier

8 min read