Today, we will start by considering our own pedagogical philosophies as a foundation for the rest of the week. Remember that you can do the stuff suggested here in whatever order. Each day, there will usually be a short post, some suggested readings, an activity, and asynchronous and synchronous discussions to join. You can do some or all of these, whatever you find useful. Work at your own pace and reach out if you need anything.

In the "Introduction" to Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Collection (publishing later this week), we write,

All three of these words, “critical,” “digital,” and “pedagogy,” do real work in the world — each individually, and also in combination. In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks asserts that when “there is a split between theory and practice” we perpetuate “conditions that reinforce our collective exploitation and repression.” When, however, we let words do work, when “no gap exists between theory and practice,” we allow teaching to be more than instrumental, and digital learning to be more than edtech. We reclaim the critical aims of education, its questioning and reflection, its imperative toward justice and equity, and its persistent need to read the world within which it takes place, whether that’s a classroom, a living room, a playground, or a digital device.
There are no easy answers in critical digital pedagogy. It can’t tell us how to shift face-to-face teaching online. It can’t tell us how the learning management system can be refashioned for 6-year-olds fumbling through remote karate lessons. Critical digital pedagogy can’t, of its own volition, keep at bay the absurd siren song of Turnitin or ProctorU. It can’t solve the problem of recreating online a 3-year-old’s Montessori language-immersion preschool.

And in "Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition" from An Urgency of Teachers, we write,

Many tools are good only insofar as they are used. And tools and platforms that do dictate too strongly how we might use them, or ones that remove our agency by too covertly reducing us and our work to commodified data, should be rooted out by a Critical Digital Pedagogy. Far too much work in educational technology starts with tools, when what we need to start with is humans.
We are better users of technology when we are thinking critically about the nature and effects of that technology.


Activity: Guided Writing Prompt

Find a quiet place (or a quieter place, because we know the world is loud right now). Get two pieces of paper. If you're using a computer, close all other applications other than the one you're planning to write in. You'll start with what Natalie Goldberg calls a "finger exercise." The gist: keep your hand (or cursor) moving, let your words wander, don't self-edit, keep writing until the time is up.

Finger Exercise (moving words around): First, write for five minutes, using the following questions as a place to start.

Who do you teach? What do you know about your students? Who are they? How are they changing? What do they want from their education? What barriers do they face?

Start writing now.

Dear Class Letter: Now, put the first piece of paper to the side or open another word processing document. Start again with a blank page. This time you'll write for a bit longer, 10 - 12 minutes. Time yourself, but nobody else is timing you, so you can go over if you feel moved to. Write a letter to your class, something you could imagine putting on the front page of your syllabus. It doesn't have to end up there, so don't worry about your writing being "camera-ready." Feel free to remi this and any other activity we suggest. If you're an administrator, write a letter to your faculty. If you're an instructional designer, write a letter to the faculty with whom you work. Etc.

What work do you value from your students? What will you contribute (as the teacher)? What does success look like in your class? How (as the teacher) will you know when you’ve seen it? What is the students’ collective role in constructing the course? How will you show care for your students? How will you show care for yourself?

Start writing now.


1) If you didn't already add an introduction to the discussion forum, start there.

2) Then, join the new thread we've created where you'll consider the following questions: What is a learner? What is a teacher? How are these roles and definitions changing today? What are the challenges involved in the evolution of these roles and definitions? What are the benefits? You don't have to answer all of these, just find a place to begin. In your post, you might share at least one sentence from your responses to the writing prompts.

3) Join Sean and Jesse for an informal live chat in Zoom today at 6:0opm EDT (UTC -4). Register for this and all our chats this week here.

~ Read next post in Critical Digital Pedagogy ~

Tuesday: Learning Online

Posted by Sean Michael Morris

3 min read