What does Critical Digital Pedagogy mean to me? (Part 2 of the DPL Fellowship Application Series)

In the length of a single tweet (280 characters), offer your definition of Critical Digital Pedagogy. Include text here, or tweet and share a link.

Question #3 (technically) from the Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL) Fellowship application for 2018, which can be found here:  http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/join-digital-pedagogy-lab-2018-fellow/

(Warning in advance – this is going to be SO MUCH LONGER THAN 280 characters)

In other words, what does Critical Digital Pedagogy mean to me?

I have been asking this question of many friends and colleagues recently…

Generally speaking, upon a cursory glance and without consulting the very comprehensive definition offered here by Jesse, we (the folks I asked + me; convenience sample size of 5) have all defined the words first in terms of what they mean to us:

  • Critical – Essential, Important, “make or break”, “something you can’t live without”
  • Digital – anything that requires technology to access (so anything computer or smart device enabled or requiring online exposure or presence)
  • Pedagogy – technically the teaching of children (Andragogy talks towards teaching adults) but loosely used to incorporate teaching all

When asked what the next level of definition should be, we deviated quite a bit. Some stated what they are currently requiring digitally in their classes and whether any of it was critical. Some talked towards the goals they want their students to achieve and how they could digitally incorporate tools that enabled students to achieve those goals into their classroom pedagogy. I went two different directions when defining Critical Digital Pedagogy in terms of which audience I was teaching, mentoring, or facilitating discussions among: my students or my peers.

My basic teaching mantra is that the more I talk, the less my students seem to learn. Therefore, for my students, I tend towards the latter next level definition. I want my students to learn: 1. how to reflect upon their learning; 2. how to communicate in the spoken and written form effectively; 3. to assess their progress easily; 4. to connect with their peers inside and outside the classroom (at a minimum). The tools I incorporate into my classroom experience to meet these goals include: blogs, a social media extension to the classroom, online homework, self-created video lectures and online resources, and apps including PhET simulations and alchemie games. Many arguments could be made as to whether any of these digital pedagogical tools are well designed or effective. But my continued hope is to reach my students where they are, not where I’d like them to be. And to that end, when I’ve surveyed them, there has been a general consensus that all of the current tools add something to the classroom without taking too much time or requiring too much money (the online homework is the only tool that is not free and as we use Norton, it costs $25/semester for each student) from my students.

For my peers, my next level definition was deeper and more complex because when it comes to my peers, I see online (and particularly social media) access as a social justice issue in many ways. As a very privileged white female, who is also #LGBTQi (but has been given minimal crap due to being such), I am often included in conversations that I think others are far better suited for and are often not included in due to race, disability, etc. And I have the ability (and I would daresay – the obligation) to listen first to these voices, many of whom I connect with on social media, and then try my best to enable them to participate in the conversation in whatever way is mutually acceptable. Online access (and critical digital pedagogy), in its best form, broadens the communication and participation of those involved in the important conversations that shape our careers and our lives.

The bridge between these two groups thus incorporates basic statistics sampling constraints: time, money, and access. And for something to be critical to my teaching pedagogy, it needs to minimize time and money and maximize access. Digital tools, for the moment, at least allow the possibility of working within these constraints while moving ever closer to achieving my pedagogical goals.



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