MLA Vancouver Session on Visionary Pedagogies

Visionary Pedagogies for the 21st Century: Teaching the Humanities with Digital Technology

As MOOC fever recedes yet the debate about online learning’s future chances and challenges becomes both more realistic and pressing, the humanities urgently need to get more creative and reflective about imagining their future in higher education. This session will discuss concrete ideas and best practices for embedding digital pedagogy assignments and tools into four different kinds of classrooms and courses (foreign language, literature, storytelling, and writing), not only to memorialize and simply transpose what we already do into a different medium, but in order to harness unique affordances of new tools and connected ways of learning that widen the scope of what and how we teach for the 21st century. If we want our students to become mindful global citizens with a sound mastery of digital skills appropriate for this day and age and connect these with the knowledge memories and critical thinking skills that a solid humanities education provides, we need to harness technology in pedagogically creative ways and bring the humanities back into the heart of an increasingly digitally connected society.

Gabriele Dillmann’s talk “Fostering Global and Digital Learning with Google+ Hangout as a Communication and Knowledge Sharing Tool” launches our session with the example of using Google Hangouts in the German language and culture classroom to connect with other students and teachers worldwide. With new cloud-based technologies and a sharp increase in hybrid teaching models, innovative, technology-enhanced teaching and learning projects within a global connections context have become more readily realizable. Specifically, in the language and culture classroom, Google+ Hangout with its multifunctional interaction tools (screen sharing, chatting, whiteboards, presentation software, etc.) has made online hybrid learning uniquely intuitive, inexpensive, inviting and “human” for both students and teachers. We need to teach students more than the technology itself, however: they need to learn digital and dialogue etiquette, how to be effective team players and members of a learning community, and develop group and leadership competencies within a digital context. Dillmann will present concrete examples and offer teaching and learning materials from her intermediate level internationally connected German language and culture course that show both how to use this tool to enhance linguistic and cultural proficiencies, as well as digital competencies that can be applied in any teaching and learning context.

Petra Dierkes-Thrun’s paper “How To Do Things with Books and Screens: Literature and Digital Pedagogy” offers three concrete examples of digital pedagogy in the literature classroom that newly engage students and bring traditional humanities contents and methods to a larger public. An assignment she pioneered in 2012, a popular literary Twitter role play for Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, playfully reimagines this classic novel and posits reading and interpreting literature as creative social functions. In her second example, an Image and Sound Interpretation (using only images, audio, video, but no words, to interpret a poem), students create a collaborative synesthetic digital space that expands traditional close reading methods and goals. Dierkes-Thrun’s third example is a final assignment that replaces the term paper with a teaching sequence, student-produced pedagogical rationale and teaching materials developed by students, for other students or community organizations, which illustrate a new pedagogical paradigm of “critical contribution” online (Cathy Davidson’s term for students’ productive contribution to society via knowledge sharing). The unique new affordances of digital media also increase motivation, Dierkes-Thrun argues: teaching and learning collaboratively and playfully, integrating critical contribution and public outreach into traditional literature course, and giving students (and teachers) a larger sense of purpose and audience for their work.

Alan Levine’s talk “Assignment Riffing: What Happens in DS106 Does Not Stay in DS106” expands our session’s conversation beyond the course, unit, or a particular institution. Unlike MOOCs (of c and x variety),  his open digital story course ds106 uniquely stands as more than one course, but as overlapping ones from multiple institutions with a cloud of open participants. Its Internet radio station and Daily Create challenges offer opportunities outside the course. An open assignment bank not only gives flexibility to choose assignments, but also invites participants to add new ones, a living example of the “adjacent possible” in a course. It may appear ludicrous to house assignments for editing images of famous paintings to include fat cats, creating poetry from titles of songs, or putting fast food in the hands of internet pioneers, but the media created are not the end goals in ds106. Participants open their apertures of creative interpretation, incorporate works of others in a constructive fashion, and narrate their creative process. A frequent spirit of spontaneous “riffing” occurs, not unlike that of improvisational jazz musicians, that ripples far beyond the confines of one course.

Finally, Amanda Starling Gould’s “Assignments, Assessments, and Makerspace Methods in the Literary Digital Humanities Writing Course” offers her Augmenting Realities Duke university undergraduate course as an example of how one might enact a literary digital humanities writing course, detailing the method, motive, and several tested modes for digital project assessment. Because syllabi and course assignments can be as instructive as methodological explanation, the main focus of this presentation will be a hands-on introduction to several digital humanities assignments in the course. Assignments as Digitally Annotating the Graphic Novel, the Final Transmedia Essay & Collaborative Web Journal, Creating Dynamic Digital ePortfolios, the Impossible One-Slide Presentation, and a grand Google Glass Literary App Challenge, invite audience attendees to explore the assignment specifics, tools used, and the students’ final products, and understand their integration within the narrative of the course. Gould’s case study, as well as our special session’s as a whole, aims at sparking critical innovation for integrating the digital into all humanities disciplines and to encourage experimentation that resists the traditional boundaries of contemporary pedagogy in order to facilitate rigorously creative digital learning environments.

These papers are likely to provoke a lively discussion ranging from exchanges of concrete pedagogical ideas and best practices of yesterday and today, to more conceptual, fundamental, and controversial reflections on the challenges and opportunities of teaching language, literature, writing and storytelling digitally today and tomorrow.

PARTICIPANT BIOS

Gabriele Dillmann, Associate Professor of German at Denison University, teaches courses in German language, German, Swiss, and Austrian literature and culture, and seminars on psychoanalytic theory and neuropsychoanalysis. In her teaching she makes innovative use of newest digital technologies to foster language skills, intercultural competencies and global learning, for example in her globally networked German course with the American University in Bulgaria.  She is also very dedicated to Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum (CLAC) and team-teaching pedagogies. Her scholarly interests are increasingly vested in how digital technologies shape how we learn and teach now and in the near future. Her more traditional scholarship is in the area of German Romanticism and psychoanalytic theory, specifically suicide studies. For an updated account of her most recent projects, please visit https://gabrieledillmann.wordpress.com. Last year, she was awarded the Julian H. Robertson Jr. Endowed Chair at her institution for her work in teaching, service, and scholarship.

Petra Dierkes-Thrun is a Lecturer in the Comparative Literature Department at Stanford University with interests in Victorian, fin-de-siècle, and modernist studies, as well as feminist and LGBTQ studies. Her book Salome’s Modernity: Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetics of Transgression was published by The University of Michigan Press in 2011. Petra serves as advisory editor for boundary2 (Duke University Press), founding editor of the international online journal The Latchkey: Journal of New Woman Studies, and board member for Rodopi’s Dialogue series. Petra actively incorporates digital pedagogy into her literature and gender studies seminars at Stanford, developing new kinds of student exercises and activities involving social media, learning collaborations with the public, and digital student projects aimed at thoughtful, creative engagement with traditional humanities contents and methods via the new media, as well as blogging about these topics at www.literatureilluminations.org and most recently, consulting for other universities who want to learn more about her ideas. Two years ago at MLA, Petra already organized a session entitled “Literature and Digital Pedagogies” that was chosen as part of the presidential theme and drew a large crowd of interested MLA members.

Alan Levine is recognized for expertise in the application of new technologies to education. A pioneer on the web in the 1990s and an early proponent of blogs and RSS, he shares his ideas and discoveries at CogDogBlog. Among his recent interests are new forms of web-based storytelling and encouraging acts of creativity (including 50+ Web 2.0 Ways To Tell a Story, pechaflickr, and a thing called the StoryBox), and is an adjunct online teacher of the open digital storytelling class, ds106 for the University of Mary Washington and George Mason University. Levine has held leadership technology positions at the New Media Consortium and the Maricopa Community Colleges. Currently he is providing education consultancy services as CogDog.it. His recent work revolves around application of syndication structures to create of project and course web sites with a distributed network structure for the Hague University of Applied Sciences, the Educational Technology MOOC, the Harvard School of Graduate Education, and Thompson Rivers University. Levine has authored several articles for EDCAUSE Review and most recently a chapter in Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promises and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses.

Amanda Starling Gould is a media-lit scholar at Duke University investigating digital cultures, network ecologies, digital humanities scholarship, and innovative modes of pedagogy. She teaches digital humanities and media studies courses at Duke and has recently been presenting and leading workshops on digital pedagogy and assessing digital scholarship. She is a James B Duke Fellow, a HASTAC Scholar, one of the inaugural PhD Lab Scholars at Duke’s PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge (a member of the Praxis Network), and a newly anointed Duke ‘Flipping the Classroom’ Faculty Fellow. For more information, please see her website, amandastarlinggould.wordpress.com, where she posts updates about publications, research, digital projects, academic activities, and teaching.

4 North Park Place Newark, OH: Art and History in Unexpected Places

IMG_8227   BFAPoster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Denison Art Department had its BFA group show at 4 North Park Place in downtown Newark this April. Students displayed their art work throughout the three floors of the building after an intense clean-up of several days. The idea was to create a space that would show a symbiotic relationship between students’ artwork and the space itself.  If you had a chance to see the show, you were in for a surprise. The entire, huge building with its seemingly endless rooms is a work of art. Over the years, the slow decay of walls and ceilings has created patterns and shapes that are stunningly beautiful to a point where sometimes the intentionally created art struggles to compete with what nature has created by itself.

Walking through the vast space, from one dilapidated room to the next, I wonder how long these floors have been left to themselves to decay and wither away behind a perfectly well maintained facade of the historic downtown building. I find the answer in a room with Kristie King’s name tag by its entrance door: Tuesday, January 31, 1933 reads the date on one of the newspaper pages spread all over the floor in anticipation of a renovation project that was never completed. For 81 years this place has been abandoned at a time that would be the beginning of one of the greatest tragedies to befall Europe and with it the United States. “Hitler Faces Stormy Course in German Chancellorship – Nationalists Celebrate in Wild Fashion,” reads the headline of page 2 of The Ohio State Journal with a photograph of Adolf Hitler in typical grim and hostile pose. “Gets his chance – Adolf Hitler, leader of the German Nationalists, was made chancellor yesterday in a common effort to pull the fatherland out of the mire,” its caption elaborates on Hitler’s infamous Machtergreifung (seizure of power) adopting the nationalist rhetoric of the time. The day before, on January 30th, 1933, Hitler was appointed Reichskanzler by President Hindenburg. On the day after this newspaper page was printed, Hitler gave his first national radio address, “Appeal to the German People.” By the end of World War II, tens of millions of people had died or were missing in action, about 420,000 of those were American soldiers, 23,000 were men and women from Ohio.

The paper is holding up surprisingly well considering its age and its exposure to an unforgiving environment. With a little effort, even the smaller print is still legible. It is as if time had been arrested behind these historic walls. Fortunately, Kristie had the foresight to leave this room untouched and let the remnants of history speak for themselves.

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From the Downtown Newark Ohio Association website we learn a little bit about these semi-abandoned buildings:

HISTORY OF DOWNTOWN NEWARK
Newark, Ohio was founded in 1802 by Maj. William C. Schenk, who came to Ohio from Newark, New Jersey. It was incorporated into a town in 1826 and became a city in 1860. Our beautiful Second Empire Courthouse was dedicated in 1876 as the 4th courthouse on this site. It is surrounded by the Downtown Newark National Register Historic District which contains more than 90 well-preserved late 19th early 20th century commercial structures, representing a wide variety of architectural styles. Many of the shops, restaurants, attractions and points of interest are housed in these structures.

What has happened to that building since that paper was spread to protect this small room’s floors from the messes of restoration 81 years ago?

Let’s see the show:

 

Ohio_State_Journal_Hitler_1933 (Original Newsprint)