Until we make our own questions we are NOT embracing digital scholarship

Ok, I’ll admit it right up front. I’m in a bad mood. I’ve had a tough week, with 2 days of staying at school until 8pm (with a 7am start so that I get all my thinking work in before the crush of students and teachers and action). I’ve been waking at 4am with ideas and thoughts swirling around my mind. I’ve done nothing on my assignments. I’ve not done what I needed to do on the new and unexpected expectation of the voice-thread, and I’m tired of the digital education hype. Very tired of it in fact.

I was over at Kathryn’s blog, and she started a post saying:

“We need, first, to take charge of our own learning, and next, help others take charge of their own learning. We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general” (Downes, 2010, para 16).2467263441

And then (unintended consequences I’m sure), I got even madder. Because I’m not feeling in charge of my own learning. I’m still feeling powerless and I’m still feeling that I’m not being a digital scholar. I’ve had one experience of co-writing a paper with other researchers and it was definitely not the whole scholarly conversation thing. It was more a case of cobbling each of our own bits of the research and thought together and then doing some good editing to make it somewhat seamless seeming. Maybe because none of us are really scholars, digital or otherwise. We’re teachers, or lecturers, or administrators, with full time jobs, way out of the ivory tower. Maybe because the pace of production has to beat to a drum of at a tempo someone else’s metronome. Maybe because only quantity and superficiality and perpetual beta is the order of the day. I cannot precisely put my finger on the itch – but I suspect it’s a sandfly bite. One that only gets worse the more you touch it.  You’re better off pretending it isn’t there. Smiling and distracting yourself. Because the minute you scratch it, it will be awful and the pain will last longer, far longer than the momentary relief of the scratch. And the outcome will be far worse than if you just grin and bear it.

How would I design an assessment this course? I’d say, pick a topic, any topic, any burning issue you’re really really passionate about and you really want to pursue further in this course, design an assessment or assessments for yourself on that topic or topics. Decide if you want to do it on your own or with a classmate or in a group. Decide what digital medium / media you’re going to use. Ada3333357665pt a marking rubric template to fit your assessment.  Broadcast your question as widely as possible. Start a conversation about your topic somewhere on social media. Create a twitter storm. Kill a current holy cow. Go against the goose-stepping flow.  Engage a segment of the education community – either in the traditional hug fest or having them flame you down. But DO something.

Blog. Blog every week. Blog a lot and don’t blog alone. Blog collaboratively. Blog in sequence and/or in parallel with someone else or somebodies else. Blog in a network of like-minded or oppositional people who can create a debate, an argument a disagreement, an agreement but agree to disagree on at least a few key points. Don’t blog blah that repeats the established arguments.  Respond to blogs. Where are the ‘suffragettes’ and ‘black panthers’ the ‘radicals’? Where are those who hate what you say but will die defending your right to say it? (A quote which has a fascinating history btw).  Blogging should be part of the assessment. Or don’t blog – but offer an alternative to blogging that creates or enters an intellectual and scholarly (digital) conversation and defend your use of this alternative.

Downes, S. (2010). A world to change. Huffpost Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html

2 thoughts on “Until we make our own questions we are NOT embracing digital scholarship

  1. Goodness! You are cross!

    But your expression is full of power and reason. What you suggest here is another antidote to the sand-fly bite. You cover it with a soothing cream. And when that application loses effect, reapply.

    So this is what you have done.

    Suggested some alternatives. Offered some choices. Taken a small but active step to regaining some control. And another. And another.

    Look around and see what you can do in practice. Feel like you’re making a difference. Apply the theory yourself.

    I’ll blog with you.

    Trisha B


  2. Nadine, maybe your crossness comes from a desire to be all things to all situations and this feeling of being ‘put out’ by the constraints of this subject comes from not really connecting with its enlightened and yet continued conservative approach. I applaud your obvious need to be objectionable and to have others around you with different opinions. At the same time I encourage you to have flexibility within a learning situation so that when new things appear that are not pre-ordained from the start you are able to respond to them with the digital fluency and scholarly mastery that you obviously have.
    To blog or not to blog is a big question for this subject – yes everyone should be sharing their ideas, thoughts and not just regurgitating content – it takes time, it takes interaction with others as well as with the content within and beyond the subject material – and it takes a boldness that most bloggers do not demonstrate – most people do not demonstrate. So maybe we should not be so hard on those who take a minimal approach to participatory learning? Or maybe, as you say, we should change the entire requirement to this, the capstone subject of a degree that fosters alternative approaches to learning, and open it up to self-selection. I am taking your ideas on board…not sure I have the power to make the significant changes you would like to see at this point.
    Keep on blogging!


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