I really appreciate the process of reconceptualizing the collective and how it fits with education in the post-internet era. While I am intrigued with the question of how we, as education policy makers, thinkers and tinkerers, can function as a collective with the power to effectuate change, I would urge the conversation to move even further to what it means for education to have students function as a learning collective, and educators.
The concept of a social learning network of students and educators is only possible in today’s Web2.0 networked world. And I am not talking only about a class-wide network, but a collective made up of students from different schools, states and even nations. What would this do to the way we think about learning? The role of the educator? The role of the students as active participants in their own learning?
For us at the World Wide Workshop, this is what the future of education will look like, and this is a model we are implementing and assessing everyday with the Globaloria Social Network for Learning Game Design – www.Globaloria.org.
With Globaloria, students are honing STEM skills and digital literacies, problem solving and engaging in deep research and analysis collaboratively, daily for 90-minutes, as part of their formal school curriculum, using an online, open-sourced wiki and blog-based learning platform. They are posting their works-in-process and final projects, sharing their work process, and mashing, remixing and commenting on students across the newtork in nearly 50 schools in 2 states.
You can see the results of this new collective-based view of learning in our research, www.WorldWideWorkshop.org/Reports/ – it works.
So my question would be to consider the impact of a collective, collaborative, network-based approach to education made up of diverse students and educators…and what we as the HASTAC collective can learn from it.
One of the appeals of HASTAC as a collective for me is the sense that it provides venues, such as the HASTAC Scholars forums, for conversations that span institutions. Traditionally academic conferences have served this function. More recently bulletin boards, listservs, and blogs. The former played the role of the annual concentrated infusion of intense exchange, that periodic reminder of the vitality of the discipline and the hassle of travel reimbursement, but the latter, these online collectives epitomized by HASTAC, are creating fields of study through continuous synchronous (via Twitter) and asynchronous conversational exchange (and coveted monetary prizes).
On the one hand, the collective addresses some of the isolation of academia. By necessity, sholars are often the only specialist in their area in their department. Graduate students, working under them, can experience a similar, and more vulnerable, feeling of separation and isolation. The online collective is that perisistent community.
But something else appeals to me about this particular collective — even though it seems to be moored at Duke, its membership goes far beyond any institution, especially when looking at the shear amound of traffic the site receives (http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/becoming-public-intellectual) and the extensive participation in its forums. I saw this most acutely in the Critical Code Studies forum (http://www.hastac.org/forums/hastac-scholars-discussions/critical-code-s…) which reached 12000 reads and over 100 challenging and thoughtful comments. Keep in mind, CCS is an area of study only a few years old with no particular institutional ties, no particular university setting. It is a collective called forth by venues (the CCS Working Group, a blog,the CCS @ USC conferene, ebr, HASTAC, Thoughtmesh). Similarly, the so-called “digital humanities” is emerging, as far as I can tell, through the nuturing of these trans-instituional online communties. Again, perhaps this was always the way with emerging fields, but I can’t help but think the rate and strength with which DH is forming is deeply tied to these online collectives — whether self-organizing or more structured.
When I think about the future of academic institutions, these types of online collectives strike me as vital both in their transformative nature and in their invigorating energy. The conversations rival (and often surpass) the seminars offered at most institutions. And while I don’t desire moving to online-only eduation or even the dissolution of the organizations that employ or educate us, I can sense a way in which these collectives are becoming sites where new kinds of seminars emerge (e.g. this DMLcentral webinar http://bit.ly/ebSIzV), reading groups spontaneously autogenerate, flashmob focus groups flourish, and curricula forms through the power of the exchange of the minds who show up, login in, and post up, attending this ethereal un-university via iPad, smartphone, laptop even as they sit on benches on campuses dreaming of a space beyond ivy and brick and tall metal gates.
Sometimes I tell my students that when smart people leave school, they continue their studies at TED Talks. I should add online collectives. These collectives are emerging into new kinds of educational structures, not as easy to map as the college campus, and perhaps more akin to microclimates or trasnational fads or global waves of musical styles. It’s more than memes, more than tools, more than the institutions we grew up wth. It’s reggae, ripped jeans, Etsy, and open, wide open.
II have participated as a HASTAC scholar for the past two years, engaging in public forums such as Digital Storytelling, Race and Ethnicity, and the
one I co-hosted Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces. Previous to HASTAC, I was involved with an online collective/workshop focused on Asian
American poetry, hosted by poets/activists Ching-in Chen and Marlon Unas Esguerra. We ‘met’ online, posted poems, and every week gave each other feedback. It was a wonderful process and demonstrated to me the possibilites of ‘virtual’ spaces. However, HASTAC forums are on a very
different scale, and an exciting one. HASTAC forums really provide an ‘open’ ‘free’ and ‘accessible’ space for learning and engagement. I loved
that everyone who wanted to, could log on to HASTAC. That people such as prominent scholars in the field to undergraduates or community folks could engage with one another. I was just talking to my friend Sonny who works on transgender studies at the University of Massachusetts in Sociology, about the Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces forum we participated in. We mutually expressed how dynamic and engaging it was, how fast the responses were, but also so thoughtful, and how the learning really happened in an organic, engaged fashion, it was truly queer feminist studies at its best!
I am a doctoral student in ethnic studies, and new media studies at the university of california, berkeley, and also have a ma in ethnic studies from San Francisco State university. I have def experienced traditional learning spaces, like the classroom, but am truly jazzed and excited and transformed by the work and the teaching/learning being down via virtual spaces, that oftentimes, are dynamic, passionate and non-hierarchical in a way the traditional classroom/conference often is not…. read the whole response