Jade Did Drumbeat: A Field Journal

It's Interactive and Ethnographic
infrastructure

The Staff

a.k.a. The Rockstars

As a HASTAC team we meet weekly to discuss all items and FutureClass has been discussed at our meetings every week since the beginning of the term.   I don’t think I’ve ever included my class on the weekly agendas before but, because this one changes all the rules, it needs all of us thinking together on how to make it work as seamlessly as possible.

Cathy, Private email, Reproduced with permission

There were three women.  They occasionally popped in to our classes and spoke on administrative details or replied to an email sent to the listserv.  They also showed up when anything big or small needed to happen.

A few examples:

  • buying a domain
  • setting up the infrastructure for a website, 3+ times
  • making sure we were getting course credit
  • making sure we were safe while traveling
  • making sure we had places to stay in foreign countries
  • making sure we had everything we needed, from food to art supplies
  • guaranteeing  our class was successful
  • checking in to make sure we are having an all around positive experience
  • cab fare
  • phone calls

What word do we use to describe women like this other than Rock Stars?

What  I don’t think members of the class realized is how much work they were doing outside of the obvious things .  They were all part of our overactive listserv, wading through more than 500 emails we sent during the semester, making sure everything was okay.  They were discussing any issues or concerns they saw bubbling up in their weekly staff meetings, going through the class in real time, behind the scenes apart from us, but with us at the same time.

Meet the Prof

Cathy, Professor of Future Class

I have been back and forth trying to determine if “the prof” needed a separate section.  She does.  This class wouldn’t have happened without a blog post.  We wouldn’t have gone to drumbeat if it weren’t for her.  Further, as one of the co-founders of HASTAC, we can also thank her for that.

You can read all of the stuff she is thinking about at her HASTAC blog.

For the purposes of future class, drumbeat and this site, “Meet the Prof” is more about the role she played in the class.

Why is This Separate from “Meet the Class“?

The role the Professor played in Future Class has been, like most other roles, undefined.  While the professor does attend most  of the class meetings at least part of the time, based on interviews with the class and my own observations, this is probably the most independent of independent studies we have all gone through in perception.

Rather than explaining what she does in a narrative, I will provide some bullet points on her role.

The Role of the Professor in Future Class

  • To trust the students to be self guided
  • To ensure that if things seem to be veering to far out of the realm of okay that they get brought back in
  • To be an advocate for the students
  • To serve as a mentor rather than an instructor
  • To observe from a distance when necessary
  • To take the lead when the time is right
  • To step in at times of conflict and confusion
  • To always have the big picture in mind
  • To get to know the students and their strengths and weakness
  • To use the knowledge of the students to challenge them and push them in their work
  • To allow the students the freedom to try new things and fail without penalty
  • To listen and hear

I’m sure there are more, but those are the main patterns of behavior I’ve observed.   What do we call professors who do not profess?  Do we go back to them being teachers?

From the student point of view Cathy has been involved in bullet points.  She gave us the freedom to do what we wanted and forced us to work out any issues or tensions we had as a group.  It must be acknowledged that there is always  more behind the scenes.

I have spent more actual hours on this class than on any other I’ve ever “taught”–or not taught.   I’m on line with one or another student virtually 24/7 and the behind-the-scenes required to get everyone some kind of scholarship funding to Barcelona and to process all the paperwork, including for the one student who was a minor, was endless […] In terms of a time commitment, in a semester where I have no extra time whatsoever, FutureClass has been an incredible investment of my time, more than I’ve spent getting my book ready for press, but worth every second.

Cathy, Private Email, Reproduce with permission

In addition to Cathy, none of this would have been possible without the help of the HASTAC Staff, a group of amazing women that stayed hidden in the background even more than Cathy and her bullet point roles (they have their own bullet points).