I totally survived. In fact, I kind of sort of had an amazing time. By far though, the most amazing for me thing was the Echo Park Film Center:
I first saw them at the Mozilla Science Fair, on Thursday night, the night I arrived, and was exhausted (the super shuttle took 2 hours!!!). I also presented at the Science Fair on Future class (more on that later), and was put next to this table with tons of DVDs, prop films, buttons, and two super charismatic guys (I wish I had taken a picture. I’m sure someone did, and I’ll find them and add them later).
Anyway, Out the Window consists of many film and media centers that are doing outreach to marginalized youth. It gives them a space to create, express themselves, explore etc. They brought a group of kids that had participated in the various programs to speak during their panel, well, really during the question and answer session. They were AMAZING!!! All of them said that they were empowered, and all of them, without prompting, explained their experience as a chance ot think critically. I LOVED it. So I had to ask a question, that is related to my research interests of course. I asked them if participating in these groups, and learning how to and actually creating these alternate narratives and representations of themselves and their neighborhoods and communities had changed how they view their communities, neighborhoods and how their role in them. One kid stood up. He was latino, tall, lanky with long hair and a red ski cap on. His name was Walter. Let me tell you, Walter blew us ALL away.
He talked about how all the representations he’s ever seen were made by people who had the money to control all the messaging that gets out on a massive scale, and all that messaging made people like him and from his neighborhood seem bad, less than and not worthy. But the project had allow him to see what he can do, and explore the rest of LA and see what it was like, and he was just like everyone. His participation made him feel empowered, and let him think critically about the situation and it allows him to show it for what it was.. and you could just feel the love and empowerment and it was seriously, tears. I talked to other people and they had the exact same experience. Just phenomenal and mind blowing.
The best part of all of this is of course that there is a big blue bus called the film mobile that has been gutted and turned in to a mobile cinema and production studio and it will be coming to North Carolina over the summer. I am SOOOOO there.
Even cooler, I got a couple of the DVDs of things the kids have made and I’m planning on sharing them with some of my classes and of course, guarding them as the sacred items they are for years to come.
Then there was the DML Showcase, which was amazing! I will have to write more about that later (probably with video), but it was soooo inspiring.
On to what I did
SCIENCE FAIR: Future Class
So, there was a Mozilla Science fair at DML2011. I exhibited as Future Class. I had my drumbeat site up and explained that my role in the class was to see how digital media could be used in ethnographic projects. The best comment was “isn’t that just a blog?” my response was of course, yes, and I explained that the purpose was to show a quick and easy way to create a discursive space where you field site can visibly say yay or nay to your observations. Even if it is just a blog, most people aren’t allowing for that type of exchange yet and blogs are easy and simple.
I also had a very small activity. I explained that future class was about thinking in the digital age and exploring what that means and what the challenges are in the university setting. It was a project based tutorial for the most part, but we also had to determine what needed to be different than the traditional classroom experience. I had tons of post its and pens and let people cover the table with words, sentences and paragraphs of what they needed to be changed. Almost everything centered around assessment and community/engagement. There were also quite a few on media.
A Taste of Mozilla Drumbeat: Storming the Classroom Grading and Community
The next thing I did was have a workshop session at the drumbeat workshopping session. The purpose of this was to create a foundational idea of what we want grades to do so people could then move on to brainstorming tools and methods to get them to where they needed to be. I had the smallest group but we had a wonderful time. I brought a ton of markers and a roll of paper and we created a “cloud” of thoughts (there were 4 of us), first on what was bad about how grading currently works, then what was good about how grading currently worked and finally on what are wishless was for how grading should work in the future. Everything ended up being that grading needs to be a community driven type of thing that allows for continuous feedback rather than relying on test that are incapable or measuring what people actually learn. Oh, and collectives. Classroom spaces need to be more community driven. I think the paper we had ended up being at least 14 feet. We taped it up on the wall. Even though we were few, we did something big, literally.
PANEL: New Collectives HASTAC Scholars as a Case Study
The last thing I did was a panel with Cathy Davidson, Fiona Barnett and Dixie Ching, on the HASTAC Scholars. I showed a short film (final edited forth coming) and share a website: http://jadedid.com/dml2011
The other three women on the panel? Simply amazing. I continue to be humbled to be sitting with these people.
I also shared my big revelation from DML2011.
ACADEMICS are just HACKERS and REMIXERS and FORKERS of KNOWLEDGE! By that I mean, what is a dissertation or a thesis other than taking the existing body of knowledges, mixing them, remixing them, forking them, modifying them, changing them, breaking them and coming up with something new and then publishing them? We just do it on paper (and that is starting to change slowly but surely).
I don’t know why it took me so long to come to that realization. When I think about academic work like that though, it makes me super happy.
So, all in all… wonderful amazing trip. There are so many people out there doing amazing work, and being around them is simply inspring. I’ve got to do more. I just have to.
I am preparing for a panel at DML2011: Designing Learning Futures that is a part of the new collectives track. The panel is titled “Modeling a New Collective: HASTAC Scholars as Case Study”. I will be sitting on it with four amazing women, Dixie Ching, Fiona Barnet, Cathy Davidson. The idea for the panel is, it will not be a traditional panel where we present papers. Instead, we all are going to represent different parts of what HASTAC is and does. I am lucky in that I’ve gotten the best part, in my opinion. I will be on the panel representing the scholars.
I have spent the past few weeks, speaking with, skypeing, emailing and getting video from various HASTAC scholars where they shared their thoughts on new collectives, being a part of HASTAC and how they see digital media and learning being beneficial in higher ed. I’ve also spent some time talking to people outside of HASTAC to get their thoughts on New Collectives. As a result of this, I have come to a preliminary hypothesis regarding what it takes to make new collectives successful:
goals, community, freedom, openness & action tends to = success
Almost everyone I’ve spoken to is tired of just talking about great ideas. They want a space where they can vet their ideas, get feedback, get other people interested in the same thing and take those ideas to the next step. They want a space with clear and realistic goals or purposes. They want a place where, despite the set goals, they have the freedom to try other things within the group (playing). And finally, they want to know (not just meet) who is in the collective and what they are doing so they can find ways to work together. So far, all the successful collectives people have mentioned had these things in common. These are also the things that people tend to start discussing without prompting.
Over the next few days I will be curating all the information/media I’ve gathered and preparing something to show at DML2011 so people can “meet” the scholars. Once the panel finally happens, it will be open to all the HASTAC scholars via chat and twitter. The hope and goal of this little panel collective, as I understand it, is to have an unpanel, where people in the actual and virtual audience are encouraged to join the discussion and help guide where the panel goes. So far, based on what people have contributed, I think it is going to go somewhere wonderful.