• Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited […]

  • Danica Savonick, CUNY Graduate Center
    Generative collaborative experiences require strong infrastructural support—both material and immaterial. This post details the sequence of assignments leading up to a collaborative website project at the end of a basic composition course.

    This past semester, I taught a composition course at Queens College on the topic of “Creativity.” The course, primarily comprised of first-year students, met twice a week (at 8 am!) for an hour and fifty minutes. This semester, I challenged students to take their research papers a step further by creating a collaborative website based on their theories of creativity:

    [caption id="attachment_2907" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 1. Final Project: Collaborative Creativity Website. You will be assigned to a group based on the topic of your research essay. As a group, create a Wordpress site using qwriting that publicly presents the results of your research in an interesting way. Your site must include 1) a collectively written introduction (I suggest using Google Docs to draft this) 2) images or other media that illustrate your points 3) at least three different pages that present your findings in a compelling and organized way. Each group will meet with me to discuss your strategies for organizing/presenting your information, evenly dividing up work, and meeting the assignment requirements. Your resource for help with Qwriting and Wordpress: http://help.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu Figure 1. Final Project: Collaborative Creativity Website.[/caption]

    Logistically, this assignment took up about four full class periods, though our conversations about websites spanned the last three weeks of the semester. I booked a computer lab for two of these classes, during which students used the entire class period to work on their group websites.

    Throughout the semester, students familiarized themselves with the blogging and commenting functions of Wordpress (more specifically, the version hosted by Queens College, “Qwriting”). This final website project, however, challenged them to transition from adding content to our course blog to setting up their own site. 

    Students were placed into groups before we transitioned from their research papers to website projects so that they could become familiar with what their group members were working on.

    For example, the group “Creativity and Oppression” contained students researching children’s art in ghettos and concentrations camps during the Holocaust, creativity and privilege in education, and the appropriation and theft of creative works produced by people of color. The other groups—Dreams and Creativity, Creativity and Writing, Creativity and Business—reflected themes that emerged through course readings and conversations. The groups helped students mentor one another through the writing process and encouraged them to identify points of intersection and divergence among their projects. Some groups shared valuable sources they found through the library’s catalogues and databases. On the day that the final drafts of their research essays were due, they brought in copies for everyone in their group. As we transitioned from research papers to website projects, their homework was to read each other’s final drafts and come prepared with ideas for presenting them on a website.

    In addition to strengthening their collaborative skills, I wanted students to think about the social and public impact of research. We brainstormed who their possible audiences might be, why they might come to a website about creativity, and what they might hope to get out of it.

    Since their final research papers provided the majority of the content for these websites, much of the website work involved translating between “rhetorical situations” (see Purdue OWL): from an academic essay to a collaborative website. And they were no strangers to the difficulties of translation. One blog prompt designed to initiate a conversation about websites as rhetorical situations asked students to “translate” Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay” in the context of the internet. Students rose to the occasion of this admittedly experimental assignment with aplomb.

    [caption id="attachment_2905" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 2. Blog Prompt: Analyzing Websites. Websites: www.medievalpoc.tumblr.com ; https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/ ; www.facebook.com Bloggers are each responsible for one site. Commenters need to explore each site and add to each blogger’s response. •Begin by trying to analyze the website using Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay.” Does the website have a thesis? A motive? Etc. •Note where you get stuck and which terms do not easily apply to your website. For instance, perhaps the term “thesis” isn’t appropriate for your site and may need to be replaced with a category like “purpose.” •As in the example above, come up with some new terms that are useful for thinking about the ways in which websites are organized. Think about terms like audience, utility, navigation, toolbars, privacy, pages, etc. •As in a close reading, try and make a connection between the form (organization) and the content (information) of the website. Try and imagine this as the thesis statement for a hypothetical paper that would perform a close reading of your website. Because this is an experimental project, don’t feel frustrated if you’re unable to come up with an argument. We will work on this together in class. Figure 2. Blog Prompt: Analyzing Websites.[/caption]

    Their responses to this assignment and the more general question, “What makes a good website?” became the fodder for the rubric we designed.

    Before crafting a rubric we looked at these slides that demonstrate the basics of creating a site using Wordpress. Much of the content is drawn from helpful blogs about Wordpress and the Qwriting help site. They reflect my own limited knowledge of the platform’s capabilities, though learning so much more about Wordpress from my students was one of the great unforeseen benefits of this assignment. The website project also allowed us to continue our conversations about the importance of proper citations through a discussion of fair use policies.

    After going through the process of setting up a site as a class, I handed out blank rubrics and posted the following in-class assignment:

    [caption id="attachment_2909" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 3. Drafting a Rubric. •First, fill in the blank rubric with categories along the lefthand column and scores across the top. •	Then, fill in some of the boxes on the rubric, specifying what a specific score might look like. o	For example, “motive” might be a category and “5” might be the highest score. In order to get a “5” on “motive,” you might write something like “The website conveys a strong sense of purpose throughout.” •	Consult the essay rubrics as examples. Figure 3. Drafting a Rubric.[/caption]

    This activity allowed us to talk not merely about meeting an assignment’s requirements, but about the pedagogy that animates them. I encouraged students to consult the rubrics I used to grade their close reading and comparative essays for examples of the kind of language they might want to include. After they had filled out rubrics based on their understanding of what makes a good website and what a platform like Qwriting allows, we tallied their results and combined some of the categories to produce a rubric that we all agreed upon.

    [caption id="attachment_2908" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 4. Collaborative Creativity Website. Assignment: As a group, create a Wordpress site using qwriting that publicly presents the results of your research in an interesting way. Your site must include 1) a collectively written introduction (I suggest using Google Docs to draft this) 2) images or other media that illustrate your points and 3) at least three different pages that present your findings in a compelling and organized way. Figure 4. Collaborative Creativity Website.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_2910" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 5. Collaborative Creativity Website. Rubric (35 points possible): Category: “Purpose (Motive).” 5 points: Clearly and effectively presents a motive, Purpose is reinforced throughout. 3 points: Purpose is present but not obvious. 1 point: Has no clear sense of purpose. Category: “Navigation and Organization.” 5 points: Easy to navigate, User-friendly, Information is logically organized, Website is accessible. 3 points: Somewhat confusing or hard to navigate. 1 point: Messy, difficult to navigate, cluttered. Category: “Content: Information and Evidence.” 5 points: Website content is clear and easy to understand, All information relates to the website’s purpose, Ideas are well-developed. 3 points: Some claims are unfounded or unsupported by evidence. 1 point: Most claims are unfounded or unsupported by evidence. Category: “Design: Layout, Appearance, Accessibility.” 5 points: Aesthetically pleasing, Uniform theme, Eye-catching, Balance of images, space, and text. 3 points: Has only 1-2 of the qualities listed under “5.” 1 point: Lacks a coherent style or sense of design. Category: “Citations and Links.” 5 points: All relevant citations are formatted properly according to MLA guidelines, Citations are obvious and easy to find. 3 points: Has some errors with citations and links, Some information is not properly cited. 1 point: Many errors with citation. Category: “Introduction.” 5 points: Highlights main points, Synthesizes projects, Let’s the user know the site’s purpose, Provides directions for navigating the sites. 3 points: Achieves only 1-2 of the objectives listed under “5.” 1 point: Does not have an introduction or introduction is unhelpful. Category: “Revision, Grammar, Punctuation.” 5 points: No mistakes with grammar or punctuation, No broken links. 3 points: Some mistakes with grammar and punctuation. 1 point: Many mistakes with grammar and punctuation. Figure 5. Collaborative Creativity Website.[/caption]

    Once the rubrics were ready, we spent two class periods in the computer lab working on their sites. During these classes, we discussed how each group was dividing up work (was one person in charge of images or was each person designing their own page? how were citations being handled?). Often, students would share what they were learning and help one another solve technical issues.

    Prior to our final class, students sent everyone the URLs for their websites. They were given a copy of the rubric for each group they’d be evaluating and told to look at the websites beforehand and come prepared with questions. Here are the instructions for the presentations: 

    [caption id="attachment_2906" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 6. Instructions. Requirements:  •Everyone should speak •	Should be at least five minutes •	You should come with a plan and having rehearsed--you may want to have a script  Content 1. Describe your website, highlighting the categories on the rubric (suggest why you deserve a five). 2. Who is your intended audience? How did you tailor your website to them? 3. Describe the decision making process and how work was divided up.  4. If you had more time and resources, what would you do to enhance your website?  5. Field any questions. Figure 6. Instructions.[/caption]

    After each presentation, students handed in a rubric with scores and explanations, which I later tallied to assign a final, overall grade. Although they were tough on each other, they provided specific examples in the “explanation” category of the rubric to support the scores they awarded.

    This project worked well as an extended application of a final research paper. Students who hadn’t participated much during the semester became some of the most vocal and outspoken contributors to our conversations about websites as rhetorical situations. During these weeks the class became even more student centered, as those with advanced knowledge of web design were able to instruct the rest of the class, myself included.

    [caption id="attachment_2913" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 7. Website by Yonatan Arnon, Nikkia “Rook” Hanson, and Rebecca Rich. "Creativity and Oppression." How Oppression Molds Creativity, Affects Public Views of Creativity, and Hinders Creativity: Mission Statement. Text of post reads:  Though a somewhat ragtag team of people who had never spoken much to each other before this project, all of us had a common idea about creativity that blossomed through numerous discussions, readings, and joinings with our peers. All three of us come from backgrounds of oppression, and those backgrounds made themselves clear in our writing. Our mission? What is creativity? How does creativity form in the deepest pits of despair, and how does that shape it? How do creative works made in those situations become useful to prosecute crimes against humanity? How does privilege affect one's access to creative means, one's ability to be seen as creative and use that creativity for profit and success? And how, despite creativity often being thought of as an innate trait that belongs to no single person, can it be stolen and wielded against the oppressed while simultaneously shoving them into a nameless, faceless group of "uncreatives"? We strive to answer these questions, and we strive to find more and more answers as these questions navigate our very lives. Figure 7. Website by Yonatan Arnon, Nikkia “Rook” Hanson, and Rebecca Rich.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_2911" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 8. Website by Corey Goldman, Stephen Lau, and Ronen Shahkoohi. Tag cloud featuring creativity, inspiration, business, idea, imagination, element Heading: “imagination unlimited” Youtube video: what is creativity? Figure 8. Website by Corey Goldman, Stephen Lau, and Ronen Shahkoohi.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_2912" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 9. Website by Riddwan Alam, Youlhuy Sung, Paula Volos, and Xian Zhong Zheng. "Dreams and Literature." Text of post reads: Researching this topic has allowed me to realize that there are multiple examples of literature that were inspired by dreams. All of these have surfaced throughout the years, whether we are aware of it or not. Books like Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, are some of these. However, two of the most well-known and prominent examples of texts that have stemmed from a dream are Mary Shelley’s Gothic novelFrankenstein– also known as The Modern Prometheus – and the 18th century British Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. Both these writers refined their dreams into something creative, and in this case, their motivation led to Frankenstein and to “Kubla Khan” becoming two very significant pieces of English Literature. Frankenstein is about a young man, Victor Frankenstein, who creates a monster from various body parts he collected from corpses of people, as a result of his obsession with creating life. After the creation, Frankenstein realizes that his actions are wrong, and so he rejects the creature and runs away from it. The creature then turns against him, and a series of devastating events take place. Figure 9. Website by Riddwan Alam, Youlhuy Sung, Paula Volos, and Xian Zhong Zheng.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_2904" align="alignnone" width="600"]Figure 10. Website by Joseph Haynes and Zainab Kalair. "Creativity Checklist: Teaching Creativity." Text of post reads: I believe that creativity should be taught for two main reasons captured in one: creativity is absolutely essential to the effective development of the individual and society. More specifically, it is required for an individual or country to thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. According to concordcoalition.org, the total national debt of America today is well over 16 trillion dollars. Nations around the world are concerned with the development of new energy sources, finding a cure for HIV and cancer, reducing the impact of global warming, and making the most efficient use of the fossil fuels available. One common theme among all of these challenges is that they require creative solutions. It takes creativity to effectively express oneself to peers and superiors. It takes creativity to write a poem, or paint, or compose a musical piece. It takes creativity to have a dream and a vision like Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who sparked revolutions around the world. It takes creativity to see the success in failure or take the risk. What is life without creativity? Students spend roughly eight hours a day at school, about half of the time spent in waking consciousness daily. If creativity is so vital, how much time should we allot to the cultivation of this quality? The importance of creativity is not the question. The real challenge is how do we teach creativity in our schools? In the book Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom Raymond Nickerson lists a few effective ways to discourage creativity in schools such as: “cultivating unquestioning submission to authority,” “adhering to the lesson plan at all costs,” “promoting the belief in the compartmentalization of knowledge,” and “discouraging curiosity and inquisitiveness” (1-2). During one class this very semester, the teacher told my friend that even though his formula works, he could not solve the problem in a particular way since that is not what is required of him. He would even have to show his method of arriving at the correct solution on the exams and it would have to align with what is taught. Another friend of mine told me that he is not allowed Figure 10. Website by Joseph Haynes and Zainab Kalair.[/caption]

    Sincere thanks also to my awesome students for allowing me to share their hard work.

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Tyler […]

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Leila Walker.
    Celebrating Five Years of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
    This will be my last roundup as Managing Editor before I pass the mantle to Laura Kane at the end of August, and I wanted to thank you all for a very successful year at JITP. Over the past two semesters, we have published two great issues and numerous short-form pieces, started a new Collective-generated weekly column, and begun the process of moving to a more up-to-date and accessible website and management system. We have developed communications and outreach strategies to build our base of readers and authors. I am so grateful for everyone’s hard work and enthusiasm. JITP has always held experimentation with form and content among our core values, and I believe we continue to make great headway as a group toward transforming what “counts” as academic scholarship.

    So how did we get here, and where are we going? TL;DR: This roundup includes a look back at JITP’s history, a glimpse at where we’re headed, and some professional updates from our Collective Members.

    Five Years of JITP History
    Yes, it’s true! JITP is celebrating its fifth anniversary … sort of. The journal was initially conceived in May 2010, in the wave of organizational momentum following the Digital University conference at the CUNY Graduate Center. At first our goals for the journal were small and localized: we planned to use Open Journal Systems to showcase some of the best projects being created by students in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program. Claire Fontaine and I built a placeholder site over the summer, and at the beginning of August Steve Brier, the coordinator of the certificate program, invited ITP students, faculty, and alumni to join the initiative:

    [caption id="attachment_3005" align="alignnone" width="600"]I am pleased to announce the founding of a new academic journal, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/itcp/index). JITP is an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal edited and published by doctoral faculty and doctoral students and recent graduates of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. It features examples of the most exciting papers, presentations and projects conceived and produced by ITP Certificate Program students since the certificate’s launch in 2002.  We are currently seeking GC faculty and students who are interested in serving on the JITP’s editorial board, which will help set the journal’s intellectual direction and solicit and edit articles and features. We also encourage all current and past ITP students to consider submitting their Core 1 and Core 2 class papers and, especially, their independent study final reports for consideration for publication in the JITP. We expect to publish the inaugural issue of JITP in late fall-early spring of the 2010-11 academic year. Please contact Steve Brier, the ITP coordinator (sbrier@gc.cuny.edu), or Leila Walker, the program’s APO (lwalker1@gc.cuny.edu), to nominate yourself or others to the editorial board, to submit or suggest a paper or project for publication in the journal, and, of course, for further information. Figure 1. Steve Brier invites ITP students, faculty, and alumni to join as founding members of a new journal.[/caption]

    Eight people responded and began planning the journal at our first meeting in September 2010: Stephen Brier, Charlie Edwards, Claire Fontaine, Matt Gold, Kimon Keramidas, Ben Miller, Joe Ugoretz, and Leila Walker.

    Our goals for the journal expanded fast. We wanted to create something that was rooted in the ITP certificate program but not limited to the program. We wanted to showcase work by scholars at all levels, from students to advanced faculty, and we wanted the journal to facilitate ongoing mentorship in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment. While Steve Brier had conceived of the journal as a student-run publication with faculty advisers, the make-up of our founding group—half students, half faculty—shaped and continues to shape our pedagogical mission to foster constructive partnerships that challenge the distinction between student and teacher. (In the meantime, I created a less ambitious site to showcase ITP student work.)

    Ben Miller took minutes at our first meeting (he still takes the minutes at almost every meeting, and I believe he deserves a trophy for it):

    [caption id="attachment_3004" align="alignnone" width="600"]Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP)  NB: These are not clean, formal minutes, but rather the notes taken during the meeting. I apologize for any inconvenience, and encourage those in attendance to edit this document. –Ben  The goal of today’s meeting (2010/09/20) is to generate an overall vision, perhaps a mission statement – we want to establish an editorial process.  Steve’s starting vision:  a student-run journal, with Steve and (especially) Matt as advisors  highlighting, but not exclusive to, student work (also highlighting, but not exclusive to, work for the ITP program)  shouldn’t be (“it would be a shame”) text alone  start with a couple of issues per year, perhaps building toward a quarterly release (you need to have a publishing schedule of some kind, even online)  open to what students envision it doing  Leila has created a shell for us  Claire has set up a similar platform (also in OJS) for Jean Anyon and her students in Urban Ed; first version not let live. However, there was some difficulty in allowing contributors to edit their own contributions.  Matt: We need to have a rigorous, value-generating peer-review process, so that we can in good conscience encourage people to send in. It has to at least potentially count toward tenure and job market. This may entail recruiting editors from outside CUNY, certainly outside the GC.  There is a parallel effort CUNY-wide through the CUNY Academic Technology Committee (which is a faculty group, with subcommittees including the one for the CUNY Academic Commons).  Kimon: if our deliverable is online-only, then we don’t need to worry about printer schedules or a limited number of pages; we can push out content whenever we want, and highlight whatever we want (e.g. student work on par with faculty work – we don’t need to turn anyone away).  That said, we want to hold the bar high for everyone: no distinctions in student publications and faculty publications. Rigorous review and revision for all. Figure 2. Minutes from the first meeting of the JITP Editorial Collective.[/caption]

    Our original timeline—to form the journal and launch the first issue in a single semester—now seems, frankly, insane. Over the next year and a half, we honed our vision, brainstormed sections, drew several versions of the logo, played around with OJS, determined that OJS’s format was too restrictive for our big dreams, built and rebuilt the website, called for papers, brought in new members, argued and processed and live-edited the mission statement at meetings that could last up to three hours and often tested our (or at least my) patience for the messy process of democracy.

    But we were a collective, and we worked together. These early meetings forged our identity as a journal that supports new and innovative work by saying YES to insane ideas.

    [caption id="attachment_3006" align="alignnone" width="600"]An early chalkboard sketch as we brainstorm ideas for the new journal. Figure 3. An early chalkboard sketch as we brainstorm ideas for the new journal.[/caption]

    Finally, in March of 2012, we launched our first issue, co-edited by Sarah Ruth Jacobs and Kimon Keramidas. We rewarded Sarah’s hard work on this inaugural issue with more hard work when we unanimously voted her the first managing editor of JITP in December 2011, a position she held until Anne Donlon took over in the fall of 2013.

    Looking Ahead
    Today, our Collective has swelled to twenty-one members from across disciplines and institutions. The messy democratic processing that characterized our early meetings is no longer quite feasible, so we have divided into several smaller teams that take care of tasks like copyediting, communicating, editing, and evaluating our processes (we haven’t yet nominated a navel-gazing committee, but we might). The original eight members of our collective split neatly into four students and four faculty members, and we maintained this equality when we expanded to fourteen members (seven students, seven faculty or staff) at the launch of the first issue. But “student” is an ephemeral identity, as I noted in the Introduction to Issue Four, and of our twenty-one current members, only four will still be students come the fall. Does that matter? And if so, what’s the solution? We’d love your input.

    We’ve accomplished a lot over the years: the number of submissions we receive per issue has more than doubled (seriously); we’ve started producing content at least weekly; we’ve increased both the quality and the quantity of the work we publish.

    And we’re still moving forward. We are currently in the process of a website redesign to make our journal more flexible, accessible, and attractive. We are in the process of finding a new management system to replace OJS. And we are revisiting one of the journals original goals, to bring student work and work-in-progress to a wider audience for constructive feedback. We hope that this new “Blueprints” section will not only help students (and others) revise their digital projects, but will also make visible the often obscure work of review and revision—the collaborative effort between editors, peer reviewers, and project authors that leads to a finished project. As Sarah and Kimon wrote in the Introduction to our first issue: “This model makes materials available to the larger scholarly community first and then leaves the review process in the hands of our readers, who will participate by providing feedback through comments in the journal’s blog-style environment. This open dialogue will be important in developing healthy online discourse and encouraging revisions by submission authors that take into consideration continually developing themes and trends.”

    Where should we go next? We’d love to hear suggestions—however insane they might sound.

    Updates and Kudos
    Starting this fall, Laura Kane will be taking over from me as Managing Editor—please join me in welcoming her to our Collective and our community! Also this fall, Michael Mandiberg will serve as Acting Coordinator of the ITP Certificate Program while Steve Brier is on sabbatical, and he will be joining the Collective to maintain the connection between the program and the journal.

    I am also proud to announce the recent accomplishments of my friends and colleagues on the JITP Editorial Collective:

    Greg Donovan was recently made an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law School.

    Tyler Fox accepted a Lecturer position at University of Washington, Bothell, where he will be the Studio Director of the Interactive Media Design program.

    Matt Gold and the GC Digital Scholarship Lab won a grant from the Mellon Foundation to launch Manifold Scholarship—a platform for iterative, networked monographs—in partnership with University of Minnesota Press.

    Kimon Keramidas curated “The Interface Experience” at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery and accepted a new position at NYU’s Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program.

    Amanda Licastro accepted a position as the Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric at Stevenson University.

    Michael Mandiberg’s show, “From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!,” opened at the Denny Gallery to great press.

    Renee McGarry and her colleagues at Art History Teaching Resources won a Kress Digital Resources Grant to support preliminary research toward development of Art History Pedagogy and Practice, an academic, peer reviewed e-journal devoted to pedagogy in art history that will be hosted on the AHTR website.

    Ben Miller accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Composition, focusing on Digital Research and Pedagogy, at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Leila Walker accepted a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship at St. Lawrence University, where she will serve as Assistant Program Director for Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Luke Waltzer is moving from Baruch College to the CUNY Graduate Center to become the founding director of the new Teaching Center.

    Congratulations, all!






  • Andrew Lucchesi, CUNY Graduate Center
    Every year, as a wrap-up to the City University of New York’s Disability Awareness month, the CUNY Assistive Technology Services network (CATS) hosts its annual conference. […]

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Stephen Klein.

    As a librarian, I mostly assist and guide students and faculty in building digital projects that support their research. Libraries have typically helped folks in the retrieval of information and data, but libraries are increasingly becoming the places that digitization standards are developed, digitization is performed, rights on usage of digital materials are navigated, the nascent stages of projects are given a sounding board, tools are suggested, concerns of privacy are articulated, nuances of access are considered, and preservation is pursued. This week, I am going to share a few of current events that catalyzed further thought.

    The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computing” exhibit at the Bard Graduate Center’s Gallery reminds me of the era when computing was truly open and engaging for most users. Long before the current fixation with the digital cul-de-sac of Facebook, where users simulate cultural production, users at the dawn of the personal computer era were not passive consumers/spectators of computers and information, but had to have an engaged relationship with these “primitive devices.” Because the objects on display are more cumbersome to use and not the finished products and interfaces of today, an element of defamiliarization occurs when interacting with the various devices and interfaces. As a user, I became more cognizant of my interactions on these devices. Although I was an early adopter/user of many of these devices, I am unable to reliably recall my actual response to using them at the time, so I wonder if my understanding is accurate or if I might be romanticizing that in the past folks were producers, not just consumers, and were potentially hyper-cognizant of their interactions with these devices.

    Congress’ recent debate over the USA PATRIOT Act and its temporary resolution and partial restoration through the USA Freedom Act felt like bread and circuses or much ado about nothing, because despite the fact that now the NSA may not be able to bulk collect metadata without a warrant, I as well as many others do not feel any safer with corporations, many of which have fuzzy relationships with the intelligence and military communities, and many of which continue to bulk collect and probably share of metadata. Furthermore, if the history of the second half of the twentieth century suggests anything, the restrictions put in place by the new USA Freedom Act will not prevent continued snooping. Because it is not only important to help users extract, manipulate, present, and store data, but to be cognizant of data profiling and data privacy issues of many tools that their patrons use, many librarians, as mediators of technology and information, feel that it is their responsibility to inform users about data vulnerabilities. Therefore, the Graduate Center Library recently sponsored an event, “Privacy in the Age of Dragnet Surveillance: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Rights Online,” in which Kade Crockford of the ACLU explained the nuances and history of the law and Alison Macrina of the Library Freedom Project suggested an array of tools to use to attempt to protect your privacy online. Their presentations with an emphasis on being alert to potential dangers were reminiscent of the non-passive computer use that I mentioned earlier. See the list of suggested tools or watch a recording of the event. The Library Association of CUNY (LACUNY) recently had its annual conference, the LACUNY Institute, and the focus this year, was also privacy. Some of the presentations are available online.

    At another recent Library Association of CUNY (LACUNY), Karen Sandler, the cyborg lawyer of the Software Freedom Conservancy, shared with LACUNY members how embracing open source and free software goes beyond economic considerations and is at times an ethical decision, by sharing the dilemma she faced when she needed to have a defibrillator implanted. The device was a matter of life or death for her, but she hesitated because neither she nor any community was able to review the proprietary code. She explained that because of the lack of transparency, software users are vulnerable when a community of users does not have access to review and audit proprietary code to discover potential exploits and supply patches. View the slides to her discussion or watch an analogous presentation that she gave earlier in the year.

    Although I am absolutely not privy to the possible bureaucratic intrigues that probably contributed to his decision, one of the reasons reported by the New York Times that led to Library of Congress’ Librarian James Billington’s resignation is the 2013 audit that warned that only a small fraction of its 24 million books are available online. I prefer not to editorialize, but it is not fair to apply the audit’s assessment to the librarian. In addition to the requirement of transcending probable copyright barriers to ensure materials can be made available online, digitization requires vast human labor in terms of curation, organizing, setting standards, digitizing, discerning and entering metadata, storing, documenting, QA’ing, and creating a presentation platform. The assumption is that even if most materials in the LOC’s collection do not have copyright limitations barring digitization, the other aspects of digitizing in our hyper-austere economy made digitizing the collection prohibitive. Read more about the resignation.

    As Anne Donlon mentioned earlier, stay tuned for our new Blueprint section, a section where folks can share their recipes and or data-sets.

    I am about to take holiday and during my time off, inspired by an interview on the future of storytelling, I intend to visit the Museum of the Moving Image to experience “Sensory Stories: An Exhibition of New Narrative Experiences.” The story suggests that that digital technology might provide an opportunity for a new opportunity to conjure gesamtkunstwerk-type experiences for participants.

    A good reminder that big and open data is not just for theoretical or marketing purposes, but actually helps to save lives.

    If I planned my summer better, I might have considered attending NYU’s ITP MAKE Camp.

    If funding is available, I am considering attending Big Data 2015.

    NYPL and Triple Canopy just posted a call for proposals which will support two commissions at NYPL Labs.

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • ThumbnailAudrey Watters, Hack Education

    Review of Elizabeth Losh, The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014). $29.95 hardcover, $20.95 e-book.

    The War on […]

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Renee McGarry.

    Is there a throwback hashtag for Tuesdays? Because while all my colleagues fly out to InstructureCon to present on our homegrown LTI integration between our digital asset management system (Razuna) and our learning management system (Canvas), I’d like to remember last year’s InstructureCon. When it snowed. On June 16th.

    [caption id="attachment_2977" align="alignnone" width="599"]Snow at InstructureCon, June 16, 2014. Photo credit: A Scott Baine. Snow at InstructureCon, June 16, 2014. Photo credit: A Scott Baine.[/caption]

    Here’s some of what I’m reading, doing, enjoying, and raging about so far this summer:

    Starlee Kine’s Mystery Show
    Decolonizing the Digital: A HASTAC Scholars Forum
    Creative Time’s Drifting in Daylight
    “Do Not Watch This if Your Motives Would Upset Me”: Emma Sulkowicz’s New Multimedia Project
    The Challenge for Post-Publication Peer Review (with an eye to finishing our Issue 7 Behind the Seams)
    UW Struggle: “Hit the Aqueducts, Pal!” Edition alongside At Gawker Media, New Economy Workers Strive to Form a New Kind of Union

    And some of what I will be enjoying later this summer:

    Michael Mandiberg “From Aaaaa to ZZZap!” at the Denny Gallery
    Eyebeam’s “New Topics in Social Computing: Data and Education” with Sava Saheli Singh, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Karen Gregory

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Anne Donlon.

    I am at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (#dhsi2015) at the University of Victoria this week to take Text Encoding Fundamentals and their Application and soak in the surrounding unconference, lectures, poster session, and conviviality. Besides the course I’m taking, I am looking forward to hearing from participants in basically all of the other courses (and reading their course materials), but especially Feminist Digital Humanities (and their femdh Zotero library), Digital Humanities in a Global Context, and Digital Indigeneity.

    Since entering the world of academic libraries as a CLIR postdoctoral fellow last August, I have been eager to hear from those thinking about issues of access, race, gender, and diversity in the library. The Tuesday evening Twitter conversation #critlib has been a great resource (during which I have mostly been a lurker). This week’s conversation will be on “feminist contributions in LIS.” The #critlib Chats Cheat Sheet includes links to readings and an archive of previous discussions, storified conversations, and ongoing projects.

    Similarly, I have been interested in critical digital humanities. Amy Earhart’s keynote last week, “DH Futures: Conflict, Power and Public Knowledge,” at the Joint Canadian Society for the Digital Humanities (CSDH/SCHN) and Association for Computers in the Humanities Conference (which I only witnessed from afar via #csdhach2015 on Twitter and a collection of tweets on Storify–but I look forward to the article version and her forthcoming book), outlined a lineage for digital humanities that helps me to think critically about methodology and discipline.

    Earhart’s comments about textual studies were particularly of interest as I packed my bags to go to the Text Encoding course at DHSI.

    I have also been catching up on HASTAC proceedings (featured in Amanda Licastro’s recent roundup for JITP). Roopika Risam posted the text of her closing plenary keynote, “Across (Two) Imperial Cultures.” Risam’s talk addresses the misguided rhetoric that poses digital humanities as the science-y solution to the “crisis of the humanities,” and instead urges us “to consider the relation between the digital and the human – not a fundamental opposition itself.” (For some playful commentary on DH as the salvation of the university, check out the newly launched DH elevator pitch generator.) Risam also named and offered counterpoint to “the hegemony of Anglo-American (that is, Anglophone U.S., U.K. and Canadian) digital humanities.”

    Risam mentions in passing the role of metaphor in the world of science and computing, and quotes Gail Houston, chair of the English department at the University of New Mexico: “Hard sciences and social sciences depend upon metaphor (the stuff of fiction and poetry, Shakespeare and Woolf) to describe abstract algorithms and theories.” I have been interested in the metaphors used in digital technology and computing. During our summer library camp, a fellow CLIR postdoc Tim Norris, trained as a geographer, was puzzled by the widespread invocations of “ecosystems” to describe digital library worlds. (He later wrote a blog post about it.) Many of these digital metaphors tend to be architectural or environmental, and sometimes militaristic, which bring their own historical legacies, as well as logics and epistemologies that delimit our methods and questions in ways we ought to be aware of.

    At the Social Knowledge Creation in the Humanities mini-conference that met on Sunday at DHSI, several of these metaphors were interrogated. “The cloud is not a cloud,” David Powell remarked in the discussion (and I’m paraphrasing), “it’s a server farm in Norway or the middle of Kansas.” And cables that lie across the bottom of the oceans.

    In the opening talk at the mini-conference, John Maxwell presented an elegant history of humanities computing, noting the impact of the architecture text A Pattern Language: Town, Buildings, Construction on the design of computing systems. The idea of “universal design” in accessibility on the web is also taken from architecture, as George H. Williams discusses in “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities” in Debates in the Digital Humanities.

    Closer to home, members of JITP’s editorial collective are planning a new short section that would feature narratives, code, and data to illuminate the making of digital projects. The section is proposed as “Blueprint,” a metaphor legible because of established architectural metaphors in digital work. I have been trying to articulate an alternate metaphor related to patterns and plans for craft and hand work — Hannah Höch’s photomontages on embroidery patterns came to my mind. While I am in favor of keeping “Blueprint” as the section title, I am also interested in engaging the more feminized language of craft and handiwork. A related interest in the intersection of language and labor appears in Lauren Klein’s  “The Carework and Codework of Digital Humanities,” recently shared from her talk from Digital Antiquarian. She asks “how DH might be better served if we re-envisioned our work as carework.”

    Finally, this past week Alex Gil solicited resources for a #blackstudieslibguide, compiled so far with Storify (and stay tuned for a Zotero library and lib guide online). Add resources by tweeting them with the hashtag #blackstudieslibguide.

    Some upcoming dates:

    Digital Pedagogy Institute, proposals due June 12.
    Queerness and Games Conference, proposals due June 15.
    Digital Library Federation Forum, proposals due June 22.
    HILT takes place July 27-30.

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Stephen Brier.

    This week (or actually several recent weeks) I decided to devote my contribution to the JITP blog to bragging on (as they say in certain regions of the country) various digital successes and triumphs at our home institution, the CUNY Graduate Center, with a special focus on our ongoing DH work.

    First, our JITP colleague and comrade, Matthew Gold (in collaboration with Lauren Klein), announced the launch in mid May of a new digital book series entitled Debates in the Digital Humanities (DDH) from the University of Minnesota Press.

    The new digital series is based on the pathbreaking 2012 edition of Debates in the Digital Humanities (to which several JITP EC members contributed essays), that Matt conceived and edited. The original 2012 edition had an open-access site that remains widely used by teachers and students.

    The new DDH series from the University of Minnesota Press will include two types of volumes: books on special topics within DH, and annual volumes that will showcase the most compelling work in the DH field each year.

    Having announced a CFP earlier in the year, the DDH editors have now received essay drafts for Debates in the Digital Humanities 2015. DDH 2015 contributors include: “graduate students alongside some of the most senior scholars in the field; dyed-in-the-wool DHers alongside outside observers; artists and activists as well as archivists, librarians, and scholars.” Many of these essays are now entering the peer-to-peer review stage which Matt and Lauren hope will spark sustained debate and discussion about large and pressing issues facing DH. We wish Matt and Lauren (and the U of Minnesota Press) good luck in their new endeavor and can’t wait to get a crack at some of this new-fangled peer-to-peer reviewing we’ve been hearing so much about.

    Second, at almost the same moment as the new DDH book series was announced, the Graduate Center showcased an incredible array of student generated digital projects over the past academic year in courses, labs, and individual research projects. The event was widely tweeted at #digitalgc .

    The two-hour event held on May 19th featured the launches of the four student project teams in the two-semester graduate Digital Humanities Praxis sequence that introduces students to the landscape of digital humanities tools and methods through readings, discussion, lectures, hands-on workshops, and culminates with students collaborating in groups over a single semester to build and launch working prototypes of Digital Humanities projects. The instructors for the two-semester DH Praxis sequence were Steve Brier and Matthew Gold (Fall 2014) and Amanda Hickman and Luke Waltzer (Spring 2015).

    The four new student generated projects were:

    @DigitalHUAC: http://digitalhuac.com
    Consolidating thousands of hard-to-find #HUAC testimonies into a single, searchable, interactive archive. http://digitalhuac.com

    @CUNYCast: http://cunycast.net
    Broadcast classes, conversation & controversy with online radio at @GC_CUNY. Shout it out http://cunycast.net #CUNYcast

    @dhTANDEM: http://dhtandem.com
    Simplify text & image data generation with @dhTANDEM, a unified #Djangoapp that combines #OCR, #NLTK, and #OpenCV.

    @NYCFashionIndex: http://nycfashionindex.com
    NYCFashionIndex scrapes fashion imagery from @instagram for tagging and analysis, building a real time social index of fashion. http://nycfashionindex.com/

    Following the Digital Praxis project presentations, other labs and individual students presented their most recent projects and accomplishments. Links below are to the general websites of each of these GC digital projects, which taken together, form the larger Digital GC initiative:

    The GC Digital Fellows

    Provost’s Digital Innovation Grantees

    The New Media Lab

    The Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program

    The Futures Initiative

    The GC Library

    Program Social Media Fellows

    Videography Fellows

    The Graduate Center, CUNY has much to be pleased and proud of as the spring term ends.

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Amanda Licastro.

    This week I am reporting the JITP weekly round-up from the HASTAC conference at Michigan State University (MSU). The ethos of HASTAC aligns with our mission at JITP: a teaching-centered approach to technology across the disciplines. Perhaps the best way get a sense of the interesting and diverse conversations at this conference would be to follow the #hastac2015 on Twitter, or check out visualizations of the activity at NodeXL and TAGSExplorer, or re-live it through the livestream. My TL:DR – HASTAC 2015 was critical and radical, while remaining vibrant and optimistic. If you are interested in using technology to enact change in higher education this conference is for you.

    The 2015 HASTAC conference was innovative by design. Not only was it affordable for students to attend, it offered a variety of accommodation options, included food and beverages, and was held in a hotel run by students training in the field of hospitality and management at MSU (fun fact: my uncle was trained as a chef at the Kellogg Center). Furthermore, all of the keynote speakers were early career or alternative academic scholars. Kicking things off was the affable Scott B. Weingart (better known as @scott_bot), a Digital Humanities Specialist at Carnegie Mellon University who took us on a journey through the history of both the verbal and visual rhetoric of knowledge-making in order to explore disciplinary divides (see paper here and slides here). Dissolving disciplinary isolation in favor of collaboration across the academy became a common theme throughout the conference.

    Now I can only responsibly report from the panels I attended, but I did interview others about their experience and can tell you that the overwhelming highlight for many people was that the “scholarly voices” of underrepresented groups were heard at HASTAC 2015. This was not a conference of superstars on panels that dominate the audience (leaving some panels empty while others are packed), but rather one of equity and disruptive distribution. This was certainly true of the first two panels I participated in – my own panel “Transforming the Dissertation: Models, Questions, and Next Steps,” which showcased innovative student work, and “Women of Color and Digital Feminism Pedagogy,” a presentation of feminist approaches to integrating digital tools into classroom practices. Both of these panels focused on what is learned through the process of creating non-traditional products, and served as models for student-centered learning. This emphasis was echoed in “Student-Centered Pedagogy and Technology: An Interactive Long Table Conversation,” which features CUNY’s own Futures Initiative project “Mapping the Future of Higher Education.”  Many people I interviewed at the ingenious “Birds of a Feather” dinner summarized this by saying that this conference broke down the false dichotomy between our research and teaching.

    This brings me to the next theme of HASTAC 2015: building and making. This was exemplified in “Whithervanes: a neurotic, early worrying system THR_33 (Tea House for Robots)” the keynote given by artist duo Cezanne Charles and John Marshall of rootoftwo.com. The three activist art installations Charles and Marshall presented were the most thoughtful, responsible, thorough displays of radical engagement I have ever seen, and I can only urge you to check this out for yourselves. I mean, headless chickens that track local reactions to media-induced fear online using raspberry-pi, open source software, and social media? Awesome. Building as a method of scholarship was also central to “Reimaging Scholarly Publishing,” which featured the launch of the Public Philosophy Journal, and the “Doing Digital Liberal Arts: Projects and Pedagogies on Student-centered Campuses” panel that featured a series of speakers describing the process of establishing digital humanities programs in liberal arts colleges. What I, and many people I interviewed, really appreciated in these presentations was the willingness to share both successes and failures – an ethos we share here at JITP.

    Perhaps the most enlightening panel for me was “Work Flows: Ways of Reading & Collaborating in DH” which featured three brilliant projects that aim to improve the way we work and teach. First up was Alice Horning’s study on student reading and citation practices in higher ed, a sobering look at the intense work that needs to be done in our classrooms to improve student literacy rates. Following this was Michael Black’s ingenious use of topic modeling to study the open source code of Mozilla Firefox to investigate versioning practices and explicate how distant reading is an effective way to research code. I cannot wait until this study is available. And finally, a project I am incredibly excited about was Smiljana Antonigevic’s sneak preview of Penn State and George Mason’s new add-on to Zotero that addresses the workflow of a digital scholar. This study showcases the different ways scholars in the humanities and sciences use digital tools in various facets of our work, and hopes to provide a solution to address these gaps.

    The closing keynote was a call to arms by Roopika Risam. In Across Two (Imperial) Cultures: A Ballad of Digital Humanities and the Global South  (#global #2cult) Risam guided us through the history of the “two cultures” in higher education – STEM fields versus the humanities – via a series of historical (ex. C.P. Snow, Matthew Arnold) and contemporary portrayals of this “crisis” in the media. Through giggle-inducing visuals of ponies and Taylor Swift videos, Risam delivered the serious message that the humanities should not turn to science to save our discipline, but rather that it is the humanist approach to quantifiable data that the digital humanities offers to our field – an approach that is necessary to address issues of inequality and social justice in these practices. Risam reminded us that being a public scholar can be a matter of life and death, and that the work of exposing the truth through social media can be heroic. And while Risam argued that DH is still a Western field, we can be the change we wish to see higher education.


    Beta-test the new HASTAC website launching later this summer. This new site draws on the concept of a social networking sites with a FB like stream of news from those you follow. tinyurl.com/newHASTACsite

    Check out all the projects from HASTAC 2015 https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sjHYAW-2XIwIK9AyfxtIpHGynNkVrIpasIYbNSMTBs0/edit?usp=sharing

    Apply to HASTAC 2016 in Arizona http://www.hastac.org/

    Submit your HASTAC 2015 presentation to the next issue of JITP http://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/submit/

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • ThumbnailSolomon Negash, Kennesaw State University
    Tamara Powell, Kennesaw State University

    Engaging students in an online course is a challenge. Students often report that online courses are “death by […]

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Renee […]

  • Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Andrew Lucchesi.

    I’m often struck by the increasingly important roles digital technology plays in times of conflict, strife, and tragedy. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have become essential parts of the action, serving as important sites for information sharing and discussion. More than just serving as hubs for discussion and debate, however, we see that digital technology is serving an important function in helping people respond to tragedy and unrest in real time.

    I’ll start with Nepal, where a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the area between Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara on April 25, 2015. This area has long been rated as among the most vulnerable urban areas to seismic disaster, and now, three days after the quake, international news coverage is beginning to grapple with the full scale of the tragedy still in progress, with death tolls and reports of destruction rising. In the midst of this chaos, people are turning to digital technology. Check out how Google has re-launched their crowd-sourced missing persons database, Google Person Finder, to aid in the search and rescue effort.

    From this global tragedy to a scene of local unrest, we see digital technology playing an important role as well in the recent uprising in Baltimore, MD, following the death of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury he is believed to have sustained while in police custody. As with other recent protest movements, social media have played important roles in capturing what’s happening on the ground, as in this Google Map where Redditors and Twitter users pull from police scanners and Tweets to provide live-action visualizations of the disruptions. The Mayor’s Office has also turned to digital media (again from Google) to respond to the situation, using a Google Form originally designed by a concerned citizen to allow individuals in Baltimore to request volunteer assistance.

    Clearly, not only do digital tools and social media allow us to learn more quickly about what’s happening as high-stakes public events unfold, creative uses of established properties (especially the big names many of us tend to turn to in class assignments and everyday digital living) are playing a big roles in shaping what’s actually going on in the streets. Stay safe out there, people.

    Upcoming and Ongoing Events and Deadlines

    Call for Submissions: Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, Issue 8 Deadline “Disability as Insight, Access as the Function of Design
    Deadline: May 15, 2015

    Call for Proposals: Digital Humanities Forum 2015
    Deadline: June 1, 2015
    Event: University of Kansas

    Call for Participants: Hybrid Pedagogy Summer Digital Pedagogy Lab
    Registration is rolling, but workshops are filling up fast!
    Event: August 10–14, 2015
    Madison, WI

    Call for Presentations: The Digital Arts Project 2nd Global Meeting, “The Borders of Digital Art
    Abstract Deadline: May 1, 2015
    Event: September 15–17, 2015
    Oxford, UK

    Call for Presentations: The Videogame Cultures Project
    Deadline for abstracts: May 1, 2015
    Event: September 11–13, 2015
    Oxford, UK

    Call for Proposals: Thirteenth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, “From the Digital Humanities to the Humanities of the Digital
    Abstract Deadline: May 15, 2015
    Event: June 17–19, 2015
    Vancouver, BC

    Call for Articles: FILE Digital Aesthetics E-Book
    Abstracts due: June 15, 2015

    Call for Submissions: Inaugural issue of Digital Literary Studies
    Deadline: rolling

    Did we miss something? Send hot tips, cool CFPs, and warmly worded rants to admin@jitpedagogy.org.

  • Leila Walker edited the blog post Introduction in the group Group logo of Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (Public Group)Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (Public Group): 2 months, 3 weeks ago

    Peter M. Gray, Queensborough Community College
    Renee McGarry, Sotheby’s Institute of Art
    1. There are articles here on collaboration and mentoring. We like them. We think you’ll like them, too.

    2. We began our own years-long series of collaborations in the early 2000s, first in a graduate seminar focused on pedagogy for interdisciplinary graduate students, and then later extending our work together to professional presentations. We have seen our professional relationship shift and grow through our various kinds of collaborations, have weathered it when it has become fraught and complicated and messy. We have celebrated it when it has felt rewarding (and produced welcome results), when it has provoked us. And we continue to value collaboration and mentorship as fundamental to how we work within our different areas of academia. This special section has allowed us to cultivate writers who take up ideas around mentorship and collaboration in interesting ways, and we’ve welcomed the opportunity to work with them.

    3. With much of our lives woven through shared Google Docs, around Twitter feeds, and with visits to LinkedIn, the spaces where personal and professional collaboration happen have become ubiquitous — once there were the Yellow Pages, now there is Yelp. Facebook, for example, has for some become useful “for professional conversations and [as] a social network that enables users to create and maintain social capital” (Briggs). This special section, as you will read, helps us think more slowly, with more clarity, about how and why we might use and revise our uses of interactive technology a writers, as teachers, as colleagues.

    4. The writers collected here for this special section think large, pushing our uses of interactive technologies toward serving and enhancing international service-learning projects (Oppenheim, O’Shea, and Sclar). They also consider the pedagogical implications and complexities of mentoring in graduate and undergraduate course work: Macaulay-Lewis articulates a project for graduate students to develop digital skills that will serve them professionally, while Crocco challenges undergraduate writers through critical simulation pedagogy to collaborate on joint projects. Others, like Kuhn, Wipfli, Lipshin and Ruiz, place their seemingly disparate courses together pedagogically in order to enhance the intellectual experience of both courses. Skallerup Bessette tests our assumptions about how we represent collaboration (and how we recognize collaborative academic work: variously, inconsistently) through narrating her experience in a Twitter community around #FYCchat (take a look and jump into the fray). Zabrowski and Rivers formally enact their inquiry into their own mentorship and collaborative relationship, reflecting on rhetorical and material “space” in intriguing ways.

    5. In this time of (relatively) easy heightened interaction through technologies, we holler encouragement to friends around the globe in comment sections, we make suggestions, we offer critique. We hope you consider this section as an invitation to do the same.

    Peter M. Gray and Renee McGarry, Issue Co-Editors
    Briggs, Timothy J. 2012. “Writing a Professional Life on Facebook.” Kairos 17 (2). n.p. http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/17.2/disputatio/briggs/index.html



  • Katie Zabrowski, Saint Louis University
    Nathaniel Rivers, Saint Louis University
    This video production reflects on the place(s) where mentorship and collaboration occur between doctoral student Katie and her advisor Nathaniel. Featuring both of their voices, the video moves through the spaces in which they work and collaborate, seeking to understand how those spaces’ materiality and organization affect the mentoring that emerges within them. The video takes up this inquiry through a collaborative analysis of a shared working place—a local coffee roaster specializing in pour over brewing—as a material blueprint for a particular kind of mentorship marked first and foremost by collaboration.

    Featured throughout the video are reflections upon materiality from scholars working within various fields, but who all impact studies in rhetoric and composition—Katie and Nathaniel’s disciplinary home. Many of these thinkers and the lines of thought within which they work treat materiality as having rhetorical efficacy, and so too does this project credit material spaces and their aggregate parts as rhetorically impacting and shaping the human interactions that occur within and among them.
    [youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpLGuxKUeUg[/youtube]
    Music featured in this video:
    Music “I Need to Start Writing Things Down” by Chris Zabriskie
    Available on the Free Music Archive
    Under CC BY license
    Music “Readers! Do You Read?” by Chris Zabriskie
    Available on the Free Music Archive
    Under CC BY license

    Katie: In the early days of writing my dissertation I established a standing date with a 12 oz. coffee and a croissant. Every Friday morning I and the materials of my dissertation made our way to a local spot, Blueprint Coffee, to spend the morning drafting – word by word, sentence by sentence, section by section, and, eventually, chapter by chapter – the tallest project of my graduate career.

    Nathaniel: Writers are nomads in search of a place, and a coffee shop is an oasis for such weary travelers: the right mix of hustle and bustle, sound and silence, caffeine and calorie. A place to be wired and wireless. A medium for a medium.

    Katie: It was the ambience of this architecturally-themed spot that invited me to return week after week. With its drafting tables and stools, crisp white subway tiles, and smooth stainless steel counter tops, the space is a cluttered mind’s sweet retreat into organization of the most satisfying kind. What’s more, the space and its curators exude a palpable hospitality, a concept which is, coincidentally, the support beam upon which my dissertation project rests.

    Nathaniel: Blueprint speaks to and through Katie’s work. It speaks to me too as Katie’s mentor, and models what I have come to recognize as my approach to mentoring. The performance of coffee resonates with the arrangement of the location. There is casual fastidiousness to the place. There is an earnestness in the effort to make coffee visible as an activity – like a building once built that still celebrates it blueprints. The operation of making coffee – cupping, roasting, brewing, and experiments across all three–is performed in public. And so my mentoring amounts to discussing blueprints, my own as well as Katie’s. My own struggles with research and writing. What I’m working on, how I am responding to reviews and other feedback. Whatever advice I brew, it’s brewing is a part of its delivery.

    Katie: There is always, first, the offer of a glass of water upon placing your coffee order. Then there is the request of your name which will in turn not be written on a paper cup and exclaimed into the crowd, but spoke with a caring tone as you’re served tableside, as if in the home of a friend. As unique to this place as its address, is its hospitable treatment of the coffee beans – ground finely with a special grinder, brewed by hand with water heated to a precise and bean-friendly temperature.

    At a certain point it occurred to me: this space and its materials are more than places listed in my weekly calendar but co-collaborators in the project planning and writing that emerges there. I began documenting my work in this space with Instagram pictures; pictures to which my advisor would often respond with words of encouragement. And eventually it began to happen that this space became a blueprint for our mentoring relationship, which always had been but was slowly seeing refinement as one marked first and foremost by collaboration.

    Nathaniel: Writers are nomads in search of a medium. Place is a medium, and a medium can be a place. A medium makes a place by pulling together disparate elements together. Place is a mediated aggregate of actors and forces. Place is a collaborator. Blueprint opens itself up to those working with/in it. It is friendly, forthcoming. Place is a mentor. Blueprint is a place for unique forms of engagement and exchange.

    Places can work with us. They can also, of course, work against us. Because a place is not some inert container it can resist as much as rewards. Place, like any collaborator, can be unreliable. Colleagues must be chosen wisely. Sometimes an oasis is a mirage.

    Katie: With our explicit attention to the places in time that we chose to share, we begin to notice not only all the places in which we formally met, but also where informal collaboration occurred all the time – in the margins of what we were reading, in Instagram photos and comments, in the line-by-line notes made upon chapters under review, and in written and verbal responses to those remarks when we met to review chapters, and in our respective working spaces. Blueprint periodically stabilized this complex collection of collaborations, drawing us in with its unique, ambient qualities. With those qualities, we continually built and maintained a place for mentoring as collaborative.
    The many and diverse occasions upon which our thinking became merged eventually became habitual. The spaces of our collaboration built also the shape of our mentoring relationship outside of those spaces.

  • ThumbnailVirginia Kuhn, University of Southern California
    Heather Wipfli, University of Southern California
    Jason Lipshin, TomTom
    Susana Ruiz, Take Action Games
    Digital media, deployed in the service of […]

  • ThumbnailFrancesco Crocco, Borough of Manhattan Community College

    A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And […]

  • Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, CUNY Graduate Center
    This article considers two digital assignments for courses at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. In one, students developed digital site […]

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