I'm not a musician but I enjoy composing. Rather than chords and melodies, I try out words and sentences in various combinations. I listen for the right tone, consider the pitch of my argument and potential resonance of ideas. Part of what has made this first iteration of dpl.online feel doable for me has been the reliance on text-based communication. As we bring this blur of a week to a close, I am grateful that I have been able to 'write my way through it'. Even better, we as a cohort have enjoyed the benefit of each other's distinct sounds and created some wonderful improv moments that we'll not soon forget.
One thing we have not yet had and likely will not have is that one moment when we as a cohort are all together, in one place instead of several. That group photo with our shared cheesy grins? No, we won't have that. Fragmentation and a steady practice of reorientation (with each new login, different interfaces, switching tabs) contributed in some cases to feelings of overwhelm, exasperation, and constantly playing catch-up. For the compressed time frame, however, we were very versatile discoverers, explorers, inquirers, readers, commenters, viewers, listeners, creatives, speakers, presenters, helpers, and community builders. Just when we were getting the hang of things, our designated time is more or less up.
The key word here is "designated." Yes, the scheduled Digital Pedagogy Lab is technically over, but our stuff is still online and will stay that way. We know, at least roughly, where to find each other. We have left multiple digital and material artifacts in our wake.
This morning I found myself reflecting on my insights from ths week and it turned into a long Twitter thread. What I realized is that hierarchies are so deeply embedded in our understanding of what it means to teach and learn, that daring to step away from those conventions on which we have relied for so long (grades, exams, standardized outcomes) can feel downright frightening. I kept thinking of how often I heard folks express the feeling of being behind, of needing to catch up. Even in community, how do we learn to make space for our unique rates of progress? How can we come together without letting the scourge of social comparison steal our satisfaction of simply having shown up?
It takes so much energy to resist our unexamined and ingrained habits of hierarchical thinking. I know. I wrestle with this every time I deign to teach, facilitate or lead. If I had to sum up my postion on this struggle now, I'd say this:
"[A]ny facilitation or "teaching" I do now is about giving learners the benefit of the doubt from the get-go, supporting their desires to learn and get better at stuff. I want folks to get familiar with their own power, not mine."
That's what I'm hoping that you'll take away from this experience: a deeper, broader, more integrated sense of your own power.
It fits then that this year's Digital Pedagogy Lab and our role in its happening remain unfinished in a way; counterculturally and deeply open-ended. Part of claiming our own power lies in learning to accommodate the ambiguity of staying "in process." Your digital identities and mine will also stay "in process;" shifting, changing, expanding and contracting. We can at least count on that.
Sean Michael Morris announced today: "Many of you have asked, and I'm happy to say that the Ghost classroom sites and Discourse discussion forums will remain available indefinitely."
I want to end this post with an invitation: Take your time. Unfinished is not an affliction, it's the state of being "in process" with all the potential that entails. Thank you for letting me experiment and explore with you this week and this month. Thank you for letting me wildly mix my metaphors, starting off with laundry and finishing up with music and food. My heart and head are full and nourished. I look forward to the fruits you'll share tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.
Be well, friends, and take care,