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Online Digital Pedagogy Lab Inspires SHSU Faculty Members

During the first week of August 2021, two faculty members in the Department of Educational Leadership and one English Department faculty member at SHSU took part in this year’s Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL). The Lab, as described on its website, is an annual international professional development gathering for educators, now held online, which is committed to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, critical digital pedagogy, and imagining a new future for education. Participants sign up for one track, focused on a topic specific to their research interests, teaching area, or imaginative impulses. Once in a track, attendees form a cohort and learn, collaborate, and teach each other for the entire duration of the Lab.

Drs. Ric Montelongo and Paul Eaton, of the Department of Educational Leadership, and Dr. Diane Dowdey, from the English Department, participated in this year’s Lab and kindly shared some of their experiences for SHSU Online Newsletter.

montelongo“My second experience at DPL had the same level of innovative scholarship, thought-provoking topics, and artistic creativity as my first DPL experience in 2017,” Dr. Montelongo says. “I selected my 2021 track to provide a refresher course on critical digital pedagogy. Through shared collaborative annotations, appreciative interviews, and short digital films, my track offered knowledge on how learning is impacted by innovations in technology. How these advances shape learning experiences and responses by educators to social justice and equity issues were the focus of the track’s facilitators.”

dowdeyDr. Dowdey attended the same track, officially titled “Critical Digital Pedagogy Buffet.”  She observes, “Along with Ric Montelongo, I chose the Critical Digital Pedagogy Buffet for my track. Each day addressed a different topic and used different tools. The most important part for me were the synchronous meetings at times chosen to be convenient for people around the world. Meeting faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and even a few outside academia who wanted to consider and implement educational tools and attitudes that focus on caring and equity was an enlightening part of the experience.”

eatonDr. Eaton, who first attended DPL in 2017, chose a different track titled, “What if? Speculative Fiction and the Future of Education.” He notes, “Throughout the week, our community centered two questions: how can we break the rules that currently govern education?; and, what will education look like if....? We used a series of speculative fiction pieces - short stories, graphic novels, videos, keynotes, philosophy, and articles, to reimagine educational futures in a technologically shifting world.”

All three faculty members are working to incorporate their experiences in the Digital Pedagogy Lab into their current and upcoming classes and projects. Dr. Montelongo says, “Knowing that uncertainty continues to be part of our learning environment, I have modified my courses to reimagine how higher education administration career advancement is examined and leadership theory is studied. My assignments and course content will focus on how students can create much needed change in higher education. To initiate this, my curriculum will reflect an arts-based pedagogy to challenge students to think creatively and critically about theory and to 'remix' how we converse about current issues in higher education administration.”

Similarly, Dr. Eaton is leveraging his DPL experiences in his course planning. “This autumn, I am teaching a special topics seminar in our master's program called ‘Digitizing Higher Education,’” he remarks.  “The DPL track helped me to solidify my thinking on an assignment the scholars will do, which is to write a speculative fiction about the future of education. I had this assignment prepared prior to DPL, but the track helped me to solidify my thinking about how and why we need to speculate about the future of a digitizing and technologically mediated education - to think of the new problems that might arise, to begin solving those problems, to use our imaginations to build the type of educational world we want and deserve, and to center equity and justice.”

Dr. Dowdey also indicates that participation in the Lab has encouraged her to incorporate her DPL experience into her plans for coming courses. “During the meetings,” she says, “I kept adding more resources to my DPL Bookmarks folder, and I spent the week planning on how to implement strategies in my online and face to face classes this fall. Having a week to be inspired, instructed, and encouraged to use critical pedagogy will have long lasting effects on me, and I hope on my students as well.”