• Campers

    Scout Calvert

    I teach library science, critical approaches to technology, categories, and standards. I research how family historians use digital archives, information infrastructures, and genetic tests in the production of personal American histories and identities.

    My Posts

    Labor, bodies, humanities, and technology

    Friday, April 29th, 2011 | scoutcalvert

    I wonder if anyone is interested in talking about the intense labor that is involved in setting up projects that use humanities and technologies together in a thorough way, or that use online technologies for teaching in any discipline.

    The kinds of sessions that are being proposed are fascinating. I want to know and do everything! At the same time, I don’t want to teach from inside a computer; rather, I don’t want to spend any more time in front of a computer than I already do.

    First, my body is paying the price. Second, all of this is labor intensive. What kinds of workplace guarantees have to be negotiated so that eager instructors have the security to invest the time into developing these for instruction, or even experimenting to see which ones might be good?

    Thinking technology through the humanities

    Monday, April 25th, 2011 | scoutcalvert

    Those of us using digital technologies for teaching often think of technologies as helpful and interesting tools that can help us make the humanities relevant, or that are fun and interesting to teach, in and of themselves. I have been teaching a unit in my library cataloging and classification class in which I use an example from the humanities to think about technology, rather than the other way around. I would like to think of other ways that the humanities can help us train technologists to design better tools for human (and non-human) flourishing.

    The unit in my class is small, but I draw it like a thread through the course material, which is about using library cataloging standards (a specific form of metadata application) to develop consistent and easy access to the entire library collection. We read a short piece from a queer poet who is also disability rights advocate. It becomes our touchstone for thinking about how technological infrastructures necessarily create inclusions and exclusions. We also read some excerpts from Bowker and Star’s Sorting Things Out, in which the authors make clear the moral force of categories (including categories writ small, as manufacturing and interoperability standards) and the moral obligations of the designers of technical systems to surface the exclusions their systems create even in a good-faith effort to create ease of access and functionality across local and global scales.

    I am trying to help my students avoid the traps of technological determinism, the idea that technologies will do their own things, irrespective of humans, and that it is up to humans to adapt. What other ways can the humanities illuminate how we use, assemble, and patch together technologies, and the consequences of doing so? And how can we be diligent in showing that the humanities are also fully germane and foundational to technologies in society, rather than appearing always to say that digital technologies bestow relevance on the humanities?

    Cobbling together dynamic online courses with critical pedagogy

    Monday, April 25th, 2011 | scoutcalvert

    As a now-seasoned online instructor, I am interested in rethinking the relationship of online classes to campus classes. I would like to think about how to design an online course from the ground up in a way that is organic to online tools, rather than as a counterpart to campus courses, simply in a less restrictive space-time. I think campus classes will always be the yardstick online classes are measured against, but there must be ways to nativize online classes in the online environment.

    The first issue seems to be to defeat the “course management” “tools” like Blackboard. Tools for course management are not tools for pedagogy. Face to face classes are dynamic; they are customized on the fly depending on how people engage in that space-time. How can online education move out of the prison environment of management systems into the open field of the internet, perhaps using technological tools already in use by dynamic, critically technological classroom instructors?

    Can an entire course be cobbled together, essentially using the course management portal only for posting grades? What strategies and approaches to pedagogy and assessment will enable this? And what ideas about assessment have to be rethought? I am following Cathy Davidson’s experiments on HASTAC. Some bits are really alluring; some are worrying. But when students never meet in the same room together, can the necessary rapport be created so that students become invested in keeping track of the learning components that are scattered across the internet, and in being active participants and creators of their learning spaces?

    I don’t expect anyone to have the final answers to these questions, but maybe all of us have a bit of the stone soup that could enable the promise of education that is desirable in its own right, rather than just because it has fewer space-time constraints.