At Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2018, I taught Critical Pedagogy and Digital Praxis in the Humanities. In the span of five days, participants in that course brainstormed, designed, built, and deployed an online course based on the principles of critical digital pedagogy.
This year, the participants wanted to create a resource others could use to guide the process of creating empowering online courses. In other words, they built a meta-MOOC — a massive open online course about building massive open online courses.
With about twenty participants in a five-day class, the desire to create something meaningful must be balanced with the desire to spend time learning and discussing. And practicing what I preach demands that I let course participants choose what we do, rather than imposing my intentions on them. My job was to help direct and manage their interests, energies, and production.
Because we wanted a resource faculty could use when designing their own courses in the future, we created a massive open online course (MOOC) that helps people plan and build massive open online courses. In short, we built a meta-MOOC.
The site we created, Teaching Toward Activism, stands alone and requires no interaction, feedback, etc. We designed it with a “set it and forget it” mentality, alleviating the need for continued attention or ongoing support. While participants worked in groups to create content assembled in Google Docs, I built the WordPress site, encouraged consistency, and migrated finished content.
In a course about critical pedagogy, our main measure of success came from the satisfaction and pride of the participants in the work they completed. Several said they would themselves use the tool we built and share it among their institutional faculty; others said they would include it in performance portfolios.
Furthermore, at the end-of-conference reception, when each course shared their creations with other attendees, we received numerous compliments about the practical, purposeful nature of our project. And in the years since, increasing social tension, resistance, and protest have made the subject matter even more relevant.
While Teaching Toward Activism stands out for its applicability, other similar courses created similar products over the years. I have facilitated Critical Pedagogy and Digital Praxis in the Humanities for several years, often team-teaching, and always with a different student-generated focus for the final project. The other classes created:
In each case, I built the site in WordPress and created the content for the landing page. All subsequent pages’ content came from the course participants.