1, 2, 3, 4…What am I fighting for?

23 09 2011

Notorious do-gooder that I am, I recently agreed to chair a committee for one of two searches going on in my department this year.* That means I get to go to the AHA in Chicago. In January. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The good thing about this is that I’ll only be interviewing candidates for one day, and I’ll actually get to go see some panels during the other. Thanks to John Fea, I knew exactly where to find the program so that I could figure out which day I wanted to push for my own professional development.

Here’s where I underwent a small crisis in priorities. On Friday, there’s a panel about online teaching that I would love to see just so that I could better inform the ongoing critique I offer in this space. On Saturday, there’s a panel on using digital humanities in the classroom – something I might actually do myself someday.

OK, it’s not that much of a dilemma because there’s also a faculty working conditions panel on Saturday too, but I think I would have picked Saturday for professional development even if the session count was 1 to 1. The reason is that I actually prefer being positive to negative, and I’m as excited about the new digital future as anyone as long as I have control of what I use and when I use it. [Maybe those two Saturday panels are more related than I thought.]

Control. That’s what I’m fighting for, and as a matter of fact I do give a damn. So, MfD, if you want share a digital map of childhood memories online or have an author drop in via Skype, I say go for it! Just make sure it’s my right to pick what technology I think works best for the way I want to teach and that it’s my prerogative to control my own classroom, whether it’s online or otherwise.

PS Of course, the 2013 AHA is going to be in place I’d actually like to go, New Orleans. [If for no other reason so that I can go back here and I know my wife would actually come with me for this one.] Unfortunately, the chances of my department hiring anyone in 2012-2013 is about zero so I’m going to need a different excuse in order to go. Therefore, if anybody wants to collaborate on some kind of tech-oriented panel, drop me a line at the e-mail to the right and let’s see what we can figure out in response to this.

* And yes I did suggest Skype interviews to our illustrious department chair. He wasn’t biting.


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23 09 2011
Music for Deckchairs

We’re on the same side. I’m fighting (in really practical ways, in committees and on panels, just as you are) for diversity. You’ll notice that in the part of my post you didn’t bring up, I said really explicitly that “None of us wants to force the style that works for one, on everyone.” But actually, I’m not always so confident that this is true when the “try doing that online” line triumphalism comes out. Neither is superior, both are good.

The problem is that both of us are heading towards the situation, probably not too far in the future, where any passing university administrator reading this would either collapse in gales of laughter or reach for the standards manual with a frown at the thought that either of us could be aiming to control our own teaching. The real issue (all together now) isn’t on or offline, it’s the discourse that positions us as service providers in a grand unifying narrative of educational retail.

If there’s a panel addressing this problem, I’ll probably fly over myself!

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