This post is part of a two-part series that considers digital learning platforms as an issue of critical pedagogy.
HASTAC as Critical Pedagogy
I teach students to write and research with HASTAC.org because I’m committed to critical, engaged, student-centered education that prepares students for the world beyond the classroom. For me, this involves both preparing students for a rewarding career and helping them better understand how language is a source of power that can reproduce and challenge conditions of inequality. As I’ve said elsewhere, having students write not just for the professor, but for an audience beyond the classroom teaches them the power of their voices and stories. It helps them understand that they are critical participants in longer, ongoing conversations, and that learning offers an opportunity to contribute to the public and social good. But we also have to be careful in encouraging students to join these conversations: careful because they are capable, but still learning, because public writing always entails the risk of exposure, because students live complicated lives that may require the cover of confidentiality, and because the digital leaves traces everywhere.
This is the work of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy encourages students to participate in the construction of a shared learning environment, involving those who will be affected by decisions about readings, assignments, and classroom policies in the decision-making process. At its best, students then use this critical approach to think about how they can use their decision-making power in the world beyond the classroom to address social issues.
I am writing these remarks at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where debate and disagreement abound, but all participants seem to agree that software is not neutral, and that teaching students to think critically about digital technologies is a central component of engaged pedagogy. Here, I discuss how HASTAC.org can function as an open learning platform that protects student data while helping their writing reach an audience of readers beyond the classroom. As such, HASTAC plays a key role in facilitating student-centered learning.
Read the full post on HASTAC.