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an open letter to the 2016 Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute Participants

July 27, 2016

lisa hammershaimb

Hello Digital Pedagogy 2016 Attenders!

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Lisa Hammershaimb. I was part of the first DigPed Lab last August. You can read a bit about my experience here and here.

Though I know you’re different than I am, the academic environment in VA is way different than WI, and the second time is inherently different than the first time around, I thought it might be helpful to share a couple recommendations.

So first…congratulations on making the choice to pack up your life for a week, trek to Virginia, and be open to whatever may happen! If you’re anything like me, the prospect of week-long sleep away summer camp (complete with pedagogy rockstar counselors) is ridiculously exciting and also (if you’re totally honest) a a bit terrifying. Embrace and be open to both the excitement and the terror because they’re both giving you good practice being a “normal human”…which is the best way to receive what will happen during the week. Though no doubt robots and machine learning will be hot topics during the week…digped is messy human to its core.

Along these lines, jump into things as soon as you can. For me as a super introvert, my first impulse is to watch from the sidelines, assess the situation–be aware of all exit routes. If this sounds like you too…totally cool…but for this week try to do the complete opposite. Introduce yourself, meet people, share your ideas and your background and your story and do everything in your power to make others feel comfortable so that they can do the same. These are your people…this is your team for the days ahead when you’re going to be called upon to do difficult, vulnerable work so do your part to make sure everyone is seen and heard and valued.

Next, be intentional about making time to hang out with others outside of your track. This is one of my regrets about my DigPedLab experience. I was part of the Networks Track and we were a tight knit crew, which I completely loved. However…we became so comfortable with each other that as the week progressed I found myself seeking them out in common sessions, at meal times, even on Twitter so we could continue to conversations we began in our own dedicated meeting times. I think finding your tribe inside your team is vital but…stay curious about how other tracks are coming along and what other tribes are learning. It sounds simple, but try sitting with new people at meals and in large sessions and again ask questions and share and learn from their learning too.

Third, (and somewhat paradoxically as the undercurrent of the previous paragraphs have been “go!” “meet!” “be best friends with everyone!”) take time away from DigPedLab when you need it. DigPedLab is a marathon. Five days is a long time to live in such a high challenge, high contact, high engagement space. Sean Michael Morris and Jessie Stommel always encouraged us that if we needed to skip a session and go be in nature or go take a nap or just go mindlessly drink beer and eat brats (remember…we were in Wisconsin) do it and feel no shame because part of pedagogy is knowing how to self regulate. Needing to take some time off doesn’t mean you’re weak or not as dedicated as other participants…process at your own pace. The conversation will always be ready to welcome you when you get back.

Finally, remember to share with all of the DigPedLab attenders who may not be physically present in VA but who inevitably will make their presence known via Twitter, Virtually Connecting, etc. Donna Lanclos write a brilliant piece about Absence Presence DigPed PEI.

It’s a weird mind warp all the ways boundaries are hazy and soft when people aren’t limited by presence meaning same time zone or geographic real estate. As physical attenders, you all have the “front row seats” on the action so relish it and be fully present but also remember that there’s a whole metaphorical stadium around the world also attending with you. Share your thoughts via the hashtag (if you’re comfortable), share your reflections via a blog (again if you’re comfortable), find a Virtually Connecting hangout and get some camera time (guaranatee that won’t be comfortable but…will be worth it! : ).

The power in these ideas and experiences is ultimately in the ways they can be fluid and living–growing and evolving. The seeds from DigPedLab are wildflowers scattering on the wind, resilient and bringing beauty wherever they land. Treasure the ways your experience is fully yours…special to you alone, but scatter too and see how your experience can transform in ways you cannot even imagine.

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