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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.

an open letter to the awesome Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute team

August 26, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Hi Jesse and Sean,

Sorry that I am a bit delayed in writing my thanks + recap note. Just after DigPedLab I took a weeklong holiday in New York City. My original plan was to spend the week paying homage to the Beat Generation by writing brilliant, reflective, philosophical stuff—preferably while sitting in an outdoor cafe. In reality, it was sweltering outdoors so I spent the majority of my time eating cannoli, wandering museums, and being dazzled by an endless stream of people watching. The week was not productive in a word count sense but…I’m fairly certain my soul is better for the rest and inspiration. In addition, I seem to remember a wise person mentioning that often one doesn’t really know what was learned until some (or often lots) of time has passed so perhaps a delay in reflection is exactly what I needed!

But…back to DigPedLab.

First off, thank you so much for putting the event together and allowing me to attend as a Fellow. From the initial Sunday evening meet-up onwards, you both radiated hospitality and I am convinced that your generous spirit set the tone for the week. Your tangible willingness to have open hands, trust the process, and honor a spontaneous spirit in all that may or may not happen encouraged us as participants to do the same. It seemed during the week what mattered most were our own stories as opposed to our institutional affiliations and this focus bonded me in particular with my Networks tribe very quick and deep. The lack of ego and insider/outsider dynamics was so refreshing and because of this unity, I think we constructed something pretty phenomenal.

Though the majority of my time as a student and all of my time as a teacher has been enacted via online methods, I came to DigPedLab having never thought what impact the digital may/may not have on the pedagogical. The opening chat where Jesse poured glasses of water back and forth and then inverted the second cup and sent the water streaming onto the floor was the first of many “aha!” moments as I realized what a profound impact not just the content but the entire structure, posture, setting, etc. has on a learning experience. It’s daunting to realize everything from typeface to body posture to ambient lighting contributes to pedagogy and yet it’s also dazzling to realize the privilege of being invited into an experience where everyone and everything matters. If I had to distill a single takeaway from DPL it would be this: digital pedagogy is alive and enacted rather than a static construct and from that, digital pedagogy is best as an inclusive dialogue.

This realization has caused something inside me to shift fundamentally on Day 1 and the remaining four days helped nurture the change. Now, whenever Sarah (who I am so so so happy to have shared the experience with) and I are together in a new situation we do a quiet analysis of the pedagogy of the moment, scoping out the room, format, etc. identifying what’s helping and hindering—whether the messages the speaker is saying actually matches the message the space is broadcasting.

This shift feels a bit like how perspectives expand for the better after travel to a new place or after making a new friend. This new way of looking at the world has also shifted the lens through which I am engaging in my doctoral research study. Previously I was very interested in the “how-to-do-it-best” of studio pedagogy mediated via an online space. Now, I find I’m much more interested in exploring the intersection of space and experience and the whys of studio pedagogy in online space. The shift in vision/scope is a bit inconvenient to my ego (as it has de-centered me from the place of the all-knowing researcher) but I think it’s ultimately more sustainable and I’m glad to engage the world with these new eyes.

As far as practical feedback on DPL, it feels generic and unhelpful but everything truly was pretty awesome from my perspective! I enjoyed the high interactivity format and the way each keynote presented a challenge for deeper engagement. I liked the active back channel and the ways all tracks quickly became interwoven. And I loved the experimental, open spirit that seemed to pervade everything from meals to focused track sessions to the keynotes and even the unconference. There’s lots of grim in the world of education but this week reminded me there is even more good and hopeful creativity in community. As we are all committed to working in open ways and engaging in active dialogue in public places, I have no doubt there will be much positive change.

My only criticism is that each day was a bit too long for me. Though I know we were encouraged to leave if we needed some empty space…I was afraid I’d miss something! I think long days for the first two are good (as they get everyone bonded) and then maybe slightly shorter days for the remaining so that there is more time for absorbing ideas. Oh, and I wish DigPedLab temporary tattoos would have been part of the swag as the logo is legit awesome and I’d gladly wear it! : )

Overall, thanks again for the opportunity. Looking back, DigPedLab has become a cairn in my academic journey. I am so thankful for all the ways it has already changed me and am excited to see the ways the experience and the community will continue to do so.


welcome to our (digital) living room!

August 11, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

August is a week old and Digital Pedagogy Labthe event that was once a lifetime away—officially began this morning. As befitting a fellow, I’ve completed all my pre-reading (even for tracks beyond my own!), sent out appropriate encouraging and excitement generating tweets with the proper hashtag, begun a list of potential blog post topics for future writing, and volunteered above and beyond to work as an on-site buddy with my sister for the Virtually Connecting initiative. Though all of the previous items are exciting in their own way, I will confess I am most excited about the last item…being an onsite-er able to do my part to extend in a small way what we all at DPL will experience over the next week.

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