Reflections about digital technology in the classroom and beyond
What is a professor’s purpose in the classroom in a world with endless access to information? How can the use of digital resources and the activities that invite students to engage in collective knowledge production be balanced? Those were some of the opening questions for our meeting titled “Digital Technologies as a Tool for Latinx Feminist Sociologies” held on Friday, June 3.
As the eight other attendees and I shared the different ways in which each of us has integrated a wide variety of digital platforms (e.g., Pressbooks, Hypothesis, and Mentimeter) into our pedagogies, I thought about the importance of having a such a group to share and reflect on how implementing those technologies change our praxis as Latin+ feminist sociologists. Here, I share some of my reflections that emerged from that conversation.
A Learning Curve
First, for many of us, the learning curve to use those platforms is not only time consuming but also requires us to develop different kinds of assignments that may accommodate those new resources. Several colleagues shared their assignments for students that engage them in using a variety of digital outlets (e.g., websites, podcasts, and blogs), while others showcased their digital projects in which students have been involved. The presentations and discussion offered an opportunity to learn what other colleagues have done and, more importantly, opened the door to engaging in an ongoing collaborative reflection on what aspects of assignments for students could be improved, changed, or replaced for the sake of our students’ and our own learning experiences.
Second, we discussed how our experiences have varied depending on the kind of institution where we teach. In that regard, our discussion focused on, among other things, the limited, or lack of, IT support and the size of our classes. How do those differences impact our students’ learning experiences? At small institutions such as liberal arts colleges, there are specific programs that offer paths along which students, from their first year to their senior year, can develop what are sometimes referred to as digital competencies. The skills offered by those programs range from basic computer skills all of the way to advanced techniques of processing data, digital communication, and critical thinking and thus give students opportunities to cultivate their digital competencies in relation to the curriculum and beyond. It has become clear that those differences in digital skills will further deepen inequities that already exist between public and private education.
For two hours, we continued sharing not only resources and experiences but also our frustrations, doubts, and concerns about what the transition to integrate what is now called digital humanities into our pedagogical work will bring to our praxis as Latin+ feminist sociologists. Beyond that, we recognized that more questions than answers will arise as we continue to teach. However, if I had to share my primary takeaway from the meeting, I would summarize it as the feeling of camaraderie that most attendees left with.
When we imagine the collective, we envision creating a place where we can collectively engage in conversations about our praxis as Latin+ Feminist Sociologists in the United States. Above all, we imagine a place where, without fearing to be who we are or how we do things, we collectively reflect on our epistemologies and how they configure our praxis as co-creators of the production of knowledge in the classroom. In the conversation about digital tools, we did exactly what we created the space for: we collectively reflected on how our praxis as Latin+ Feminist Sociologists is being transformed now that we are transitioning to teaching environments in which the balance between using digital tools and practicing feminist pedagogy is at stake. What will be lost and what will be gained in that transition? That is a question that we as feminists will continue to reflect on to best guide our students through the changes.
Sigamos pues en la construcción de un espacio colectivo en donde la conversación, la escucha, la reflexión y la construcción de nuevas ideas y formas de ser feministas y hacer nuestras pedagogías feministas sea posible…Let’s continue to build a collective space where conversation, listening, reflection, and the production of new ideas and ways of being feminists and engaging in feminist pedagogies are possible.