Teaching and Learning Philosophy with Technology

By | Teaching Related, Technology, The Long Road | No Comments

My friend and colleague, Rick Lee (@rickleephilos), asked me to speak with his graduate teaching seminar at DePaul University about using technology to teach philosophy.

Rick and I have a long history of conversations extending back to our days as graduate students ourselves in the Philosophy Department of the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research, so I jumped at the opportunity to engage him and his students on an issue that is of central interest to both of us.

In order to provide a bit of structure to that conversation, I have gathered here some resources about teaching philosophy with technology that I have curated and developed over time.

My basic approach is informed by a vision of education as a cooperative endeavor. I wrote about that back in 2010 when I was working on Aristotle on the Nature of Truth and thinking a lot about the work of Frederick Woodbridge.

There I wrote:

Cooperative education, then, must cultivate certain excellences in those faculty and students committed to it. It will need to teach and learn openness, comfort with ambiguity, generosity and equity. It will need to affirm the value of difference, embrace diversity and seek common ground. It will need to be animated by mutual respect for the experience of students and for the wisdom of teachers. It will need to empower students to take ownership of their education and faculty to move from imposition to collaboration.

I stand by that articulation of the nature of cooperative education and mention it here as a kind of orienting principle of teaching philosophy with technology.

As an endeavor, the attempt to integrate technology into the learning process has always been more about the pedagogy than the technology. Still, it would be naïve not to consider what it is possible to do with technology and what technology is doing to us in the process.

I tried to articulate the connection between technology and the practice of philosophy here:

In order to cultivate a culture of cooperation in the classroom, it is important for the faculty member to relinquish some control in order to empower students to take a more active role in the learning endeavor.

This was the strategy in my PHIL200 course in which I had students do all of their writing for the course in public on a co-authored course blog.

The pedagogical value (and risk) of public writing is that it brings the weight of appearing in public to bear on the learning experience.

Here some questions emerge:

  • What are the pedagogical affordances and limitations of having students write in a publicly accessible space?
  • How does making the boundaries of the classroom more porous enrich and impoverish the learning experience?
  • What learning objectives might be served by public writing?

Blogging in my courses is assessed by a robust scoring rubric designed to cultivate ongoing writing throughout the semester.

You are welcome to view, adopt, and adapt the scoring rubric here.

I have developed these ideas more fully in my article on Cultivating Communities of Learning with Digital Media public in Teaching Philosophy:

Aside from blogging, what technologies might be deployed to cultivate a culture of collaboration in the classroom?

  • Zotero can be used to share notes and pdfs associated with secondary sources so students can learn the art of collaborative research.
  • Diigo is a good way to curate and annotate the web with students.
  • Tumblr or Known are good ways for students to share content from around the web related to a specific course.
  • Then, of course, there is Twitter, a great way to engage students throughout the semester by crediting a hashtag for your course and sharing content along the way. You might think about using Storify to create and curate posts from Twitter and across the web.

Digital Dialogue 70: Thinking the Plural

By | Digital Dialogue Podcast | No Comments

Richard Lee, Jr., Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, joins Chris Long for episode 70 of the Digital Dialogue to talk about the teaching and philosophy of Richard Bernstein. Rick and I were students of Bernstein in the early 1990’s, and although we learned a lot of philosophical content from Dick, mostly what we learned was an open, engaged, and fallibilistic way of doing philosophy in dialogue.

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Public Philosophy Journal

By | Presentation: Academic, Presentations, Vita | One Comment

Philosophy is often mistakenly viewed as distant from public life, secluded in the Ivory Tower away from the public concerns of civil society.

However, the affordances of digital scholarly communication have enabled philosophers increasingly to bring the value of their work to bear on matters of public importance from ethics and public policy to cultural criticism. Even so, however, there are few publishing venues available for philosophers to gain publicity for their work and to reach diverse audiences.

The Public Philosophy Journal is designed to re-envision the relationship between the academy and everyday life by creating a public space for accessible but rigorous scholarly discourse on challenging contemporary issues of public concern.

The Public Philosophy Journal is a collaborative endeavor between the Department of Philosophy and the Humanities in a Digital Age initiative at the Pennsylvania State University, and Matrix: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online and the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University.

Our intent is to create a journal that will perform public philosophy as its mode of publication.

By leveraging the open and collaborative capacities endemic to digital communications, the Public Philosophy Journal will cultivate a community of scholars engaged in curating, reviewing, editing, co-writing and modeling rigorous work related to public philosophy broadly construed.

The process of publication for the journal will involve five basic dimensions:

  1. Curate: Current digital public philosophy discussions and pertinent web content will be curated by leveraging the work and input of a world-wide community of scholars, graduate students, and policy makers;
  2. Review: The journal will include mechanisms for open peer review of curated content, including a system for reviewing reviewers and credentialing reviewers who are consistently engaged and thoughtful in their contributions;
  3. Enrich: Digital public philosophy will be greatly enriched by creating a space for collaborative writing to further develop the content of the online discussions into a rigorous scholarly article;
  4. Publish: Reviewed articles will be openly published together with invited responses to the reviewed work;
  5. Cultivate: Ongoing open dialogue about the published articles will be cultivated by invited and curated responses that have the potential to feed the development of new collaborative scholarship.

Below is a Prezi that Mark Fisher and I developed for the Networked Humanities conference at the University of Kentucky, February 15-16, 2013, #NHUK, that explains in a bit more detail the vision behind the Public Philosophy Journal.

If you are interested in being a part of the @PubPhilJ community, please fill out the attached form and help curate excellent content from around the web.

On Live-Tweeting Your Own Lecture

By | Academic, Technology, The Long Road | 6 Comments

On Thursday, October 25th, at 4:30 PDT, I will read a paper entitled, Plato and the Politics of Reading at the University of San Francisco. One of the main points of the paper is that reading is fundamentally a collaborative endeavor.

Here is the blog post with more information about the content of the lecture itself.

Traditionally, when one delivers a paper in the discipline of philosophy, one simply reads, that is, one “lectures” (from the Latin legere, to read). But it would be ironic to read a paper on the collaborative nature of reading without inviting those listening to become actively engaged in the reading.

So, I intend to invite those attending the lecture and anyone following along on twitter, to join in an ongoing discussion of the lecture during the lecture itself.

The idea is not only to talk about collaborative reading, but to perform it as well.

Now, there are certain influential voices in the discipline who say anyone who tweets a lecture on philosophy should be ejected from the lecture post-haste, so I surmise that my attempt to use twitter to enrich and expand the reach of the philosophical ideas I am presenting will meet with more than a little skepticism, if not dismissive derision. There is, however, at the root of this skepticism the valid concern that a technology like twitter is unable to offer anything more than a truncated, impoverished and fragmented account of the lecture’s content.

Given that the skepticism is not unfounded, let me articulate how I intend to use twitter and, through it, other digital technologies to address each concern in turn.

From Truncated to Extended

Anyone who actually uses twitter knows that its 140-character constraint forces each tweet to extend somehow beyond itself. This occurs most effectively by means of shortened links to more substantive resources.

In order to point my listeners to those resources, I have set up the Keynote presentation I will use during the reading of my paper to tweet for me.  For those of you interested in how, precisely, one might do that, take a look at this video:

So, during the lecture, I will have populated certain Keynote slides with tweets that will extend the discussion in at least three ways:

  1. I will post phrases and formulations I think are important for the listeners in the room and beyond to reflect upon and remember. This will allow them to favorite the tweets to return to them later or to retweet them in order extend the discussion to their followers.
  2. I will link to references to important secondary sources to which I appeal during the lecture so listeners can follow up on specific passages I discuss in more detail.
  3. I will tweet links to my own published work on the nature of Socratic and Platonic politics, so listeners can deepen their understanding of the wider project into which this lecture fits.

From Impoverished to Enriched

Anyone who actually uses twitter recognizes that its power comes not from what one pushes out, but from what one receives. This is felt most palpably when one invites those with whom one tweets to share the wisdom they bring to the issue under discussion.

To facilitate this sort of sharing, I will explicitly invite those present at the lecture to actively tweet during the lecture itself. The hope is that the questions and suggestions posted will cultivate a vibrant back-channel discussion that will add insight and value to the reading itself. At the end of the lecture, questions and ideas raised on the back-channel can be brought into the discussion and other voices from outside the room can be integrated into the discussion we have there. As an author, I hope to encourage robust and lively engagement with the ideas I present in the lecture so that I too might learn something in the process that I can, in turn, integrate into my ongoing scholarship.

From Fragmented to Integrated

Anyone who actually uses twitter knows that the deployment of hashtags is the best way to mitigate against the fragmentary nature of a conversation on twitter.

In order to curate the tweets related to the lecture, I will append the hashtag #bacpa (one of the sponsors of the talk is the Bay Area Continental Philosophy Association) to my tweets and invite others to use that hashtag as well. To further integrate the tweets related to the lecture, I will curate them using Storify.

This will allow me to add other digital artifacts related to the lecture and to weave a story around the tweets I receive from those participating. This will afford me the opportunity, after the lecture, to consider in a more reflective way the things others have added to the lecture.

The Storify story will be embedded into the blog post on my Digital Vita I will have written outlining the basic argument of the lecture, a post that will, I hope, be a platform for further discussion.

To that end, I would like to invite anyone who has been interested enough in this endeavor to read to this point to join the lecture on twitter (following me @cplong or the #bacpa hashtag) or to come in person on Thursday, October 25th, 2012 at 4:30 PDT in MC 252 on the campus of the University of San Francisco.

Here is the Storify:


Sente, Mendeley, Zotero: Too Many Sharp Tools

By | Digital Research, The Long Road | 14 Comments

As spring rolls into summer, it is time for another appraisal of my digital research ecosystem. For a brief history of my reflections on digital scholarly research, I invite you to take a ride on the Long Road way-back machine circa April 15, 2010, when I first wrote about the elusive quest to close the digital research circle.

Funny how, in that initial post, I thought I was “tantalizingly close” to closing what I called the digital research circle: the ability to gather, curate, annotate, synthesize and cite scholarship without paper using a seamless digital process. More than two years later, I am still close, but now what felt  tantalizing has tilted toward the torturous.

I will not here rehearse my entire research ecosystem which involves Dropbox, Evernote, Scrivener and even Word, although I invite you to read through and comment on my posts on the issue of digital research. Instead, I want to focus again on what should be the very heart of that ecosystem: the reference manager.

Thinking that I might finally close the digital research circle by taking the advice of @Targuman and @history_geek, I decided to give Sente a try. After a bit of fun with Sente, after two weeks I am back to my combined Mendeley/Zotero model. Here is why:

The great strength of Sente is its capacity to gather, which itself is a vital part of the research process. When I experienced the way Sente integrated with the Penn State Library, felt the ease by which I could pull pdf files directly from our huge collection of databases and have Sente parse them quickly according to their bibliographic information and place them at my disposal on my desktop and in a beautiful iPad app, I thought I had died and gone to research heaven. Soon I realized, however, that although it does have a rich and responsive support forum, Sente is missing what both Zotero and Mendeley offer: a robust capacity to share and collaborate with a research community.

Although I am in a humanities discipline, collaboration is becoming an increasingly important part of my academic research. (OK, that came off as a bit too as too cynical – dial the cynicism back a notch or two, but you get the point.) Here is link to a post about how I work with a research assistant to do collaborative research in philosophy – it includes an embedded Prezi as a bonus.

Despite Sente’s excellence at gathering, its limited social capacities, its outmoded ways of integrating with the word processor (using in-text citation tags and the need to initiate scans of the document – as opposed to using Applescripts), its clunky search features, and its brutal lethargy on the iPad app with certain kinds of pdf files led me back to the Mendeley/Zotero model.

In the meantime, I solved a duplicating problem I was having in Mendeley when I stopped having Mendeley sync to a folder in Dropbox and allowed it to sync to a local drive on my various machines. When it comes to organizing pdfs in a social research context, Mendeley is the best. It even allows you, for example, to embed your profile into your blog posts:

Christopher Long is a member of Philosophy on Mendeley.

Mendeley’s capacity to facilitate collaborative research led me to adopt it extensively in my graduate seminar on Aristotle’s De Anima over the spring semester. My graduate students and I shared a collection, and thus were able to refer to the shared highlights, annotations and notes of our various texts together in class. (Above is a picture of me teaching with Mendeley, referring to a document a student had annotated.) Mendeley’s capacities for collaboration enriched our collective research and our seminar discussions throughout the semester.

Mendeley falters, however, at the gathering and the citing phases. They still have not fixed an issue with html code coming into footnotes when using the Chicago Manual of Style Full Note with Bibliography style. Further, the bookmarklet they use to gather document information from the web is … weak: it does not identify bibliographic information on the website and import it directly into Mendeley as Zotero does so beautifully.

Thus, I am forced to continue to use Zotero for the gathering and the citing phases of the process. I really do like Zotero, and especially now that they have a version that stands alone outside of Firefox. But, it does not hold a candle to the pdf managing capacities of Sente or Mendeley.

If, as they say, sometimes you need many sharp tools to get a job done well, still I wish I didn’t need quite so many sharp research tools to close the digital research circle.

Multiplayer Introduction Game

By | Academic, Education, Technology, The Long Road | 2 Comments

Jane McGonigal

Originally uploaded by Joi

At the 2012 Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium at Penn State, I had the honor of introducing Jane McGonigal, Creative Director of Social Chocolate, and game designer extraordinaire.

In his book, The Grasshopper, Bernard Suits writes: 

“Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.”
Jane McGonigal quotes this in her own book, the name of which I am omitting for reasons that will become clear presently. She then goes on to say: 
“Compared with games, reality is too easy.” 
Now, I feel the same way about giving introductions, it is too easy; so I thought we could make a massively multiplayer game of it. 
The game has 7 quests and 5 minutes to complete them:
  1. The title of her New York Times best selling book.
  2. Three games she has developed to help people tackle real world problems.
  3. The title of her TED talk. Bonus: How many times has it been viewed?
  4. What is her current job title?
  5. Where did she get her PhD?
  6. Tweet the link to her webpage with her twitter handle, the TLT Symposium hash tag and one of my twitter handles.
  7. Tell us something we didn’t know, something I would not have come up with in a traditional introduction.
I am very happy to report that we successfully completed this game in 3 minutes and 38 seconds. I brought the introduction as a whole in under 10 minutes, so it all worked out well.
The introduction itself was designed to perform some of the ideas that Jane went on to present in such a compelling way.

Liberal Arts Voices Hanging Out on Google

By | Education, Technology, The Long Road, The Undergraduate Experience | 11 Comments

Student Panel at LASTS11

Originally uploaded by LAUSatPSU

On Wednesday, September 28th at 4pm eastern, we in the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies office will take another step out into the great technological unknown by recording an episode of our Liberal Arts Voices Podcast live on a Google Plus hangout.

I hope that anyone interested in what we are doing in the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies office will join us. Here is a link to my Google Plus profile where you will find the Hangout when it is available.

The official guests on the episode will be leaders from the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council, a dynamic group of student leaders who have always been willing to engage with new technologies with me in interesting and enriching ways. That they will be with us for this experiment is only proper since they have helped us grow our community through Twitter and Facebook.

The impetus behind this experiment is first to perform what we preach about the importance of practice in learning about new technologies. We will see what Google Plus adds to our discussions on the Liberal Arts Voices podcast, and we will experience directly what it takes away.

The second reason for this use of a Google Plus Hangout is that I think the ease by which this technology makes face to face conversations public is very compelling. It is a simple broadcasting platform that can be used to raise the level of discussion online by adding the ethical dimension of the face. In our attempts to use technology to enrich the undergraduate experience in the College, it seemed timely to try to put Google Plus to work in this way. 
Finally, we now have a number of members of our community out in the “real world’ – as if we in Happy Valley don’t live in the real world. But I digress… In any case, these friends who were so engaged when they were physically here as students or staff members remain engaged in various ways. It will be interesting to see if that distance can be traversed by the G+ technology and we will once again be face to face, talking about the importance of the liberal arts.
I am looking forward to what this little experiment will bring. 

Summer Research in Digital

By | Digital Research, Technology, The Long Road | 2 Comments

This summer John Dolan, Director of Digital Media and Pedagogy, and I are heading up a summer digital research project in the College of the Liberal Arts.

For a description of the project, check out John’s post on our Digital Research in the Liberal Arts blog about the iPad Summer Research Project.

The iPad project is part of a larger initiative designed to put technologies in the hands of faculty to empower them to do scholarly research. What excites me most about this project specifically and the Digital Research Initiative more generally, is that it is driven by the idea that if we put technologies in the hands of faculty to pursue scholarly research, they will not only produce excellent new scholarship, but also they will learn the affordances and limitations of the technologies as they think about how to integrate them into their teaching.

By inviting faculty to use the technology for research they are already doing and asking them to reflect a bit in writing on a public blog, we hope to cultivate a community of digitally literate scholars who are doing excellent academic work.  The measure of success from my perspective as a scholar and an Associate Dean will not be the number of posts we write or the various aspects of the technologies we uncover, but the quality of the research we do, the articles and book chapters written, submitted and published, the manuscript and dissertation reviews we write, and the conference papers we submit.

With that in mind, I have posted a short reflection on using the iPad to review a manuscript without requiring a single piece of paper.

I hope you all will follow the Digital Research in the Liberal Arts blog and contribute when you are so moved.

Liberal Arts in a Time of Crisis

By | Presentation: Other, Presentations, Vita | 12 Comments


Originally uploaded by cplong11
STATE COLLEGE, PA – These remarks were delivered at the 2011 Symposium of the Center for American Literary Studies: Crisis? Whose Crisis? What Crisis?

Imagine that you are a graduate student in Philosophy writing a dissertation on Plato in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and you met a visiting professor from Egypt; let’s call him “Theuth.” And Theuth came to you and said: “I have discovered a new art of writing; one that will make it possible for you to simultaneously co-author a document with your students about the Platonic dialogues you are teaching.” 

Let us imagine further, that Theuth explained his new technology this way: “This living document is structured in such a way that you and your students can comment on what you are writing together. It allows you to tag the things you write with multiple terms so you can actually watch themes arise organically in the course as you and your students write reflectively about the dialogues.” 
And then imagine that he began to get very excited and said, almost in a whisper: “The best part of this new art of writing, the aspect that makes it most wonderful and compelling, is that it can be made public in such a way that anyone, anytime, from anywhere can read and respond to it.” 
How would you respond? 
Would you say to Theuth: “as the father of this new technology, you have too much affection for it and you fail to see the damage this sort of exposure to the public will do to these young, impressionable minds; you fail to recognize that young people are not prepared to determine for themselves what is important or interesting or compelling about these ancient texts. And besides, it will kill our students’ capacities to concentrate and contemplate.” 
And let’s imagine yet further, that Theuth was so deflated by this that he returned to Egypt and hid his technology away and that you went on teaching as you were taught, lecturing, encouraging students to focus, concentrate and reproduce on exams and papers the wonderful things they heard from you, which they submitted dutifully–and privately–to you as the authority on the topic. 
Suppose, however, that one day, Theuth’s technology was discovered and put into the hands of students, and that some faculty had wind of this and were beginning to find ways to use it to empower students to write reflectively and dynamically on all conceivable subjects. Imagine that you have in the meantime become an established faculty member, a respected authority in your field. 
This would be the crisis you then faced: the intellectual and ethical capacities you have developed over the course of your career, the very abilities that made you the success that you are, no longer provide traction in a new, more dynamic world in which an unfathomable amount of information is always accessible, collaboration is the main way to create meaning and writing is instantly public to the widest extent imaginable
What I hope you can imagine feeling on a personal level–overwhelmed, dismissive, defensive, and ill-equipped–is amplified and rendered acute when we move from imagination to the concrete realities of our educational institutions. For you see, whatever else this time of crisis involves, whatever the limits of our old funding models, whatever the challenges the liberal arts face from increasing professionalism, whatever budget cuts are announced, these all pale in comparison to the crisis brought on by the revolution in literacy new media technologies have introduced
How will we as faculty, as administrators, as institutions and, indeed, as human beings respond? 
The good news is that the core values of a liberal arts education have never been more important as we attempt to navigate this crisis in ways that might in fact enrich rather than impoverish our lives. The bad news, however, is that although we have long held the values of excellent communication, ethical imagination, global understanding, an openness to difference and responsiveness to change–we have in our teaching and in the structures of our institutions done less to cultivate the intellectual and ethical practices that underwrite these values.
Our teaching remains largely a matter of conveying information delivered by the authoritative expert who controls the discussion and assesses the value of the responses. Our scholarship–particularly in the Humanities–is pursued largely in isolation, made public–to the extent that it is–at small, intimate conferences and only after long periods of incubation. Our disciplines remain dependent on a model of authorship that measures success by the reputation of old media journals read rarely and when read, almost exclusively by isolated experts. Our institutions remain determined by a business model that rewards the adoption of practices that increase efficiency rather than the quality of the educational experiences of our students. 
And yet, our institutions have the capacity to adapt; they remain committed in principle at least to the core values of the liberal arts. Our disciplines have become porous and are beginning to reach out across boundaries to draw rich resources to and from one another. And our scholarship–especially in the Humanities–is able to reflect upon the limits of its practices, to criticize the calcified conceptions of authorship and authority on which we have come to rely and which have begun to dissolve. And in our teaching, we are learning to empower our students to take an active role in their own education, to become writers, podcasters, bloggers, videographers–makers of meaning in a new and multifaceted world. 
Imagine, then, if you were a graduate student studying Philosophy today and you found your students and a few colleagues, perhaps even a faculty member or two, using Theuth’s technologies–how would you respond? And more importantly, how will we as faculty, administrators, institutions and, indeed, as human beings respond to this revolution in literacy in ways that enrich the educated life? 
Cultivating the intellectual and ethical practices that enable us to do this should be the main focus of the liberal arts in this time of crisis.

Institutional Transformation

By | Presentation: Other, Presentations, Vita | 3 Comments

The annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium held yesterday at the Penn Stater had an intensity to it that I had not experienced in years past.

The energy and excitement we felt so palpably are symptoms, I think, of the success we at Penn State have had in theorizing and practicing social media in ways that create an enriching community of education. At the heart of our practice has long been the recognition that the educational power of social media lies in its ability to cultivate dynamic and genuine relationships between students, faculty and administrators.

Yesterday’s conference was eloquent testimony to the degree to which the communities we have been cultivating at the local level are taking root at the University level.

For me, one of the most remarkable moments at the Symposium happened at the very start, during the keynote address by Clay Shirky.  Shirky is widely known for having said: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution,” a statement Kevin Kelly dubbed the Shirky Principle.

So it was striking that Shirky emphasized that he used to think digital media would transform the academy discipline by discipline as each determined ways to effectively adopt new media technologies for their specific content areas. Yesterday, however, he said he was increasingly convinced that the academy will be transformed institution by institution as administrators become willing, as he put it, to provide “air cover” for faculty on the ground engaging their students through social media.

As Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts, these words resonated with me. Indeed, they affirmed something I have been attempting to do since taking on this position a year an a half ago.

But Shirky’s point needs further refining, because it is not simply by providing “air cover” for faculty that we will transform institutions of education, but by adopting communicative practices as administrators that are rooted in the recognition that education is a cooperative, social activity.

At this year’s Symposium the Liberal Arts Undergraduate studies office gave a presentation that focused on how we have adopted precisely such a communitlcative practice in an attempt to empower our atudents to give voice to their undergraduate experience in the liberal arts. Geoff Halberstadt, Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council President, has written eloquently about his experience engaging with us in LAUS through digital media. Jillian Balay spoke about her role curating our blogs and podcasts by thoughtfully working with students to articulate their educational experiences in compelling ways. And John Dolan talked about our College wide Teaching and Learning with Technology initiative which is designed to allow faculty to lead the College as we adopt new media practices.

In order to try to capture the spirit of the approach we have undertaken, we put together this fun little video which not only shows students, faculty and staff engaged in a cooperative project, but presents the caricature of an Associate Dean who does not get it, played by an Associate Dean who is trying to understand the affordances and limitations of social media by putting new digital media into practice:

Teaching Philosophy: Cultivating Communities of Learning with Digital Media

By | Articles, Publication: Journal, Vita | 9 Comments

Digital media technology, when deployed in ways that cultivate shared learning communities in which students and teachers are empowered to participate as partners in conjoint educational practices, can transform the way we teach and learn philosophy. This essay offers a model for how to put blogging and podcasting in the service of a cooperative approach to education that empowers students to take ownership of their education and enables teachers to cultivate in themselves and their students the excellences of dialogue. The essay is organized around a compelling story of how the students in an Ancient Greek Philosophy course responded to an anonymous, belligerent commenter on the blog from outside of the class. The incident brings the pedagogy of cooperative education into sharp relief.

I am also embedding here a video the students in the class made with me after the course was over. In the video, we speak only words we wrote on the blog in order to capture something of the spirit of the conversation we had over the course of the semester.


The full text of Cultivating Communities of Learning through Digital Media is available for download on from the Humanities Commons.

Traditional and New Media Literacies

By | Presentation: Other, Presentations, Vita | 5 Comments

Writing Three Ways

Originally uploaded by cplong11

New media technologies are transforming the practice of education, and our practices of education must change in the wake of the emergence of new media technologies.

In this presentation, I discuss how new media literacies can be cultivated in students, faculty and staff in ways that deepen our understanding of the world, the university and the community of education in which we live.

Focusing on some the initiatives we have adopted in the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies office, I point to concrete examples of how new media literacies are empowering students to critically reflect upon their undergraduate experience. In the process, they are learning, and teaching us, about the educative power of the social web.

Here is the YouTube video of the presentation itself:

I also embed the Prezi itself here so everyone can explore the videos posted of our students:

CAS Teaching with Technology Workshop

By | Presentation: Other, Presentations, Vita | No Comments

In my ongoing attempts to think more reflectively and act more deliberately about teaching and learning with technology, I am speaking with a group of graduate students and faculty today in the Department of Communications, Arts and Sciences. 

Today I am talking more about the meaning of cooperative education, about which I have written previously. My hope is that CAS students will join and contribute to some of the work we did in a workshop a few weeks ago with PHIL students in which we developed a Google Doc that is designed to be an ongoing, co-authored field guide to teaching and learning with technology.
The idea behind the guide is to see if we can develop a living, ongoing and collaborative document that articulates the goals, vision and best practices of education rooted in a vision of genuine cooperation.
The Google Doc is embedded below. If you are interested in co-editing, send me your gmail account and I will add you.

Teaching Philosophy with Technology Workshop

By | Presentation: Other, Presentations, Vita | 14 Comments

Colorful Prometheus

Originally uploaded by Allison Harger

This workshop, for graduate students in the Philosophy Department at Penn State, focuses on using social media technologies to cultivate cooperative communities of learning in Philosophy courses. Its purpose is to transform our pedagogical practices in ways that empower students to take co-ownership of their own education.

Its main outcome of the workshop will be a co-authored field guide for teaching and learning philosophy with technology. In order to facilitate this, participating students are asked to send me their gmail addresses (and to sign up for a gmail account if they don’t already have one) so I can add them as co-editors to our shared google document.

The workshop itself will be held on Friday, September 3rd, from 3:30-5pm in Willard 173.
Participating students are asked to do two other things prior to the workshop. First, please visit the following poll we have set up to learn a bit more about your familiarity with social media technology.
Second, please take a moment to write a comment on the current blog in which you tell us two things about yourself, one of which is true, the other of which is false. Do not tell us which is true and which false as we are going to use this for an ice breaker at the workshop.

Finally, students are encouraged to bring their laptops to the workshop if they have them.

Digital Dialogue 38: Cooperative Education

By | Digital Dialogue Podcast | 4 Comments

Cole Camplese is the Director of Education Technology Services, Allan Gyorke, Assistant Director of Education Technology Services, and Sam Richards, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Crime, Law and Justice and co-director of World in Conversation join me for episode 38 of the Digital Dialogue.

These three guests are all actively involved in the innovative use of technology for teaching here at Penn State. Our wide ranging discussion focuses primarily on using technology to engage students. We speak in particular about moving from a pedagogy of engagement to one of genuine cooperation.

This podcast is also a contribution to the Hacking Pedagogy project we have initiated at Penn State. To read more about how you can participate in that project, please visit the Hacking Pedagogy blog and tweet related articles using the #psuhack hashtag.


Digital Dialogue 38: Camplese, Gyorke and Richards on Teaching with Technology

To subscribe to the Digital
Dialogue through iTunesU, click here


Reflections on the Hacking Pedagogy Presentation

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Originally uploaded by docZox

My friend and colleague, Cole Camplese, and I gave a joint presentation on a collaborative project we have developed called “Hacking Pedagogy.” The idea is to open a digital space in which we, together with the education technology community here at Penn State and beyond our institutional boundaries, will write a living field guide dedicated to articulating, cultivating and facilitating a cooperative approach to education.

Specifics about how to participate in this project are available on our Hacking Pedagogy Blog.

In reflecting on the event, there are a few points I would like to emphasize that were either insufficiently developed in the presentation or left unaddressed from the Live Question Tool from the event.

Let me begin with the term ‘hack’. There are a number of connotations associated with this term, some of which I would like to endorse, others I would not. I would not endorse, for example, the notion that a hack is something that involves the unethical appropriation of the work of others without giving them due credit. Nevertheless, I would like to affirm some of the subversive connotations of the notion of a ‘hack’, particularly those that understand hacking as an attempt to leverage existing structures of hegemonic authority in order to open up new possibilities of relation less dominated by a desire to dominate. Hacking has always had these two sides, the one interested in subversion for its own sake, the other animated by the attempt to establish new, more liberating and responsible community dynamics. This latter is the sense of hacking to which Rey Junco appeals when he suggests that “educators must become hackers.” 
The Hacking Pedagogy project aims at undermining those existing pedagogical practices rooted in a logic of domination and control in which faculty authority suppresses student creativity
The corrosive sense of ‘hack’ seems to have found a counterpart in a corrupted understanding of cooperation, at least as it was articulated by one respondent to our Live Question Tool. There it was suggested that cooperation can be understood to involve submission to a dominating power or interest. I do not deny that much coercion has been perpetrated under the guise of “cooperation.” Yet, there is a difference between cooperation and conformity; for genuine cooperation does not involve capitulation.
I tried to articulate the deeper meaning of cooperation in my post, From Engagement to Cooperation. There I suggested that cooperation means, literally, to work together, to act in conjunction with another. All human relations, indeed, all human interactions with the world, are predicated on a certain capacity to cooperate; without it, our eyes could not see, nor our ears hear.
These these rudimentary modes of cooperation – the sort of cooperation that opens the world to us – points to another, higher dimension of cooperation: the ability to work together to articulate a common vision of truth or justice or meaning. This is the sense of cooperation at stake in the discussion of cooperative education.
Thus, in the presentation, we sought to identify four pedagogical attitudes:
  1. Disengagement involves general apathy and, often, the active repression of the natural human desire to learn.
  2. Engagement involves attention, directed psychic involvement with the learning community.
  3. Participation involves taking an active role in the pedagogical process but,
  4. Cooperation is rooted in the recognition that pedagogical practice is most transformative when it is undertaken as a conjoint activity in which student and teacher share ownership.