[iDC] learning ecologies

Sean Justice sean at seanjustice.com
Tue Apr 20 12:58:16 UTC 2010

This conversation feels important to me as well, and I'd like to chime in
with an experiment I've been running these last several semesters --
exploring the question, namely, how to maximize the sharing and transfer of
information and learning in the seminar/classroom, i.e., how do we get more
participation from a broad range of students (I teach across a wide swath of
institutions, from Columbia and NYU to state/city community colleges)?

"Integration" has become a huge conceptual buzz‹a word that resonates
especially well in this work‹and addresses the central problem Michael
raises, namely: 

>It is clear the technological ability at our disposal is capable of leveraging
monumental changes in developing communities. It is also clear that this raw
ability has outpaced our capacity to absorb it.

There are two things I play with in seminars and introductory classes:

1. the reading list changes from term to term but includes a hearty mix of
theory and pop culture, including snippets from newspapers and art
magazines, as well as from literary/theoretical texts, and, lately, from
YouTube too. Combined with this is a rather strict methodology that I ask
students to use (yes, it feels hierarchical, and yet, perhaps there's an
embedded anti-hierarchy): simply, I ask participants to read with an ear
towards life/world connections‹what resonates for you in this essay? Much
like you do, Micha, I'm asking for a one paragraph response, but I'm
specifying that the response emerge from a personal connection with the
material (what did this make you think about? remind you of?), and I ask for
subjectivities built around specific lines from the text (e.g., when she
says *this* I remembered *this*). This method seems to be working to some
extent. I still fail with it! But more often than not, participants offer
responses that are poignant fuel for further conversation.

2. we're embedding responses within imagistic material (I mostly teach photo
and digital art) -- that is, within the metadata of a picture, within the
html/css of a site. In this way the text becomes subtext, and doesn't live
on its own, disconnected. I don't know how this is working yet. Initial
results are that it's challenging to some participants, but in a good way.
The goal might be transparent -- simply to get word/image to integrate
differently, in the hope that ideas begin to resonate across narrow
definitions of 'what it means'.... I'm not sure that makes any sense, but
after reading Michael's post I'd say this is my answer to his

>These structural integrations are themselves fostering new dynamic
>environments - ecologies - for sharing, learning, and creating...

...and that perhaps one way it's working is simply in distinction from what
students are asked to do in other contexts, ie., specifically, I'm not
asking them for a 'paper'... Another aspect *might* be that conversation
becomes multifaceted and puzzling, in the sense that confusion can be
constructive (arnheim) and that it cannot simply read/write itself (adorno).
My *hope* is that an institutional critique comes to be embedded within this
discourse, though I'm not approaching that goal head-on.

Anyway, I'd love to hear continued thoughts and ideas around these

{a few background sources that inform this work:

Lankshear & Knobel in Alverman Adolescents and Literacies in a Digital World
(Lang 2002)

Walkerdine Children Gender & Video Games (Palgrave 2007)

Michael Wesch Mediated Cultures

and, way deep background, esp relevant to non-hierarchical pedagogy:
Atwell In the Middle (1987, 2nd ed 1998) -- ever since my initial foray into
teaching, in 1988, I've referred to her methodology}}




On 4/19/10 11:25 PM, "micha cardenas" <azdelslade at gmail.com> wrote:

> I forgot to also add...
> In the past, I've worked a lot with Free Skools and am working towards
> a horizontal pedagogy, but now that I'm an adjunct at a major
> university and I stumble across efforts like this one to create a
> non-hierarchical learning environment:
> http://www.theasintheas.org/about/
> I wonder if it's hierarchical for me to try so hard to get students to
> read and then engage in dialogs about these issues...
> 2010/4/19 micha cardenas <azdelslade at gmail.com>:
>> 2010/4/16 elana langer <elana.langer at gmail.com>:
>>> There is much to say on this issue, however one thing to bear in mind
>>> is that the culture of exposing problems and discussing them is itself
>>> a tricky business. When are we never not being evaluated and how do we
>>> create an institution  where failure is celebrated as an opportunity
>>> to learn? What does that institution look like? Is it on this list?
>>> Does someone on this list know?
>> Hi all,
>> How wonderful to stumble across this discussion. I have been thinking,
>> as an adjunct myself at UCSD, about my own struggles getting my
>> students to actually read anything, or my sometimes failure to get
>> them to do so. I'm interested in hearing people's nuts and bolts ideas
>> and experiences with new media education. This year, I've been
>> teaching a class at UCSD on Electronics for Art, and the last two
>> quarters, I've really focused on " the university as a site of
>> politics" as a sort of case study, to focus the discussion in our
>> classes on the recent experiences on campus of resisting the budget
>> cuts, the racist/sexist/homophobic indicents of violence at UCSD in
>> the past few months [http://stopracismucsd.wordpress.com/] and now on
>> the persecution of myself, ricardo dominguez and the rest of the bang
>> lab [http://bang.calit2.net/].
>> In my class, I try to present them texts to help them have a language
>> to think about these things critically and in detail, so we've read
>> things like bell hooks, hardt and negri, henri giroux, writings from
>> the occupiers of the uc like the necrosocial, and more [syllabus here:
>> http://banglabinexile.pbworks.com/vis147b-spring2010]. And while it's
>> sometimes very effective (I was very happy with the outcomes last
>> quarter: http://bang.calit2.net/wiki/Vis147b#Group_Projects ), this
>> quarter I just feel like my students are outright resistant to reading
>> anything. I guess they always are, and I usually have them write a
>> short paragraph response to the reading every week, but now I've moved
>> to a written mid-term, which is perhaps the whole problem, maybe
>> they're saving all their effort for the middle of the quarter.
>> All of this is to just ask you all about your approach to teaching new
>> media and teaching about things like institutional critiques of the
>> university itself.
>> thanks,
>>  micha
>> --
>> micha cárdenas / azdel slade
>> Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego
>> Artist/Researcher, UCSD Medical Education
>> Calit2 Researcher, http://bang.calit2.net
>> blog: http://transreal.org

Sean Justice
NYU Steinhardt
Arts & Arts Professions
Studio Art | Photography | Digital

International Center of Photography
General Studies and Continuing Education

Parsons The New School for Design
BFA Photography


Considering Pictures, an open journal about pictures and photography

C: 347/232-5471

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