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Digital Pedagogy Institute

Digital Pedagogy Institute 2015

These are notes from the DPI2015? (Twitter @dpi2015 and #dpi2015). The web site is at

These notes are raw and written either live or in the intersections when I have time. For that reason they will often misrepresent what was said. Email me corrections if it matters to you.

The Institute was sponsored by University of Toronto Scarborough Library, Brock University, and Ryerson University, and the SSHRC Connections Grant. I should thank Paulina Rousseau and the others worked hard on this conference.

Day 1: Wednesday, August 19th

Nora Young: Forget the Streams, Here Come the Waterfalls: Education and the Coming Data Revolution

Young is the journalist behind CBC, Spark. She talked about three waves of the digital. The first wave was the personal computer and web, the second was the web 2.0 and collaborative content, and the third wave is ubiquitous and mobile. There is an explosion of automatically gathered information that we are gathering about ourselves and sharing. There is a missing human dimension - most data is coming from you and me. People want to have a relationship to their data - where are the tools. She talked about the apple research kit that may let people

She talked about privacy and anonymity and mentioned Gigapixel - a Microsoft technology that lets organizations put together hundreds of images into one large zoomable image. This can then be set up to identify people or let them tag themselves. One can imagine how this can be used to get people to identify others. She showed a composite image from the Vancouver riot. See

She called on us academics to teach about data and analytics. She called for us to imagine what can be done.

Instructional, informative, interactive, and integrative: Digital tools in establishing experiential excellence

Some architecture students at Ryerson talked about the neat teaching tools they have developed that included a neat augmented reality app that was used to let students explore issues around buildings. I wish I could have seen more about how that worked.

William Ju: The Shift from Teaching to Learning

Ju gave a great talk about online assignments, assessments, and capstone projects. He confronted the problem of how to use technology in ways that doesn't just distance the professor and build expensive video. How can we create transparent and collaborative learning experiences. He had clearly tried a number of experiments.

He mentioned that students (at least in neuroscience) don't like collaboration, but that it is still something they need to learn.

Some of the experiments include:

  • Experimenting with YouTube. He wanted no postproduction. He has a very fast turn around for posting lectures to YouTube. He has an assignment where teams have to comment a lecture to enhance it. He asks them to find a better lecture.
  • He has moved away from lost of 2.5% assignments as many students ask to "just give me one midterm". Students wanted fewer and more meaningful assignments.
  • He is trying to design assignments they can put in a portfolio
  • He has students create online interactive posters - see Glogster -
  • He gathers final papers into an online journal using
  • Using Blackboard he has students randomly assigned to questions - they post anonymously on a question, then they have to give feedback to the responses from others
  • He gives them reverse journal flow - show a whole mess of images - guess what figure is showing. They do this working in groups online - they have to as a group agree as to what they are looking at.
  • He now wants students to become makers - what sorts of videos could they create. Can students create interactive assignments?

Elzbieta Grodek and Jonathan Royce:

Grodek and Royce talked about teaching Derrida. It is very hard to teach Derrida's very abstract and deliberatively deconstructive ideas. They have collaborated with animation classes at Sheridan to experiment with animations that show some of the ideas. They showed some neat storyboards.

They also talked about using tools like Digress.It to encourage annotation and questions around texts.

Lee Skallerup Bessette: Digital Pedagogy and Teaching Centers

Bessette (@readywriting) gave her talk online. Her slides were done in Sway and are at . A lot of digital pedagogy evolved outside the structures - there can be clashes with university structures.

Bessette did a neat thing of asking questions and having us post answers to Twitter - I was surprised how lively her online presentation was. She raised great questions about:

  • Who is faculty development?
  • Who is responsible for nurturing pedagogical development?
  • What infrastructure is needed?
  • What are the obstacles to development?

She argued that there are Five Ages of Faculty Development

  • The Age of the Scholar (1960s-mid 70s)
  • The Age of the Teacher (mid-to-late 70s)
  • The Age of the Developer (1980s)
  • The Age of the Learner (1990s)
  • The Age of the Network (21st century)

Jodine Perkins: Engagement with community organizations in digital projects: Working with community organizations

Perkins talked about weaving oral history projects into library school courses. Her classes She talked about some of the challenges around dealing with certain projects where the people to be interviewed are far away or not motivated. You need to make sure the community organization that students work with are invested in the project. Her best experiences have been with community organizations where there is a graduate of the library school at the organization.

The key takeaway was that you need to make sure that the stakeholders in the community organization are invested in the project.

Geoffrey Rockwell: Teaching Analytics After Snowden

I gave the final keynote of the day and (obviously) didn't take notes. Here are some of the links:

Day 2: Thursday, August 20th

Diane Jakacki: Stepping Away From the Podium: Lessons to be Learned in Teaching and Doing DH

Jakacki started by quoting Claire Warwick to the effect that the digital humanities needs to pay more attention to pedagogy. This is a good thing - we should be thinking about how to weave teaching and research together.

She changed "digital pedagogy" to "digital humanities pedagogy." Some of the questions she is asking:

  • What is the relationship between digital humanities and pedagogy?
  • Why is it important?
  • Who should we be teaching/engaging? Who are we?
  • What should we teach? How do we integrate skills and concepts?

She talked about a course HUMN 100: Digging into the Digital that she co-taught. They encode a text, do text analysis, visualization and ask questions about the documents. They use all sorts of cool tools like Voyant 2.0, Sentistrength, oXygen, Juxta and so on.

The students felt they owned the content in a special way working so closely with it. They were treated as junior scholars and colleagues rather than vessels to be filled with lectures.

They had a variety of students from different fields - this connected the humanities through the digital to STEM students.

Jakacki talked about how our students are not digital natives. They are often just passive consumers of tech, not informed users.

One thing we often avoid is the issue of access. The sort of course she teaches depends on all sorts of access. Students need to have laptops, licenses to all sorts of software and so on. Jakacki talked about the arrogance of those who have access talking about teaching to those who don't. She also talked about accessibility to those with disabilities.

She talked about a student who was under some sort of protection and couldn't be identified. We assume that all students want to share what they do. We need to be careful about forcing students to identify themselves in public on the web.

She talked about how there is an explosion of people trying to weave DH into courses and they need help. There are infrastructure needs and advice. They need help creating meaningful assignments and delivering them. Often administrators don't recognize the extra costs and challenges. Further the model of one instructor may need to change as we need teams with the mix of skills. These teams are not always just faculty - they include all sorts of specialists. What happens with the helpful librarian is not available to co-teach? Further, we need to think of how students will engage

We had an interesting talk about how to keep the big tent in DH. How do keep the people not in tenure-track positions from dominating? How do we avoid language that makes it sound that DH is innovative and everything else is old hat and therefore necessarily wrong?

Robert Jay Glickman: Online and Blended Courses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First, I should mention that Glickman is one of the pioneers of text analysis. He developed PRORA which was reviewed in the first issue of Computers and the Humanities in 1966! The Manual for Printing Literary Concordances by Computer was one of the first books published (again in 1966 by the University of Toronto Press.)

He started his talk by talking criticisms about online education. It is a big business. It is expensive to create a first-rate online course. How do we create courses that are sticky? What do we lose?

He talked about the introduction of a new technology in Argentina in 1857 .... the railroad. He coined a phrase "invention is the mother of necessity." The first railroad went off the rails - things were poorly planned. Pedagogy and technology must work in concert. If one invests in online courses you should make sure that you do the pedagogical planning. To prevent your online course from going under (like the Titanic) don't accept any untested assumptions.

Many institutions have been caught unprepared for the changes being forced upon them. We need research into education and deployment. When faculty are required to go online it sends shivers through a department. It causes dissension among those who don't believe in online technology. There are all sorts of infrastructure and intellectual property issues.

One worry is that instructors will have to do lots of online marking. We are told not to worry:

  • Peer evaluation will solve it
  • Algorithms get deployed
  • Private companies can be hired to do the marking or to help with parts of it

One wonders if we will see a global instruction/marking marking where first world lecturers are teamed with cheap teaching assistants from India who do the marking.

We need to be In the 15th century the invention of the printing press put lots of monks out of work. Computers have dramatically changed all sorts of professions.

A big issue is who will get the money if things work well. Look at the Coursera fine print.

Blended courses are an alternative. One can mix the online and face to face. In blended courses we can combine the familiar and new.

The rush of novelty has a way of panicking us into learning the latests when it may not be viable. Future hype is an issue. While students live in this fast world, too much speed can also alienate them. Flawed pacing can be an issue as much as flawed functionality. We want to create barrier-free digital architecture.

Grades are important to students. This is similar to real life where forms of assessment make a difference. In an online world marking is still important. Peer assessment can be problematic:

  • Peers don't have the tacit knowledge
  • Peers have personal biases
  • Peers are reluctant to do the job well

Collaboration has become important. It can be a cover for reducing the amount of marking and an alternative to peer assessment. Educational theorists love it. Collaboration online is difficult - there are lots of technologies to try, but they can lack the liveliness and simplicity of face-to-face.

Sharing is also popular among theorists, but it isn't clear if it is helpful. Sharing can force students into uncomfortable situations.

Utilization of effective teaching methods is an essential first step. Pedagogy should supplimented replaced by androgogy - the teaching of adults. Students have of the child and adult in them - we need address both.

He then reviewed some of the lessons he has learned:

  • Change is always with us - our time is one of rapid change. Globalization means more ideas from more people faster. To avoid wasting time one should stick to what has been proven
  • Change causes discomfort, both for teachers and learners - plan for it and mix the familiar and new
  • Check out how you can be trained to teach online - see the University of Minnesota's online certification
  • Change is diffused in different ways - see Rogers Diffusion of Innovation

Things to watch out for:

  • Rapid change that puts your tech out of date
  • Using poorly researched technologies
  • Lack of methodologically trained instructors or assistants
  • Poor choice of e-tivities
  • Lack of quality management

We will hopefully soon get to the point where it is not about what we can do, but what we will do?

It is important to check more than just that something innovative is happening - you want continuous quality - everything working smoothly.

He talked about how much work doing it right is.

Maria Glass and Liz Romero: A Practical Method to Create Engaging Online Courses

They work within a LMS (Blackboard) but their ideas can work on other platforms. They provided a checklist

  • Have a consistent "quiet design"
  • Be explicit - guide users
  • Be supportive, give examples, checklists, sense of community
  • Minimal effort - they provide everything in Blackboard
  • Learning conducive space - They provided a student to student blog to support each other - sometimes when the teacher isn't present students are more willing to take risks
  • Accessibility

Their method to developing a course includes:

  • Ask what the real need is?
  • Look for solutions to the need through brainstorming
  • Decide on a path - create a story
  • They use the storyline to create the components - the specific teacher-student technologies
  • Evaluate the results

They showed an example timeline where the students are first told to take on a role as a character (eg. they are journalists) and then given a series of tasks (which is the plot.) This leads to a final outcome (an interview of a local community member.)

They then showed an example course - English for Professional Purposes.

Emily Murphy: Shaping the Undergraduate Scholar-Citizen Through Critical DH Pedagogy

Murphy's theme for her talk is failure and learning. Can DHers experiment with failure when so many are grad students and in the precariate?

The term "digital humanities" doesn't make sense to undergraduates. Murphy disagrees. She thinks the discipline that influences things should be transparent and be explicitly recognized.

She then talked about the DH field school at the castle that Queens has in England. The field school is two 6 week intensive courses. Once they have completed the field school they can apply for an assistantship with the Library where they work on projects. Their metaphor is the Scholar-Citizen. She questioned the discourse of "digital native". Digital native has all sorts of problematic metaphoric meanings - it suggests space, exclusion and so on. The digital apprentice is also problematic - it suggests that the person doesn't know digital and they have to spend time in it. The power relationship of the apprentice model is different from native model. The apprentice is someone who is mentored or inducted into a profession that has a hierarchical structure. The native/immigrant metaphor suggests that one can never be native.

At the heart of the metaphors are issues of inclusion and hierarchy.

The scholar-citizen model suggests:

  • All students have a "local" identity - what they bring is important
  • DH pedagogy should break down generational divides - flatten hierarchies - to do this they try to create opportunities for conversations and prepare students for meaningful conversations
  • Students retain intellectual control
  • Students have the opportunity to extend their Dh skills in an environment that explicitly values their labour
  • Students get to build their own DH community

Student assistantships follow the field school and provide funding for two students. Murphy gave examples. One student, Tiffany Chan, has worked on "How Did They Make That? For Undergraduate Projects".

What are the limits of the Scholar-Citizen? What are the limits of citizenship? How hard is it to become a citizen? Do we distort things by trying to be so inclusive? Does being a scholar-citizen mean you don't need to learn to belong?

I am also reminded of Heidegger's essay on "The Age of the World Picture" where he talks about how the scholar is being replaced by the researcher characterized by business and projects.

Mona Elayyan: VisualEyes: Introduction

I took an introduction to VisualEyes from the University of Virginia. Hard to take notes while doing a workshop.

Sam Popowich: Coding and Humanism

Popowich talked about how technological literacy has come to the forefront. From the public library perspective digital literacy takes the form of maker labs. From the staff side digital literacy is about programming, but programming culture has all sorts of problems. Promoting programming can privilege some. Can one adopt coding as a skill without closing our eyes to the inequalities in programming.

Agency and social class in the structures of information work. We live in the age of hyper-taylorism. Geek culture would seem to be a way out of the morass.

He talked about the tensions between formalists and interpreters. He drew on Anthony Grafton to distinguish:

Formalism: Over-engineered medieval forms of reading - books wrapped in formal interpretation Interpretative: Humanist new forms of books and reading - light books made to be mobile

Is Popovich fair to engineering culture?

He talked about Ruby and the agile informal approaches of the Ruby community. He sees programming languages as ways of seeing the world. Can we find ways to open a space for informal approaches. He talked about the principles of agile software development and how development can be thought of as a social activity.

We need new methods for thinkings about programming - think of it as software carpentry or weaving. Agile methods are grounded in a hermeneutic humanist philosophy. I can't help thinking that agile philosophies are grounded in ideas about independence and freedom - very liberal ideas.

He asked about professionalism and amateurism. Librarianship has a fraught relationship with professionalism. Librarianship can insist on certification and not be flexible. He wants to avoid over-engineering librarian programming.

Popovich then talked about openness and the open source initiative. He talked about how learning to code can be valuable. It helps people understand software and computational thinking. Coding allows us to play with data - to think through data. Building software undoes the alienation that comes from feeling manipulated by code.

He talked about how we should deconstruct the assumptions about programming and who can do it. He talked about collectives like

Learning to code can't happen in isolation. We need to think about alternative ways to structure code cultures.

There was an interesting question about whether the things we value in agile programming may not, in certain situations, prove difficult. Informal situations can be difficult for women who may not treated with respect. Hierarchies can provide pathways.

Day 3, Friday

Miriam Posner: Honoring Student's Labor: Why We Wrote a Student Collaborators' Bill of Rights

Posner talked about collaborating with students. At UCLA they are creating ad-hoc teams that have become a cap-stone project for their digital humanities minor. The teams work on a project of a senior scholars choosing with grad students and others.

This work raised a bunch of thorny issues about rights. This led to the A Student Collaborator's Bill of Rights. There is good evidence that unpaid internships are neither the path to job that students think they are and that they are exploitative. That said internships can be the place for learning certain skills.

She then talked about specific issues:

  • A student is not an employee - they shouldn't be doing routine work (tagging) for free
  • Does the student have intellectual control over what they are doing?
  • It is important that students can represent what they have done
  • Sustainability of a project is a labor issue - it is important to find ways to create static archival copies of projects in order that it can be maintained for the CVs of students. They export flat HTML pages from dynamic sites that act as archives - httrack to zip file to server so students have a record
  • We also have to not broadcast student work when they don't want it public

A number of interesting issues came up:

  • How do we show students how to transform their work into something that they can explain on a CV?
  • Who owns student work if they haven't been paid? How do students navigate the ownership issues?
  • How can one avoid dragging students into doing too much work?

My understanding of Canadian copyright is that:

  • The student owns the copyright unless they have licensed it. In other words, if there is no explicit act licensing/assigning the copyright, then it is the student's and the prof has no rights to it. It is therefore incumbent on profs to secure the rights they want.
  • Only if someone is paid could one argue that they were an employee and therefore that their work belonged to the university (not the professor.) This means that ownership issues are different for faculty and other types of staff. Unless there is an agreement to the contrary the University would typically own the copyright of work done as part of the job for which the prof is paid. That said, common practice is that profs negotiate copyright on their books as if they own it, and universities reward profs who publish. It is therefore unlikely that a university's right would stand up in court given that universities have allowed profs to act as if they owned their own copyright (but not other IP).
  • It should be noted that there are other less clear traditions or common practices regarding students that could be said to establish an implied sense of who owns what. These are the problem - the traditions of practice (that students haven't heard about about) are that faculty can take copyrighted material and use it, especially where they think the idea was theirs (the profs). (Remember copyright doesn't cover ideas, but expression.) My sense is that the only tradition that would stand up is that profs and the university have the right to assigned work for the purpose of marking and some residual right to show selected student work for the purposes of improving/promoting the course/university - in other words profs can quote student work with attribution.
  • Where students upload materials to web sites one can infer that they are in some way licensing or publishing it. That raises issues about forcing students to publish personal work to get credit. (The same applies about forcing students to upload to plagiarism sites that might keep their work.)
  • I should add that some disciplines have more nuanced traditions. In some fields it is understood that students and profs own IP and should, if it is to be commercialized, go through a discovery process and agree on the percentage ownership.
  • Most universities have IP boards and they are often aware of the need to protect graduate students. They may not have experience with copyright, but they do have experience with disputes.
  • Moral rights cannot be licensed, only waived. That means that unless someone has waived their moral rights their contributions need to be acknowledged and their work should be altered without their permission.
  • A separate issue is ownership of the servers. Typically the university owns the servers and has the right to remove material without consulting the professor or student. This has nothing to do with copyright.
  • Nothing is clear about copyright that hasn't been decided in court and few have the right to challenge things in court. It is therefore in everyones interest to negotiate informal agreements early in the process.

Note: I am not a lawyer - this is my flawed understanding.

Flipping the Classroom

We then had a panel on flipping the classroom. What is a flipped class? A flipped class typically has a different relationship between in and out of class activities:

  • Pre-class activities - these could be readings, interactive activities etc. that prepare students for class activities
  • In-class activities for higher levels of cognitive learning
  • Post-class activities to reinforce

Paul Chafe then talked about Flipping Into Something More Comfortable? He teaches an interdisciplinary writing course. They look at research and writing. Few students want to be in the course. Few like group work. He tried to keep the tech down and not appeal to multitask. He wants them to slow down. He wants them to do one thing and do one thing well.

He uses a laptop, Powerpoint, Camtasia Studio, a Wacom tablet, and the Ryerson server infrastructure. He showed a video of him talking through reading and marking up the text live. He models how students might think through the research. He also finds he has to nag students.

Then Val Lem and Kelly Dermody gave us the library perspective. They use Cahoot software to gamify certain activities.

They typically have 500 students in about 20 sections for an intro to the Library workshop. They have the problem of convincing students that research, libraries, citation, and so on are important. They try to raise issues about authority and narrative.

The structure of the

  • 15 -20 minute overview
  • Game to test their skills - they used Kahoot to make games of the pretest
  • Up to 1.5 hours for searching activities

By the end they should have found 2 scholarly articles and were able explain why these were important to their research.

There was a great question about how flipping works if people don't do the pre-class work. Lectures at least allow the pretence that students had done the readings. Readings and discussion is a flipped classroom - the technology can only add surveillance. Paul answered that students who don't do anything find they can't participate which then encourages them to do the work (though some don't anyway.) This raises difficult issues of shaming.

Lunch Talks

At lunch we had a bunch of short talks.

Nancy Walton: eLearning Today

Walton is an ethicist and also the Director of E-Learning for Ryerson. eLearning at Ryerson goes from fully online courses to blended learning to fun stuff.

A lot of Ontario universities are looking to online degrees to make up for dropping enrolments. This raises all sorts of challenges. Most faculty want to do blended integration of digital.

She talked about the challenges:

  • Workload and IP concerns
  • Costs to developing and maintaining good materials are high and one need to asks about returns.
  • The "tipping point" - faculty have ideas but they meet barriers so they give up - faculty feel overloaded and they don't have the time to overcome barriers
  • "Oh well, it's just a passing fad ..." - are MOOCs a passing fad? Do we need to catch up?
  • What are the driving factors? Do we mandate online teaching?
  • There is a real problem around the standardization when faculty tend to do their own thing
  • Students are not necessarily digital natives
  • Students are using mobile devices to access your materials - do they work for learning?
  • What do we want the teaching experience to be?
  • eLearning is being pushed by province -there is a Ontario Online Learning Consortium (yet another portal) - they want to make it possible for students anywhere in Ontario to be able to take courses elsewhere. There are some interesting changes happening in Ontario that could impact other provinces.

Nancy's Twitter handle is @researchethics

Eric Kam and Michelle Schwartz: Learning and Teaching Office

Kam is the Director of the Learning and Teaching Office. He talked about how "our students age"; we do. There is a growing divide between us. First year students were born in 1997 - they haven't experienced what we take for granted. He uses technology to bond with youth.

Schwartz then talked about training that the Office offers. It is hard to be all things to all people. Faculty are anxious about the work of introducing digital. There have been lots of questions about privacy of data. They have developed resources on privacy and integrating outside resources into courses.

See their site at - they have a nice list of resources at

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra: Why I use digital assignments in my English classes

Kooistra is one of the Co-Directors of the Centre for Digital Humanities. She talked about using online publishing methods in the classroom and why she does so. She talked about the Children's Literature Archive at . Students helped develop the catalogue for the Archive. Students have been asked to curate exhibits from the collection.

Her philosophy of education includes the idea that students are producers, not merely consumers, of scholarly knowledge. Humanities courses have an obligation to prepare students to be thoughtful contributing citizens by teaching digital literacy in all its forms.

She talked about an example course where students looked at children's books and war and then submitted papers for publication on a blog. The project copyrighted the work to the students and published the work using a Creative Commons license (with the student's permission.) Students could opt out of publishing.

Madeleine Lefebvre: About the Library

Lefebvre, the Chief Librarian, talked about the tour we were going to get of the library and Student Learning Centre and Digital Media Experience Lab. the new library just opened. They have a new plan to move to a collaboratory model - a model of a space without books that will inspire people to collaborate.

Tour Student Learning Centre

We got a tour of the Student Learning Centre - a brand new and very cool building. They building had a number of interesting ideas about configuring space for student learning including:

  • Collaboration rooms where there is a wall that is a white board and a screen that laptops can connect to. These rooms can be booked by students to work in teams.
  • Large open spaces for hanging out and events.
  • The Launch Zone that supports students with ideas for businesses - the support comes from students
  • The Digital Media Experience Lab - a sort of maker space

Much of the design of the SLC came from students and it seemed as if it were evolving into a totally student driven idea of learning.

Mona Elayyan: Voyant Tools

Elayyan gave a Voyant workshop at the end. She was kind enough to let me attend and I learned watching someone else present.



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