Below are my slides for “The Political Power of Play”, my keynote address for Re:Humanities 2014, an undergraduate digital humanities conference put on by the TriCollege Digital Humanities Initiative (Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges). The full text of the keynote has also been published as a peer reviewed article in the journal Hybrid Pedagogy.
I am excited to announce that I am moderating an event on MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and play in education with Pete Rorabaugh (@allistelling) and Jesse Stommel (@jessifer), editors of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy at the Duke Franklin Humanities Center in November. The event is sponsored by the Duke Greater than Games Lab and the Duke PhD Lab.
A description of the event is below. We’ll be livestreaming the event on the FHI Youtube channel, and everyone is encouraged to watch and take part via the Twitterstream: hashtag #dukehp.
In Deep Play, Diane Ackerman writes, “We may think of play as optional, a casual activity. But play is fundamental to evolution” (4). George Dennison offers a similar account of play in The Lives of Children, in which he describes “children’s natural play” as “expansive and diverse, alternately intense and gay,” whereas more formal play (games with umpires, rules, etc.) becomes “strained and silent,” “serious,” and “uncomfortable” (195-196).
An attachment to outcomes discourages experimentation. In “Organic Writing and Digital Media: Seeds and Organs,” Pete argues that “process takes precedence over the product.” This talk will emphasize the ways that play can function not as a methodological approach toward a set of outcomes but as the outcome in and of itself. We will open a conversation about how social media and digital space make learning voracious and lively by inviting new (and often wild) modes of interaction.
Role Playing Games (RPGs) in the Classroom: Fleshspace vs. Digital (A #THATCamp CHNM Session Proposal)
We are being increasingly encouraged to “gamify” the classroom. Educators such as Cathy N. Davidson (Now You See It) (@cathyndavidson) and Jane McGonigal (Reality is Broken) have suggested that games can help engage students in deeper ways than traditional learning methods.
I’d like to discuss how we can best implement Role Playing Games, or RPGs, in higher education. RPGs are well suited to the classroom because of their structure, which encourages students to identify with their character and their game (and learning objective.) Some excellent pedagogical examples include Reacting to the Past at Barnard, a series of elaborate historical games where students roleplay real historical characters with the possibility of changing historical events through mastery of historical and cultural knowledge (for more information, see my blog post here), and the Practomime project, where Latin students have to thoroughly assimilate into the ancient Roman world to save the world.
The following questions may be of interest: how we can use digital tools to enhance these role playing learning efforts (course websites, wikis as “codexes”, social media for team building/knowledge sharing)? Further, how, and should, these role-playing become digital in form? Most successful classroom RPGs have been “fleshspace” based, where gameplayers meet in person. How can we use the digital to enhance the “fleshspace” experience, and to augment or transform it?
[This has been cross-posted at Brian Croxall’s website.]
Brian and I are thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding an “unconference” on digital pedagogy as a preconference workshop for the Modern Language Association Annual Meeting in 2013.
What are “Unconferences”?
The ten-year old unconference format emerged as a response to weaknesses of the traditional conference presentation. Unconferences are participant-driven gatherings where attendees spontaneously generate the itinerary. Perhaps the best example of the unconference format in the humanities thus far has been the THATCamps which originated at the Center of History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University. The growth of interest in the unconference format within the humanities can be seen by the exponential growth of THATCamps, from one event in 2008, to three in 2009, to twenty-six in 2011.
Why an “Unconference”?
For the last several years, the MLA conference has increasingly welcomed new styles of presentation such as lightning talks and electronic roundtables, all aimed at increasing interactive discussion among the attendees. The organization continues to call for more change. In the Spring 2012 MLA Newsletter (PDF), both the MLA’s Program Committee and its Executive Director encouraged MLA members to consider new forms of presentations for the upcoming convention in Boston.
Our three-hour “unconference” on the subject of digital pedagogy is an attempt to answer this call to re-envision the conference format and introduce yet one more form of presentation at the annual Convention.
Unconference Theme: Digital Pedagogy
Attendees of our Digital Pedagogy Unconference will consider: what would you like to learn and instruct others about teaching with technology?
While interest in digital pedagogy has grown along with the rise of the digital humanities, these two fields are not identical. Although all instructors are being increasingly encouraged to incorporate technology into their pedagogy, not all of these instructors may want to become digital humanists. As such, digital pedagogy has a broad application for scholars of language and literature.
- We expect to offer 50 seats for the unconference workshop and to charge a small fee to sign up.
- Expect a website for the unconference to be forthcoming in the summer/fall of 2012, with more details and instructions about how to sign up.
We’re both incredibly excited, and hope you’ll join us there!