It’s easy to get lost in an online course. The challenge is even more real with a one-week course hosted without a traditional LMS. There are no modules to complete, quizzes to take, or badges to earn. But there will be plenty of opportunities to engage, discuss, and explore.
To help facilitate those activities, I’m using a few online platforms for collaboration. I acknowledge that using multiple platforms creates an opportunity for disorientation and anxiety over missing out or getting lost. In keeping with other aspects of this course, I intend the use of platforms to be flexible, allowing you to choose whether and how much you will use them.
To support you in making informed decisions, here’s a bit of my rationale for implementing these platforms in our course. I review each platform’s unique affordances and some potential drawbacks — and provide a few relevant links for each.
My choice to use Twitter comes from the value I see in its ability to facilitate discussion in a way that sharpens language and offers a global audience. I assert that these features, though not unique, make the platform useful. Further, DHSI has a reputation for being a Twitter-intensive event. I say all that with open acknowledgement of the dangers of asking you to work in the public sphere.
Even without a Twitter account, you can view #CritPrax activity on the open web.
To serve as a shared space for collaboration and conversation, I created a #CritPrax 2022 team in Slack. This platform, designed to connect people in teams and organize discussion into “channels”, balances flexibility and clear organization. Any time we collaborate to brainstorm or chat, we’ll use Slack. (I’ve also created a “water cooler” channel specifically for off-topic chit chat when you want to connect with fellow participants but take a break from course material.)
You knew this was coming, right?
Twice each day, we’ll have synchronous discussions with registered participants. I’ll host “Jam Sessions” (think coffee talks or office hours) for informal, unstructured, live conversation. We can talk about that day’s material or the weather and what we’re having for dinner. I’m sure my cat will make regular appearances, as he loves joining in on video calls.
Zoom isn’t my first choice for videoconferencing due to its interface design and a few significant security gaffes. But Zoom’s ubiquity during the pandemic means it’s likely familiar to everyone in the course. To mitigate some potential issues (most notably Zoombombing), our Jam Sessions require a one-time registration for participants.
Please note that I’m using Zoom through my home institution, Kean University, to host our sessions. Jam Sessions will not be recorded.
I have also created a semi-private #CritPrax 2022 Group in Hypothes.is. That group supports conversation in the margins of suggested course readings. This tool provides a unique affordance. Hypothes.is discussions attach to particular sections of a shared text, and they often foreground a discussion in parallel experiences as readers move through that text. Only registered course members can access our annotations. Because anybody with the group link can join, I won’t post it publicly here. Instead, check my welcome email from June 1 or our Slack workspace.
Engaging with the course through Hypothes.is gives you access to marginal discussions within the suggested readings. These discussions (and an account with Hypothes.is) are completely optional. Trust me — there will be more than enough discussion happening in other places to keep everyone busy in any event.