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Recommendations from “Ms/Use of Technology Reflections on Feminist Pedagogy from the Technological Front Line”

A potentially generative list of recommendations appears at the end of “Ms/Use of Technology Reflections on Feminist Pedagogy from the Technological Front Line” for those of you at various points of teaching online or preparing to teach online:

  • Inform the students of the pedagogy and the idea behind it. Students need to be aware that the decisions that go into a course are not arbitrary, particularly when the procedures seem so radically different from other large blended classes. While some may ultimately still desire authoritarian instruction, once engaged, skeptics might eventually come around; students informed of feminist pedagogy may start to question their assumptions of the relationship between instructors and students and develop critical thinking and lifelong learning skills, patterns, and awarenesses that go beyond the actual course.
  • Break down the hierarchy of class physically and intellectually. Using technology to support multiple interpretations, encouraging collaborative learning, allowing students to contribute to the process or content, or encouraging students to be responsible for their own learning is not necessarily obvious. That does not mean you cannot make technology serve your needs. While you will need to facilitate this nonhierarchical mode to support students, you might be surprised to learn from them new ways of using technology in the classroom. A feminist approach requires such questioning of assumptions about teaching practices and goals.
  • Students’ voices can be incorporated even in large classes with a little effort and the use of technology. There can be spaces for individuality and personal perspectives even in a huge blended class with a sea of faces or long list of names online. Technology, when used improperly, can isolate, whereas critical and thoughtful engagement can lead to student connections and a dynamic educational community.
  • Make technology work for you, not the other way around. Technology has a way of asserting dominance over our classroom environments when we are not aware, so be mindful of design biases. Think about your class goals and what you want students to do or be able to complete. What are you trying to accomplish with each technology — to give students a voice, encourage Pedagogy Published by Duke University Press 506 Pedagogy collaboration, allow alternative interpretations of the text? Does this technology support your goals, or does technology constrain? Make conscious efforts to push the boundaries of what is possible, but always test these technologies beforehand, to be more informed about the unintended consequences. We found that sometimes working with technology can be a hassle, but sometimes it is worth the hassle if it maintains the pedagogy. Know this up front, and allot time for it (and ask for help).
  • Don’t take on technology and/or large lecture classes alone — use all the resources at your disposal. If we have learned nothing else, it is that teaching a large blended class using feminist pedagogy with so many challenges should not be done alone. Teaching like this should always be a community process. While not all teachers will have the same level of support or resources on their campus, all should at the least avail themselves of the software and hardware companies’ technical support. Additionally, many online forums, blogs, listservs, or other resources for teachers are sponsored by vendors and professional organizations. Social media platforms such as Twitter can also serve as access to resources and connections to other educators.
  • Ask yourself who is on campus to support you — and not only official technology or teaching support. Talk to colleagues engaged in postpositivist pedagogies. Communicate your vision to the people around you and open the class up; invite the supporting people to come to the face-to-face class, to log in to the online class, to get the full context of what is going on. It took all of us to make this class work in a feminist way: collaboration between Cecilia the instructor, knowing the content and managing the classroom; Kathryn the teaching assistant, facilitating face-to-face and online communication; Aimee the instructional designer, supporting the selection of technology and design of the online portion; as well as others in an educational community with a common vision. Breaking down hierarchies by valuing others’ voices and experience, including those of students, makes all feel like legitimate members of the class, more invested in making it work, and proud of its successes.

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