A funny thing happened on the way to digital community. Even as Twitter lit up with happy thoughts and excited anticipation about Digital Pedagogy Lab getting under way, and even as so many of us began to reach out to each other on a variety of platforms—most especially our discussion space, Discourse—that thing we can most rely upon technology for happened: the system went down.

Now, in part, this was our doing, right? There was a sudden flood of posts and conversations, introductions, uploads, emojis, gifs, and more that washed upon Discourse with the energy and eagerness of a room full of first-graders at a birthday party. Along with all the DPL faculty, I watched with a thrill as everything seemed.to.go.right. Until, of course, it didn't.

I recently wrote that "There’s no built-in function in any technology which can produce community." We discovered quickly enough that even a tool as robust and flexible as Discourse can give way before the thunder of human connection. While my afternoon was spent pulling the ear and talents of the CU Denver School of Education's wonderful IT folks (in particular a certain Matt Mitchell), and trying ever to surface from the deluge of emails that nearly drowned my inbox—even in the midst of the frantic, I kept thinking: Look. Look how people want to connect with one another. Look how they persist.

“Life is bearable when you have someone to write, and someone who writes you back. Even if it's just one person," writes Eun-Jin Jang (장은진) in No One Writes Back. We look for ways to connect across distance. We always have. "From love letters to pen pals, families, relationships, friendships, professional and creative collaborations, and the brilliant sudden intimacy between new acquaintances, correspondence over distance has sustained us for ages uncounted."

And that's what I saw yesterday, both from those for whom Discourse turned a blank page, and for those whose merry conversations went on undaunted, unimpeded.

I said to Jesse the other day: "I plan and organize an international event to make people feel better." But I also do this to make me feel better. I miss seeing everyone on campus this year. I miss the laughter I might hear echoing from rooms down the hall. I miss the very singular smiles of people arriving each morning.

But I also don't need to miss these things. Distance doesn't keep them from happening. Distance, in fact, confirms that they do; because we gather in spite of being so far apart.


Today is Monday, and we're headed into our second day of the Lab. There's much to do!

  • Firstly, read the wonderful keynote posted by José Vilson in the Auditorium.
  • Then, don't miss the Q&A with José at 12:00 EDT (UTC -4). If you haven't already, you can register for that here.
  • We've got several workshops starting today, too:
    * The Imitation Game
    * Social Media Pedagogy (optional Facebook Live at 18:00 EDT)
    * Creating a Virtual, Liberatory Feedback-Driven Classroom
    * ABC Learning Design
    * Ethical EdTech (optional live chat at 16:00 EDT)
    * Syllabus of Care
    There are more details on the Workshops page in the Auditorium.
  • There's a very special presentation at 11:00am EDT from some of our Irish friends on International Approaches to Teaching Online.
  • And, of course, there's more reaching out, talking, discovering, and connecting to do.

Finally, stay tuned for a very special announcement about two new additions to the Schedule later today!

Have a great Monday at Digital Pedagogy Lab 2020!

~ Read next post in Auditorium ~

Tuesday: Morning Announcements

Posted by Sean Michael Morris

2 min read