Profile picture of Sean Michael Morris, DPL Director
I'm your host for the week, Sean Michael Morris. (Photo credit: Fio Law)

Hello! And welcome to Digital Pedagogy Lab 2020! It's great to have you here.

As I finished up adding all 500+ of you to Discourse yesterday, and as I ran through all the rosters for our courses and workshops this week, and confirmed that links were set up for our keynotes, for the synchronous bits of our workshops, and that everything that needed to be published had been published on this site and others, it dawned on me just how remarkable all of this is.

At its peak in 2019, Digital Pedagogy Lab welcomed about 220 participants to the event. For the most part, these were folks whose work focused on, intersected with, or orbited digital education. Today, all our work is digital work. We take our meetings in Zoom. We prepare lectures in Panopto. The tried and true tools of the instructional designer—Camtasia, Audacity, Screencast-O-Matic—have become familiar to folks for whom online teaching either never appealed or seemed steeped in arcane know-how and secret best practices.

What online learning has always been—its affordances, potential, and shortcomings—is now laid bare to those who never really looked at it. And also to those who had never seen how our usual online practices do or do not scale when every teacher in every subject at every level of education has to use them. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us all together, and so it's together that we begin to see all the ways online and digital learning can, and should, get much, much better.

At least in part, it's for that reason that in one year the Lab has grown from 220 to over 500 participants. And it's for that reason that, when we made the choice not to cancel but instead to take this event online, we knew we had to do something different. Something unexpected. Something that would test the boundaries of what we understand online learning to be.

This week will be experimental. With one or two exceptions, none of this year's faculty or workshop leaders has taught on these platforms. One or two of them have never taught fully online before. But they all understand the need for building community, for finding ways to support agency in digital environments, for exploring (and exploding) expectations for what can happen here. You will learn this week, you will lead this week; you will question, inquire, discover, and answer.

This is not a stagnant online course. Nor is this a platform for webinars. We are running this event almost entirely asynchronously in order to offer as much access across time zones as we can, and in order to bring together the vast and growing (and suddenly exponential) community of digital teachers and learners. Participation in this effort will yield manifold returns—inspiring and imaginative as much as productive and practical.

This year's Lab is designed to let you join in as you are best able. We are educators who have offices at home and home in our offices; we are students who are struggling to keep stride with our progress through college; we are people without jobs or whose jobs are on the line; and we are humans under the cloud of pandemic. So, this year's Lab is designed with generous room for both our shared situation and your unique circumstance.

But. If there is one thing I would recommend you do, it is to make connections here. There is an Auditorium discussion forum where you can create threads, look for collaborators, reach out and make contact. And in your courses, too, beyond the work you may do, look to find each other. Today there can be no critical digital pedagogy unless it is a shared one, unless we bring our voices together to form one. If this seems difficult across distance, it is; but it is also simple. Because right there beyond the screen the rest of us are also typing and hoping to be met, hoping to be heard.

Digital Pedagogy Lab is not, has never been, about taking home best practices at the end of the week. The Lab is a place where we can find each other. This year—online and across the planet—this must become an intentional part of our work.

Today is set aside for a slow, easy start to the Lab. You can take some time today:

You'll also want to check out Jesse Stommel's keynote address in the Auditorium, and attend the Q&A with Jesse starting at 12:00pm EDT (if you haven't yet registered, you can do so here.)

Like any conference or gathering, you may find yourself wanting to tweet what you're learning. Please do. Digital Pedagogy Lab uses #digped on Twitter.

Be mindful of tweeting anything out that you read in the discussions in your course or workshops. Ask permission before making others' thoughts public. But anything your instructors post on their course sites is public. Anything I write here or our keynotes write here is public. Share and share widely. It's one more way we find each other.

Finally, if you find yourself uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the course you've chosen to join, let me and/or your instructor know. We believe in gentle, compassionate voting with one's feet, as it were, and we want you to find the right place to be while you're here this week.

I want to thank everyone who supports the work of the Lab. This year's planning has been particularly strange and lonely, but I couldn't have put this together without the encouragement, collegiality and friendship of:

  • Jesse Stommel, DPL co-founder and associate director
  • Stefanie Chae, DPL event manager
  • Brad Hinson, Assistant Dean of Digital Learning at CU Denver
  • Bolormaa Begzsuren, Assistant Director of Grants and Contracts at CU Denver
  • Rebecca Kantor, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development
  • and Fio Law, my own sprog.

So, again: Welcome to Digital Pedagogy Lab 2020! And thank you for coming.

~ Read next post in Auditorium ~

Morning Announcements: Monday

Posted by Sean Michael Morris

2 min read