I, and everyone else in DTLT (and quite possibly the greater DC area), have been hearing a lot about augmenting the learning process from Gardner as of late. And while his enthusiasms are by no means lost on me, sometimes it takes a little bit of praxis to see how one is affected by the community that they are surrounded by. Tonight was just that kind of experience for me.
About two weeks ago Judith Parker and I had been talking about some tech issues in the hallways of Combs Hall when it got out that I was a Ph.D. candidate in English with a specific concentration in early American captivity/slave narratives (word travels fast I guess). She is currently teaching a linguistics seminar on the emotive power of narrative and was wondering if I would be interested in presenting some of my dissertation for the class. At first I was extremely excited (as I tend to get) and naively thought “this is a perfect way of rekindling an old flame know affectionately as the Diss of Dread .” But as those two weeks became just three days I got the usual anxiety and distress that goes along with presenting yourself and your ideas to a group of strangers. Moreover, things have been moving so fast and furiously on the DTLT front that I began to feel even more estranged at the prospect of engaging the ever lonely process of thinking about my “own work.”
But, “a deal’s a deal,” right? So I had to pull it together and present. Last night, around 10:00 pm certain things started to click and I began realizing that all the work I have been doing with my stellar colleagues at DTLT was by no means divorced from my scholarly work, in fact, they are only AUGMENTING my own learning process. It was at that point that Alan Levine and Brian Lamb’s ELI presentation “Beyond the Blog” (which I heard so much about from Andy and Gardner) made sense. Why don’t I turn this talk into a flickr presentation? And while my presentation is by no means as intricate, thoughtful, and evocative as Brian and Alan’s Flickr presentation- it was a real moment of discovery, realization, and invigoration for me. I was being given the opportunity to marry my scholarship with instructional technology to invoke a new way of thinking about my own teaching style. Perhaps common sensical given my position, you may say. Ahhhh, but such a “lay-up” is not always apparent to he who wants to “dunk.”
So, I loaded up my collection of found images, texts, maps, etc. to my flickr account, brought seven laptops into class (one for every two students), and ran the Narrative Captivity photoset vis-à-vis flickr. And you know what? I did get that insane high after teaching a class when you know that it worked: I learned, the class discussed thougtfully, and we worked through complex ideas together – but this time that usual teaching high was just a little bit different: augmented, some may say. Thanks to everyone involved in an otherwise painless operation.