The Classroom As Interface
Call for Papers MLA 2013
300-word abstract & bio due Wed. 3/15/2012 to kathiberens [at] gmail [dot] com
The classroom has always been an interface, a point of interaction between the physical and the virtual. Mashing up concepts from MLA 2012 sessions about digital pedagogy (“Building Digital Humanities in the Undergraduate Classroom,” “Digital Pedagogy,” “New Media, New Pedagogies”) and interface (“Reading Writing Interfaces: E-Literature’s Past and Present“), this panel considers how ubiquitous computing (“ubicomp“) reveals the unique affordances of “the classroom.”
Now that the physical classroom is no longer the de facto locus of learning, the unique parameters of the synchronous, networked classroom may be tested. Generations of innovative teachers “hacked” the classroom to make it more interactive and student-centered, but their experiments rarely threatened the core mission of the university sufficiently to merit moritoria. Today, calls to ban laptops and smart devices from the classroom bespeak a deep unease about the sorts of learning practices–and student expectations–ubicomp inaugurates.
“The Classroom As Interface” will feature assignments and pedagogical design that manifest an awareness of ubicomp; such presentations may or may not involve “building stuff.” Paul Fyfe asserts in “Digital Humanities Unplugged” that “an unplugged digital humanities pedagogy can be just as productively disorienting as doing humanities digitally.” Elizabeth Losh’s UCSD digital poetry class ran an “E-Lit Writing Exercise: Locative Corpse” that could not have been done online. Jason Farman’s many experiments with mobility, storytelling and pedagogy explore the recursive loop between movement and fixed location, reflecting central tenets featured in his book Mobile Interface Theory. Dene Grigar, Brett Oppegaard and Chief Ranger Greg Shine are pioneering mobile, interactive, site-specific historical interpretation at Fort Vancouver. Many digital humanists use Twitter to expand their classrooms’ discourse communities. Literary scholars are exploring the political, social and privacy implications of the GeoWeb.
The object of this panel is to draw scholars’ attention to the classroom as an interface that can’t simply be remediated online. As Avenues of Access to higher education constrict and budget-conscious administrators enlarge enrollment through asynchronous distance-learning classes, it’s important to make visible the affordances of the synchronous classroom.