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Hybridity, pt. 3: What Does Hybrid Pedagogy Do?

This is the third in a series of articles that investigates hybridity as it relates to our positions as teachers and scholars, but also as learners, composers, and community members. We also consider the impetus for the naming of this journal and propose various directions the conversations might take us. Click here for part one, “Virtuality and Empiricism,” and here for part two, “What is Hybrid Pedagogy?”

Teaching is a practice. Good teaching is an engaged, reflective, and generous practice. Pedagogy is not just talking and thinking about teaching. Pedagogy is the place where philosophy and practice meet (aka “praxis”). It’s vibrant and embodied, meditative and productive. Good pedagogy takes both teaching and learning as its subjects.

On the Hybrid Pedagogy home page, we proclaim that:

All learning is necessarily hybrid.

This includes learning in both digital and analog spaces — learning that happens in classrooms, online, on chalkboards, in books, out in the world, within schools, and outside schools. The roles of student and teacher have been under interrogation for decades. Learning is an innate cognitive process, but schooling, as an institutional practice, is relatively new. One does not necessarily require the other, and as progressive educators, we reject schooliness in favor of the fundamental principles of critical pedagogy.

Critical pedagogy, whether digital or analog, requires that we see teachers and students as socially, economically, politically, and emotionally situated in any learning space. Both a laboriously prescriptive LMS and a roomful of desks in factory-like face-front rows are refusals to consider students as true participants in their own learning. These configurations assert that we just “deposit the expert,” “leash the students,” and “deliver the content.” Being a critically aware teacher, though, means understanding the already existing and invisible barriers enough to disrupt them. Critical pedagogues move constantly between undoing the present moment (the classroom) while assembling a future moment (an activity or assignment).

From Joe L. Kincheloe’s description of The Freire Project:

Teachers and leaders steeped in critical pedagogy . . . understand the social, economic, psychological, and political dimensions of the schools, districts, and systems in which they operate. They also possess a wide range of knowledge about the information systems in the larger culture that serve as pedagogical forces in the lives of students and other members of society: television, radio, popular music, movies, the Internet, podcasts, and youth subcultures.

Consider the online spheres we inhabit, personal and professional, and one thing is clear: interactivity fostered by the web is changing us. Will we make something valuable from the collective intelligence of the web, or will we be swept along by its numbing flow? Neither outcome is determined in advance by the structures of new digital technologies.

In Hybridity, Pt. 2: What is Hybrid Pedagogy, Jesse asserts:

Hybrid pedagogy does not just describe an easy mixing of on-ground and online learning, but is about bringing the sorts of learning that happen in a physical place and the sorts of learning that happen in a virtual place into a more engaged and dynamic conversation.

Most understand that there are things to be gained and lost through the proliferation of digital media. Our job (as teachers and learners) is to pursue the gains and mitigate the losses, while cultivating a lively presence across both physical and virtual learning spaces. The larger mission of Hybrid Pedagogy, the journal, is to reflectively map and revise this terrain.

We’ve previously listed the binaries that hybrid pedagogy disrupts, such as scholarship / teaching, analog pedagogy / digital pedagogy, teaching and learning / critical pedagogy; Meanwhile, Teo Bishop’s “A Letter from a Hybrid Student” rightly calls for the disruption of the “teacher / student” binary (see also the discussion of “Participant Pedagogy”).

As a philosophical concept, hybridity suggests hesitation at a threshold. Hybridity is not an attempt to neatly bridge the gap, but extends the moment of hesitation and thereby confuses easy categorization. And, as we allow two things to rub up against each other, two things that might not otherwise touch, we incite them to interact, allowing synthesis (and even perforation) along their boundaries. As the digital and analog — the physical and virtual — commingle, we must let go of the containers for learning to which we’ve grown accustomed. We must open to random acts of pedagogy — to connections that are, like the web, associative and lively but sometimes violent and deformed. In this, hybridity is not always safe, moving incessantly (and dangerously) toward something new — something as yet undetermined.

Hybrid Pedagogy, the journal, resists totalizing definitions of its mission and audience, working instead to methodically reveal itself and its function, over time, through the contributions of its community. Our proposed audience for Hybrid Pedagogy is vast: educational technologists, higher ed. faculty and adjuncts, K-12 teachers, the #altac community, digital humanists, the open education community, online instructors, on-ground instructors, student services, and students. We recognize that it is almost impossibly ambitious for us to attempt to address the journal equally to each of these groups, especially without the work devolving into general interest vagueries; however, we need all these groups in the conversation, because the conversation doesn’t have the right shape or context when any strand of this audience is excluded.

For example, teachers can’t talk about learning adequately (or fully) without students in the room, without recognizing the ways that we are all students. While many of us involved in publishing Hybrid Pedagogy come from the disciplines of composition, literature, and the digital humanities, we are also constantly aware of how much we benefit from the work of programmers, neuroscientists, historians, and sociologists. Educators in both K-12 schools and universities have much to gain from a joint discussion of their increasing hybridity — a joint discussion of the pragmatic, usefulness of regular classroom praxis and the theoretical framing of scholarship. Hybrid Pedagogy imagines a new field of discourse — pedagogical studies — which engages educators at every level to re-imagine pedagogical methods and goals for the mutual benefit of learning communities.

Hybrid Pedagogy brings teachers and scholars into conversation and makes students of them. We don’t take for granted accepted parameters for existing academic publishing models, which (like Freire’s banking model of education) generally have idea-dissemination as their primary function. Instead, we offer a publishing model that is open and networked, engaged and playful. We have previously addressed the importance of reconsidering citation, not as purely formulaic and ethos-building, but as an engagement in authentic peer-review and community. Toward that end, we are rebranding the typical “Call for Submissions” as a more open and dialogic “Call for Participation.” The words, images, and ideas on the pages of Hybrid Pedagogy will be (in more and more revolutionary ways as we evolve) not merely delivered but dynamically annotated.

Teachers must be vulnerable to perform as learners (see “On Pedagogical Manipulation”), and our classrooms must become sites of intrinsic motivation, networked learning, and critical practice. Hybrid Pedagogy imagines a community wherein pedagogy is the province of every learner and teacher, wherein participants collectively engage the digital, interpersonal, and experiential strengths of everyone in the room, wherever the room.

[Photo by Dean Ayres]

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1 Response

  1. Mark

    “Both a laboriously prescriptive LMS and a roomful of desks in factory-like face-front rows are refusals to consider students as true participants in their own learning. These configurations assert that we just “deposit the expert,” “leash the students,” and “deliver the content.”

    I think this article, and this site in general, overstates the role of technologies, whether tables, chairs, vimeo, github, LMS etc. The authors seem to espouse some sort of technological determinism, in which, say, a course website, is so intrinsically negative that the teacher/students are powerless to overcome it. Such a view, in my opinion, blows things out of proportion: it is easy to imagine ways to use LMS (or use a traditional textbook) in responsible ways.

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