To See the Water We Swim In: Kevin Gannon on Inclusive Design

During Digital Pedagogy Lab 2019, Kevin Gannon will lead a course called Inclusive Design. Participants in this course will explore how design intersects with the praxis of critical digital pedagogy. Specifically, participants will look at issues of inclusion, privacy and security, and the fostering of agency, critical creative thinking, and community in digital and online learning. We caught up with Kevin to ask a few questions about his course, and what he has in mind for the cohort.

Why have you titled your course the way you have? What does it say about your hopes for the week at DPL?

I’m a big advocate of Inclusive Pedagogy, and as I’ve done more and more work in the area, I’ve become convinced that design is the crucial element of that equation. It’s also, unfortunately, an oft-overlooked element. I hope we’re able to change that during DPL; what is critical digital pedagogy without attention to the learning spaces we design and curate?

If you were going to describe your course as a narrative–with a beginning, middle, and end–how would the story go?

(With apologies to David Foster Wallace) Once upon a time, there were a bunch of fish swimming around. One day, someone asked them how the water was. The fish looked at one another, not really understanding the question. So they went to DPL and began to see the water they were swimming in. Then they asked if they were even in the right pool. The end?

To your mind, what is the most important thing participants in your course will walk away with? Do you have learning objectives or outcomes? Do you have a fond wish for them?

I hope we are able to unpack the ideas of “inclusion” and “design” to arrive at a place where our practices embody the best of both–whatever that may look like for our particular institutional context and the students with whom we work. Insclusive practice is more than just specific tricks and techniques (although those are present); it’s a set of lenses through which we can view our learning spaces and those who are engaging with them.

Describe your style of teaching. What is your pedagogical approach and your classroom style? Why?

Irreverent, collaborative, and pro-fun. I like to ask questions, especially “so what? and “why?” As a historian, I think context and stories are important parts of the way we understand ourselves and our environments, and asking questions is a great way to see those stories fully. As for the pro-fun part–if it’s not fun, is it really worth doing?

This will be your first time teaching at DPL. Why have you chosen to join us?

I am such a total fanboy of so many of the people here. I’d wash dishes and stack chairs if it got me to DPL.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your DPL 2019 course?

This is my first time teaching, or attending, DPL. I look forward to the energy and inspiration this experience will bring, and I hope to share it with y’all.


Registration Now Open

Kevin Gannon

Kevin Gannon is Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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