The End of the Story Is Not Yet Written: an interview with Bonnie Stewart

During Digital Pedagogy Lab 2019, Bonnie Stewart will lead a course called Digital Scholarship. The course will be a hands-on exploration of the systems and practices shaping the direction(s) of scholarship today. We caught up with Bonnie to ask a few questions about her course, and what she has in mind for participants.

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

Titles are tough. You want to be succinct, and yet not too narrow. 🙂

With the track title “Digital Scholarship,” I was trying to say, “hey! let’s explore the complex and intersecting issues shaping higher ed in the 21st century…and what it means to work – in any role in the contemporary academy – at these intersections.” I want to explore, in community with other practitioners, the systems currently in tension in our scholarly information ecosystem. I’m hoping we come out with a sense of how we can work together to shape that ecosystem towards increased equity and openness.

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

Once upon a time, there was an academy that internalized 20th century print-based practices, prestige economies, and copyright laws, and built some pretty pervasive norms upon this foundation.

Then the internet happened, but scholarship – for the most part – ignored it, continuing to offer free labour to publishing giants even as print costs disappeared and profits soared. Precarity and the gig economy happened, and the academy split increasingly into adjunct, administrative, and tenured classes, but without reckoning with its own increasing stratification and polarization. Knowledge abundance and the attention economy happened, but scholarship – again, for the most part – tried to carry on with business as usual instead of developing teaching and research practices focused on public impact.

Most recently, data surveillance and algorithmic decision-making have swept our culture, and in spite of the risked to the academy’s traditional role as the keeper of knowledge, scholarship has barely begun to engage the question of what it means to know in a machine learning society.

The end of the story is not yet written. The premise of this track is that higher ed is currently engaged in a choose-your-own adventure tale: by exploring the issues together and the implications digital and open practice offer to scholars and practitioners, the experience we build in the track can help us ALL come to deeper understandings and shape the next chapters for higher ed.

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?

My most fond wish and goal is that what participants will walk away with is a sense of community and connection, plus capacity to build together towards change in higher ed, over the long run.

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

For me, learning is always a participatory experience. My pedagogical approach focuses on framing concepts and possibilities, while recognizing that humans are all different and that every participant in the track will have their own experience and their own contribution to make. I see it as my job to host those contributions with hospitality and interest, while bringing forward / modeling some of the practices that I think contemporary digital scholarship *can* make the most of.

This isn’t your first DPL. Why do you choose to come back?

I’ve been involved with DPL since the very first Lab in 2015. I’ve taught DPL tracks in Madison, in Cairo, in PEI, and in Vancouver, and every time, it’s been a deep, intensive teaching and learning experience that has brought me into contact with new colleagues from around the world. These connections continue to enrich my life and my scholarship. This will be my first time in Fredericksburg and I’m excited to now experience the flagship event…but what I come for is the people and the possibility of doing something powerful together, every time.

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

I’m hoping we can work together towards creating open, digital resources that identify and explore some of the tensions shaping contemporary scholarship, so that participants can share some of their experience and suggested next steps with colleagues when they return home.


Registration Now Open

Bonnie Stewart

Among with Sean Michael Morris, Digital Pedagogy Lab

Bonnie Stewart is Assistant Professor, Online Pedagogy & Workplace Learning, at the University of Windsor.

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