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Open Thread: What’s Your (Digital) Activism?

Child in front of a machine

“My silences had not protected me, your silence will not protect you” —Audre Lorde

“There’s a difference between a sort of silence of complicity and a silence of listening. I think it’s important that we differentiate and disentangle the two.” —Clint Smith on Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

“the internet gives us new ways of being political actors and activists, and they are brilliant, so long as they don’t become ends in themselves.” —Helen Beetham

I started writing this post but got influenced by several things I’ve been reading/hearing in the past week – particularly about silence and activism. I’m thinking about how we need to choose our digital activism and orient our digital behavior towards social justice. I’m thinking about how we need to try to orient all our silences towards listening and not complicity. And while not everyone’s day job makes it easy to live our activism (I don’t know how to infuse this into teaching quantum mechanics, for example), I wanted to share some of what people I know are doing, and to invite readers to tell us what they’re doing in the comments.

  • Professional Development for Educators: Take Antigonish 2.0: Bonnie Stewart has initiated a movement, that aims to “draw on the model of the original Antigonish Movement of participatory learning…but re-tooled for the 21st century and the local and global connections that digital makes possible”, because Bonnie believes “it is our societal lack of understanding and agency regarding media literacies and digital literacies – and thus the stories we tell ourselves about truth, decency, and each other – that is the poverty I know how to address.” She is also teaching a track on digital literacies at the upcoming 3-day Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute in Vancouver, Canada in July (there are also tracks on Open Pedagogy and Social Justice, and on Writing about Teaching). In fact, both Digital Pedagogy Lab Institutes this summer are more explicitly orienting all tracks in an activist manner. The 5-day institute takes place in August at the University of Mary Washington and has tracks on Networked Learning and Intercultural Collaboration (which I co-teach with Kate Bowles), Design Thinking, Domain of One’s Own, and Introduction to Critical Digital Pedagogy.

  • There are important conversations on digital citizenship by Autumm Caines and Sundi Richard and others they’ve been working with, and I’ve been inspired to design a course locally on global digital citizenship, one that’s focused on promoting intercultural understanding and participatory citizenship, and I’m promoting the infusion of more intercultural learning in my institution.

  • Health activism: Alan Levine’s response to the threat of the ACA repeal by collecting and publishing stories to represent the 30 million people who would be affected in #30millionlikeme or Rebecca J. Hogue’s work on ePatients.

  • What are we doing in our classes to empower our students? Read about Chris Gilliard’s experience working with his students and listen to them speak about it here.

  • What are we doing to counter privilege and white supremacy culture in our institutions? I’ve been inspired by this piece by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun which has some practical strategies for recognizing and countering white supremacy culture in organizations (surprise: you will recognize that it exists even when everyone in the room is not white). Suggestions include developing a “learning organization” where failure is expected and treated as a learning opportunity; prioritizing process and quality over quantity of work output; and countering paternalism and power-hoarding. I can’t do the piece justice by summarizing it – it’s a quick read, but very useful on many levels: for our classrooms, our institutions, our lives.

“What is our responsibility to speak? As educators? As parents? As citizens?” asked Audrey Watters a few years ago.

What is your current form of (digital) activism? Inspire us in the comments!

Flickr photo “Activating” by Jérôme Decq is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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