Working Toward Definitions

One thing that stands out in our conversations these past weeks is just how amorphous the term “hybrid” actually is, both pedagogically and methodologically. In the past few weeks we’ve talked about tools and platforms, shared successes and failures in our own intentional and un-intentional forays into hybrid pedagogy (however we define it ), experienced hybrid learning on our own by undergoing IRB certification online, brainstormed assessment, and begun our own annotated bibliography, identified terms that might begin a possible dictionary—all toward interrogating hybridity in our own classrooms.

Let’s move toward our individual and collective definitions. In a recent post on Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal on Teaching and Technology, Jesse Stommel offers this useful definition and differentiation:

At its most basic level, the term “hybrid,” as I’m using it here, refers to learning that happens both in a classroom (or other physical space) and online. In this respect, hybrid does overlap with another concept that is often used synonymously: blended. I would like to make some careful distinctions between these two terms. Blended learning describes a process or practice; hybrid pedagogy is a methodological approach that helps define a series of varied processes and practices. (Blended learning is tactical, whereas hybrid pedagogy is strategic.) When people talk about “blended learning,” they are usually referring to the place where learning happens, a combination of the classroom and online. The word “hybrid” has deeper resonances, suggesting not just that the place of learning is changed but that a hybrid pedagogy fundamentally rethinks our conception of place.

Jesse Stommel goes on to explore hybridity in terms of intersections of various binaries (check his list in the article) that he notes are “currently being challenged by the evolution of educational technology” — and we are among those doing the challenging.

All this bring to mind a recent conversation (last night at dinner, in fact) where the challenges came from a different direction. The speculation was that in a rush to embrace technology, many educators privilege method and ignore substance, privilege digitization and ignore pedagogy, privilege concept and ignore practice. Possible? Sure. But it’s not what we do. But this challenge provides an opportunity to present lessons that we annotate to explain the multiplicity of our attention and efforts.

Sometimes working from particularities to generalizations works well. So, we suggest that each of us creates and describes a lesson (the focus, length, and structure to be determined by you) that we use to illustrate what we mean by hybridity. It’s not the entirety of hybridity; instead, it’s (as Jesse Stommel says) a “moment of play,” or as others of us might say, the kairotic moment. For this, create a new post that presents your annotated lesson (one you’ve done or one you’d like to do) on TECHStyle in the Hybrid Pedagogy category. Let’s see what we get!

Rebecca Burnett and Amanda Madden

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One Comment

  1. Stommel’s discussion reaffirms that with hybridity there is often conflict, or at least contention. As Burnett and Madden note, he offers a helpful list of binary concepts—what he terms, “intersections”–that function as intellectual spaces where hybridity “happens.” Included in this list are several dichotomies that have been the focus of both my scholarship and my teaching for several years:

    Physical Learning Space / Virtual Learning Space
    Academic Space / Extra-academic Space
    Institutional Education / Informal Education
    Scholars / Teachers
    Disciplinarity / Interdisciplinarity
    Individual Teachers, Students, and Scholars / Collaborative Communities
    Learning in Schools / Learning in the World
    Use of Tools / Critical Engagement with Tools

    While I have been highly educated (disciplined) in physical academic institutions (I would, in fact, call myself over-educated to the point of occupational psychosis) where my scholar-professors instructed me in how to use various tools, my approach to texts has been highly influenced by the virtual, extra-academic online communities that make up slash fandom. Slash is a type of fanwork in which two characters of the same sex or gender are presented as being in a sexual or romantic situation or relationship with each other. Slash fandom, then, is the greater “slashing” fandom community.

    Most fan scholarship—notably from Henry Jenkins, Constance Penley, Camille Bacon-Smith, and Rhiannon Bury—focuses on slash fandom as a subversive and communal practice that provides a counter-hegemonic discourse about popular media texts. But slash is, when thought of as a form of hybridity, an intersection of author/reader, consumer/producer, canon/noncanon, as well as critical inquiry related to ownership, heteronormativity, gender, and sexuality.

    While it was my professors who introduced me to the postmodern logic of “both/and,” it was the slashers who made me understand that such logic is subversive, even taboo to mainstream society. It was slashers who taught me that cultural critique does not occur solely within essays canonized within the ivory tower, but can be found in the fictions, vids, and art posted on online community blogs. It is due to my informal, collaborative education that I am able to engage critically with cultural texts, questioning the ideologies and assumptions therein, as well as question what is meant by “text.”

    In my scholarship and teaching I have sought to “slash” many of the dichotomies found on Stommel’s list, not only in my personal scholarly and pedagogy practices but in my assignments. One assignment that I have successfully taught over the past few years is a critical analysis of online collaborative software. In groups of 3-5, students compose a white paper advocating for an online collaborative software. In addition to writing about the software they select, they must also use this software during the writing of the paper, and include a usability analysis of how the online collaborative software is helpful as a tool of collaboration when working on large projects (such as a report). This “box of mirrors,” “self-reflexive” or “meta” approach is something that I learned from slash fandom, and by turning the assignment into a critical exercise, I avoid committing one of the oft-committed sins of technical writing pedagogy—that of focusing overly much on the final product.

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