In addition to my German blog post, here is my account for the Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL) 2019 at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.
As an educational scientist with a deep interest in Open Education (see here for example my piece on a historical reconstruction of Open Ed), I have thought about attending DPL for a couple of years. Recently I have been to the OER-conferences in London and Galway and I enjoyed the spirit and the culture of this community. So I was very excited about my premiere visit at DPL. From what I knew about DPL on Twitter, this is an event with a specific perspective linked to critical digital pedagogy. This is in contrast to the German communities where we have separate groups discussing either pedagogy and philosophy or digital transformation of pedagogy.
Prior to my attendance I decided to join the class on Pedagogy, Change and Agency offered by Naomi de la Tour from the University of Warwick. It soon became clear that the class was all about Critical Pedagogy in Action. So Naomi deliberatively tinkered with her role as a (formal) instructor and tried to give us space to share thoughts and ideas. Yet, on the other side there should be some sort of agenda or plan for the week, shouldn’t it? I felt an inner struggle between my latent expectations which centered more around the notion of digital and its impact of pedagogy. In this regard, Naomi’s ongoing questions „What kind of permission do you need for this?“ was very help- and powerful. So for me, I gave myself the permission to let it go with the flow in the class.
I soon got a sense of belongingness to the group which consisted mostly of US-based teachers. The poor working conditions in the US became also apparent for me in the wonderful keynote from Robin de Rosa. Her insightful perspective and in-depth analysis led to powerful recommendations for the audience. In Germany there are similar debates but the degree of neoliberal thinking is much more proliferated in North America. The critical feedback from one person after the keynote was also an indicator that the DPL-community is aware of the pitfalls of being too self-satisfied and enthusiastic. It is a constant struggle which pertains also to the entire DPL organization with its move to Denver.
Throughout the week in class, we maintained a discursive approach to pedagogy with intense discussion on the value and the potential negative side effects of being too open. There were many great references, examples and anecdotes so at one point we decided to set up a Google Doc as a manifestation of our thoughts. It is called The Anti-Manifesto Manifesto of Critical Education and it is open for everybody to learn from and to contribute to.
There is definitely much more to write about DPL 2019 but I wanted to bring out my impressions after a long, inspiring and rewarding week.