MLA 2018: Open Pedagogy: Best Practice in Digital Citizenship and the Ethics of Care

deadline for submissions: 
March 24, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Zach Whalen, MLA Committee on Information Technology
contact email: 

Digital pedagogy has long embraced an ethos of openness, both in the sense that teaching materials are shared with the public and that students are often asked to share their work to public audiences.

This openness can be extremely valuable, but exposure also carries risks, especially when the students’ work or the assignments critique dominant cultures of access, privilege, ableism, or oppression. As teachers, how do we balance the benefits of open pedagogy with the risks inherent in public engagement? What are our ethical obligations to protect our students from online trolls and other harassers?  This session seeks to generate practical advice and examples for best practices, beyond the option of pseudonymity, for connecting students to authentic, public audiences as part of a broader, more engaged public humanities discourse.

This call seeks presenters who have experience with and insight into the processes of taking their student’s work online and addressing a wide public audience.  Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • When should we “signal boost” our students’ work through our own professional/social networks and what are the ethics of doing so?
  • Should class blogs include open comment sections, and if so, when are we obligated to moderate or “police” those comments?
  • What about the trolls? Do we teach students to simply ignore them, and does that really work?
  • How important is it to direct students toward open source and free software, and under what circumstances is a proprietary platform worth the cost?
  • What platforms are best suited for student expression? Wikis, blogs, WordPress, etc.?
  • And how do we support and train faculty, especially junior and contingent faculty, in learning these platforms?

Contributors to the session will prepare a brief statement of practice on one of these or a related topic, up to (and no more than) 4 minutes. During the session, contributors and moderators will collaborate with attendees to produce a “crowdsourced,” broad statement defining best practices in Digital Citizenship and Open Pedagogy.

Please send abstracts of 200 – 500 words by March 24.

Direct any questions to Zach Whalen (zwhalen at umw dot edu) or Angel David Nieves (anieves at hamilton dot edu); for Twitter contact, ping us at @zachwhalen or @angeldnieves.