New Directions in Interdisciplinary Electronic Pedagogy: Practice, Process, Products

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. Lissa Holloway-Attaway

    Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

  2. 2. Lisa McNair

    Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), University of Chicago

  3. 3. Mary Carney

    Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), University of Georgia

  4. 4. Brandy Walker

    Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Tulane University

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New Directions in Interdisciplinary Electronic
Pedagogy: Practice, Process, Products


Georgia Institute of Technology


Georgia Institute of Technology/University of Chicago


Georgia Institute of Technology/University of Georgia


Georgia Institute of Technology/Tulane University


University of Tübingen







Many computer-mediated communication theorists, particularly those engaged in
studies of writing-intensive humanities curricula, affirm the revisionary
possibilities for teaching and learning that emerge in the electronic
classroom. Recognizing that the introduction of educational technologies
into conventional humanist practice radically alters the sites and modes
through which meaning and identity unfold, they often celebrate the
revolutionary and utopian environments they find developing at the
human/computer intersection. In the most optimistic theoretical reflections,
computer-technologies and the e-texts they generate de- naturalize
communication and foreground the diverse functions, means, and processes of
writing, while providing faculty and students alike with opportunities to
consciously reflect on issues of discourse and literacy in both digital and
conventional contexts. As tools and texts merge, restrictive notions of
unitary identity and isolated authority and authorship are revised and re-
evaluated, as student-centered and -initiated collaborative learning
communities are constructed "on-the-fly." The computers' networking
functions extend beyond technical applications into social, political, and
rhetorical contexts, and the classroom reconstructs itself as a dynamic,
egalitarian site of exchange and reflection. However, for those engaged in
the actual realization of these theoretical pursuits, such optimism is often
difficult to sustain in the complex virtualities of a technology-infused
humanities classroom. In fact, a robust pedagogical support system is
necessary to negotiate the specific reconstructions (of identity, learning,
and practice) one confronts on the front-lines of the humanities computing
The School of Literature, Communication, and Culture (LCC) at the Georgia
Institute of Technology offers a rich context in which to explore the
practical realities of electronic pedagogy, technical innovation, and
curricula development and delivery in humanities classes. LCC faculty share
a commitment to interdisciplinary work at the theoretical and applied levels
and integrate their interests in educational technologies and new media
research and development with conventional humanities studies. In
particular, the freshmen undergraduate writing program offers students a
dynamic technology-driven educational environment to explore computer
mediated communication and composition fundamentals through an
interdisciplinary cultural studies approach. While deploying custom-designed
synchronous, asynchronous, and hypertext applications within the curricula,
the program also offers an innovative and intensive electronic-pedagogy
support system for freshmen writing instructors to examine critically the
revolutionary practices in which they are engaged.
The individual panel discussions that follow explore the strategic objectives
necessary to sustain a critical perspective on humanities computing
initiatives, as well as provide specific examples that foreground
alternatively models of the practice, process, and products of
interdisciplinary electronic pedagogy. Collectively, they discuss positive
forms of resistance in pedagogical practice to counter utopian idealism,
while providing practical guidelines to navigate the inevitable dissensus
and chaos that results when humanities studies and technology intersect.
Each panel participant will prepare a 10-15 minute presentation leaving
considerable room for audience discussion of the key issues foregrounded in
the panel as a whole.

Re(media)l Training: Developing an Integrated Pedagogical Support
System for Human|Computing Initiatives
Lissa Holloway-Attaway

The integration of computers into humanities-studies requires the
development of attendant pedagogical methodologies to support the
new discourses and media that result, and LCC's interdisciplinary
writing program provides a critical and instructional framework to
support the rich educational opportunities it creates. In her
presentation, Lissa Holloway-Attaway will provide an overview of
LCC's Brittain Teaching Fellows and Electronic Pedagogy Certificate
programs to demonstrate the ways in which pedagogical and curricular
development can combine with technological initiatives to provide a
strong foundation for humanities computing research. The Brittain
Teaching Fellows, who comprise the majority of freshman writing
instructors, are recruited in a national search from a variety of
disciplines and bring a range of critical approaches to explore
technology- infused communications within a cultural studies
context. Additionally, their participation in a two-year Electronic
Pedagogy Certificate program creates a sustained and
critically-informed approach to the use of electronic technologies
and media within humanities programs. The self-reflective and
recursive practices in which they are engaged establish a core
community of researchers who participate in the strategic
development of tools, media, and resources within the established
interdisciplinary curricula. By examining the institutional
motivations and pedagogical objectives informing the development of
LCC's interdisciplinary structure and reviewing the tools deployed
within the curricula, Holloway-Attaway will reveal both the benefits
and challenges of resisting discipline-specific education.

2) TITLE: "Practicing Ethnography in and out of the Electronic
Pedagogy Classroom"
Lisa McNair

Ethnography is semi-scientific inquiry into human cultures. It is
scientific because it is a process of gathering, organizing and
presenting empirical data. It is semi-scientific because ethnography
employs an interpretive, humanistic methodology that must account
for not only its subject of study but also the nature of the
investigation itself. Thus, ethnographic studies are necessarily
self-reflexive projects. Electronic pedagogy enables students to
observe, analyze and engage in practices of ethnography using
multimedia tools that expand the notion of "text."
In her presentation, Lisa McNair will examine the ways in which
ethnographic studies in technology-infused curricula offer
innovative and highly complex opportunities for students to engage
in an interpretive analysis of the role and function of the
authorial subject. In her course focusing on the culture of the
American South, students develop methods of seeing the world around
them as a collection of interpretations, including their own
individualized viewpoints. Research on the world-wide-web produces a
plethora of interdisciplinary ethnography projects already completed
and presented. Along with these original offerings, there are many
re-presentations of earlier ethnographies, some evocative of the
original work, some extremely skewed. Too often the web presents
only that which glitters, satisfying ephemeral curiosity instead of
delving into "thick description." In these radically condensed and
sometimes exploitative presentations lies the opportunity to analyze
the primary and secondary practices of gathering material,
interpreting, and then presenting it to an audience. Indeed, this is
the descriptive task that students complete by using several
collaborative and individual methods implemented through technology
programs provided by the department. Individually, students compare
various texts — written material, photo-documentaries, spoken
interviews, and film projects — using reproductions enhanced by
image, audio and video files. In groups, students meet in electronic
spaces to compile findings, discuss their interpretations and build
structured presentations. Both collaborative and individual
presentations mirror the multi-faceted reality of perspective: by
re-presenting the re-presented and moving through different media,
students practice methods of interpretation and examine voluble
concepts of fact vs. fiction. Finally, students conduct their own
fieldwork, armed with humanistic ways of seeing and electronic
methods for illustrating their perspectives.

3) TITLE: "The Writing Process: Teaching Discursive Practices in an
Electronic Environment"
Mary Carney

The theoretical approach to writing as a complex amalgam of both
discrete and intertwining activities can be productively realized by
using the medium of computers to foreground the process. Electronic
environments are not only conducive to teaching writing as a process
but to exposing idealistic notions of writing as an intuitive and
natural exercise. In addition, electronic pedagogy helps to make the
discursive practices of a writing intensive course more concrete.
In her presentation, Mary Carney analyzes humanities computing as a
methodology to foreground the writing process and simultaneously
provide a concrete engagement with the theoretical and critical
practices of cultural studies. For the final project in her course
that examines representations of warfare, students engage in
interdisciplinary analysis of a war artifact by integrating a
description of one war technology, a brief history of its inception,
and an analysis of one of its cultural implications. The writing
process throughout this project is made visible through a number of
assignments using custom- designed electronic tools. Through
synchronous and asynchronous modes of communication, in both
conventional and electronic discussion, students highlight and
practice the "process" of writing with clearly defined assignments
designed to foster an awareness of not only their own discursive
practices but of their fellow students and of a broader research
community. The writing intensive assignments developed through a
variety of electronic conferencing applications encourage early
"play" with relevant discourses and contribute to the ultimate
acquisition of complex critical vocabularies and approaches. For
undergraduates, online and conventional resource materials can
easily overwhelm students and restrict them to an unfocussed cycle
of research and revision, impeding their ability to find appropriate
critical approaches to their subject. Collaborative electronic
spaces provide opportunities to practice revision skills and to
comprehend research as a form of critical practice where authorial
identity must be challenged. While mediating the complex discourse
communities they create and critique, students must confront the
chaos of multiple authorship and uncertain authority in the
electronic environments that both uphold and disrupt their
rhetorical practices.

4) TITLE: “A Century of Collaboration: The Products of Electronic
Brandy Brown Walker

Humanities computing enterprises offer new ways to conceptualize
learning as a collaborative process. Collaborative efforts in turn
provide more holistic understandings of discipline specific and
interdisciplinary topics. Electronic pedagogy provides students with
the tools and strategies to approach their topic from a variety of
disciplinary perspectives in order to maximize the potential for
learning. Such potentials allow educators to help students move from
traditional assignments isolated from other students’ products, to
assignments that both supplement and engage in conversation with
other students’ work. Courses that focus on interdisciplinary
collaboration can then potentially develop resources that have both
more breadth and depth than students working in more traditional and
discrete modes could produce.
In her presentation, Brandy Walker will explore the benefits and
challenges that collaboration brings to interdisciplinary pursuits.
Students in her course on science, technology and culture ultimately
build a database of information and research that reflects both
individual scholarship and collaborative production of materials.
Moving through a series of assignments that provide breadth to a
historical investigation of advancements in science and technology
and their impacts on culture, to assignments that explore in depth
specific circumstances surrounding particular inventions and
discoveries, Walker’s class collaboratively builds a web of timeline
and research resources. The final product of this course is a
collaborative resource of student work informed by interdisciplinary
goals achieved through committed application of electronic pedagogy.
When the learning process reflects a multiplicity of research
efforts, students gain a more comprehensive view of their subject.
In this course, a century of science, technology and culture would
be inconceivable without the collaboration that new directions in
interdisciplinary electronic pedagogy provide. However, such rewards
are not without consequences; both students and instructors face
challenges in negotiating and strategically managing the process
through with these collaborative efforts are realized.

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Conference Info

In review

"New Directions in Humanities Computing"

Hosted at Universität Tübingen (University of Tubingen / Tuebingen)

Tübingen, Germany

July 23, 2002 - July 28, 2008

72 works by 136 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double-checked.

Conference website:

Series: ALLC/EADH (29), ACH/ICCH (22), ACH/ALLC (14)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None