Deep Collaboration and the Labor of Digital Pedagogy in a Liberal Arts Context




Walden, Katherine
Purcell, Sarah
Sharpe, Celeste
Shrout, Anelise

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Small liberal arts colleges (SLACs) present a unique environment for experimenting and exploring various aspects of digital pedagogy. Motivated by the need to empower students with 21st century skills and digital literacy, many SLACs have invested in academic technology units, expanded the library’s scope, or designed interdisciplinary academic programs with faculty equipped to teach at the nexus of qualitative inquiry and digital technologies. These initiatives create opportunities for new types of knowledge production and curricular innovation; they also present distinct challenges for ethical collaboration, as the rubber of interdisciplinary digital work hits the road of academic labor hierarchies in the context of undergraduate-focused institutions. Many SLAC projects also include undergraduate collaborators. As scholarship from Amanda Visconti, Bethany Nowviskie, Paige Morgan, and others has noted, the emotional labor and significant collaboration digital work requires can present challenges for those who do not have faculty status as well as faculty in interdisciplinary units whose tenure case hinges on making their scholarly work legible to variety of disciplinary audiences. The individuals on this panel represent a variety of perspectives and positions within SLACs, including pre-tenure faculty, post-tenure faculty, and “alt-ac” staff who work in academic technology units. In this panel, representatives from each institution will present brief (10 minute) presentations on their institutional context and local efforts (30 minutes total), leaving 30 minutes for discussion and conversation amongst the panelists and with audience members. This conversation and dialogue will be organized around the following framing questions, specifically in relation to SLAC environments and interdisciplinary digital work: What structures exist to support digital work? Who are the collaborators involved in digital work? How does digital work relate to the curriculum and curricular structures? What unique opportunities do we have to foster meaningful, ethical collaboration? What challenges do we face in relation to fostering meaningful, ethical collaboration? What steps have we taken/are we taking to move toward ethical collaboration in digital work? What steps have our institutions taking/are our institutions taking to move toward ethical collaboration in digital work? A goal of this conversation is to unpack some of the local and global structures that impact collaborative efforts. In framing and facilitating a conversation around ethical collaboration in digital liberal arts pedagogy, this panel seeks to outline strategies for engaging in collaborations that reflect an intersectional feminist approach to acknowledging labor and making labor visible.


Digital Frontiers Session: Deep Collaboration and the Labor of Digital Pedagogy in a Liberal Arts Context


collaboration, digital pedagogy, liberal arts, ethical collaboration, labor


Walden, K., Purcell, S., Sharpe, C., & Shrout, A. H. (2019). Deep collaboration and the labor of digital pedagogy in a liberal arts context. [Conference presentation]. Digital Frontiers Annual Conference, Austin, TX, United States.


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