Teaching with, and about, the Internet

In a recent talk at the AoIR 2019 conference, I suggested that it would be helpful to have some kind of collaborative guidelines, similar to the AoIR ethics guidelines, around teaching in Internet Studies and related fields. (For more on my reasoning, see the bite-sized Twitter version of talk.)

In the period after giving the talk, I realised that…maybe I should try to take on some of the labour involved in sparking (or at least checking if there’s broader interest in) the kinds of guidelines I was hoping for. (With a little prompt from Jeremy Hunsinger, thanks!) In some useful-but-hurried conversations over morning tea, I realised that it might be helpful to suggest some general parameters for what the guidelines could focus on.

As someone pointed out, AoIR is the Internet Research Association, not the Internet teaching association. So why have guidelines about teaching at all?

Not all teachers do research, and not all researchers teach, but teaching and research cross-fertilise and depend on each other in important ways in academia today. Drawing on research in Internet Studies, including around data privacy and platform capitalism, might help us to better understand and articulate concerns about how we teach about, and with, the Internet.

There’s plenty of work available about how we teach with the Internet. There’s also some work about how we teach about the Internet (although, I think, a bit less). There are some other areas, like the Platform Pedagogies group, that I need to dig into more deeply. There seems to be room to bring together some of this work with other research being done around the impact of the Internet to provide guidelines or resources that could help us to understand how digital technologies, including learning management systems, extension management systems, Turnitin, and other platforms used in teaching, work. How do they use data? How do they make money? How do they structure and monitor our teaching, and students’ learning? And with a better understanding of these technologies, how might we draw on shared resources to resist or reshape universities’ use of them?

Potentially, Internet Studies teaching guidelines might also do other things, like outline research on assessment or suggest ways of developing more inclusive curriculum. Such research and praxis already exists, but not necessarily with the authority that AoIR support might provide.


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