Round-Up 4: Facebook, Podcasts, & Twitter in Women's Studies
This is our fourth round-up of reports on using "e-tools" in the classroom. The first appeared in volume 27, numbers 2-3 (Winter--Spring 2006); the second in volume 28 number 4 (Summer-Fall 2007); and the third in volume 29 number 1 (Winter 2008). The round-ups are themselves follow-ups to "Blog This! an Introduction to Blogs, Blog-ging, and the Feminist Blogosphere," by Vicki Tobias (Feminist Collections v.26, nos.2-3, Winter-Spring 2005), available at http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handIe/1793/22243.
We will continue to publish reports from time to time about how instructors are using new information technologies and social networking in women's studies. If you have something to contribute, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
READ OUR MANIFESTOES: STUDENT-MOTIVATED FACEBOOK USE
by Sarah W. Whedon
I had not originally planned to use a social networking site in a women's studies course; it was the students themselves who led us to FaceBook as a medium for publishing their work.
The final project for my students in "Introduction to Multicultural Women's Studies" at Simmons--an undergraduate, women-only college--was the production of women's manifestoes. Together we had read and discussed several historical women's manifestoes and declarations--The Declaration of Sentiments of Resolutions from the Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, The Redstockings Manifesto, The Combahee River Collective Statement, The Riot Grrl Manifesto, and the Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing Declaration--most of which are available online.
Students then worked together in groups throughout the semester to develop a group process, identify major concerns of their cohort in conversation with the topics studied in the course, and compose their own new manifestoes, which they presented in class at the end of the semester.
I have had great success with this sort of assignment, which often feels more real to students than a traditional research paper. I support this sense of the real-world value of the project, which ideally can have life beyond the classroom exercise, by treating it as something real, such as by using assignment language describing when and how the groups must "publish" their manifestoes, rather than how to "turn them in." Students become more invested in the work itself, beyond concern for completing assignments and earning grades.
In fact, as the classroom presentations unfolded, these students were feeling so pleased with and proud of their work that they wanted to share their manifestoes with the larger Simmons College community. It was they who suggested to me that they were all already using FaceBook and could easily create a class page there, upload the manifestoes, and from there share them with their peers at Simmons, most of whom were also on FaceBook.
Sometimes instructors or administrators seem eager to use new technologies in courses just so they can say they are using them. I try to use them only when they clearly support the work of a course. In this case, the feminist pedagogy that empowered students organically developed into those students bringing their work to the Web. The publishing platform of FaceBook presented itself because the students were already there. And because we were using it only in this fairly narrow application, there was no need for me to "friend" my students and thus enter into a minefield of privacy issues.
Although I've used a variety of other course technologies (DVD, PowerPoint, Moodle, etc.), I have not employed FaceBook pedagogically before or since (this is also a comment on the perils of the adjunct--I haven't had the opportunity to teach this particular course again), but I would embrace it enthusiastically if such a pedagogical fit were to present itself again.
[Sarah W Whedon is an instructor at Cherry Hill Seminary'.]
FEMINIST PODCASTING: DELIVERING SCHOLARSHIP OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITY WALLS
by Erin Fields
Recent attacks on the role of women's and gender studies departments in Canadian universities1 spurred an initiative from the women's and gender studies librarian and the Centre for Women's and Gender Studies (CWGS) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to capture and more widely disseminate the "informal" work of feminist scholars at the university. …