June 8th, 2010
We need to start an online journal, one that will offer the best that’s thought and said in the scholarship of teaching and learning with technology. We have reached an ideal juncture of need and opportunity. CUNY gives us the scope. The Commons gives us the reach. Events like the eight annual CUNY IT Conferences have given us the experience, extended by campus events (like LaGuardia’s Making Connections conferences on eportfolio use) and newer conferences as different as those on The Digital University and Technology in Math Instruction.
Such events don’t provide the only grist to the proposed mill, of course, but they are evidence of how often a presentation or paper on online instruction or tech-mediated teaching is lost to all but a few assembled at a particular moment in time. These losses promise to escalate as the we move forward with new projects and initiatives: the ebook project, the online composition pilot, the hybrid initiative.
Why, as we evolve and document new practices and pedagogies, shouldn’t we have a means of vetting and disseminating what will be useful to the larger community? That feels (and frankly is meant to feel) like a rhetorical question. We should.
There’s work involved, of course. I can see how that could be off-putting to some. I spent seven years as the co-editor of a refereed scholarly journal (the Journal of Basic Writing), so I’m acutely aware of how much time can be drawn off by such a commitment. And the investment sometimes has too-subtle returns. The best way to manage the publication of other people’s work is to make your own contributions of time and effort invisible, guaranteeing that yours is literally a thankless task.
Still, there are satisfactions. To the sort of people who are drawn to such work, they scarcely have to be mentioned, but one needs to be stressed. An online SoTLwT journal would be so useful and would garner such attention that it would not just enrich our institutional culture but help to change it. Such an enterprise would draw superb collaborators to it. I really think we just need to get the call out to begin building a great team.
So consider this an invitation (or something more bracing: a dare or challenge, if that helps). I am hoping that those who might be interested would go to the forum on this in the Open Access group (and we will probably need to create our own group shortly).I am not especially concerned that I am sending this out even as the great summer diaspora begins. Convening (except online) is presumably not an issue, and the downtime summer usually brings will give those who might be interested in getting involved some time to think of and come to terms.
One last thing: I’ve mentioned the scholarship of teaching and learning (and its acronym, SoTL — usually pronounced to rhyme with “total”). There’s lots of stuff on that out there. (One good collection is at the Illinois State site.) I’ve made that unlovely acronym still more so by adding a “wT” to it, but a look at the recent preponderance of work on the scholarship of teaching and learning with technology will suffice to suggest that this is where much of the work in SoTL is going.) There is so much out there that one discussion might be to focus still more — on work in CUNY specifically, or even in certain disciplines or kinds of courses. But such discussions await the self-identification of the discussants. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll consider being one.