It's hard to believe a new year is rolling around, coming up on a decade since HASTAC was founded. Semester schools have been at it a month, colleges and universities on the quarter system are about to begin, and this is the time when we always welcome a new "class" of HASTAC Scholars. WELCOME, ALL! This is just a very brief round-up of some highlights that we already know about. There will be much more that will unfold as the year develops. HASTAC is a virtual network, now of about 7200 individuals around the world. It is a community and you are herewith invited to contribute to that community in any way that furthers our ambition to think through how we make new media tools, platforms and content; how we think critically and creatively about the role of the digital in our lives and institutions; and how we participate together in new modes and ways of learning, in formal institutions and beyond. "Learning the future together," a HASTAC community member dubbed it some years ago and that about sums it up.
Some highlights to anticipate for AY 2011-2012:
(1) Our new website. Launched this summer, we've been told this one pushes just about all the limits of what a Drupal interactive site can do, especially given that HASTAC charges no dues and exists partly on grants, partly on volunteer labor, partly on institutional support from Duke University where the main HASTAC offices are located, and partly on the energies of network members. You can create groups, topics, all kinds of things on the new site. Ruby Sinreich led the in-house part of the design process and the amazing Message Agency did the development. Here's an introduction to the site: http://hastac.org/blogs/ruby-sinreich/welcome-hastac-40 Most important, if you have problems or ideas (remember, we work on a shoestring, so keep that in mind), use the Feedback form always visible i the lower right hand part of your screen to let us know what you are seeing and thinking or what problems you might be running into.
(2) HASTAC Scholars Forums: The doctoral student who directs the HASTAC Scholars (about two-thirds graduate students, one-third undergradautes), Fiona Barnett, will be in touch with HASTAC Scholars soon about what topics might be formulated collaboratively for conversation on the HASTAC site, conversation that is open to all. If you want a flavor of previous years, go here: http://hastac.org/scholars And keep in mind that something close to 350,000 unique visitors have visited these very sophisticated Forums in the past few years. I know this year's will be as engaged and engaging as they have been in the past.
(3) HASTAC V Conference, December 2-3, Hosted by the University Of Michigan, "Digital Scholarly Communication." This is a face-to-face actual conference. Here's the conference website: http://hastac2011.org/ I am not even going to try to paraphrase all the fabulous ways that "digital" and "scholarly" and "communication" are going to be explored, interrogated, performed, deconstructed, and lived for two days of conference, un-conferencing, art, music, demos, panels, workshops, lightning sessions, and on and on. Fiona Barnett, Director of the HASTAC Scholars, will also be running an extensive alt-academic portion of the Conference for HASTAC Scholars and anyone else who is interested in how HASTAC-y skills, ideas, connections, and goals can lead to careers beyond and outside the academy. We are very pleased with how this Conference is shaping up and we hope you will join us for some very exciting exchange.
(4) HASTAC Meet-Ups at Scholarly Conferences: Throughout the year, we will be encouraging HASTAC network members to host meet-ups f2f at various conferences. We also encourage you to work together to put together panels, workshops, presentations, and in other ways to use the network to its fullest. The calendar of events and opportunities is now one of the richest in academe, thanks to contributions by network members whose interest range from open web development to digital humanities, from critical code studies to queer and feminist media theory, from pedagogy to race and postcoloniality in virtual spaces. It's a big tent with lots of means of doors and windows. We love the diversity. In fact, as Fiona Barnett once said, remarking on our unofficial HASTAC methodology of "collaboration by difference": At HASTAC, difference isn't our deficit. It's our operating system.
(5) HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative and the HASTAC/MacArthur Competitions. See: http://hastac.org/digital-media-and-learning-competition-winners The HASTAC site is also the Winners' Hub hosting interaction by the winners of the three past MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions that HASTAC has been very proud and privileged to administer. Not only does HASTAC thrive because of this grant, but the dozens of winners find ways to share their work around the world, in learning communities that extend far beyond academe, with the more academic and theoretical work of other HASTAC members. Several HASTAC Scholars have ended up working with or partnering with projects of DML winners. It's a marvelous conduit back and forth, in and out of the academy, and around the world. We have projects in Canada, Mexico, England, India, Africa, Egypt, and other places too. The blend of academic and real-world applications, of formal learning institutions and informal ways of lifelong learning, is one of HASTAC's distinctive commitments, a feature that separates HASTAC from many academic organizations. We are always thrilled at crossfertilizations between and among HASTAC's sub communities. This year, we will be administering a Fourth Competition for the MacArthur Foundation. The topic chosen by the Foundation this year is "Badges for Lifelong Learning." You can read the Competition call here (http://dmlcompetition.net/ ) and you can read a healthy, spirited, passionate, and committed debate already happening around the very idea of badges and alternative credentialing, grading, accrediting, and "badging" systems (again, extending far outside and beyond the academy) throughout the HASTAC site. Just search "badges" and "dmlbadges" and you will be able to learn more about this very interesting topic. You will be hearing lots more about this throughout the year.
(6) Digital Media and Learning Conference, "Beyond Educational Technology," San Francisco March. 1-3, 2012, will feature four core threads - democratizing learning innovation, innovations for public education, re-imagining media for learning, and making/tinkering/remixing - and steer headlong into pressing debates around the role of technology and the future of education and learning. This, too, will be an amazing mix of doing, thinking, learning, teaching. We hope you will join us. Here's the url with more information: http://dmlcentral.net/blog/howard-rheingold/digital-media-learning-confe...
Okay. That's plenty. I don't want to overwhelm you in the first official day of our new HASTAC academic year. Welcome! Enjoy! Participate! Learn! Teach! All that. Learning the future together. We welcome you to what we know will be another exciting year together.