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Field Notes for a Peer-Written Textbook for Teaching Collaborative, Open, Peer Learning and Teaching

Yesterday #Duke21C met again, two weeks after the end of the semester to take our book manuscript to the next level and make dozens of collective decisions and delegate all the chores necessary on the way to publishing our book together.  Here's the course that generated this class-created Field Notes to 21st Literacies, a very practical and also theoretical guide to how to create, run, inspire, be part of a peer-created course:    


Amazingly, 100% of the students and the prof (moi!) showed up for an intense, friendly, and uttlery collaborative three hour session, one on Skype from Cambridge, one having just gotten in by bus from Washington, DC, another having returned early from a hiking trip, and others back from various weddings, graduations, and venues and about to depart to various places (Brazil, Tenerife, and so forth).   That all made this a commitment is a tribute to this astonishing community we've made together. 


Our next step is to finalize edits, choose a "field note" image for each chapter, and then get this to a professional copy editor.   For book publication--one of five formats we will be using for the book--we need someone not in our community to regularize our spelling, habits,typography, and so forth.   That's part of collaboration, knowing when you need someone whose skills extend your own.  


The very "meta" part of this book is that it will be available for free download as one of the required textbooks in the MOOC I'm teaching next Winter 2014 on "The History and Future of the University."    Along with the interactive "course" my undergraduate students made in Surprise Endings:  Social Science and Literature, the course I co-taught with behavioral economist Dan Ariely, this Field Notes peer-produced book on peer-to-peer learning will be one of the resources that turns a top-down centralized MOOC into a worldwide connectivist dialogue on the future of peer-to-peer learning.  I love the idea of students creating field guides and online courses designed to inspire other students to do the same.


Below you can read our table of contents and the Wordle of the book and the Preface that explains our methods and purposes.   Stay tuned on this site for the first publication of the book.   And join us in person or virtually this Fall for the book launch to celebrate our publication.   And then, the remixing, hacking, forking fun--once our book is out there in the world for others--will begin!






Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies:

A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies:

A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning



Written and Edited by The 21st Century Collective


Cristiane Damasceno, Omar Daouk, Cathy N. Davidson, Christina C. Davidson, Jade E. Davis, Patrick Thomas Morgan, Barry Peddycord III, Elizabeth A. Pitts, Jennifer Stratton





Chapter One: Why Every Class Needs to Write a Constitution  Cathy N. Davidson (@cathyndavidson)


Chapter Two: From Open Programming to Open Learning: The Cathedral, The Bazaar, and the Open Classroom

Barry Peddycord III (@isharacomix)

Elizabeth A. Pitts (@elizabethapitts)


Chapter Three: Practicing Web Wisdom: Mindfully Incorporating Digital Literacies into the Classroom

Patrick Thomas Morgan (@PTMorgan87)


Chapter Four: Paying Attention to the Chocolate-Covered Broccoli: How Video Games Can Change the Ways You Understand Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge

Cristiane Sommer Damasceno(@crissdamas)


Chapter Five: The Medium of the 21st Century is Light:

Or, How Earbuds Became Earlids: Field Notes on the Digital Medium for Teachers and Learners in an Age of Data, Bandwidth, Cables, Photooptics, Scanners, Lasers, Printers, Fiberoptics, and All Other Things Digital and Otherwise in a Post-McLuhan Electronic Age etc., or Why We Wrote a Book

Jade E. Davis (@jadedid)

Chapter Six: Open for Whom? Designing for Inclusion, Navigating the Digital Divide

Christina C. Davidson  (@cecedavidson)


Chapter Seven: #EveryDayByDesign Or, What Do 21ST Century Digital Literacies Look Like?

Jennifer Stratton


Chapter Eight: Surprise Endings:Putting the Lessons into Action  

Omar Daouk



  • Creative Commons License

  • Contributors  





Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies:  A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning is intended to assist anyone embarking on open teaching.  It offers foundational methods, examples, and explanatory theories for how to set up the practices of a class, how to determine guiding principles, how to theorize what you are doing in the classroom, how to design the class, how to include multimedia elements and approaches such as games, and how to ensure that you have designed a class for inclusion, not exclusion.  Finally, the openness of the learning should continue even after the book is published/goes public, and the chapters in the “Invitations” section offer advice on how to extend your open practices to the world beyond the classroom.  This is by no means the only way to set up peer-to-peer teaching, but it is an account of the way we have done it, with as much detail as possible to encourage others to try, in whatever way suits their community and purposes.  

We expect the audience of our book to be multiple.  We anticipate it will be of use to seasoned teachers and professors who have practiced peer-to-peer forms of teaching in the past as well as those new to the methods and who want to try it for a first time.    We see this method working for high school students,undergraduate, and graduate students in many fields as well as for lifelong learners of all ages, in any setting. Our method and our content topic happen to match--a collaboratively produced, peer-written book about open learning.   However, we are convinced that the methods of open learning and peer-to-peer collaboration work in courses as diverse as writing courses, ethnographic courses, history courses, or in such fields as computer science and engineering. After all, the World Wide Web exists because Tim Berners-Lee and others believed in the power of open collaboration and designed HTML and the open architecture of the Web to take advantage of the best that open source programmers could offer to one another. It is our goal to take that method and translate it to the classroom.   It worked for us.  We hope that by providing “field notes” from our experience others will be inspired to try as well.  We hope, in turn, that they will offer their own contributions, their own notes from whatever field they are in.

We are publishing this book on multiple platforms.   On the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC, or “haystack” at, we tie into an 11,000 person networked community already committed to open online learning.  On, our book will allow for chapter-by-chapter commentary.   On Rap Genius ( anyone of the millions who wish to be  part of that community may annotate in any medium line-by-line or in sections.  On Github,the most popular open source code repository site, we hope our book will find an audience among programmers and others invested in the open Web. And as an open Google Doc, anyone will be able to comment and also to download a pdf of the whole book and remix and fork and hack it any way you wish.  Finally,  Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies is also available as a bound, printed book from CreateSpace, an Amazon site, and it can be downloaded as a pdf from a Google Doc that we will share openly.

This book was written collaboratively over the course of the winter semester 2013 by graduate students at Duke University, University of North Carolina-Chaptel Hill, and North Carolina State University who enrolled in a course taught by Prof Cathy N. Davidson and offered by Duke’s English Department and its Program in Information Science + Information Studies.  You can follow us on Twitter by searching for the course hashtag, #Duke21C.


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