My graduate class, "American Literature, American Learning," has been responding this week to the provocative HASTAC Scholars Discussion Group on "Open Scholarship for Social Justice": what a terrific opportunity it's been! Anyone can join this conversation today. Thank you to the HASTAC Scholars for leading this. It's so easy and so fruitful to everyone.
So . . . I'm wondering why other profs aren't doing this?
Of course, at some universities FERPA regulations are enforced in such a way that makes public writing assignments difficult, tricky or even against the institutional rules. So one must check that out first . . . In the comments section below, I've included some links and discussion to provide some guidance about this issue.
But given the advantages of being part of a student-led conversation and a student-led community, where commentators and participants must register, there are so many possibilities for positive results and for learning responsible ways to be present in the digital world.
For that matter, even going over FERPA rules with students is part of digital literacy, as is the idea that future employers do Google you--we know that--and it is better to have respectable, responsible, literate, sophisticated writing on an educational network represent you in your present sophisticated student life than emoticons or adolescent indiscretions . . .
If your students participate, they will be jumping into a national conversation, learn how to write in public, learn the basics of digital literacy, learn another online tool--and it's free, safe, no creepy commercial site is using your private data: all that! And the prof really doesn't have to do a thing.
What's preventing this? Fear? Inexperience? It's such a great way for graduate and undergraduate students across the country to jump right into a conversation that is vital to their future.
Unlike commercial vendors, HASTAC is open source. it's an open user network and community. HASTAC does not use or misuse anyone's personal data. Also, because anyone who wants to write a blog, a post, or a comment signs in, the community is remarkably respectful. Trolls are at a minimum. The conversation is serious, engaged, meaningful.
In short, it is a great way for your students to learn to write in public, to be invested in their own ideas, to engage with other students, to become part of a student community and contribute to it, and to learn the basics of digital literacy. Open source. Free.
I wish more classes used these forums as an opportunity to engage in dialogue around the serious issues that face higher education today. I personally don't believe any writing should ever occur in the vacuum of student::teacher. There should always be a larger public and a purpose. So I have stopped requiring term papers that only I read. Instead, I encourage my students to be part of the national conversation on issues of higher education that are key to their lives.
HASTAC is the world's first and oldest academic social network--we were around before MySpace, Facebook, or the oldest science social network, NanoHub. 14,000 members, committed to changing the way we teach and learn. And often with students leading the way.
We hope you join us! Here's the link to the current Forum and there are new ones every month plus a world of other possibilities all over HASTAC. It is an open community--we hope you'll use it in the best ways for you and your students.
Here's that link again for the open scholarship and social justice Forum: https://www.hastac.org/initiatives/hastac-scholars/scholars-forums/intersection-open-scholarship-social-justice
And if anyone has any suggestions about how to use HASTAC in classes or cautions about FERPA or other regulations at their institutions, we hope you will use the Comments below to let us know.