Blog Post

My #FutureEd Semester

I teach a “Race, Culture and Migration” course at the University of Texas at Austin and for the spring semester it was a partnering course with the HASTAC #FutureEd Initiative. My class was somewhat of a “pilot” course, because the next time I teach it the title will be “Race and the Digital”.  Here are some of the highlights from this semester.

The first assignment that the students completed was a sound autobiography. I wanted them to think about C.W. Mills’ “sociological imagination” in relation to sound. I wrote a little bit about this assignment here. When I set up the assignment, I figured that we would use Audacity. I also figured that I would figure Audacity out over the course of one evening. Not the case. So I took to Twitter to see if anyone could help me out and in a matter of minutes Josh Honn (@jshhnn) sent me a PDF of an Audacity tutorial that he created. My colleague, Dan Powers, is a musician (and a demographer) and when I told him about my Audacity struggle he gave me some pointers and also suggested that I could also just use the Garage Band app on my phone. Lester Spence (@LesterSpence) put me on to Cue YouTube . In the end, the students used a variety of methods: limited access YouTube urls, Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, Audacity, and GarageBand. They turned out really well. Here’s an example "8bit to Orchestral".

Adrianne Wadewitz’s commitment to collectively creating Wikipedia into a space where there is equity in the editing process and in the content was part of the reasoning behind the Wikipedia-Edit-A-Thon put on by my class. Inspired by the feminist editing of #TooFew, the students edited pages ranging from PBR&B to Natural hair to Mobb Deep to Yoko Ono to sexual objectification.

One day I was looking at my Twitter feed when Fiona Barnett (@HASTACscholars) inquired if anyone had used ScrollKit. Miriam Posner (@miriamkp) responded with links, suggestions, assignments and tutorials. And just like that the format for the digital essays for “Race, Culture and Migration” was decided. I was going to have them use Tumblr or WordPress. ScrollKit was really easy to use, at least until it was acquired by WordPress. Then students ran into some difficulties. Some could no longer edit and those that were late to start their digital component had to find another format. Here is one project on Natual Hair and one on U.S. Deportation Policies another on Gentrification in Austin and one more on Judaism in Latin America. Miriam suggested ReadyMag as a replacement. Maybe I’ll check it out for Spring 2015 when I teach the course again. I’m also teaching a new course that semester called “Robots, Cyborgs and Drones”. Yay.

Thank you to everyone who made this "pilot" course happen - from the assignments shared through creative commons, wonderful students, and those that put me on to  new apps and software, like Aurasma, an augmented reality tagging app that I used for a walking tour of campus. My #FutureEd is about collaboration and experimentation.




This is truly wonderful, Simone---I just sent off a link to a colleague with whom I will be team teaching next year so we can both be inspired by this.


Kaysi is putting together another #FutureEd newsletter once life calms down a bit here and we'd love to feature your class---if we do, is it okay if we link to the student blogs?   What incredibly rich and inspiring resources.  Of course I have tweeted and blogged this.  Congratulations!


Thanks, Cathy. I had a great time with this class. They were generous with each other, helping out with new programs, technologies and ways of learning. Linking to the students' work would be great for the newsletter. I'll add some more links here when I get permission from them.