Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies

Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies

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



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.



Table of Contents



PART I: Motivations
Chapter 1    How a Class Becomes a Community: Theory, Method, Examples...Cathy N. Davidson

Chapter 2    From Open Programming to Open Learning: The Cathedral, the Bazaar, and the Open Classroom...Barry Peddycord III, Elizabeth A. Pitts

Chapter 3    Practicing Web Wisdom: Mindfully Incorporating Digital Literacies into the Classroom...Patrick Thomas Morgan

PART II: Provocations
Chapter 4    Paying Attention to the Chocolate-Covered Broccoli: How Video Games Can Change the Ways You Understand Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge...Cristiane Sommer Damasceno

Chapter 5    The Medium of the 21st Century Is Light...Jade Davis

Chapter 6    Open for Whom?: Designing for Inclusion, Navigating the Digital Divide...Christina C. Davidson

PART III: Invitations 
Chapter 7    #EveryDayDesign: What Do 21st Century Digital Literacies Look Like?...Jennifer Stratton

Chapter 8    Surprise Endings: Putting the Lessons into Action...Omar Daouk

The Mozilla Manifesto
Creative Commons License
(Mostly) Digital Tool Kit for Open Peer Teaching and Learning
Useful Documents


The 21st Century Collective would like to thank the following people without whom this book would not have been possible: Jeremy Dean, Kaysi Holman, Elizabeth Kazakoff, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Todd Presner, Howard Rheingold, Ruby Sinreich, Nicholas Taylor, and Ken Wissoker. We thank Gary Ashwill for his professionalism and expertise on behalf of our project and extend special thanks to the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge in the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University for support that made possible the professional copyediting and self-publication of this manuscript in book form.



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, undergraduates, and graduate students in many fields as well as for lifelong learners of all ages, in any setting. Our method and our 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-Chapel 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.