This summer, I’m teaching one of the tracks at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute, to be held at the University of Mary Washington from August 8–12.

The title of my track is “Action,” and we’ll use the weeklong opportunity to explore how digital technologies shape what we consider to be “action” and, in particular, “activism.”

Below is a very rough draft of the “course.” (A more up-to-date version is available here.) Feel free to email me if you have any questions or feedback.

DPLI: Action Track – Preliminary Outline


To explore the politics of the digital and to consider what “action” looks like with and through digital technologies

To challenge dualisms – thought/action, thinking/building, making//writing, digital/analog, public/private, action/inaction, “real world”/classroom – that permeate our cultural expectations of (digital) scholarship, (digital) pedagogy, and (digital) activism.

To ask what role “education” might play in critical/digital engagement.

To become more comfortable with constructing and deconstructing “ed-tech”

Questions and Provocations:

How do we privilege “action”? How do we privilege “technological expertise” and/as action? What types of actions “count”?

Many of the topics for this track involve exploring various digital technologies, but the track assumes that participants have zero background or previous experience working with them. Indeed, one of the areas this class will repeatedly explore is how our ability to “take action” or even “see action” might change depending on our familiarity, expertise, and/or reluctance to use certain tools. The point of introducing and playing with these various technologies is not mastery; rather it’s to think critically about what actions they afford and what they constrain – in the classroom and beyond.

Final Project:

Participants should plan begin work on a project that would extend academic work beyond the research journal and/or beyond the classroom. Participants will present their works-in-progress to their cohort for feedback.

Recommended Readings:

Tentative Schedule:

Monday 8/8:

Theme: Identity

  • Introductions
  • Discussion: What is “action”? Who’s watching our actions? (Privacy and Tech Exercise)
  • Tech Project: “Domain of One’s Own,” Owning Your Own Data
  • Homework: Find an “actionable” dataset

Tuesday 8/9:

Theme: Numbers vs Stories

  • Discussion: Why/how does our culture privilege “building” and “making” as “action”? Our Nate Silver problem: Why/how does our culture privilege quantitative data?
  • Tech Project: Intro to GitHub, Scraping and Opening Data, Building Visualizations
  • Guest Speaker: TBA

Wednesday 8/10:

Theme: Arguments in Public

  • Discussion: The assignment as “action”
  • Tech Project: Updating Wikipedia; Getting Published
  • Homework: Prepare a “Pitch”

Thursday 8/11:

Theme: Protest

  • Discussion: Mark Sample's article on "The Protest Bot"
  • Tech Project: Build a Bot
  • Guest Speaker: TBA

Friday 8/12

Theme: Onward

  • Presentations and feedback

Audrey Watters


Audrey Watters


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