Day 3 10:02AM: Online Teaching and Sharing

Community, Travel / Monday, June 27th, 2016
I teach online. And today, before I head out to do more queer work, I am reading a stack of essays from my students. Not really a stack. A virtual stack. I am thinking though, of how this conference, is also trying to define itself in a different type of virtual way.

What makes a conference, a space? A community. Do we need buildings? Do we even need computers? I am traveling along this road and what seems to be linking us is shared experience of being here. Perhaps what is needed is experiences that can be shared. Which means, if we think of different ways to frame experiences, that itself can be community–so it’s not the building, but the experience of being within the building. Not being online, but the experience of being on the same platform. As it is with the I-5 here.

And in terms of we share this, we need to remember that each of us share in different ways–personally and culturally defined. Which in way perhaps makes culture/vocab/iconography/art function in part as common shorthand for sharing experiences. Sometimes, though, culture can get in the way of understanding. We mistake the details for the function. it can’t can’t be a conference because there are no buildings. It must not be good education, because it’s online.

We need to be careful of such things. Because we say things like “it can’t really be a marriage because it’s two dudes.” Or “That can’t be a woman because that person can never have children.” We mistake the cultural and physical shorthand for shared experience. Who says one cannot have a meaningful education experience online. Or have a conference on the road?

I am thinking about how people sneer at online education and how many folks were a little circumspect about the idea of a conference taking place without buildings.  This is hard to argue–and at the end, comes the writer’s adage: show, don’t tell.

I can argue my womanhood until I lose my voice, but that may not be as effective as simply living my life. Maybe in the end some of my students will have meaningful professions and do a lot of good in this world as educated inhabitants of planet earth.  I get that and continue to get that. And that is why I am thinking rather than explaining the idea of this conference, simply doing it would open a new method of sharing. As much as I try to explain, to tell–perhaps it’s better to actually engage this like a story, and to simply show.

OK–now how behind am I on my grading… :p