Introducing Feminist Critical Digital Pedagogy

PedagogyFeminist PedagogiesFeminist Digital Pedagogy

While writing our forthcoming book on Critical Digital Pedagogy (Koseoglu, Veletsianos, and Rowell, 2022), we faced two related challenges. First, we received more chapter proposals than would be feasible for the book publisher to accommodate. Second, we were not able to include as many chapters as we would have liked on the intersection between digital technology and feminist pedagogies and praxis.

To resolve these challenges we produced this volume, consisting of a select few chapters addressing the topic of feminist critical digital pedagogy. We see such pedagogy as a lens through which digital educational practice is examined to reveal, challenge, and impact systems of power as they relate to issues that have to do with gender. As there are many feminisms (vast differences in how feminism is viewed) and as feminist worldviews and methods change depending on one’s social location and theoretical position, feminist theory building and praxis can occur in different ways (Collins, 2019). In this book, authors employ feminist critical digital pedagogy to examine teaching, learning, faculty support and research in post-secondary and higher education contexts.

We are inspired by scholars who have provided a critical, yet imaginative and hopeful reading of gender oppression and sexism in society (for example, Ali, 2012; hooks, 2000), especially bell hooks who argues that feminism is for everyone, not just women. Our view is intersectional (Crenshaw, 1989; Collins, 2019): feminist analysis of gender oppression, for example, is only meaningful within the context of intersecting systems of power (for example, racism, ableism, androcentrism or neoliberalism). Intersectional analysis of gender issues is important in feminist digital pedagogy because it politicizes feminist thinking; it helps educators connect the systems and structures of higher education to wider socio-political issues and critique oppressive or unjust practices, policies, or processes. We use the term feminist critical digital pedagogy in this book (as opposed to feminist digital pedagogy) to emphasize this critical dimension of feminist pedagogy and to ground our work in the tradition of critical pedagogy. Critical feminist pedagogy employs an experiential as well as a theoretical approach in its analysis of power. Experiential knowledge, in particular, is a powerful source of motivation and inspiration to educators, for critical self-reflection and feminist praxis. Chapters in the book, as well as other feminist writing in educational technology (for example, Campbell, 2015; Romero-Hall, 2021) demonstrate how this works in practice.

In editing this book, we adopted two processes that impacted the writing of the book in unique ways. These two processes were pedagogical peer-review and ongoing contributions.

Pedagogical peer-review

While each chapter went through a peer-review process, the intent of that process was to improve the manuscripts rather than act as a gatekeeping mechanism. We draw inspiration for this from Kumashiro and Pinar who urge educational researchers to engage in ethical and pedagogical peer-review (see Kumarshiro et al., 2005). Kumashiro writes that anti-oppressive researchers have argued that reviewers, authors, editors, and more broadly researchers “need to think differently about what it means to create a supportive research community” and suggests that “within the peer-review process, providing constructive criticism—and being open to being criticized—is one way to accomplish such goals” (p. 261). Pinar notes that this isn’t just a matter of preference, but is instead “a matter of professionalism, specifically, a matter of professional ethics. Employing the review process to teach requires the realization that our relations with our colleagues are as important as are our relations to our students and to ideas” (p. 267).

Ongoing contributions

This book is published with an open access license, but it is also open in the sense that it is a living, developing, and evolving document. The typical book publishing process encompasses an end date by which the book is published. At that time the book becomes a complete and finished artifact around which authors and readers interact. While future editions serve to update the book, de facto end dates are embedded in the book publishing process to bring books to the hands of readers but also pause or end the process of what goes into a book. This practice is a remnant of the analog era that has transferred into the ways that digital books are understood and conceptualized. This collection already includes important and insightful scholarship. Yet, we know that it can be better, for instance by including perspectives from more diverse authors.

But we also know that the chapters we have collected shouldn’t wait for other chapters before they’re published. These reflections led us to ask: what if this book has an ongoing publication date? Could this book grow over time, not through updated editions, but through updates to the book itself? What does an ongoing book look like?

In thinking about these questions, we realized that a book could be similar to a scholarly journal which includes multiple issues within volume or similar to how some scholarly journals now produce thematic series or collections. We also recognized that some book publishers push content updates to authors when updates are available, and perhaps this is something similar. We eventually came to the realization that a book can be a live document in which future chapters can be added, made possible via the affordances of independent publishing platforms—such as EdTech Books which we used for this book. In this sense, the book is open not only in terms of its open access license, but it is also open in terms of its ability to accommodate more contributions than what it started with. It is open in terms of enabling colleagues to contribute their work in ways that are inclusive and equitable, in that it is accommodating and flexible to their individual circumstances that may preclude them from meeting fixed deadlines.

Importantly, it seems that we are in good company: in the week prior to publishing our book we saw that Harrison, DeVries, Morgan, and Paskevicius (2021) are also exploring the concept of ongoing contributions in a book they are editing on critical instructional design.

Call it experimental. Call it disrupting the book publishing process. Call it exploratory. Call it an act of inclusion. At its simplest, call it an ongoing call for proposals/chapters. Here is how we envision this process will work: If you are reading this editorial, the book is published and available. If you would like to submit a chapter to be included in this collection, we commit to shepherding it through a peer-reviewed process and potentially including it as part of this collection. Please feel free to submit a proposal using this form.

If you’re a colleague interested in participating in the review process or supporting a broader effort to continue growing the book, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our hope is that the book will continue to grow with new contributions and editorial visions, to eventually become a one-stop resource on feminist critical digital pedagogy.

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