Thanks again to Autumm Caines for a fun and interactive Studio Visit wherein we considered the design implications of Zoom. In our “play” session, we explored some basic features (some that I had never really used before). I discovered that I feel vulnerable when I turn-off “view self” mode, and I also discovered that the majority of students do seem to want the instructor to have “camera-on”. (I suspected that, but it was good confirmation to receive, …no matter how much I might yearn to shut my own camera off sometimes).

Through the interactive exploration, we were able to discuss the implicit assumptions (and bias) that is “baked into” the learning tools we use to proceed with our work during the pandemic. The conversation seemed to lead us to questions of technology and surveillance, which will certainly be a topic we cover in more depth as we move through the Net Mirror experience this semester. Our Studio Visit with Autumm set us up well to further discuss issues of how we see, and who is watching us. And Jessie did a great job as our pathfinder for the week when she picked up on these concerns in part two of class.

Jessie paved the way for a thorough discussion regarding the power dynamics and perceptions that are refigured or extended when we assume a “seamless” transition in a new Zoom context. What inequity manifests, what new learning strategies do we develop, and what challenges do we face when we learn together from the (encroached upon) privacy of our homes?

I think that Jessie’s pathfinding session ended with some profound food-for-thought. She closed out her thoughts and provocations with a video of a child who was an enthusiastic proponent of virtual/augmented forms of learning (…the new next wave of education technology just around the proverbial bend). What will we gain from virtual (programmed) travel to rarified corners of the world? Who will design these virtual worlds and experiences, and with what values and intentions? And what role will both pedagogy and our purchase power play in the rollout of these tools? Ultimately, what new challenges will present themselves for democratic societies, if (some of us) can plug into imagined places beyond our reach? And what kinds of inequities will be extended as this vision is pursued in a market-driven innovation context? Just a 30 second engagement with this Pandora’s box gives any thinking person pause.

For next week:

Due to the Snow Day respite we all benefited from last week, next week will be a double up regarding our pathfinding tradition. Kevin will kick off class with danah boyd’s The Internet of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (an On Being podcast) which you have already reflected on in your weekly blogs.

Your to-do list:

For the second half of our time together, Sheila will be our pathfinder, considering some issues that emerge from Jill Walker Rettberg’s Seeing Ourselves Through Technology (please read Chapter 4).

Your blog for this week should include some reflection of this reading, and any Daily Creates or other creative turns you might take along the way.

Also, please whisper into the Pandemic Whispers portal. This portal is an open invitation to whisper your own pandemic thoughts and musings anonymously. The portal will remain open to all of you (and the public) throughout our time #netnarr time together.

We encourage you to whisper when you want (you can share at any time, multiple times). And you can share this portal with your own friends and networks. Pass it on to those who you care about. We hope that our #netnarr Pandemic Whispers portal becomes a lasting and meaningful participatory artifact of our human experience(s), and a tribute to “Net Mirror: The Post-Pandemic University” journey/investigation that we are all on together.

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