I was lucky enough to participate in the Education 2035 workshop at MSU on October 31, 2018. Understanding the impact of technology on the educational experience is not a new question, but with the emergence of A.I., the possibility that computers can do some of the work of teaching is becoming more and more important. Indeed, I’ve done work with grading tools around writing. These tools, used in the right way, can be helpful with the basic work of grading sentence structure. They can tell you have written a run-on sentence. They cannot tell you if what you wrote makes sense. Does it reflect critical inquiry, knowledge integration, or analysis? These question require a person with knowledge to wrestle with what you wrote. The key to technology is that it remain grounded in the limitations of machine logic. While it may seem strange, bringing professors from the College of Arts and Letters allows the scientists to think about how we think about technology. Our talks where in a lightning round format. I spoke about Afrofuturism and how that framework allows to imagine the future differently. Art and design linked to Afrofuturism is deeply shaped by a need to provide tools for black liberation and uplift. What can it mean? Well, one slide simply reminded the audience “There are black people in the future.” A simple statement, but the implication for the present are meaningful. Black people will survive and they will continue to strive toward a better tomorrow. There struggle will challenge the mainstream to do better and that challenge can benefit society as a whole.
I talking about Oscar Mack this week at Valencia. I said yes to this while I was deep into my time as the Julian Pleasant Fellow at the Samuel Proctor Oral History program at the University of Florida. My thinking was a presentation at this stage would force me to get my act together and make a narrative that people can follow.
As always, thinking through a presentation helps to sharpen what you know and don't know about a story. The folks at Valencia made a great poster for my talk, but I often end up making additional visuals to capture an idea. The Truth and Reconciliation work done by community activists like Curtis Michelson and the other members of the Democracy Forum are a key part of the story and how I got involved. In truth, I should do a better job of pushing this work from teaching in scholarship. With big changes coming to my professional landscape, this will not be a luxury, it will be a requirement.
More to Come
Critical Making is my mantra in term of creating multimodal projects that student to process historical ideas in both traditional written analysis and more access creative modes. From audio documentaries to infographics, I've been willing to integrate other modes of communication to the history classroom. Our baseline is always written work, but beyond that, the demonstration of comprehension can, in my opinion, be impactful for students as they try to communicate with a public audience.
This should not be a shock. I spend a good amount of time giving talks and attempting to engage the public with history. So, the idea that student as co-creative can use the classroom as a platform for exploring history make sense. To support that process, I experiment and make stuff up. This piece...AFRICAN /ARRIVALS was something I came up with as I was working on Plantation and Whip (another story). If I'm honest, P&W and other pieces like it are about the emotional pull in all history. A critical essay on the slave trade of any length could transmit the story of when Africans arrived. Given the push to obscure the nature of slavery by some people, this was me thinking through that in a more cutting way. Funny, not funny. 0_o'
I'm pushing to do edits on not one, but two new books I co-edited. There is a wider logic in presenting a universe of ideas in both of these projects, but as plain old academic objects, they are looking pretty good. I've been striving toward synergy in by exploration of real and imaginary landscapes for years. I say it, but ultimately it about creating projects like that help people understand what I mean. More is coming, but I'm taking a couple of minutes to say...see here they are!
This recap of the DLCL workshop give you the highlights of the innovative project.