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Digital Dialogue as Cross-Stakeholder Inquiry: The Education DiaBlog

Welcome to the Diablog....
where high school and college students, together with educators
and researchers, are exploring issues in education reform today.
This is a space for writing out loud, thinking with others, and
sharing our dreams, passions, and concerns about school,
learning, and changing -- ourselves and the world.

Part of a conversation about Digital Discourses: Education and Ethnography in the 21st Century
33rd Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum
Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, February 24, 2012

I. Alice Lesnick:
one back-story: how we came to share this work

II. Anne Dalke: another back-story/other ways in....

Bryn Mawr's Emily Balch Seminars: Learning across borders and boundaries
Two sections, co-taught by me and Jody Cohen: Inclass/OutClassed: On the Uses of a Liberal Education
intersecting w/ a yearlong campus initiative, Class Dismissed ...

The first week of class, we started an on-line, on-the-web forum
among class members (by requiring Sunday night postings, to
carry us over from Thursday til classtime next Tuesday...). This
was somewhat successful; in the mid-semester evaluations, students said,

* I think Serendip is ingenious but I still feel like some of classmates
continue to be hesitant about what they post on here.

* I would like to see more of a conversation online.... I think our forum
only really works if the majority of people engage with others and
post entries other than those that are required. This is something
that I think we need to work on a whole class.

We ended up "working on it" by engaging in conversation with
another class, at another institution, in another neighborhood....

When we visited Parkway West High School in mid-October,
our first "barometer" statement
--"People need to go to college to be successful" --
demonstrated a clear PW/BMC split.
When we then invited on-line reflections on our shared visit...

the Parkway students (as some of ours said later, in a Skype conversation
between the classes, w/ which we concluded our collaboration),

called us out on our inconsistency: a bunch of us said that college
isn't necessary for success, but you pointed out that we are in
college now; it was easy for us to say that college wasn't necessary
... because we're in college.

Thank you for helping us recognize that the things we say are
very much influenced by our life situations and where we are right now.

Thank you for forcing us to reevaluate our choices and goals.

Thank you for being our friends.

At the end of seven weeks of dialogue (which we took turns initiatiing),
and a visit from Parkway students to the Bryn Mawr campus, they said to us,

Thank you for letting us meet new people and become acquainted with them.

Thank you for knowledge on the college experience.

Thank you for answering our questions.

Thank you for teaching us how to be more sociable with other people.

Thank you for explaining the college process.

Thank you for taking the risk on the Diablog to express yourselves.

In "I Am Not Afraid to Listen': Prospective Teachers Learning from Students,"
Theory Into Practice 48 (2009): 176-183, our colleague Alison Cook-Sather
wrote that "high school students are teacher educators." We learned that
"digital discourse," combined with in-person conversation,
can also help them become college student educators.

As Kathleen Cushman observed in "SAT Bronx: A  Collaborative Inquiry Into
the Insider Knowledge of Urban Youth. Theory Into Practice 48 (2009): 184-190 
(an exercise of having high schoolers design a test demonstrating that background
and experience are not intelligence), "different people know different things."

What we learned from our emerging "diablog" was that

1) "truth can come from any source" (and may sound more
clearly when it is not marked as "authoritative" or "expert")

2) technology works when it nurtures relationships:

A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots, The Chronicle of Higher Education (2/12/12):
interactive technology—and other methods to create more active
experiences in the classroom—can be used to forge ...a relationship ...
where professors nurture rather than talk down to students...."Students
and faculty have to have this sense that they can truly connect with
each other... Only through that sense of connection do you have
this sense of community."

III. Hayley Burke, Jillian Harmon, Samyuktha Natarajan:
some student perspectives on this process.....

IV. Cathy Chezik: The Parkway-Bryn Mawr College Diablog continues this semester

V. Alice and Anne: inviting attenders to join us (both in person
and on-line)
as stakeholders, writers and reflective practitioners :
what promise and problems do digital commons
create for school-and-university partnerships?
* exposure?
* vulnerability?
* ethics?
* access?
* privacy?
* security?
* relationships?
* range of ways of writing?

VI. next steps for the project, including its expansion....?


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