On the morning after the election, Cronin began a dialogue in her blog post that stressed productivity rather than despondency and emphasized how historical moments of change are kairotic moments. Cronin's post set the tone for the rest of the semester of the Fall 2016 course Democratic Rhetoric: Hillary Clinton and Beyond taught by Wendy Hayden using an approach that enabled students like Brie to drive its tone as well as its content and pedagogy. This webtext highlights an open pedagogy strategy through three specific pedagogical moves that facilitated our analysis of the election: a crowdsourced syllabus, an embedded librarian who emphasized digital tools, and digital assignments. In addition to posting on a public WordPress website, students used Twitter and other social media platforms, annotated texts using the social annotation tool hypothes.is, created videos to upload on YouTube, and even produced their own memes. This collaborative webtext posits an interactive relationship between the pedagogy and the platform, or the delivery and the content. The crowdsourced syllabus, digital tools, and collaboration of the class mirror the rhetoric we analyzed.
The class was crosslisted as a 300-level undergraduate rhetoric course, a 400-level undergraduate honors seminar, and a 700-level graduate course. Therefore, the class makeup included undergraduate students in the linguistics and rhetoric concentration in the English department, a single undergraduate political science major, undergraduate English students taking a final honors seminar to earn departmental honors for graduation, and graduate students in the teacher education program. The students may not have been supporters of Clinton—some thought she was too conservative—but they acknowledged the importance of the historic campaign she ran. The course benefited from the differences in the types of students involved and their varied political beliefs and experiences. The collaborative approach to the course is illustrated by this collaborative webtext. Students are co-authors, and the text includes all of our voices.
We experimented with a crowdsourced syllabus where students chose the readings for the course and collaborated on the course description, goals, guiding questions, and assignments. The decision to crowdsource the syllabus necessitated the creation of a platform to house the readings (we chose WordPress), which then led to more focus on digital assignments and tools.
The crowdsourced syllabus was one digital mechanism for student engagement with course content. Students participated in the development of a syllabus, course goals, and learning materials, making the class go beyond a "student-centered" model and into what Robin DeRosa and Scott Robison (2017) have called a "learner-directed" model (p. 117). They suggested a model of open pedagogy that involves students in the creation of and interaction with course content and ponder the relationship between the pedagogy and content of a course:
Our collaborative syllabus and digital approach led to changes in the content of the class. Hayden originally framed the course description as analyzing the role of gender in and the impact of Clinton's two presidential campaigns and conceived the course goal as applying a background in feminist rhetorical studies to the specific case study of Clinton as a rhetor. When the class began, the central question of the course transformed from "What can we learn about Hillary Clinton from her rhetoric" to "What can we learn about rhetoric from studying Hillary Clinton at this particular point in time?"
In this webtext, we consider how student projects responded to this question and how the course pedagogy and focus on digital scholarship and social media encouraged these projects and made students producers rather than just consumers of political and digital rhetoric. Open pedagogy relies on tools and collaboration to facilitate public discourse. Student projects are linked throughout the narrative, which were also collaboratively composed. As we will demonstrate, the inclusion of digital tools enabled students to engage with the rhetoric on a level appropriate for the times, creating our own kairotic moment.
The section on Open Pedagogy provides the context and approach of the course, including the crowdsourced syllabus, embedded librarian, and digital writing assignments. The sections on Digital Scholarship and Rhetorical Appeal provide details on what students accomplished in the course and show how the open pedagogy of the class mirrors the social media tenets and digital rhetorics emphasized in the election and how our use of digital tools made us participants in the rhetoric we analyzed. Through the three components of the student-produced syllabus, collaboration with an embedded librarian, and the digital mode of delivery of the work for the course, we redefined the expectations of academic scholarship and emphasized and transformed the collaborative relationships between faculty and students, faculty and librarians, students and librarians, and students and students as a scholarly community. In sum, we present the reciprocal relationships among the participants in the class, the digital methods of the class, and the content that we created and the content we analyzed, realizing the potential of open pedagogy.
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