On October 27th 2016, ACERT held a lunchtime seminar entitled “Why Failure Matters: Editors from CUNY’s Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy on Learning from ‘Teaching Fails.’” The Managing Editor of the journal, Laura W. Kane, introduced the aims and editorial guidelines of the journal, which is a collaborative effort between 23 faculty members, graduate students, and academic staff at CUNY and other institutions.
The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy aims to promote open scholarly discourse around critical and creative uses of digital technology in teaching, learning, and research. The Editorial Collective works toward this goal by finding ways to center discussions of technology in higher education around questions of pedagogy. Past issues have incorporated different approaches to understanding these questions: authors discuss attempts to improve instruction by means of novel uses of technology, greater metacognition, and/or political awareness of students; they provide proof-of-concepts, experiments, and instructional meditations; they propose new ways of accessing technology’s expressive affordances and new ethical stances toward technical communication and design; they highlight the benefits and challenges inherent in collaborative endeavors; and so on.
The Journal’s commitment to teaching and learning also comes through in its editorial processes. In addition to the peer-reviewed long-form pieces that appear in bi-annual Issues, the Journal’s Short Forms Sections invite contributors to develop their ideas with readers through a publish-first-then-peer-review model. Short Form Sections include Assignments, Reviews, Blueprints, Tool Tips, and Teaching Fails.
Also joining the lunch was Sarah Ruth Jacobs, the editor of the journal’s Teaching Fails section. This section provides an opportunity for faculty members from all disciplines to reflect on the ways in which their use of technology in the classroom fell short of their expectations. These failures can help instructors gain insight and improve in their future class plans. For example, in her Teaching Fails piece, Professor Karen Gregory reflected on how her public-facing course inadvertently failed in giving students a private space for assignments and online discussion.
As part of the session, attendees were asked to reflect on how their uses of technology had failed in the classroom. One insight that came out of this discussion was how it was important when introducing a new technology to students to explain not just “the how” but “the why:” why the technology is necessary and the ways in which it benefits students. When students don’t understand the motivation for learning a new technology, they are less engaged and willing. Attendees also reflected on how students need a lot of time and detailed instruction in order to properly use new technologies in their assignments; that is, the myth of the “digital native” who perfectly implements technologies can be a faulty line of thinking.