This blog post by Jesse Stommel (Co-founder and Director of Hybrid Pedagogy) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.
From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.
In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.
The idea for the name of Hybrid Pedagogy came from a job talk I gave in October 2011. The thesis of that talk now sits on the journal’s homepage: “All learning is necessarily hybrid.” The line is inspired by a blog post from February 2010, in which I write: “The teacher 2.0 must shift the focus from individual learners to the community of learners, drawing new boundaries that reflect a much larger hybrid classroom.” This sentence also describes the work of new-form academic publishing, which draws new boundaries by upsetting the distinction between scholarship and teaching — between the work we do in journals and the work we do in classrooms.
When Pete Rorabaugh and I began discussing what would become Hybrid Pedagogy in early 2011, we wondered if what we were describing was a “journal” or something else entirely. At various points, we flirted with calling the project a “symposium,” “colloquium,” “collective,” or “school.” It was clear to us, from the start, that what we were creating was not a traditional academic publication. What we wanted to build was a network, a community for engaging a discussion of digital pedagogy, critical pedagogy, open education, and online learning. At the same time, we wanted to build a collection of resources to help facilitate conversations within that community.
We worked from the start to develop the journal openly, gathering together an advisory board that had virtual “meetings” on the web via the discussion forum on the site. The goal was to interrogate academic publishing practices by making them transparent — to lay bare our process while it was in formation. We published articles about peer-review before we had established our own peer-review process, inviting feedback and commentary. We crowd-sourced the majority of our initial decisions, down to the layout and design of the site.
Hybrid Pedagogy has become a publication that combines the best aspects of an open-access journal with the best aspects of a group blog (timeliness, a nimble publishing schedule, and direct engagement with readers). Through the articles we’ve published and events we’ve hosted (like MOOC MOOC and regular #digped chats), we’ve brought together higher education teachers, K-12 teachers, the open education community, students, and lifelong learners. We’ve worked to disrupt the conventions of academic publishing, while still maintaining a careful attention to detail, context, and critical engagement.
Based on input from our initial advisory board, we’ve developed what we call “collaborative peer review,” in which editors engage directly with authors to revise and develop articles, followed by post-publication peer review. Once an article is accepted for review, we partner a new author with an editorial board member (myself, Pete, Sean Michael Morris, and Robin Wharton) and a guest editor (usually someone that has already published an article in the journal). Editorial work is done both asynchronously and synchronously in a Google Doc that evolves through an open dialogue between author and editors.
We fully expect our process will continue to evolve. Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues, “Peer review is extremely important — I want to acknowledge that right up front — but it threatens to become the axle around which all conversations about the future of publishing get wrapped.” Going forward, I think it’s vital that every academic publication continuously (and even publicly) interrogates its own practices. Given how rapidly education is changing, we need to keep pushing ourselves to innovate — to learn from our mistakes — and to stay nimble in our approaches. We need to actively overturn the existing hierarchies and power dynamics that fuel unethical practices like blind peer-review, the proliferation of overpriced and barely read monographs, closed-access publishing, and business models that rely insidiously on the free labor of contingent faculty.
I’m glad Pete and I ultimately decided to describe Hybrid Pedagogy as a “journal,” exactly because this designation allows us to push on the boundaries of what, when, and how academic work gets published. The notion of an “academic journal” needs dismantling and reimagining. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue to have traditional academic journals, but that we need to considerably broaden the landscape to make way for dynamic collaboration, new media, and participatory culture.
Since launching Hybrid Pedagogy in January 2012, we’ve published 94 articles by 17 authors. The majority of these have been peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers (all but the earliest articles and #digped announcements). We’ve worked especially hard to encourage collaboration; 21 of the 94 articles we’ve published was written by two or more authors, including one article by five authors, one article by twelve authors, and one article by hundreds of authors. Articles have covered a wide range of topics, from MOOCs to digital writing — from intellectual property to personal learning networks.
Shortly after we launched Hybrid Pedagogy, Pete and I wrote an article about the changing nature of citation in the digital age — an article in which we made nods to the various sources for our work on the journal. In that article, we write, “In digital space, everything we do is networked. Real thinking doesn’t (and can’t) happen in a vacuum. Our teaching practices and scholarship don’t just burst forth miraculously from our skulls. The digital academic community is driven by citation, generosity, connection, and collaboration.” I believe generosity is what will drive the future of digital publishing.