In this blog post, Dr. Cathryn Bailey discusses her article in Feminist Teacher Vol. 27, Nos. 2-3, “Online Feminist Pedagogy: A New Doorway into Our Brick-and-Mortar Classrooms?” Dr. Bailey is a professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Western Michigan University.
Probably the best word to describe how many feminist educators feel about online teaching is “ambivalent.” Many of us are reluctant adopters of this ubiquitous technology, afraid that we will dilute, or even subvert, the feminist teaching values that inspired us to enter the classroom in the first place. Focused as we are on feminist pedagogies that prize discussion and consciousness raising in the service of social transformation, it has just seemed obvious to many of us that online teaching must be a step in precisely the wrong direction.
I was surprised to discover, then, that once I really began to take online teaching seriously, I not only learned useful tricks for the online realm, I also gained some startling new insights about the face-to-face teaching I’d been doing for decades. For example, being forced to utterly reconceive how online class discussion might be made to function revealed to me that habitual ways of facilitating brick and mortar classroom discussion was perhaps not as productive as I’d imagined it to be. As I dissected and rebuilt my courses for the online realm, illusions I held about the effectiveness of my work in traditional classroom were stripped away.
Stepping into the online teaching environment, then, though it can sometimes feel like a punishment or unavoidable evil being forced upon us can actually become an opportunity. The radical re-imagination of courses that must occur when we shift to the online realm can offer distinctly new ways of considering our face-to-face teaching strategies. Paradoxically, this may well mean that a foray into online teaching can become a great development opportunity for instructors who want to deepen and enhance their face-to-face teaching.
You can read Dr. Bailey’s full article here.