A CU Studio of Our Own

I have long entertained ideas of a Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) initiative at CU Denver, imagining the pros, cons, and realities of such an effort. What would it look like if we created a platform for our people and their projects on the open web? Not courses, per se, and not a highly structured content system such as Canvas; but a creative space for professional portfolios, digital projects, and scholarly presence. A space for each individual to express him/herself and present his/her best works.  How might we teach, learn, and collaborate in a creative collective like this?

A studio!

Ian O’Byrne, W., & Pytash, K. E. (2017). Becoming literate digitally in a digitally literate environment of their own. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 60(5), 499-504. 

Brown, J. S. (2006). New learning environments for the 21st century: Exploring the edge. Change: The magazine of higher learning, 38(5), 18-24.

I soon found colleagues throughout the University of Colorado system who were just as familiar and interested in this digital-studio concept. As we openly and collectively daydreamed, folks within ear-shot leaned-in.  Over the past two years these conversations have taken-root within the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) and ultimately within ThinqStudio.  Within the SEHD, Dean  Rebecca Kantor, effectively challenged us:

Let’s explore Domains, and see how it shapes our pedagogy, and the pedagogy of our teacher-candidates entering the K12 classroom.  Let’s see what’s there.

And so we are developing infrastructure and ideas with the launch of CU Studio, our remix of  John Seely Brown’s notions of the learning-studio and the Domain of One’s Own initiative.

For those unfamiliar with Domain of One’s Own (DoOO), I refer to this, this and this – for background. This movement has evolved for years within universities across the US and Europe. It’s worth noting that our inquiry formed over the past few years as paths crossed at events such as COLTT and the Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL), where Domains is well established. Along the way, we consulted with CU Online and Reclaim Hosting; we attended the Domains 2017 conference to further educate ourselves; and we continue to draw upon the experience and advice of our DPL colleagues to this day.  Serendipity being what it is, SEHD’s own Julia Kantor joined us this year as a Faculty Fellow and promptly declared this as a component of her ThinqStudio inquiry. The dominoes align.

Baker-Doyle, K. J. (2017). Transformative Teachers: Teacher Leadership and Learning in a Connected World. Harvard Education Press. 8 Story Street First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138.

And so an inquiry-group of faculty and students from the SEHD’s Teacher Preparation program gathered to study, test, and explore the affordances and realities of a digital-studio based pedagogy.  We are a group of 18 SEHD faculty and students assessing the pedagogical value, the risk and the affordances of this type of open pedagogy.   We are engaged in a shared-reading of  Transformative Teachers: Teacher Leadership and Learning in a Connected World by Kira Baker-Doyle to guide our dialog.   We quickly decided to focus our attention intently on connected learning; and intently avoid the technical rabbit holes.   We agreed that the technology should be as seamless and invisible as possible; minimalist, usable, yet flexible and personalized.   We agreed to promote the aesthetic and drivability of the car, and leave the mechanics under the hood- as best we could.

/rēˈmiks/: an evolving variant of an original

Some may refer to it as a prototype or a pilot-test , but I prefer to think of it as a remix – an evolving variant of an original.  We have chosen to deviate from the Domains formula a bit – keeping the original beat and attribution intact, but creating something new and distinct for CU Denver.   A Domain of One’s Own of our Own (DoOOoOO), if you like.