Digital Scholarship Incubator Reflections: Kathleen Lyons

This post is part of a series of reflections from 2017 Digital Scholarship Incubator participants.

Kathleen Lyons: When I first applied for a spot in this incubator, I simply knew that I wanted a stronger digital presence in my first-year writing seminar. As I developed my syllabus this summer, I started to piece together what that might look like. The main digital components are seen in the use of TED talks as texts, the students creating their own podcasts, and the final publication of their work onto a web-based portfolio. I feel I am progressing through the course in an effective way, but I also feel like I need a deeper, more focused understanding of the podcasting project. There are elements of a podcast such as genre, convention, form, audience, and logistics for creating the podcast to consider. I am assuming that most students will hate the idea of creating a podcast. My goal is to make the process of creating their podcast enjoyable, experimental, and educational. In order to do this, I need to know podcasting inside and outside, upward and downward—this is something I do not feel particularly confident about at this exact moment. Right now I have floating particles of a vision that have not yet come together as a cohesive whole.

I think my trepidation and concern come from the fact that I have not made a podcast of my own. A general rule of teaching, at least for me, is never ask your students to do something that you are unwilling to do yourself. This is where I hope to utilize the resources of the Digital Scholarship Incubator. While one of my goals is to solidify my podcasting project from a pedagogical standpoint for my students, I would also like to gain first-hand experience of creating my own podcast. I envision my podcast as being a mini-series of short, ten- to fifteen-minute episode on the topic of speech in the writing classroom. I have already completed a research paper on this topic and feel prepared with background information. To me, a successful project would advocate for the use of speech in the writing classroom while also providing examples from my classroom. I envision interviews to be an important part of the podcast. These interviews could be from English department faculty, graduate Teaching Fellows, and my students. In particular, I am concerned about legal issue of including student voices in my project. But having live examples of how students use speech in their writing process, such as conferences, reflections, brainstorming, etc., are important. What are the ethical concerns involved? A failed project would be disconnected from my students and it would lack the practical examples of how I apply speech in my writing classroom.

In creating my own podcast, I will be practicing a mode of composition before I ask my students to do the same. I also hope to spread my findings to an audience of teachers who might be interested in using speech or podcasting in their writing classrooms. I want this to be short and sweet, not bogged down by too much research, but focused on practical application. I’m not sure where I go next, or if the project is manageable. I also acknowledge that I’m trying to work on two projects at the same time, but I hope they are related enough to fuel each other.