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FAQ for FemTechNet

What is FemTechNet?

A global network of hundreds of scholars, students and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science and feminism in a variety of fields including STS, Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women’s, Queer and Ethnic Studies.

The network has been activated to demonstrate a work of collaborative feminist technological innovation for the purposes of addressing the educational needs of students interested in advanced topics in feminist science-technology studies. We will facilitate a highly collaborative course called Feminist Dialogues on Technology at institutions of higher education around the globe from September-December, 2013. The course is the first DOCC in higher education.

What is a DOCC?  Distributed Online Collaborative Course

A DOCC is a Distributed Online Collaborative Course.  It is a feminist rethinking of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that has been widely used in distance learning education. A MOOC is pedagogically centralized and branded by a single institution. FemTechNet seeks to enhance the system using feminist principles and methods that support a decentralized, collaborative form of learning. The fundamental difference is that the DOCC recognizes and is built on the understanding that expertise is distributed throughout a network, among participants situated in diverse institutional contexts, within diverse material, geographic, and national settings, and who embody and perform diverse identities (as teachers, as students, as media-makers, as activists, as trainers, as members of various publics, for example). More specifically the DOCC is different in than it:

  • Recognizes and engages expertise DISTRIBUTED throughout a network
  • Approaches learning as a MIXED-MODE and BLENDED experience
  • Taught through COLLABORATIVE peer-to-peer processes
  • Respects diversity, specificity, and the local across a network
  • Collaborative creation of HISTORICAL archive
  • Collaborative EXPERIMENT in use of online pedagogies

What will the Feminist Dialogues on Technology course look like?

Feminist Dialogues on Technology, uses technology to enable interdisciplinary and international conversation while privileging situated diversity and networked agency. Building the course from a shared set of recorded dialogues with the world’s pre-eminent thinkers and artists who consider technology through a feminist lens, the rest of the course will be built, and customized for the network’s nodal classrooms, by FemTechNet members who submit and evaluate Boundary Object that Learn (BOTLs)—the course’s basic pedagogic instruments.

As of January 2013, instructors at fifteen universities and colleges have indicated interest in participating the DOCC 2013. The DOCC 2013 learning activities will be developed in collaboration among the instructors of nodal courses during a week-long intensive summer workshop to be held either most likely online.

Each instructor will tailor a course best suited to her or his students, institution, locale, and discipline. A core group of DOCC 2013 facilitators (let by Anne Balsamo and Alex Juhasz) will provide a structure for the instructors of nodal courses to contribute to a diverse, robust, and extensible database of “Boundary Objects that Learn.” These objects may take the form of readings, media, web- resources, and conversations that are submitted to a shared archival space. Eventually we will provide a digital infrastructure that objects to be annotated- through-use either automatically or by participants in the network.

We will encourage participants to shared assignments so as to link learners across disciplines, institutions and national boundaries as their own efforts become part of the feminist database and dialogue. Conversations, forums and assignments generated from the process of dialogues will be available to share and be used in separate area in anytime at anywhere. There are multiple channels of collaboration: among instructors of nodal courses, among students in those courses, among those who “drop-in” to the course, and among those who are temporarily shifted: those who participate and those who will use the archive of learning materials in the future.

What are the Course Themes?

Decided upon collectively by network members representing a large range of disciplines and fields, we have selected broad topics that can umbrella a variety of perspectives, interests and approaches:

  • Archive
  • Body
  • Difference
  • Discipline
  • Ethics
  • Labor
  • Machine
  • Place
  • Race
  • Sexualities
  • Systems
  • Transformation

Where are Nodal Courses Happening Fall 2013?

  • Bowling Green State University
  • Pitzer College
  • CUNY
  • Penn State
  • Ontario College of Art and Design
  • The New School
  • Brown University
  • Rutgers
  • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Goldsmiths University of London
  • Bucknell University
  • SUNY
  • UC Irvine
  • Ohio State University
  • Colby-Sawyer College
  • California Polytechnic State University
  • Yale

Can I participate if I am not taking or teaching a Nodal Course?

Yes! We are planning to support Independent Studies that are overseen by a professor at any institution, Self-Directed Learners who follow alongside one or many of the nodal course, Drop-In Learners, and Peer-to-Peer Discussion within our network. All feminists interested in technology are welcome to join and produce content.

This project depends on the support of women from any institution and the space they can build there. Even if you cannot host a nodal course this Fall then you can start networking with other feminists at your University across disciplines. If you cannot do a full course you could host a seminar or event at your institution. We have started bi-weekly conference calls within the network about issues, so if you want to participate, please contact.

What are Boundary Objects that Learn (BOTLs)?

Boundary Objects that LEARN are learning materials that are transformed through use when participants annotate materials based on experience and context. Readings, media, web-resources, and conversations that have been both submitted to and evaluated for teaching by the network.  BOTLS approach the creation of Learning Objects from the perspective of Feminist STS— Learning Objects as BOUNDARY objects: “abstract or concrete frameworks that are adaptable to different viewpoints yet robust enough to maintain a provisional identity over time and across different worlds.”

In regards to Boundary Objects that Learn and other course materials for the course, when can people start adding them?

The website we will use as a repository for materials is being built. If anyone has materials they want to share they can contact us.

Where do I get more info?

Feel free to email project founders: Alex Juhasz and Anne Balsamo

Alexandra_juhasz@pitzer.edu         annebalsamo@gmail.com

You can also read more here:

Ada: Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology – “An Idea Whose Time is Here: FemTechNet – A Distributed Online Collaborative Course DOOC”

DML Central: Bodies in Classrooms:  Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I

Brown Daily Herald: Inaugural Pembroke seed grants fund collaborative research

Who are the Nominated Featured Speakers?

Our network nominated and then selected twenty-four luminaries for their preeminence in their field of study, for focusing upon both technology and feminism in their work, and for their diversity.

Archive: Lynn Hershmann and Carol Long/Derek Hook

Body: Rosi Braidotti and Alondra Nelson

Difference: Karen Barad and Shu Lea Cheang

Discipline: Evelynn Hammond and Saskia Sassen

Ethics: Sandra Harding and Trinh T. Minh-ha

Labor: Judy Wacjman and Jodi Dean

Machine: Lucy Suchman and Wendy Chun

Place: Katherine Gibson and Kavita Philip

Race: Maria Fernandez and Lisa Nakamura

Sexualities: Sandy Stone and Faith Wilding

Systems: Brenda Laurel and Janet Murray

Transformation: Donna Harawayand Mona Hatoum