Toward Multicultural Not-yetness in Peer-to-Peer Collaboration and Instructor Feedback

Workshop Session 2

Session Materials

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Brief Abstract

Drawing on theories of race and assessment in writing studies and not-yetness in digital pedagogy, this session argues that multiple, changing, and overwhelming technologies may be more effective at cultivating individual and peer-to-peer engagement among students than course designs that value clean, standardized structures and ease-of-use for students.


Kendell Newman Sadiik is a writer, teacher, and instructional designer who has been working in higher education for six years. Her writing and teaching explore the edges of their fields, including digital storytelling, e-literature, service-learning, and hybrid education environments. Her teaching philosophy is student-centered and engaged with the many communities that students navigate daily. With her B.A. in Political Economy, she worked in social science research in Boston for two years before moving to Fairbanks to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, which she completed in 2015. She’s excited to work with teachers and students to develop learning environments made better by the creative and intentional incorporation of technology.

Extended Abstract

Ten years ago, Michael Caulfield poses questions on his blog that are still relevant. He writes,

What would e-learning look like if we started from the needs of the student, instead of the institution? What would it look like if the overriding question was “How can we use technology in a way that benefits the student?”

My guess is it’d look a lot like life. It would be a wonderful mess of different students and professors choosing different tools on an ad hoc basis. Their choices would evolve over time.

Building from these ideas, a decade later, Amy Collier explains “not-yetness”:

Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve (to use Mike Caulfield’s wisdom).

If one of the problems education is meant to solve is equitable opportunity, then how might we build innovative learning environments that foster openness and student problem -olving? What is our responsibility?

Drawing on theories of race and assessment in writing studies and not-yetness in digital pedagogy, this session argues that multiple, changing, and overwhelming technologies may be more effective at cultivating individual and peer-to-peer engagement among students than course designs that value clean, standardized structures and ease-of-use for students. Workshop leaders include a teacher, instructional designer, and students who built and participated in an online Research Writing course that relies heavily on work-based, creative, and research technologies to build an unconventional, open, and collaborative learning space. Leaders will facilitate a sequence of experiences and debriefs for workshop participants to explore and apply similar approaches and technologies to their own visionary pedagogical projects.

Part 1: The Woods (25 mins-- Slack Introduction, Vision Statement)

Experience (10 mins)

Upon entering the session, participants are given a link to a Wordpress site featuring a 360-degree virtual space (an embedded Thinglink-360). Here, they are placed in a wooded area that is annotated with links to various resources, most of which link further to a Slack team. As participants explore, and eventually join the team, they find an introduction prompt in Slack: We are interested not in where you have been, but where you are going. Introduce yourself by sharing a vision that you have for peer engagement and instructor feedback in a course you teach / design / aspire to.

The workshop leaders are, at this point, members of the audience, and are responding to Slack introductions using emojis, as well as troubleshooting any difficulties that arise. Leaders prompt further discussion by integrating more questions in the forum: What models of peer-to-peer interaction are participants familiar with? How do they understand the role of the instructor in these courses? What does feedback look like?

Face to Face Debrief (15 mins)

We will say hello to the people in the room! We will introduce ourselves and the project that brought us to the conference: peer-to-peer engagement and instructor feedback using overwhelming technologies in an upper-level, online writing course. We will share stories from each of our perspectives about the experience of the course. Next, we will invite critique from participants about their experience of the session thus far. How does the Slack interface confirm or upset their expectations for class discussion / peer-to-peer interaction? Did they experience any particular challenges or thrills?

We will share evidence from the writing course, taught in Fall 2016, where we deliberately scaffolded and experimented with peer-to-peer engagement. We will share analytics and anecdotes from the class to highlight the progression of collaborative energy from the students over the course of the semester. We will highlight the playful and attentive role of feedback from the instructor, which includes customized video, a programmed “slackbot”, emojis, voice memos, and extensive DM conversations in Slack. In sharing, we hope to prompt discussion about the ways that a course might expose and challenge unwritten and written rules of online course design. What are our expectations for instructor feedback? Its intended impact? What helped the peer-to-peer relationships grow in the course? What may have stifled them? What features do people notice?

Part 2: The Playground (35 mins-- Slack, Thinglink,, Google Drive, Stormboard, Pixton)

Experience (25 mins)

The next experience will follow from the woods, which is also where students in the writing course started, and lead not to the cabin that students went to, but rather to a playground, a metaphor we will use to challenge conventional processes and evaluations for learning. Here -- in 360-degree virtual reality -- we will play. Each playground activity corresponds to a different technology, a different mode of thinking, and different collaborative praxis.

On the playground, we’ll explore course design using lenses drawn from Valerie Balester’s “How Writing Rubrics Fail: Toward a Multicultural Model” and Amy Collier’s “Notyetness” in which we introduce frames for understanding rubrics: acculturationist, accommodationist, and multicultural. Through the playground activities, participants will have the opportunity to explore, analyze, discuss and create by looking through these lenses. What are we asking of students with our designs? Are we challenging them to adapt (acculturationist), change (accommodationist), choose (multicultural)? Among the conversations we hope to initiate via this framing are the complexities of online learning, race, and assessment.

One playground activity space, for example, will be a rope ladder -- or rather, a 360-degree image of a rope ladder that is annotated and linked using Thinglink. On the ladder, participants will be asked to use (links to install add-on or bookmarklet) to engage in group annotations and discussion of other links posted here -- including links to sample courses, LMS’s, writing and multimedia related to the topic. We will use the group feature in as well as public annotations to facilitate our discussions.

Participants may also choose to explore the playground’s tunnel. This is a solitary space. Links in the tunnel have prompting questions for reflection. Participants are invited to explore, reflect, write and create. We will link to multiple tools and spaces for doing this, including the self DM channel in Slack, Google Docs + Draw, Stormboard, Popplet, and Pixton.

There is too much in the playground to explore exhaustively, even if we had more time. But isn’t this part of the thrill of a playground? There is reason to come back, possibility in what is unexplored. What options are there? What’s next?

Face to Face De-brief (10 mins)

We will ask for participants to share their thoughts in the form of questions. We will explore, elaborate on, and pursue the questions, but we will not fully address or even answer them. What did we notice?

Part 3: The Classroom (30 mins -- felt, scissors, markers, a 360-degree camera)

Experience (20 min)

For the final experience, we go offline. We are, once again, in a conference room, not on a playground. And we are teachers, designers, technologists, learners -- we are playful, curious, inventive, innovative. We bring play to the conference session. We will provide felt, scissors, glue, markers, and more for participants to visually create and expand their metaphors.

Here, we challenge participants to revise the project vision with which they began the session by creating a metaphor for that vision. We saw a playground in our project. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste?

Reflect (10 min)

We will reflect by connecting our metaphors. All participants will be asked to bring their felted visions to a cleared floor space and place them in relationship to the metaphors of others. This will require discussion and, likely, an unfinished, messy floor-full of vision. Before we end, we will use a 360-degree camera to take a picture of our floor / map of visions and our group of “participants” -- teachers, learners, thinkers, makers. All participants will leave with an access code to this shared file in Thinglink, and be welcomed to take, re-make, and/or annotate the image in Thinglink after we leave. What are our visions now, if not a stock-photo classroom, desks in a row, blackboard blank, students’ hands obediently in the air?


  1. Participants will articulate a vision they have for course design with a focus on peer-to-peer engagement, and use metaphor to revise, analyze, and expand that vision during and post-workshop.

  2. Participants will experiment, play, and then critique multiple free, online tools, many of which are not commonly used in the context of higher education.

  3. Participants will be immersed in a micro version of an alternative course design, and collaborate in a process of noticing the values, assumptions, strengths, and contradictions of that design.

  4. Participants will explore and discuss the ways in which online instructor feedback affirms student identity.

  5. Participants will begin to notice how online courses can quickly replace the face-to-face course tendency to standardize and formalize writing such that it no longer has communicative potential for the writer.