We-thinking the Classroom

Over the past ten years of teaching I have been developing and adapting a collection of resources for cooperative and collaborative learning. I refer to this approach as ‘we-thinking the classroom.’ This term comes from Charles Leadbeater’s book We-Think, an exploration of mass creativity that draws from successful open source and collaborative web-based projects. I borrow Leadbeater’s term to describe my research and teaching practice. The philosophy beyond we-thinking the classroom arises from a combination of open source principles, best practices in collaborative and cooperative learning, and techniques for learner-driven education adapted from anarchist free schools.

My incorporation of these diverse principles into  models for classroom teaching is at once an upgrade, adding to William Merrim’s call for ‘open sourcing’ the discipline of media studies, and part of a broader initiative occurring across a range of industries working to implement open source frameworks beyond the worlds of software development. Applying open source designs in low-tech and mixed old media/new media learning environments can move us beyond the buzz language of the next beta programme to reach users (students, staff and faculty) with varying degrees of technological literacy and, most importantly, can highlight the collaborative principles and training necessary for nurturing well-being and knowledge co-creation.

‘We-thinking the classroom’ raises questions including: Can the ethos of open-source be used in an HE learning environment? Can this model tap into current demands for engaged, reflexive and peer-focused learning? And perhaps most crucially, Can we-thinking the classroom provide students with the skills necessary for entering a precarious labour force and offer them tools for fostering ethical and sustainable working environments?

As new media buzz coincides with universities’  cost cutting corporate initiatives, there are many repercussions for faculty member’s jobs, autonomy and access to resources, and with these, threats to students’ well being and learning. Yet through the cracks of this crisis in education, pockets of people continue to cultivate alternatives, to invest in collective and creative re-thinkings of university life. This project aims to contributes to the cultivation of such spaces.

Feigenbaum, Anna & Alexander Feigenbaum “Gameful Pedagogy and Collaborative Learning: A Case Study of the NetsX project”

(in revision) Iqani, Mehita & Anna Feigenbaum “The (inter)disciplinarity of mediastudies: Pedagogical challenges and opportunities from the perspective of teaching staff ”

Feigenbaum, Anna & Mehita Iqani. (2013) “Quality after the Cuts? Higher Education practitioners’ accounts of systemic challenges to teaching quality in times of ‘austerity’,” Journal of Further and Higher Education

Feigenbaum, Anna. (2011) “We-Thinking the Classroom: Using Open Source Principles in HE Course Design,” Media Education Research Journal, 02:02, pp. 26-41.

Feigenbaum, Anna. (2007) “The Teachable Moment: Feminist Pedagogy and the Neoliberal Classroom.” The Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, 29:4,pp. 337–349.

Interviews & Roundtables

Passion, Pitchforks and Pinecones: Navigating Academia in Precarious Times” ‘Future of Feminist Theory: Publishing, Networks and Conferences, Or, how to be the feminist you want to be.’ Sponsored by the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and the journal Feminist Theory

Carving Compassion, Camouflaging Antagonism & Building Cooperative Alternatives – an Interview with Anna Feigenbaum” Interview by Eli Meyerhoff Class War University (August 2012)

Heckert, Jamie, Anna Feigenbaum and Anja Kanngieser (2010). “The antagonistic university? A conversation on cuts, conviviality and capitalism.” Sociological imagination.org. (10 Dec 2010).