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'Distributed Open Collaborative Course' on Feminism Takes Decentralized Approach to MOOC

A virtual network of scholars, artists, and students who work on technology, science, and feminism will be running a "distributed open collaborative course," or DOCC, that looks at technology through a feminist lens. Planned activities include a "storming" of Wikipedia to write women "back" into the history of technology. Already participants from 15 universities and colleges have announced their participation in the online event, which is being hosted by FemTechNet Commons.

The DOCC, titled, "Dialogues on Feminism and Technology," will run for 10 weeks, starting in September 2013. According to the description, the program will examine "both the historical and cutting edge scholarship on technology produced through art, science, and visual studies."

The event is structured like a MOOC — a massive, open and online course. The difference, said organizers, is that a MOOC is "typically organized and branded by a single (elite) institution." A DOCC, on the other hand, is developed with expertise from a network of people who have "diverse identities."

In this case, the content will feature 10 video "dialogues," each with a conversation between two "prominent" feminist scholars, artists, and practitioners. Those videos will serve as jumping off points for participating institutions to do further discussion. For example, the series starts Sept. 23 with The New School's dean of the School of Media Studies, Anne Balsamo, interviewing Judy Wajcman, a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Their topic: the history of engagement of feminism and technology. Other subjects will examine sexualities, race, difference, bodies, machines, systems, places, infrastructures, archive, and transformations.

Credit-granting schools include Bowling Green State University, Brown, Cal Poly, Colby-Sawyer, Ohio State, and Penn State. Several have posted their syllabi online for this publicly open course. Among their activities: "Wikistorming," in which they make an organized effort to add and update content on the reference site to include or acknowledge contributions made by women during the history of technology. The site is also educating people on how to edit Wikipedia contents by making available an hour-long video featuring a course by Adrianne Wadewitz, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Digital Learning and Research at Occidental College.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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