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Abstracts # 369: 21st-Century University: Gender, Technology, and Learning

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    Shaden M. Tageldin

    Please join us for the following session, arranged by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession:

    MLA 2014 Convention • Chicago • Presidential Theme: Vulnerable Times

    369. The Twenty-First-Century University: Gender, Technology, and Learning

    Friday, 10 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., Michigan B, Sheraton Chicago

    Program arranged by the MLA Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession

    Presiding:  Shaden M. Tageldin, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities


    1. “Dialogues in Feminism and Technology,” Elizabeth Mathews Losh, Univ. of California, San Diego

    During the past three decades feminist scholarship on technology has transformed science and technology studies and film and television studies.  Feminist scholars of literacy, including Anne Balsamo and N. Katherine Hayles, introduced critical frameworks that reconfigured ideas about bodies, machines, and labor and applied analytic methods formerly reserved for art and literary texts to technological discourses such as those of reproductive medicine or computer science. At the same time, the methodological contributions of scholars such as Mary Ann Doane, Anne Friedberg, and Teresa de Lauretis exerted a major influence on the field of media studies by shifting the focus of critical practice from text and discourse to matters of the apparatus, technosocial environments, embodied experiences, and the interfaces and platforms of mediation.  Feminism also played a major role in critical pedagogies in which knowledge is explicitly co-constructed and the affective labor of the classroom redefined as transgressive, collaborative, engaged, and interdisciplinary.  Building on a number of pedagogical experiments in creating feminist cyberspaces for learning, a worldwide collective of over two hundred feminist scholars connected by distributed networks has now launched Feminist Dialogues on Technology, with the aim of transforming the profession of teaching and institutions of higher education.  What are the lessons to be learned for literary studies from the successes and failures of blended learning in these hybridized media-centric classrooms in which theory takes center stage?

    2. “Hybridizing Foreign Languages: Gender and Professionalization,” Charlotte Ann Melin, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities

    Foreign language courses are the site of rapid expansion in hybrid offerings and, on most campuses, these courses are taught predominantly by women (graduate student teaching assistants, adjunct instructors, and faculty).  While these hybrid offerings are viewed as important new initiatives and often promoted at the administrative level, they create many unseen, new demands on instructors—reshaping relationships to technology, mentoring support, and interactions with students.  To date research on the teaching of foreign languages and use of technology has not considered the programmatic implications of gender dimensions for hybrid learning.  This paper seeks to identify these issues and will present the findings of a planned survey that will draw on the responses of current participants in a professional development course on hybrid learning and compare their attitudes with those of counterparts in the language departments who chose not to be involved in these optional workshops.  Other data (e.g., student enrollment patterns) will be collected and compared with previous Second Language Acquisition studies of gender factors in foreign language instructional settings.  In light of the hybridization trend, models for graduate education and the on-going professional development of foreign language teachers at all ranks need to evolve.  The paper will conclude with recommendations concerning foreign language hybridization, focusing on the importance of graduate student preparation beyond the standard “methods” course offered by doctoral programs.

    3. “The Gender Factor in Technology-Enhanced Language Courses,” Fernando Rubio, Univ. of Utah

    Technology-enhanced courses have become a crucial component of higher education curricula over the past decade.  Technology-enhanced teaching is touted as a way to increase access to education and offer a higher quality product.  It is also seen as a way to free learners from the constraints of existing social relations.  Additionally, the collaborative nature of Web 2.0 tools allows for collective generation of new knowledge, multi-modal communication, active participation and social networking.  These changes have destabilized the traditional roles of teachers as creators or disseminators of knowledge and students as mere consumers. But do technology-enhanced courses elicit gender-specific patterns of social and interactive behavior from students, both with the course material and with one another?  Do hybrid and online formats reproduce and reinforce gender differences typically found within any learning community?  And do those different patterns of interaction affect a learner’s ability to benefit from these courses?  If technology-enhanced teaching and learning is to become the norm in institutions of higher education, we need to understand how gender may determine our interaction with this medium so that its learning potential can be fully realized.  After an overview of the existing literature, this paper presents the results of a study on the behavior of female and male university students in hybrid and online language courses.  Specifically, the study looks at gender-related differences in communication, perceptions of community, and perceived learning in these courses.

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