Co-Learning Encounters | Joranson & Langmead

For five years, we have run a series of face-to-face “Toolshops” at our place of employment that brings members of our community together in semi-structured settings to work on the aspects of our professional work driven more by the important social practice of shared meta-cognitive reflection than on content-driven knowledge generation.

The abrupt transition to emergency remote teaching in early 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic prompted us to consider how me might transition the core of our Toolshop work to the online environment via the development of a series of Co-Learning Encounters (CLEs) that would facilitate problem-solving alongside open-ended inquiry. We wondered together, how can we support one another as we redefine our expectations, approaches, and identities as both teachers and learners?

Using the topics of critical digital pedagogy, archival studies, and “thinking like a computer,” we were interested in expressing thoughts in, through, and about technical systems while also exploring issues such as trust, authority, and grief. We wanted to consider the ways we could release control of the conversation without abandoning the learning community, while also remaining mindful of the affordances of our domestic spaces and the workings of liberatory pedagogy and generous practice.

This documentation of the Summer 2020 CLEs is being developed amidst incredible personal and public uncertainty, grief, and trauma. We share this not as a disclaimer, but as a gesture to others that we share doubts and insecurities, even as we offer planning for the future, and that we believe that it is always enough to offer only exactly what you can at any given time.

We assert that for this site and for the CLEs to be meaningful, you must reject the notion that you are here to extract information from us, or anyone else…even from the materials offered. If you have arrived here wanting to figure out, “what you can get out of this” or to “mine this as a resource,” we urge you to reconsider this way of conceptualizing your intentions. We strive at every turn to actively reject damaging extractive or transactional pedagogical approaches. 

To engage with the processes we describe here is to accept the role of co-learner; one among many. To join is to agree to assemble in a communal effort to contribute all of our knowledges—about content, about the practice of learning, and about being human—to the group. We believe, listen to, and learn from other people’s experiences. Such mutual generosity is the essence of co-learning.

We offer this site and this framework in an effort to share the knowledge we co-created with our colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh in April-June 2020, during the relatively early days of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Kate Joranson and Alison Langmead, June 2020