Bookmarked Affective Labor: The Need for, and Cost of, Workplace Equanimity by Lee Skallerup Bessette (
Efforts to move higher education instruction online en masse highlight the necessity of affective labor—work that a person does to suppress their feelings so as to create a desired feeling in others (in this case, a sense of calm)—as well as the toll it can take.
Suggested reading by the OERxDomains session: Taking Care by Lee Skallerup Bessette and Susannah McGowan
Watched Taking Care: Affective Labor in Digital Learning from OEERxDomains2021 (YouTube)

Apr 21, 4:45 AM 30 min

Speakers:Lee Skallerup Bessette and Susannah McGowan

Openness can be fraught for faculty; the classroom has often been a sanctuary of academic freedom and teaching approaches are personal in the strongest sense. In preparing our faculty for the Fall 2020 semester, we, as faculty developers and academic technologists at CNDLS at Georgetown University, were working with faculty who were openly discussing their pedagogy and the limits of their knowledge of digital tools and learning strategies.

The work moved us past knowing “what works” or “what’s possible” (Hutchings, 2000) in using tools into the realm of affective labor (Horthchild, 2012), where we managed a complex interplay of support, emotions, and uncertainty in order to evoke the proper emotions from faculty. To make our expertise on pedagogy and digital tools “stick” (Ahmed, 2010) we worked within our own emotions while fielding the emotions of faculty. But this work, while taxing, has borne fruit: more faculty are embracing open pedagogical practices such as Domains, ungrading (Blum & Kohn, 2020), and flipping the classroom (Talbert, 2017). The presentation will work to uncover the affective labor we have been practicing, ways to acknowledge it, and what joys it can bring.

  • Ahmed, S. (2010). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge.
  • Blum, S. D., & Kohn, A. (2020). Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (And What to Do Instead). West Virginia University Press.
  • Hochschild, A.R. (2012). The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (3rd ed.). University of California Press.
  • Hutchings, P. 2000. Approaching the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. In Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, edited by P. Hutchings, 1–10.
  • Talbert, R. (2017). Flipped learning: A guide for higher education faculty. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Bookmarked Course: EDS 544 Theories of Instruction by Evrim Baran (
The Theories of Instruction course is for graduate students who are interested in the study of the emergence and the present status of instructional theories. The overall goal of this particular course is to equip course participants with the knowledge of instructional theories comparing and discussing the relationships among learning theories, and their practical applications. The development of the knowledge on instructional theories will be fostered by a) learning by design activities, and b) opportunities to critique and evaluate applications of the theories.

Stian Håklev in “While looking for info about his book, I came across some open courses from a Turkish distance uni by @evrimb, wonderfully organized slides. She actually has two entire courses – one on theories of instruction, another on ed psych.” / Twitter ()

Read Talking out loud to yourself is a technology for thinking by Nana Ariel (Psyche)
Talking out loud to oneself is a technology for thinking that allows us to clarify and sharpen our approach to a problem

I ran across this article this evening and some of the ideas resonate strongly with me. The article mentions some areas of psychology research and a few papers I hadn’t seen before.

I’m also particularly interested in the idea of embodied cognition within cognitive psychology. Has anyone delved into these areas in their research or memory-related work? @LynneKelly’s research and written texts encourage singing, dancing and performing (I don’t recall specifically speaking or walking in her contexts, but I’m sure they’re all closely related), but has anyone else experimented with these additional modalities in their practice?

Most of the Western-based mnemotechniques I’m aware of are focused almost solely on internalized speech/thought. Can anyone think of any which aren’t?

I’ve seen several works in which Nassim Nicholas Taleb propounds the benefits of the flaneur lifestyle for improving thought, though his mentions are purely anecdotal as I recall. I’d appreciate any additional references to research in these areas if others are aware.

Like many of us, I talk to myself out loud, though I’m a little unusual in that I often do it in public spaces. Whenever I want to figure out an issue, develop an idea or memorise a text, I turn to this odd work routine. While it’s definitely earned me a reputation in my neighbourhood, it’s also improved my thinking and speaking skills immensely. Speaking out loud is not only a medium of communication, but a technology of thinking: it encourages the formation and processing of thoughts.

I’ve noticed speaking out loud also seems to help me in practicing and acquiring a new language.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 09:52PM

The idea that speaking out loud and thinking are closely related isn’t new. It emerged in Ancient Greece and Rome, in the work of such great orators as Marcus Tullius Cicero. But perhaps the most intriguing modern development of the idea appeared in the essay ‘On the Gradual Formation of Thoughts During Speech’ (1805) by the German writer Heinrich von Kleist. 

Some of this is at play with the idea of “[rubber ducking](” as a means of debugging programs
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 09:55PM

In both cases – speech and writing – the materiality of language undergoes a transformation (to audible sounds or written signs) which in turn produces a mental shift. 

There’s surely a link between this and the idea of thought spaces in the blogosphere or the idea of a commonplace book/digital garden/wiki.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:06PM

Mute inner speech can appear as an inner dialogue as well, but its truncated form encourages us to create a ‘secret’ abbreviated language and deploy mental shortcuts. By forcing us to articulate ourselves more fully, self-talk summons up the image of an imagined listener or interrogator more vividly. In this way, it allows us to question ourselves more critically by adopting an external perspective on our ideas, and so to consider shortcomings in our arguments – all while using our own speech. 

I’m also reading this and wondering about memory techniques and methods and how these may interact beneficially.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:07PM

It’s no coincidence that we walk when we need to think: evidence shows that movement enhances thinking and learning, and both are activated in the same centre of motor control in the brain. In the influential subfield of cognitive science concerned with ‘embodied’ cognition, one prominent claim is that actions themselves are constitutive of cognitive processes. That is, activities such as playing a musical instrument, writing, speaking or dancing don’t start in the brain and then emanate out to the body as actions; rather, they entail the mind and body working in concert as a creative, integrated whole, unfolding and influencing each other in turn. It’s therefore a significant problem that many of us are trapped in work and study environments that don’t allow us to activate these intuitive cognitive muscles, and indeed often even encourage us to avoid them. 

I’m curious if Lynne Kelly or others have looked into these areas of research with their Memory work? She’s definitely posited that singing and dancing as well as creating art helps indigenous cultures in their memory work.
Annotated on December 28, 2020 at 10:10PM

Read - Want to Read: Teaching Aboriginal Cultural Competence: Authentic Approaches by Barbara Hill (Springer)
This book examines a collaborative partnership model between academia and Indigenous peoples, the goal of which is to integrate Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum. It demonstrates how the authentic and creative approaches employed have led to an evolution of curriculum and pedagogy that facilitates cultural competence among Australian graduate and undergraduate students.
The book pursues an interdisciplinary approach based on highly practical examples, exemplars and methods that are currently being used to teach in this area. It focuses on facilitating student acquisition of knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills, following Charles Sturt University's Cultural Competence Pedagogical Framework. Further, it provides insights into the use of reflective practice in this context, and practical ideas on embedding content and sharing practices, highlighting examples of potential "ways forward," both nationally and globally.
Liked a tweet by @k_j_turner (Twitter)
I love the bridge that book formats like this can provide in learning new languages. Reminds me a bit of some of the Folger Shakespeare annotated plays that helped to define words, terms, and culture that have changed significantly since they were written. 

How does one find more of these?

Read Timeful Texts by Andy Matuschak, Michael Nielsen (
How might one escape a book’s shackled sense of time, extending the authored experience over weeks and months?
It looks to me like Andy and Michael are grasping at recreating with modern technology and tools what many (most? all?) indigenous cultures around the world used to ritually learn and memorize their culture’s knowledge. Mnemonics, spaced repetition, graded initiation, orality, dance, and song were all used as a cohesive whole to do this.

The best introduction to many of these methods and their pedagogic uses is best described by Lynne Kelly‘s book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

If they take her ideas as a basis and then layer on their own thinking, I think they’ll get much further much quicker. Based on my reading of their work thus far, they’re limiting themselves solely with western and modern cultures or at least those of a post-Peter Ramus world.

As an example, I’ve recently been passively watching the Netflix series The Who Was? Show which is geared toward children, but it does a phenomenal job of creating entertaining visuals, costumes, jokes, songs, dances, over-the-top theatricality, and small mnemonic snippets to teach children about famous people in our culture. Naturally this is geared toward neophytes, but it’s memorable, especially when watched with some spaced repetition. To follow it up properly it needs the next 10 layers of content and information to provide the additional depth to move it from children’s knowledge to adult and more sophisticated knowledge. Naturally this should be done at a level appropriate to the learner and their age and sophistication and include relevant related associative memory techniques, but it’s a start.

I’ll note that our educational system’s inability to connect (or associate) new knowledge with previous knowledge is a major drawback. 

Replied to How much ‘work’ should my online course be for me and my students? by dave dave (
How much work is too much (or too little) work for my students? How much work is too much work for my TAs or for me? How do I design an online course? A post where i propose ‘Total Work Hours‘ as a replacement for the Course/Credit Hour. As we leave behind the emergency teaching processes that h...
I really appreciate this re-framing here.

Restructuring coursework takes a lot of time and effort. Looking out for part-timers and adjuncts who are already often thrown into the deep end without much support is also key.

Another question we may ask is how can students be better brought into the ideas behind the pedagogy to help themselves as well as their colleagues and potential future versions of a particular course?

Listened to Designing and Developing New Tools For Thought with Andy Matuschak from Village Global's Venture Stories

Andy Matuschak (@andy_matuschak), joins Erik on this episode. He is a technologist, designer and researcher. They discuss:
- The key thread throughout his work and what he’s trying to accomplish.
- Why people read books despite remembering little of what they read.
- What books should look like and the features they should have in the digital age.
- Why spaced repetition is so powerful.- His requests for startups in the space.

Read Fall Scenario #13: A HyFlex Model (Inside Higher Ed)
The challenge of flexibility.

It’s important to note that the goal of HyFlex is two make both the online and in-person experiences equal. 

There are some pieces of this that immediately make me think that this model is more of a sort of “separate, but equal” sort of modality. Significant resources will need to go toward the equality piece and even then it is likely to fall short from a social perspective.

Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:27PM

Finally, the best HyFlex classrooms have someone assisting the faculty member. 

This is the understatement of the year. Faculty members will require extensive training and LOTS of assistance. This assistance SHOULD NOT come from student assistants, graduate students (who are likely to be heavily undertrained), or other “free” sources.

Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:35PM

These assistants could also be work-study students who are assigned a particular classroom (or digital space) or they might be volunteers from class who are given credit for assisting in the delivery of the course. 

And of course, the first pivot (even in the same paragraph!) is exactly to these “free” or cheap sources which are likely to be overlooked and undertrained.

If a school is going to do this they need to take it seriously and actually give it professional resources.

Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 01:38PM

Incidentally there is some pre-existing research about the measurable fairness of court proceedings being held online that would tend to negate the equality that might be dispensed in online courseware.

See for some references. 
Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 02:42PM

This fall needs to be different. We need to ask students to be part of the solution of keeping learning flourishing in the fall. This includes asking them to help manage the class if it has a virtual component. 

This is moving education in exactly the WRONG direction. Students are already ill-prepared to do the actual work and studying of education, now we’re going to try to extract extra efficiency out of the system by asking them to essential teach themselves on top of it? This statement seems like the kind of thing a technology CEO would pitch higher education on as a means of monetizing something over which they had no control solely to extract value for their own company.

If we’re going to go this far, why not just re-institute slavery?

Annotated on May 21, 2020 at 02:46PM

Read Social Reading, Collaborative Annotation, and Remote Learning with Hypothesis (Hypothesis)
Last week Hypothesis saw the largest uptick in interest in our LMS integration since we released the app a little over a year ago. The vast majority of this interest came from individual instructors across the globe grappling with the challenge of moving their courses to remote delivery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Replied to Stones only by Kate Bowles (Music for Deckchairs)
The purpose of Stonehenge is lost to us. There will always be debate about its meaning. Stonehenge Visitor Centre, Wiltshire I grew up in England, although I wasn’t born here. Here. I’m…
I ran across this 5 year old article courtesy of a few recent tweets:

What surprises me is that it’s about education and pedagogy that starts off with a vignette in which Kate Bowles talks about the unknown purpose of Stonehenge.

But I’ve been doing some serious reading on the humanities relating to memory, history, and indigenous cultures over the last few years. It dawns on me:

I know what those stones are for!

A serious answer provided by Australian science and memory researcher Dr. Lynne Kelly indicates that Stonehenge and similar monolithic sites built by indigenous cultures across the world are–in fact–pedagogic tools!!

We’ve largely lost a lot of the roots of our ancient mnemonic devices through gradual mis- and dis-use as well as significant pedagogic changes by Petrus Ramus, an influential French dialectician, humanist, logician, and educational reformer. Scholar Frances Yates indicated in The Art of Memory that his influential changes in the mid-1500’s disassociated memory methods including the method of loci, which dated back to ancient Greece, from the practice of rhetoric as a field of study. As a result we’ve lost a fantastic tradition that made teaching and the problem of memory far worse.

Fortunately Lynne Kelly gives a fairly comprehensive overview of indigenous cultures across human history and their use of these methods along with evidence in her book Memory Code which is based on her Ph.D. thesis. Even better, she didn’t stop there and she wrote a follow up book that explores the use of these methods and places them into a modern pedagogy setting and provides some prescriptive uses.

I might suggest that instead of looking forward to technology as the basis of solutions in education, that instead we look back—not just to our past or even our pre-industrial past, but back to our pre-agrarian past.

Let’s look back to the tremendous wealth of indigenous tribes the world over that modern society has eschewed as “superstitious” and “simple”. In reality, they had incredibly sophisticated oral stories and systems that they stored in even more sophisticated memory techniques. Let’s relearn and reuse those techniques to make ourselves better teachers and improve our student’s ability to learn and retain the material with which they’re working.

Once we’ve learned to better tap our own memories, we’ll realize how horribly wrong we’ve been for not just decades but centuries.

This has been hard earned knowledge for me, but now that I’ve got it, I feel compelled to share it. I’m happy to chat with people about these ideas to accelerate their growth, but I’d recommend getting them from the source and reading Dr. Kelly’s work directly. (Particularly her work with indigenous peoples of Australia, who helped to unlock a large piece of the puzzle for her.) Then let’s work together to rebuild the ancient edifices that our ancestors tried so desperately to hand down, but we’ve managed to completely forget.

The historical and archaeological record:
The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments by Dr. Lynne Kelly

A variety of methods and teaching examples:
Memory Craft: Improve Your Memory with the Most Powerful Methods in History by Dr. Lynne Kelly

Annotated on April 26, 2020 at 08:34PM