DOCC: Feminist Digital Initiative Challenges Universities’ Race for MOOCs

DOCC: Feminist Digital Initiative Challenges Universities’ Race for MOOCs
By Birgit Wolf

FemTechNet, a network of feminist scholars and educators, is launching a new model for online learning at 15 higher education institutions this fall. The DOCC, or Distributed Open Collaborative Course, is a new approach to collaborative learning and an alternative to MOOCs, the massive open online course model that proponents claim will radicalize twenty-first century higher education. FemTechNet’s first DOCC course, “Dialogues on Feminism and Technology,” will launch fall 2013.
The DOCC model for 21st-century higher education recognizes and is built on the understanding that expertise is distributed throughout a network, among participants in diverse institutional contexts. This model explicitly departs from the typical MOOC approach organized around the delivery of information from an “expert” faculty (or a pair of instructors) to the uninformed “masses.” The organization of a DOCC emphasizes learning collaboratively in a digital age by enabling the active participation of all kinds of learners (as teachers, as students, as media-makers, as activists, as trainers, as members of various publics and/or social groups). By virtue of its reach across institutions and learning sites, the DOCC also enables the extension of classroom experience beyond the walls, physical or virtual, of a single institution.

DOCC’s feminist focus
The DOCC’s feminist focus highlights the interactions of art, science and technology as foundational knowledge areas for the twenty-first century and aspires to create innovative learning contexts that value the voices and expertise of both students and faculty. While the DOCC initiative will be piloted primarily in North America, international participation in future projects ensures the kind of challenging dialogue and stakeholder inclusiveness necessary to imagine, and then create, more equitable and socially just educational models in the digital world.

The FemTechNet DOCC 2013 rests on the following commitments:

  • To develop ethical and equitable practices for more socially just global communities.
  • To develop innovative uses for digital technologies that serve important cultural and social needs, anywhere and everywhere
  • To identify and preserve the history of feminist contribution to technological innovation
  • To advance feminist principles of social justice in creating educational models and pedagogies for the future.

The FemTechNet DOCC 2013 differs from a top-down, “expert”-centered MOOC in the following ways:

  • Employs feminist methods and commitments to engage diverse types of expertise and knowledges that can be shared in a feminist classroom–virtual or residential.
  • Develops a unique educational platform that acknowledges the horizontal locatedness of student, teacher and institution;
  • Encourages creativity and flexibility in curriculum design as instructors and students learn from other participants, both local and “distant”;
  • Provides the potential for deep and ongoing international collaborations in producing groundbreaking research and grant opportunities that address the uses and abuses of technology in critical educational theory and practice
  • Seeks to contribute to the activation of a reflective interdisciplinary global network of educators across institutions and disciplines using technology and critical pedagogy to level disparities of power and access;

More information: DOCC 2013: Dialogues on Feminism and Technology
Read more: Feminist professors create an alternative to MOOCs | Inside Higher Ed