Born Digital Goes to College

This week, we got some pretty exciting news: turns out Kevin Guidry, a PhD student and teacher at Indiana University, is using Born Digital as a major text in his undergraduate class on Online Identity!

This is exciting for a couple of reasons. First, it’s always a rush to hear that people are actually reading a book you helped to coax along. (I presume it’s even more of a rush when you actually wrote the whole thing! Here’s looking at you, John and Urs.) Books, awkward physical objects that they are, do tend to take on a life of their own. Seeing Born Digital come to life in such an admirable, unpredictable environment is a delight and an honor.

Second, Kevin has already entered the new millenium of teaching and learning for which Born Digital so ardently advocates. Kevin linked us to the blog posts he’s writing on his teaching process in the half-semester course on “Online Identity,” and I spent solid minutes transfixed by his descriptions of the classroom, obstacles, student responses, and opportunities. Rather than provide dry lectures, Kevin structures his classes as a series of small-group conversations, all contributing to a whole. Though using the book’s principles to teach the book’s principles may seem recursive, I think it is a fiercely intelligent approach—and, soon, it may be a necessary one. Kevin’s iterative thought process rewards close reading.

Third, the Digital Natives team learned about Kevin’s class via an email he sent to John Palfrey. Out of the blue! Despite all of its shortcomings, the Internet has this one thing I will never stop loving: its ability to connect people and endeavors suddenly and without warning. Because Kevin took the time to write to John, the entire team behind the project now gets to see how Born Digital plays in the real world, observing its trajectory vicariously through Kevin’s classroom reports.

If you ever find yourself teaching Born Digital in a class, or reading it, or thinking further about the issues it addresses, we will always love to hear from you. In the comments, or by email: anytime. Serendipity, it turns out, almost always comes from out of the blue.

Thank you for the note, Kevin, and we look forward to more dispatches from the classroom of tomorrow!