December 1, 2008

GWSS Tech Talk: Feminist Teaching with Technology

Monday, December 8th from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
in the Feminist Media Center (FMC), 468 Ford Hall
Facilitator: Rachel Raimist -

Workshop Description:

In this GWSS Tech Talk / Feminist Media Center (FMC) workshop, I will share some theories and practices of feminist teaching, learning, research, and creativity using technology. I will use examples from GWSS courses: Gender, Power and Everyday Life: An Intro to GWSS, Feminist Thought and Theory, Feminist Film Studies, Digital Storytelling In and With Communities of Color, to show how technology can help support and deepen feminist pedagogical practices.

In this session, I will:

+ Demonstrate multiple uses of course blogs // Blogs can be used to create community, continue/deepen course discussions, post creative work (images, sound, video), extend reading responses, track news items, post event info, and easily share content to all members of the classroom community for large and small course enrollments [ see my personal blog on how and why i use blogs for teaching and learning ]

+ Briefly demonstrate key uses of WebVista (formerly WebCT) // WebVista is a course website that can be used as a reading repository for enrolled students, place of accessible web links, announcements, computer-graded quiz tools, message boards, chat rooms, calendar tool, gradebook, and other helpful features. I will forward you the UMN DMC for extended training on WebVista (their workshops are free, many are available online, and they are great!)

+ Illustrate UMN supported multimedia tools // Moodle, Breeze, Wikis, Jabber, and other digital media tools offered through MyU Portal

+ Share UMN tech resources // free and low cost classes, free online tutorials, and new state of the art classrooms available for course use

+ Get you posting to the GWSS community blog - GWSS Tech Talk:
You can advertise courses, events, share calls for papers, funding opportunities, and other information of interest to our community [ and everyone will learn how to post to this blog during this session]

!!! Seating is limited. RSVP is encouraged! Please RSVP to if you are planning to attend this session.


October 12, 2008

Why and How I Blog (GWSS uses of Uthink blog)

I recently wrote a letter in support of UThink blog upgrade (a long overdue move to latest version of Movable Type).

I thought that I should share with all of you, since so frequently (on campus and in cyberspace) I am asked why and how I use blogs as tools for teaching, learning, and as a means of distribution for creative media work. I did conduct a workshop last year on FEMINIST TEACHING WITH TECHNOLOGY, but that was mostly tech (with theoretical overview), much of which is expanded here.

I would have to say that my favorite use of the course blogs (beyond what I've listed below) is the adaption of a "typical" midterm film analysis paper that asks students to analyze a film scene, shot by shot. By adapting that assignment to be a blog assignment, SEE HERE, I can actually see the images (students take using screen grab in the FMC, which gives them additional tech tools, as well as opens up their work to all of our classroom community of learners.

So here's the letter:

I am a doctoral candidate and Graduate Instructor in the department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and an avid user of the UThink blogging system for teaching, learning, research, creative work, and community building. The use of UThink blogs has been central to all of the CLA courses that I have taught from 2006 to the present. I have been eagerly awaiting the UThink update to the latest version of Movable Type because the group blog format and other enhanced features that are currently available. An upgrade of the current system would be tremendously beneficial to my work, and to the work of many UThink bloggers in my department.

I first used a course blog for my fall 2006 course (WoSt 3307) FEMINIST FILM STUDIES. This course had 80 enrolled students, which is a large course for GWSS and can be difficult to teach with feminist pedagogy; I engage practices and methods that centers student voices, utilizes active learning practices, and builds the classroom as a space of community of learners. Using the blog for this course enabled community building beyond our weekly meeting time, in so many ways. I was able to “hear� all of the student’s voices and ideas, which is an impossibility during the limited class periods. I found that students who rarely speak in the classroom, often took the lead on blog discussions, and their ideas prompted many rigorous discussions. The first assignment, a “low risk� task, was to post a “Top 10� favorite list of films. This assignment allowed the class to share films screened outside of class, and let me know, as the Instructor, that they knew how to post, embed images, create links, and embed video clips, all tasks that were required for the remainder of the course’s academic and creative assignments. I also discovered that students, without being required to post comments, read each other’s posts, posted comments, and began to create a true community of learners beyond the “traditional� campus classroom and meeting hours, without my prompt, requirement or intervention.

Additionally, the blogs connect students, very literally, to learning and community beyond the enrolled students. I use blog as a way for students to share their research, like an assignment that asks students to “report� on women of color filmmakers. Students were amazed when some of the filmmakers posted in the comments of their posts. In their course evaluations, the students said that having their idea on the web, connected to filmmakers in the “real� world, made it seem that their assignments were a part of the feminist tradition of recovery and spotlight of women’s works that aren’t always easily accessible. For course final projects (often videos, photo essays, and powerpoint presentations), I ask students to post their work to the blog. This enables us to easily move from one project to the next (without the usual tech set-up delays during in-class presentations), is a way for students work to be showcased beyond class, and remains as an archive of the work, and still receives comments from those on and off campus.

In courses such as my spring 2008 (GWSS 3390) FEMINIST MEDIA MAKING, and my current course (AFRO3910/GWSS 3390) DIGITAL STORYTELLING in and with Communities of Color the blog is central to assignments and active student learning practices. I required assignments be posted to the blog, which creates engaged conversations (that is normally only a two-way street, traveled between student and Instructor only). With the blog, students ideas and discussions flow across complex interchanges and intersections, with all of the community of learners participating and benefit from peer learning. Blog posts often become prompts for course discussion, and a site for all of us to share information linking our site to news and events on campus. I also post all of the technical instructions (like how to use particular software or embed video in their post) on the blog, and as a result I find that students, accessing this information from anywhere they find themselves working, and often they post more than just the required assignments. Additionally, I often have students keep their own blogs as journals to trace their engagement with course ideas. Without the group blog features available in Movable Type updates, I create a work-around by linking the course blog to each of the blogs in the right sidebar, functional but clunky, to say the least.

It’s also important to note that I was an CLA IT Fellow (2005 – 2007), and taught the faculty, graduate students, majors, minors and enrolled GWSS students how to blog. In the beginning many were cautious, skeptical, or just resistant to using the blogs, fearful of privacy issues and exposure of their students. With my courses as a model, and an instruction on uses display name alias tool in UThink, I’ve found (and heard through feedback with others) that students, accountable to the reading “public� post thoughts phrased more critically, rather than personally attacking (as some feel comfortable doing when they only hand the paper in to the faculty). Some of our courses use the blogs for assignments, event postings, and reading response papers, while some courses use blogs for the sharing of creative work like adbusting and postcard projects (similar to Post Secret. Blogs are used for large and small enrollment courses, and for both lecture section and discussion sections. I have not received any negative feedback from the use of course blogs. Currently, there are numerous GWSS course blogs on the UThink system, and the numbers and methods of uses seems to be expanding exponentially.

I welcome you to visit our blogs to see brilliant, creative, and engaged scholarly work that is happening because of the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Department’s use of the UThink blogging tools.

Visit is our departmental blog: GWSS COMMUNITY BLOG

Visit some of our course blogs:

Visit some of our personal blogs:

Please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss my excitement and uses of the UThink blogging system in further detail. I support a quick upgrade of the UThink system and hope that we can upgrade the system immediately. Thank you for considering this request.

Rachel Raimist
Former IT Fellow / Doctoral Candidate, GWSS / Graduate Instructor, GWSS and AFRO

September 27, 2008

My Favorite New Blog [yes, I'm partial...]

One of my most favorite mentors, Deborah Appleman, is currently teaching college level courses at Minnesota Correctional Facility –Stillwater, a Level 4 (out of 5) correctional facility for men in Stillwater, Minnesota. She works with inmates prisoners, discussing language and power. She posts a weekly entry after every class, hoping that her blog will encourage conversations about educational opportunities for the incarcerated.

Take a tour of how they are living and now read what they write (like this snippet):


January 11, 2008

GWSS Tech Talk: Feminist Teaching with Technology

GWSS Tech Talk: Feminist Teaching with Technology
Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 12 - 2 p.m. in the Feminist Media Center (FMC), 468 Ford Hall
Facilitator: Rachel Raimist -

In this GWSS Tech Talk / FEMINIST MEDIA CENTER (FMC) workshop, I will share some theories and practices of feminist teaching, learning, research, and creativity using technology. I will use examples from GWSS courses: GWSS 1001:Gender, Power and Everyday Life: An Intro to GWSS, GWSS 3002:Feminist Thought and Theory, GWSS 3307 ( small enrollment class) + (large enrollment class 1 + 2: Feminist Film Studies, and GWSS 3390: Feminist Media Making: Theory + Practice.

In this session, I will:

+ Demonstrate multiple uses of course blogs: as tools to create community, continue/deepen course discussions, post reading responses, track news items, post event info, and easily share media content to all members of the classroom community for large and small course enrollments

+ Demonstrate key uses of WEBVISTA (formerly WebCT): site as a reading repository for enrolled students, place of accessible web links, announcements, computer-graded quiz tools, message boards, chat rooms, calendar tool, gradebook, and other helpful features

+ Illustrate uses of UMN supported multimedia tools: BREEZE, MOODLE, WIKIs, JABBER, and other digital media tools offered through MyU PORTAL

+ Share UMN tech resources - free and low cost classes, free CD-rom, tutorials, and new state of the art available for course use

+ Start a GWSS community blog to post events, calls for papers, funding opportunities, and other information of interest to our community (and everyone will learn how to post to this blog during this session)

Bring your questions and an open-mind to this session! I look forward to seeing you there.

Please RSVP to if you are planning to attend this session.

Seating is limited. RSVP is not required, but encouraged!

November 1, 2006

Special Technology Issue of Feminist Teacher

Call for Papers > > > > Call for Papers > > > > Call for Papers > > > > Call for Papers

Special Technology Issue of Feminist Teacher

Seeking Papers that
… address any topic related to technology
… take an explicitly feminist perspective
… discuss implications for teaching practices

Using a broad definition of technology, we are interested in papers that address feminist concerns in relation to teaching about technology, the uses of technology for teaching, technology policies of schools or other sites of teaching, the intrusion of technology into educational settings, and related topics. Suggested topics include technology assessment from a feminist perspective, communications technology and access to women, representations of women in media and technology, teaching feminist ethics in high tech contexts, including reproductive technologies in biology or health classes, issues raised by genetic testing, using technology in teaching your subject matter, technology in social studies classes, how language of technology positions women, teaching about technology with feminist science fiction, how girls appropriate technology, sexuality and technology, gender issues in high tech gaming, the proliferation of pornography on the web, and many others.

If you have an idea for a paper you'd like to chat about or if you have a paper you would like to submit, please contact Issue Editor:
Suzanne Damarin, Ohio State University
Phone: 614-292-7845
Fax: 614-292-7900

DEADLINES: One Page Abstract - December 4, Full Manuscript - April 2, 2007

Feminist Teacher is a Quarterly Journal published by the University of Illinois Press

October 15, 2006

Teaching with Technology at UMN

Recently I guest lectured in the Feminist Pedagogies course in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies about feminist teaching with technology. My IT Fellowship (2 year appointment) really immersed me in teaching technologies at the U. The fellowship allowed for unlimited courses and I took as many as possible.

On the FMC whiteboard, I listed out all the tech available (for research, teaching, learning and creative activities) at the University of Minnesota.

Here goes what I use:

UThink blogs

UMN personal webspace


UM Jabber (chat tool)

WebCt Vista course website

Moodle course website

Breeze Presenter - Multimedia Presentations and Web Conferencing

Course Library Resource Page

There is lots of training available - some free, some at student rates & I HIGHLY recommend you use these resources while you are here (if you are a UMN student):

University Technology Training Center (UTTC)

Digital Media Center (DMC)

CLA Get Wired classes for CLA students

Free, self-paced CD-Rom Tutorials (many software titles)

I also compiled a few links about fem ped's take on teaching with technology:

Active Learning

Information Literacy in the Women's Studies Classroom

Feminist Cyborgs: Teaching Like A Feminist

Feminist Teaching

Wired Humanities Project

Do you have more articles? sites? resources? to add?? Please leave a comment - I'm very interested.

September 6, 2006

A Hard Day (& Night)

I blame it on the full moon.

Murphy's Law: if anything can go wrong, it will.

Today was stressful to say the least.

My mini-me's bus was nearly 35-40 mintues late. The poor kid, weighed down with first day of school stuff, can barely stand the whole time. I sit on the front steps, trying to be patient. I call the school but they don't know where the bus is. Can you drive her today? Sure, I say, but what about all the other kids that aren't mine who are also standing at the stop? Finally the bus arrives. She has crossed the street and was heading back to me. Turned around and ran to catch the bus. She makes it - good girl!

I ready and prep for class, knowing I'll forget something. I get to campus early with a cart of handouts (syllabi, intro reading, grading rubric, how to post to the blog, use the FMC, blah blah blah) plus laptop, general stuff (like chalk, papers, etc), and snacks (thank goodness for snacks for students!) My cart busts - the handle won't come up, the side breaks through - stupid cart.

No special needs parking near my building. Park closest and start rolling (albeit a little crooked) but I make it to the building. Construction. Fencing encasing the whole back. Have to roll my big pregnant butt and my broken cart up stairs through small area in the fencing that has a crowded opening. Reach the door. Stairs. I muster all my phsycial strength and start a pulling (hearing hubby's voice - DON"T LIFT ANYTHING. DON"T DO THAT! YOU ARE PREGNANT!) but what's a preggie teacher to do on day one?

I get up those stairs and guess what - more stairs. Up or down? Don't know. Have to hobble up, see room numbers (NO SIGN indicating what's where - don't you love construction), then hobble back to get my sad little cart. Of course the room is on the opposite end of the buidling (about where I started outside). Roll around, trying not to crush toes of all the students seated on either side of the hallway, missing almost every.

Get to the classroom & guess what - STAIRS! By this time, I could barely get my swollen feet down the stairs. I call out to students (waiting patiently in their seats - "pregnant teacher needs help!" They help get all my stuff to the front table.

I get things set up. I'm ok, a little sweaty, but ok. Next - no internet. Today is intro to the class using technology (how to use course WebCT Vista website, how to post to course blog, how to post to Moodle glossary). AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I call tech support - busy.

I try to get through what I can - syllabus, some intro stuff. Call tech support. You need to register your laptop DHCP. Great - NO ONE TOLD ME THAT! I was a CLA IT Fellow for 2 years - never had this problem.

My very understanding students are very patient as I try to accomplish some learning (while the tech support people hang on a phone, inconvenietly short-wired to the front of the table) and interrupt with "yes, my IP is..."

I get registered, and still no signal. GREAT. I let the students go - with a list full of things to do (or at least try), since we now are behind on my learning goals. I hate doing that students on the first day. I thought about shifting, and I'll still try (maybe with a shorter lecture next week), so that I can do guided technology exercises. I forget the backup ppt file for my Breeze presentation so I had to add it to this already too long list of this week's assignments. I feel like a crappy teacher.

I love technology and I hate technology.
Love it when it works.
Hate it when it makes me sweat profusely as 60+ students stare at me.

They must thinking: I've got the wack job, pregnant lady, filmmaker teacher this term whose already given us to much crap to do.

I wanted to check to see if anyone dropped immediately - it happens - especially after a day like today.

Onestop is down - SHOCKER!

I leave class and go to Breastfeeding class at the hosptial. Although I did it before (nearly a decade ago), it did NOT come naturally. But, why did I choose the night after the first night of class to take it? I can barely sit in the chair with my big Fred Flinstone feet. I'm post-sweaty and smelly - I know the Dad to my right was like "EWWWWWWWWWWW, this girl stinks - sweat and feet funk", but there was nothing I could do. I quietly asked the teacher for a birthing ball to sit on. I got through it, stumbled to the car, picked up Rachel Jr., got fast food (yuck - & probably why I can't sleep), and made it home.

The baby is exercising his legs or just is mad at me already. Smashing me to the front, pushing me to the left side, pulling me to back, and stomping downward on my vital organs. I can only sleep with sleeping pills and I HATE medicine. This weekend when I was away, I walked into a closet and smashed my face on the wall trying to make it to the bathroom. A minor bump and little accident later, I recover. See why I don't take it. So tonight, no meds and guess what - I can't sleep.

I email students a numbered reminder list of this week's to do's. I make sure the latest IDs are entered into the blog and the Breeze site. What else can I do?

Technology Ped 101: If you cannot connect, try try again or assign it as homework & try again next week. All in all, I'll chock it up to my horrible ped moments list.

The sun is coming up. Maybe I can get in a quick sunrise run to the grocery store - little miss hates school lunch (no shocker there).

I hope today brings a better day.

In my head: It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog..."

August 31, 2006

Teaching with Technology (yes, I'm excited!)

I've learned a new teaching tool - Breeze Presenter. While I'm bummed that the ppt architecture for a mac doesn't allow for presenter, I bit the bullet and learned how to do it anyway. It's really easy - just create a ppt and using the Breeze plug-in, record audio, synch animations, add some details and viewer control settings & publish it the U server.

I created my first presentation, an exercise called "What Do You See?", which gets students to look at images critically, and it's up and ready to go! I may present it myself (projected) so the students get familiar with the delivery interface (because this may be the lecture delivery method during labor/delivery/recovery weeks in 60 or so days). I find students engage much more with technology when they see your comfort level and ease of use.


In this exercise I use lots of David LaChappelle images (I've shared some of them here before), some Mathew Rolston, and a bunch from Girl Culture (a great book to use in WoSt courses about women's/girl's lives). One of my favorites (that gets people talking):


Well, the term starts in a few days (and I'm actually all prepped and ready!) and I'm off for a family gathering.

August 10, 2006

Teaching & Learning Online

I'm interested in connecting with folks who have taught or taken Women's Studies or similar courses online. What was your experience? What worked for your teaching? Learning? What suggestions would you offer to make the course work better for you?

I'm currently developing an online course for Intro to Women's Studies course that will go live next Spring. I want to include media, pop culture, and TV/film/video watching because it often helps visual learners (like me), see theory in practice.

I have lots of feminist theory, scholarly and popular press reading and many online links, but I know I'm building this course on my small WoSt classroom pedagogy. I feel like I need to read a bit more about online pedagogy and what works for independent learners.

Any suggestions???