Can Feminist Pedagogy Survive in a Web-Based Learning Environment?

Pamela Whitehouse, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Susan T. Krumholz, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

This presentation arises from our experience of co-teaching an online Women's Studies course. We (the authors/presenters) come from different academic backgrounds, but both of us consider our educational methodology to be grounded in feminist pedagogy. We explore three issues: models of teaching in an online environment; the special issues that arise from working with a largely female student population; and co-teaching online.

Teaching in an online environment challenges our understanding of teaching. It might be easy to teach a class that is based upon prewritten lectures and multiple choice tests, but how do you transfer the interactive dynamics of a participatory classroom to the internet. Can you? Adding to that, the literature reveals that women students at the university level are generally less computer literate than male students. As the third issue we address, co-teaching online requires a virtual collaboration between instructors that is relatively unknown territory for many educators. We will discuss the affordances that teaching online collaboratively provide,and how the synchronous and asynchronous nature of tools like email, instant messaging and a website expand the spatial and temporal boundaries that limit traditional co-teaching. We will conclude with some observations from our vantage points of experienced online instructor and novice online instructor.

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Updated 05/20/2006