Shake up your syllabus

Shake up your syllabus

HASTAC Pedagogy Project Overview

Shake Up Your Syllabus

The 13,000-member HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) community of humanists, artists, technologists, scientists and social scientists has long aimed "to transform the future of learning." Now HASTAC has leveraged its Scholars program to create The Pedagogy Project, a collection of over 80 digital or collaborative assignments and projects designed to "shake up your syllabus."

The collection is an open resource for teachers and students everywhere.

Digital Media and Learning

HASTAC Scholars are cohorts of graduate and undergraduate students from multiple disciplines "engaged with innovative projects and research at the intersection of digital media and learning, 21st century education, the digital humanities, and technology in the arts, humanities and sciences." For The Pedagogy Project, they shared specific ideas from their teaching and learning experiences in nine categories:

  • Assessment Strategy
  • Collaborative Digital Projects
  • Creative Projects
  • Digital Technology Projects
  • In-Class Activities
  • Multimedia Projects
  • Pedagogical Strategy
  • Social Media and Public Scholarship
  • Writing Assignments

Fresh Teaching Ideas

Instructors and TAs either planning a syllabus or currently teaching can find here a wealth of practical ideas for use in and out of the classroom. What the suggestions share in common is that they take advantage of the familiarity that a majority of today's students have with social media and digital technologies.

Collaborative Digital Projects includes suggested assignments using online annotation, collaborative authoring and blogging, and student design of digital games. For a second-year humanities course at York University, Carolyn Steele asks students in groups of 3 or 4 to design "in world" curatorial tours of art work inside the virtual reality world of Second Life.

Digital Technology Projects delve more deeply into teaching and learning with new media tools, such as pedagogical uses of databases, timelines, and spatial mapping technology. In "This is not a programming class," John Bell from the University of Maine describes  how he teaches object-oriented programming languages by getting students to understand the "Code worldview" as "applied ontology" through describing everyday objects like an apple peeler.

Multimedia Projects include 15 assignments using audio or video. Maria Teodora Comsa, a Ph.D. candidate in French at Stanford, notes that using songs to teach foreign languages "is a fun activity that creates a good atmosphere" but needs to be done thoughtfully and use technology meaningfully to be most effective for learning.

Pedagogical Strategy includes items on collaborative note taking, flipping the classroom, and "The True Value of Self-Deprecation," a narrative by a composition instructor who subjects his own teaching style to rhetorical analysis and criticism by the class.

The Social Media section offers suggestions for using Wikipedia, Pinterest, and Twitter as pedagogical tools, including hosting a "Tweet Jam" for an ethnic studies course.

Contribute to The Pedagogy Project

Although it was started by HASTAC Scholars, other instructors are invited to share their "tested and proven" exercises with The Pedagogy Project. You can submit contributions by registering at the HASTAC site, posting to your own blog there, and emailing the Director of HASTAC Scholars, Fiona Barnett (

Headshot, Richard HoletonRich Holeton is Stanford's Director of Academic Computing Services.