#dariahTeach & IGNITE

Developing and co-creating educational materials for higher education​

Ad for the course "Digital Narratives & Blended Spaces," for which I edited and created content. Design by dr. Shiro Inoue

During my MA Media Studies: Digital Cultures at the University of Maastricht, I received a 10/10 for my first-term essay “Blockchain and (dis)trust: Issues of Trust and Contextual Clashes.” It had been a while (years) since a student of the MA had received this high a mark.

This might look like brain-muscle flexing, but that’s not the reason why I introduce this piece with this fact. For me, it was the first time that I truly considered pursuing an academic career. Before this point, I thought that I did not have the skills, the patience, nor the passion to go beyond creative writing and copywriting. Or, to be a bit more honest: I never thought I was good enough.

Receiving this mark made me cry. I felt like I was being acknowledged for my over-analytical, creative and obsessive mind as a human being who wrote a piece. By this I mean that I felt that my status as a woman, a white person, a black person, a mixed race person did not matter at all.

Co-developing, editing, and managing workflows

My little anecdote aims to explain how this sudden confidence boost helped me reach out to Prof. Dr. Susan Schreibman, saying “I think I want to pursue a career in academia.” To which she responded that she might have some work for me.

“Some work” meant a research assistantship working on #dariahTeach and IGNITE. #dariahTeach is an EU-funded project a platform for peer-reviewed Open Educational Resources that functions as a hybrid learning space for the digital arts and humanities. IGNITE is its sister project, comprising the creation of a module focusing on design thinking and digital narrative.

From March 2020 until May 2021, I worked as a research assistant collaborating with international and University Maastricht academics to (co-)develop, edit, and manage workflows for educational materials for both projects.

Case study I developed on Digital Orality. Click and refresh link to see the page.

Alongside editing course materials,  I researched Digital Orality, arguing for more active considerations, inclusion, and studies of West-African texts to understand the relation between digital spaces of sociality, cultural heritage, and storytelling practices.

This resulted in the publication of my case study in the course Storytelling for Digital Narratives & Blended Spaces. I also presented my argument at the IGNITE ’20 Digital Rountable: ‘Design Thinking & Maker Culture: Sticky Learning for the 21st Century’.

During this period I also presented the methodology I developed for studying virtual spaces in a postcolonial context at the Africa Knows! 21′ conference, and the use of online, blended, and flipped classrooms for COVID-19 and beyond at the Digital Humanities- Benelux 21 conference. You can see my presentations for Africa Knows! and IGNITE in the videos below:


What's next?

Prof. Dr. Susan Schreibman and Dr. Costas Papadopoulos applied for PhD funding through the Mosaic 2.0 scheme by NWO. If all goes well, I’ll be starting my PhD project to develop an innovative theoretical and methodological framework for including African Indigenous Knowledge and Practices into virtual learning spaces to address issues of technology translation and localisation in the Global South, using West Africa as a case study.

If I do not receive the grant, we will still explore other avenues of embarking on this exciting research journey.

The project term for both IGNITE and #dariahTeach has ended this year. I have learned a great deal working on both projects. In fact, I was commissioned by Prof. Dr. Franciska de Jong (CLARIAH) to co-develop the course Multimodal Literacy alongside Stefania Scagliola. I also published my meta course How to Create a #dariahTeach course. I guess copywriting, HTML, and some basic design skills come in handy when creating digital educational materials.

There’s more to come, and I’ll update my website regularly (promise!). Meanwhile, let me know what you think about the project. Send me an email : esther@mamaflorijn.nl