Bringing It

Bringing It #62: TWF Podcast Season 1 Wrap-Up, BT2P Newsletter Update, and more

May 12, 2021

Dear friends,

We hope that spring is bringing you birdsong and good weather, and that the approach of the semester’s end is bringing you more energy than exhaustion. This issue of Bringing It is a bit of a pot-pourri: a job opportunity, announcements about The Way Forward podcast and BT2P’s new digital Newsletter, and a reflection from David on his current reading. Enjoy!

TWF Podcast Update

Thanks to all who have tuned in this semester to our new project, The Way Forward Podcast: Higher Education in a Time of Crisis. Since we last wrote to you, the final two episodes of this season have been released for streaming. In our sixth episode we speak with Michelle Fine, a distinguished social psychologist at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a leading practitioner of Critical Participatory Action Research (C-PAR), about the values and practices that ground her beliefs in participatory, community-engaged research and teaching, and we consider what it would look like for higher ed as a whole to be fully committed and accountable to communities in crisis. In our final episode of the Spring semester we talk with Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic women’s institution in Washington, DC, about Trinity’s social-justice mission, the public responsibilities of higher ed and higher ed leaders, and her own personal journey.

Much appreciation for all the educational leaders who took the time to be a guest in these conversations this Spring. And a big ‘thank you’ to the graduate students in Elon’s Masters of Higher Education program, who contributed research and editorial support towards this project!

If you haven’t been able to tune in, give a listen to the episodes of this first season:

The podcast is available for free streaming at the Apple Store, Audible, Spotify, and Stitcher. We’ll be taking a few weeks off as the Spring semester concludes and Summer gets underway. We look forward to continuing the podcast soon.  As always, we welcome your suggestions for future episode topics or guests; please send those to [email protected].

What We’re Reading: Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education 

Our mission at BT2P is supporting positive change in undergraduate education. For me, that work is grounded in the relationships that educators, students, and community partners build together and in finding the possibilities for radical innovation contained in those relationships. I’ve always been allergic to theories of educational change that prioritize technological magic bullets, especially the idea that ed tech will bring ‘disruptive innovation.’

So when I saw the title of Justin Reich’s new book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education,” my ears pricked up. The book met my expectations, surpassed them, and also challenged them. Yes, it’s a critique of “edtech charismatics,” as Reich calls them, and it pokes relentless if gentle fun at the acolytes of disruptive innovation. But Reich is himself a technologist, a veteran of MIT’s MOOC and open-source teaching initiatives, and he offers a nuanced and fair-minded guide to both the overblown promises and more modest achievements of edtech over the past twenty years. Failure to Disrupt is as good a guide as I’ve read to ‘instructor-guided’ platforms like MOOCs, ‘algorithm-guided’ tools like auto-grading, and ‘peer-guided’ projects like the child-centered coding platform Scratch. I learned a lot.

In the end, Reich argues, these various learning technologies fail to disrupt because education is too socially complex and learning too cognitively complex to be susceptible to disruption. I couldn’t agree more. But Reich also argues that educational progress always happens incrementally, through patient, modest, time-tested improvements; he proudly calls himself an edtech tinkerer. And in that sense, Failure to Disrupt is a healthy challenge not only to the techno-evangelists of higher ed, but also to BT2P’s own aspirations for big change. It poses a bracing challenge for us to grapple with.

Newsletter Now Online!

We’re happy to announce the publication of  BT2P’s Spring Newsletter, now in our new digital format! The issue focuses on the theme of “Seeds of Transformation.” It features five stories of innovative teaching, student support, faculty advocacy, course creation, and national initiatives in the face of the pandemic and in support of racial equity. Our goal, as ever, is to lift up the work of our community of educators and innovators, presented in their own voices. Thank you to all contributors to the Spring Newsletter, we are so grateful you entrusted your stories and work with us.

Many thanks also to our web designer, Carol Thomson of FireStream Media, for her excellent leadership with bringing our vision to fruition, and to our Editors Emerita (Jennifer O’Brien and Caitlin Salins) for laying the foundation of this transition.We hope you find “Seeds of Transformation” engaging and inspiring, and we welcome reactions from readers. This summer we’ll be sending out a call for submissions for the next issue of the Newsletter, so keep an eye out for that.

Job opportunity: Director of Experiential Learning @ Hamilton College 

Our friends at Hamilton College are hiring an inaugural Director of Experiential Learning to coordinate domestic experiential learning opportunities in Academic Affairs. In collaboration with colleagues across campus, the Director will help manage logistics and coordinate risk management; assist with experiential learning design and faculty development; help to build and maintain community partnerships; review agency agreements and conduct site visits; participate in student learning and program assessment; help with communications; and contribute to relevant strategic planning activities. Occasional travel will be required, and ongoing professional development will be expected and supported.

Hamilton College is a private, liberal arts college in New York State that features a need-blind admission policy and an open curriculum. For more information and to apply online, please visit:

With thanks,
David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd