No Tricks: Critical Pedagogy for Hybrid Teaching

Our September podcast features Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris, whose voices in the field of hybrid and digital pedagogy have been beyond clutch for many of us thrown into this field by the pandemic context.

In Act 1, we talk to Jesse and Sean about how they came to the work of critical pedagogy, and how it relates to their particular experience in new media and digital forms. To what extent does radical pedagogical theory translate to these spaces that can feel disembodied and inaccessible? How does our attitude about teaching change if we imagine that all pedagogy is always and already hybrid pedagogy?

In Act 2, we get specific on issues that are at stake in any classroom, but which are particularly magnified in hybrid and digital contexts. Topics include data-mining and surveillance (of both students and teachers), open source technologies and the new possibilities that digital platforms make possible, and liberating classrooms from grades.

About our guests

Sean Michael Morris is the Director of the Digital Pedagogy Lab (or DPL) at the University of Colorado Denver. Jesse is the co-founder + the Associate Director of DPL and Executive Director of Hybrid Pedagogy. Both Jesse and Sean write, research, and teach very widely on themes of new media technologies, critical pedagogy, and social justice. Co-hosts Tina and Lucia attended DPL’s 2020 conference and were blown away by not only the execution of the event, but by the relationships and

There are two publications most pertinent for this episode: Jesse and Sean are co-authors of an An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy, and, along with Chris Friend, the hot-off-the-press edited volume Critical Digital Pedagogy. Both of us found these texts extraordinarily helpful or thinking through not just concrete pedagogical strategies, but also broader questions of critical literacy and the politics of teaching, not only as we prepare for remote-hybrid classes this fall but also as we reflect more generally on learning and teaching practices.

Radical Hope: A Conversation with Kevin Gannon

 Act 1: Hope in Pandemic Times

Tina and Lucia talk to Kevin Gannon in June 2020, on the heels of a spring term in which we saw a mass pandemic-fueled shift to online teaching. Kevin describes the experiences and histories that led him to the field of critical pedagogy and introduces his hot-off-the-press book Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto. He talks us off the edge of online-teaching-despair, posing the jarring question: what would it look like if Paulo Freire built a MOOC?

What would it look like if Paulo Freire built a MOOC?

Kevin Gannon, Nothing Never Happens Podcast, June 2020
Kevin Gannon lectures from a stage. Photo:

 Act 2: Telling Stories for a Better Future

We delve deeper into the status of critical pedagogy in hybrid and online teaching. The transition to remote modalities raises many issues: surveillance of students and teachers, the reproduction of capital for private tech corporations, issues of course adaptation, and the accessibility of online formats. What does a concept like “radical hope” actually mean in the context in which we find ourselves?

About this Episode:

In our June 2020 podcast we spoke with Kevin Gannon, known as the Tattooed Professor on his blog and on Twitter (@TheTattooedProf). An author of the recently-published book Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto, Kevin is based at Grand View State University. He serves as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Professor of History. Kevin teaches U.S., Latin American, and capitalist histories and is working on a forthcoming book, A Continental History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (Routledge, 2021). His scholarship on the history of reconstruction led to his appearance on Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary 13TH  (see also this interview with Kevin and Malkia Cyril on Democracy Now in 2016). Kevin also writes about pedagogy for the Teaching United States History (TUSH) Collective and for the Chronicle for Higher Education. We were excited to speak to him about his new book and about the challenges of remote and digital teaching.

Outro music is by Paul Myhre, “Embrace Life,” available on

Righteous Indignation for Change: A Conversation with Shirley Steinberg, Act 2

In Act 2 of our April podcast, Shirley Steinberg talks further about the Freirean foundations of her education theory and practice. She calls on teachers and students to live out righteous indignation in our educational systems and how to create resistance and change. “We have to be in stealth,” says Steinberg, and shed light on how our institutions have failed us. Steinberg finds it important to listen to students, and to engage with youth culture, in order to lead collegially with them.