My research on information technologies’ socio-cultural implications stems from my own pedagogical practice blending praxis-based learning, tinkering, and play with traditional readings as a means of understandings. While completing my doctorate, I began working as the Humanities Liaison at the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) at the University of Richmond. In this role, I served as a consultant to faculty on syllabus design, curriculum development, educational technology, content and learning management systems, inclusive pedagogy, and digital humanities research. In addition, I lead workshops, reading groups, and classes on pedagogical issues and higher education for faculty and students.
My pedagogical practice often utilizes technology in the classroom to illustrate the makeup of computational systems. Although technology plays a large role in my pedagogy, I am careful not to implement these activities when they fail to contribute to enduring understanding. In implementing technology in the classroom, I employ the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model (SAMR) developed by Ruben Puentedura. In this model, the implementation of technology in the classroom is most beneficial to learning when it fundamentally redefines a classroom activity rather than serving as a mere substitute for older practices. For instance, in my course “New Media and Everyday Life,” I pair readings about the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) with hands-on soldering of Super Nintendo Cartridges to understand the importance of materiality in fan culture (Figure 1.1).
In my class on “The Information Age in America,” I pair readings about post-humanism and the mind-body divide with activities involving virtual reality headsets to teach students the consequences of “discarding” the body in online communities (Figure 1.2) For many of my students, especially minorities and women, this is the first exposure they have in tinkering and playing with electronic components. Other similar activities include pairing works on sound studies with participating in a flash mob, creating Twitter bots to discuss the nature of automation, using 3D motion and gesture controllers to discuss human-computer interaction, and holding discussions in an anonymous chat room to look at the nature of identity online.
My teaching philosophy itself focuses on “backward design” as outlined by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in their work Understanding by Design. In contrast to traditional curriculum planning, backward design emphasizes the importance of learning objectives and assessment in providing students the knowledge necessary for “enduring understanding” before finalizing readings and assignments. According to McTighe and Wiggins, syllabi often focus on information that is “nice to know” but rarely critical for helping students understand epistemological foundations. As a result, when teaching, I emphasize readings that provide students core knowledge that they can transfer to a variety of disciplines rather than confining to a singular field or classroom. Due to my strength in pedagogical methodology, my teaching evaluations have remained high throughout my teaching career. One hundred percent of my students agreed that I welcomed and efficiently answered questions. Ninety percent voted my class as "above average" or "excellent," and one hundred percent of students evaluated my teaching effectiveness as "above average" or "excellent." In all categories, I have maintained a four or above average on a five-point scale.
In sum, my pedagogical practice provides students the opportunity to engage in a series of innovative activities while still maintaining an eye on learning objectives and goals. The makeup of information technologies derives from the socio-cultural framework surrounding of these machines. In my own research, I make these links, which often bolster dominant social groups, apparent. At the same time, I provide students a means of confronting the power of these technologies through traditional readings and hands-on learning that provides them an epistemological foundation that extends beyond the classroom.