26 January 2013

The Road Ahead


Now enrolled in my final course as a doctoral student, I am preparing the foundation for the ambitious intellectual structure referred to as the dissertation. During the next few months, I will devote the majority of my academic time to an exploration of the connections between pedagogy and technology in higher education. The expressed goal for this project is to map out the materials/argument for my forthcoming dissertation. Therefore, I'm initiating a subtle shift in the blog's thematic focus. While in the past I've published sporadically about research and other academic endeavors, the plan moving forward is to use this blog primarily as a space for weekly critical reflections. By blogging my way through an assortment of materials, I aim to better articulate my unique approach to reconceptualizing the relationship between technology and particular forms of educational philosophy.

Leveraging the interactive power of the internet, I'm hoping that readers will provide feedback about individual posts (which will all use the label "STS5974"), development of my overall argument, the contents of the reading list, or anything tangential to the topics I'm exploring. Blogging provides a tremendous opportunity to conduct rigorous academic inquiry that is immediately available for comment from blog-reading communities (scholarly and otherwise).

Before we go too far afield, a bit of background...

My area of emphasis within STS is the relationship between technology and pedagogy in contemporary higher education. In general, I expect my dissertation to trace the trajectory of digital technology use and associated pedagogical developments (or the absence thereof) in higher education. Obviously this is a dense topic that needs unpacking and clarification. Unfortunately, there are not any current STS courses at Virginia Tech that address such an emphasis. Therefore, I created an independent study (STS 5974) to explore the the interplay between pedagogy, technology, and changing landscape of higher education.

One of my objectives is to develop a familiarity with and fluency in the (inter)disciplinary norms and literature affiliated with education/pedagogy/technology/new media. Since conceptualizing the idea, I have looked for articles, journals, books, and multimedia that fit such a project. Many of the journals, texts, website are relatively new to me, so I've spent time skimming archives and articles -- resulting in a handful of reading selections. Working alongside Matt Wisnioski (Assistant Professor, STS) and Shelli Fowler (Executive Director Graduate Development Programs and New Pedagogies), this new and exciting independent study focuses on readings that examine pedagogy, the culture of education, and new media with the primary purpose of establishing connections among the fields and topics.

Much of the inspiration for the independent study (and my dissertation project) stems from the conviction that contemporary pedagogies need to pay closer attention to digital technologies, but must do so in a critical manner. Moreover, most of that conviction developed from my duties with the Graduate Education Development Institute (GEDI) and Virginia Tech's Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative. During my GEDI fellowship, I helped future faculty members better engage students through the critical use of technology (in both physical and online classrooms). As the current Global Perspectives Fellow (a component of TGE), I rely upon the effective use of social media and other Web 2.0 tools to promote graduate student teaching, professional development, and international collaboration. The various lectures, presentations, and workshops I have conducted on data management, digital pedagogy, LMS, new media, open access, etc. not only provide me with a valuable professional frame of reference, but also indicate my deep commitment to improving technology use in higher education (i.e. more conscientious, contemplative, contextually appropriate, etc.). In short, one of my primary interests centers on how pedagogy and technology can be better suited for the 21st century (and 21st century learners).

Still though, this independent study marks my first encounter with many of these sources. Therefore, I have grouped the selections into large categories and created overlapping themes to transition from one category into the next (i.e., culture - technology - education - pedagogy). By design, weekly topics are independent, but conjoined entities with a cohesive and cumulative purpose. Each week a handful of sources will help build a robust conceptual framework, increase thematic fluency, and promote scholarly discourse. To encourage informed and insightful discussion I will comment on the reading selections, incorporate reader comments, and include supplementary sources (i.e., print, video, etc.) as necessary. In the end, I aim to establish a narrative/argumentative thread that runs throughout the collection. Doing so will demonstrate the importance of such a project to the STS community and also suggest how educational technology and pedagogy can benefit from a STS type of approach (and vice versa - how STS can benefit from an educational technology and pedagogical perspective when considering technology use in the future of higher education).

All comers are welcome to join me for this fast-paced and enriching adventure.