I approach my teaching as a designer, attempting to craft powerful, compelling, aesthetic, and rewarding learning experiences for my students. I expect and demand excellence of myself and try to foster a learning environment where I model principles of effective teaching, create an inclusive professional community of practice, create meaningful learning opportunities for students, and demonstrate a passion for knowledge and learning.
I have received many accolades for my teaching, including the 2016 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award for a “comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and creative activities, instruction and outreach.” I have also received a Lilly Faculty Fellowship (2001), the MSU Teacher Scholar Award (2004), the College of Education’s Teaching Excellence Award (2006), and the AT&T-MSU award for Instructional Technology (2008 & 2014).
There are three design principles that guide my teaching: (a)Facilitating collaborative engagement with authentic activities; (b) Connecting technology to ideas; (c) Modeling scholarship and passion.
Facilitating collaborative engagement in authentic activity
Learning in my classes is driven not by lectures and reading (though some of that happens as well), but rather by having students engaged in authentic research and design activities . My approach emphasizes working together in groups through cycles of criticism and revision on authentic projects to design research strategies (in the case of doctoral courses) and technological artifacts for pedagogy (in the case of master’s and faculty development courses). I attempt to support student creativity through developing and sustaining collaborative communities of inquiry that respect diversity, encourage interdisciplinary thinking, and, most importantly, offer students the freedom to fail. Students in my doctoral seminars have engaged in original research that have led to funded grants, conference presentations and published journal articles. Students in my master’s courses have designed online courses for the College’s online masters program, digital movies, websites, presentations and more.
Connecting technology to ideas
The ultimate goal of my teaching is to change the way my students view their relationship to teaching / learning and the role that technology can play in that process. I want them to see themselves not as passive users of technology and research, but rather as active designers of technology and research, who creatively re-purpose tools, technologies, artifacts and ideas to meet their own goals and desires. Accordingly, my teaching (though intimately connected to technologies) is driven by broader and more enduring themes of understanding our relationship to these artifacts, and the meanings we create with (and through) them. These concerns guide and transform my teaching, by moving it away from an a-theoretical laundry list of technologies to offering a broad framework for the structure of the course.
Modeling scholarship and passion
I attempt to make the life of the mind come alive for my students, through my actions and my behavior. I am passionate about teaching and attempt to bring my experiences, my concerns, my knowledge, and my entire being into becoming a better teacher. I attempt to model for my students what it means to be a scholar–the engagement with powerful ideas, the thrill of discovery, and the pleasure of understanding some complex phenomena.