My Ph.D. is in Instructional Systems Technology (with strong emphases on media design and production and the use of game design, development and play to support literacy) with a minor in Language & Literacy Education (I currently hold Pennsylvania Teaching credentials in MS/HS English). My research and teaching focus on social, cultural and political equity in the acquisition of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy and the design and implementation of educational computer games to support literacy development. As a graduate of Dickinson College, and recent administrator and adjunct faculty member there, I strongly believe in the value of the liberal arts tradition and the opportunity that it presents to engage with students in deep and meaningful ways in the classroom, on campus and in the community.
I completed my Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University in December of 2009. The title of my dissertation is Children Without Toys: How Home Technology Access Impacts In-School Behavior, Attitude and Achievement. In the study I confront the consequences of inequity in the levels of technology access available to children from divergent socio-economic backgrounds by revealing the complex process through which they acquire and develop ICT literacy skills in their homes and in school. The study revealed that social variables, technical constraints and even the academic requirements in the school hinder the ability of students to either demonstrate their existing proficiency or to develop new ICT literacy skills.
My strong commitment to social justice in education makes me a passionate and engaged teacher who values interactions with students both inside and outside of the classroom. My teaching philosophy is directly informed by my undergraduate liberal arts education, my doctorate in Education, my research interests and my professional experiences. I believe first and foremost that my students learn best through experiential learning. I have worked to realize this idea at every level: by supporting elementary students in the creation of distance-learning events, by guiding undergraduate students in the production of socially-conscious documentary films and media projects, and by facilitating graduate students in the creation of instructional media for real-world clients. I believe that hands-on experiences and my ability to make education relevant at a personal level serve the additional purpose of providing students with a context for understanding the theoretical background of what they are learning and I use my students’ engagement to spark interest in the theory behind the concepts they are learning. The societal implications of what I teach run as a thread through my research and all of the classes I have developed by examining the ways in which education, technology and literacy shape social class in our society.
The cornerstone of my research is a “Comprehensive Definition of ICT Literacy for the 21st Century,” which was presented at The Association for Educational Communication’s National Conference in October, 2010. This project looks to move the definition of literacy beyond any one field and, in fact, examines literacy as a comprehensive set of skills, knowledge and social practices with an emphasis on the role of technology. This integrated definition forms the basis for all of my research, beginning with the application of the definition to various contexts, including public school classrooms, computer games and teacher education programs in hopes that technology literacy will be broadly adopted as a core component of education. Other projects deriving from this interest are the creation of a “serious” computer game, which I proposed in “Computer Games as a New Arena for IST Research” (2008) and a longitudinal study of literacy formation in the 21st Century. The game design project provides an opportunity for me to obtain external funding to work closely with students, educators and game designers to develop the game and conduct research on collaborative game design practices and the ways in which this popular medium can be used to help support literacy. The second project expands my dissertation research into a longitudinal study in order to examine 21st Century literacy formation and the social variables affecting it. This work will also inform a book detailing a methodology for conducting socially responsible research that I first outlined in “Developing a Socially Responsible Approach to IT Research” (2008).
While in graduate school at Indiana University, I had the opportunity to participate in several exciting projects at the university and in the Bloomington community that integrated my interests in education, literacy and technology. Beyond the walls of the university, I enjoyed serving as the technology literacy teacher for the Bloomington dePaul School for dyslexic elementary school children. Within the university, I worked for the Center for Research on Learning and Technology as video and media producer and co-researcher on an NSF-funded project that allowed me to develop extensive experience working with public school teachers to promote innovative teaching methodologies. The project was ultimately used as a virtual classroom experience for Indiana’s teacher education program. In this capacity I developed and taught a variety of workshops for public school educators on curricular integration of technology. As an associate instructor at Indiana I was able to teach undergraduate and graduate-level courses on instructional design theory, instructional media production and the classroom integration of video, print, multimedia and web-based media. I also served as an instructor for Indiana's distance master’s program in Instructional Systems Technology teaching instructional design and production.
While finishing my dissertation, I worked as the Web and Multimedia Specialist for Dickinson College’s Communications Office. My primary responsibility in this position was the creation of multimedia, video, and web-based productions for marketing and recruitment initiatives. During this time, I also had the opportunity to teach courses in a variety of disciplines related to education, literacy, technology and society: social documentary film production, sociology of education, educational technology and two writing-intensive seminars, “Toxic Literacies” and “The Future of Education.” These interdisciplinary courses have allowed me to gain valuable experience integrating educational theory and hands-on technology learning in the classroom, specifically as they pertain to the areas of engaged citizenship and fostering the ability to consider diverse perspectives in confronting real-world issues.