Digital Pedagogy Johnson Center Lunches–March 5, 19

johnson centerBernice Melvin, Director of the Johnson Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Teaching, has graciously offered DP@AC two Thursday lunch periods for March. We’re kicking around some ideas for discussion, but we’d like to hear from faculty…what issues and topics related to digital pedagogy would you like to discuss and hear more about? We interpret “digital pedagogy” pretty broadly, so if you’ve got any thoughts or suggestions, post a comment and let us know.

“Search Yourself” links

Here are links to some sites and materials from this week’s discussion about web identity, agency, and networking:

These two guides give you a checklist of steps in assessing your Web persona:

How to Curate Your Digital Identity as an Academic
Building a Digital Reputation

Articles relevant to the Domain of One’s Own Program:

A Domain of One’s Own
An E-Portfolio With No Limits
Reclaiming Innovation
A Personal Cyberinfrastructure

College/University Domain of One’s Own Sites:

University of Mary Washington
Emory University
University of Oklahoma

And a TEDx talk by Jim Groom of University of Mary Washington on the DoOO concept:


Make Moody Hall a MakerSpace?

makerspace logoRecently at Austin College we’ve started discussing the future of Moody Hall, the former home of the natural sciences departments of the college (which moved into the new IDEA Center in 2013). One possibility that is being talked about is to use some of the space in Moody to create a “makerspace” area.

The “maker” movement in education and learning has been gaining momentum for several years now. The underlying idea is to give students a laboratory or studio or workshop type of environment in which to tinker and hack, to learn how to use tools of various kinds, and to pursue projects involving original design and innovation. Spaces typically have tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, robotics equipment, art supplies, and high-end computer and digital media production resources. The movement lends itself to collaborative and team-based approaches to projects, and partnerships often develop with local businesses.

A couple of recent articles provide a helpful overview of the maker movement on college campuses. The Educause Learning Initiative did one of their “7 Things You Should Know About…” articles on makerspaces in 2013. Also in 2013, Audrey Watters, who writes at the always bracing Hack Education blog, posted a presentation on “The Case for a Campus Makerspace.” Among her observations:

It’s a case that invokes some of the educational practices that we know work well: small group discussion, collaboration, participatory, project-based, and peer-to-peer learning, experimentation, inquiry, curiosity, play….

Makers work with Arduino, paper mache, Legos, cardboard, robots, rockets, welding machines, gears, circuit boards, computer-assisted drawing software, string, vinyl cutters, LED lights, the command line, string, rubber bands, wire, duct tape, play dough, steamworks, sensors, hot glue guns, scissors, Raspberry Pis, gyroscopes, tesla coils, musical instruments, fire, water cannons, plastic, wood, motors, solar power, wearable computers, and 3D printers. For starters….

Makerspaces give students–all students–an opportunity for hands-on experimentation, prototyping. problem-solving, and design-thinking. By letting students make–whether they’re digital artifacts or physical artifacts–we can support them in gaining these critical skills. By making a pinball machine for a physics class, for example. Making paper or binding a book for a literature class. Building an app for a political science class. 3D modeling for an archeology class. 3D printing for a nursing class. Blacksmithing for history class. The possibilities for projects are endless….

Makerspaces expose students to cutting edge technologies that could in turn lead to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. And because of makerspaces’ connection to open source hardware and software, students aren’t learning just how to use proprietary tools. They aren’t just learning a specific piece of software. Instead, they learn how to find resources and–this is key–they learn how to learn.

Dozen of colleges and universities have established makerspaces on campus. Here are links to a few that you might find of interest:

Davidson College Campus Maker and Innovation Space
Rice Design Kitchen
University of Mary Washington Think Lab
University of Texas at Arlington Fab Lab
University of Victoria Maker Lab in the Humanties
Wheaton College (Mass.) Autonomous Learning Lab

So…what do you think about the possibilities at Austin College? Let us know with your comments and discussion.

Wednesday Lunch–“Search Yourself: Managing Your Web Identity as a Professional Academic”

What happens when you Google yourself? (Or Bing yourself, or maybe even DuckDuckGo yourself?) You are, of course, searching for yourself on the world wide web. At one time this may have been dismissed as the vanity of egosurfing, but these days, being aware of and managing your web presence is an important element of developing personal and professional identity. You can pretty much take it for granted that if someone wants to know about your professional activity, or if you apply for a job or a grant or admission to a program or school, the first thing that folks will do is search your name on the web. What will they find among those first few hits? Will the top spot be occupied by your profile on

If you’d like to learn more about managing your identity, network, and reputation on the web, join us for “Search Yourself: Managing Your Web Identity as a Professional Academic.” This will be a lunchtime bring-your-tray presentation and discussion on Wednesday, February 18, in room 231 of the Wright Campus Center. DP@AC will pick up the tab for your lunch that day, so what do you have to lose? We’ll meet from about 11:30 to 1:00, so drop in whenever you can.

We’ll be picking up on some ideas presented in a recent article in the Chronicle, “How to Curate Your Digital Identity as an Academic,” so you might want to give that a look ahead of time. We’ll discuss options for setting up a website, the relevance of blogging and tweeting as an academic professional, networking and social media, and whatever else you’d like to talk about.

And what does this have to do with pedagogy? Lots, actually. As our students participate in their academic fields, apply for jobs and graduate schools, and develop their careers, they’ll need modeling and guidance in establishing their own professional online identities. Having a well-crafted e-portfolio of their work, for example, will help students showcase their strengths. And the web skills and digital literacy that they pick up along the way will enhance their prospects for career success. So join us next Wednesday!

10 Things the Best Digital Teachers Do

Here’s a helpful article posted last week by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “10 Things the Best Digital Teachers Do.” The authors begin by noting that

Both of us came to digital teaching early but somewhat reluctantly. What we love most about teaching are the interactions with students, and 15 years ago we didn’t see clearly how adding digital tools would allow us to strengthen those interactions.

The truth is: Face-to-face teaching has no direct digital analogue. However, digital technology has helped us have different kinds of interactions, and with a much more diverse set of students. Likewise, using digital tools has allowed our students to interact with a global community.

Sometimes we might think that the use of digital resources would compromise the kind of faculty-student interaction that Austin College is known for, so it’s encouraging to hear colleagues affirm that digital technologies can enhance engagement with students. Give it a read and let us know what you think.

By the way, UMW has been in the news this week because Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has proposed further cuts in state funding to higher ed coupled with increased faculty teaching loads. As one state legislator put it, “Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever.” Just a thought as you plan your research agendas!

Hello world!

Welcome to the blog and website for academic technology at Austin College. We hope this becomes a place where faculty and students at AC can find and share ideas and inspiration about improving teaching and learning with digital technologies. Thanks to a generous Mellon Foundation grant, “Collaborative Pedagogies for a Digital Age,” we are increasing our support for innovative projects in the Austin College academic community.

Our vision is to make this website a hub for the exchange of ideas and a space for experimentation and discovery. We’ll bring you relevant articles and resources from the wider world of higher education as well as news and features on local projects and activities. We hope this can be a space where genuine conversation about learning, pedagogy, and technology will augment our academic community. So we encourage you to give us suggestions and ideas, to comment posts, and to help us make this a resource that we can all benefit from.

We’ll be adding features to the website over time…for now, we’ll mostly be blogging about current trends and issues in pedagogy and digital technology, but our long term goal is to offer you resources and webspace to try new applications and to share projects with your colleagues. You can receive notifications of new posts and activities on the site via email updates, our Twitter and Facebook feeds, or through an RSS feedreader.

Above all, we’re here to help…let us know what we can do for you.