As part of the ‘probational’ period of my hiring, a mere two years, I’m required to participate in the University Learning and Teaching (ULT) Course. Having just completed a graduate diploma in Higher Education at Deakin, I figured I’d rather go through the process of justifying my existence to my current institution (yet again) with an application for exemption. The narrative I’ve assembled around the CV for the process is quite dry but blog worthy.
Evidence of ongoing reflective practice in university teaching
Following graduation in December 2007 I undertook a teaching intensive contract as a Lecturer (Level A) in Digital Media and Communication at the University of Wollongong (UoW). At this time I began working on a research project titled ‘The Future of the Teaching and Research Nexus in Cultural Studies’. This investigation examined the potential for undergraduate contributions to knowledge formation through digital media and networked technologies and was presented with Professor David Marshall at the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia conference in Kalgoorlie in 2008.
In 2009 I was hired under a short-term contract as Lecturer (Level B) with an equal distribution in teaching and research and was able to pursue a number of teaching and learning related projects. Alongside my teaching and research in Game Studies, I pursued research into online, digital and virtual learning environments and innovations in teaching with Twitter, blogs and other social and new media platforms in relevant assessment practices in communication and media studies, for which I was nominated for the OCTAL Teaching Awards for Excellence.
During this time I worked with students in Digital Communication and Media Studies subjects to test the feasibility of using virtual worlds in the UoW computer labs as part of an interdisciplinary learning exercise. I presented on this experience and issues of academic integrity online at the Asia and Pacific Conference on Education Integrity (APCEI) at UoW in 2009 and later convened a Virtual World Teaching and Learning Colloquium, which invited those teaching and learning in virtual worlds at UoW, TAFE and other teaching institutions in Wollongong to share their experiences and work to overcome challenges of access, equality and regulation. Also in 2009 I worked with Dr Ruth Walker to coordinate the first national student film competition for the Asia Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity Australia at Wollongong in 2009. The competition was a great success and it received national attention in 2010 with the theme ‘Zombies and Plagiarism’ as undergraduate participants from Australian universities contributed video entries.
Continuing my research into the pedagogical affordances and constraints of virtual worlds, games and new media in 2010 I worked with Associate Professor Graham Barwell on an application for a UoW Teaching and Learning grant for research involving World of Warcraft and interdisciplinary undergraduate collaboration. The practical trial included students enrolled in first year Digital Communications subjects working with students in a second year English Literature subject to produce short animated movie adaptations of stories from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. These adaptations were made using the online game and desktop video editing software, which allows students to capture of the video recordings of actions of player-controlled game characters and edit to make digital movies known as ‘machinima’. The students worked in small teams to produce the Chaucer adaptations over ten weeks during Spring session 2010 and were independently assessed based on individual critical reflection and weekly written assessment tasks.
During this time I moved to Melbourne to accept an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral scholarship and coordinated the project remotely each week using a mix of video conferencing, Skype, email, in- game communication and Google Docs. The trial was a great success and interest in the research proved to be extensive. In December 2010 I presented the paper “That gnome keeps dancing in our scene”: Digital Literacies, Interdisciplinary Opportunities and Making Machinima in World of Warcraft’ at Revise: The Art and Science of Remix Culture, a conference at UoW I co-organised with Dr. Andrew Whelan. I also presented at the Apple University Consortium, CreateWorld in Brisbane in December 2010, reporting on the results of student focus groups reviewing their involvement, titled ‘Marking Machinima: Collaborative Engagement between Students in Two Arts Disciplines’, which was later published in the Australasian Journal of Education Technology. A book chapter by Graham and I, titled ‘Adaptation, Pedagogy and Interdisciplinary’, was included in the 2013 Bloomsbury collected edition Understanding Machinima: essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds.
In 2010 I also worked with Ruth Walker to co-edit a special edition on issues of digital technologies in higher education for the International Journal of Educational Integrity. This collaboration expanded to include Dr Andrew Whelan and we published the very well received edited collection Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education in 2013 which examines the zombie as a heuristic metaphor for considering the conditions for contemporary humanities teaching, learning and labour practices. Our blog, Zombies in the Academy, has received international attention since its mention in the New York Times and the book brings together major scholars and researchers from communication and media studies, education, sociology and cultural studies, mathematics and films studies within an edgy and satirical critical paradigm that examines the current political and pedagogical models of higher education through the metaphor of zombiedom. My own chapter in this collection focuses on the role of ‘zombie processes’ and ‘undead technologies’ in the processes of teaching and learning in higher education.
In 2014 I completed the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education at Deakin University and I have been a regular participant in teacher development training, leadership and professional practice seminars at Deakin and UoW. Most recently I have been fortunate to work with Dr Ted Mitew, Digital Communication coordinator at UoW and we have been successful in applying for two teaching and learning grants to support innovation in teaching and learning at the UoW. These projects will include experimentation and innovation in teaching and research into the pedagogical potential of student-oriented ‘maker’ culture and will publish our critical reflection on the development of a mobile Digital Media and Communication media-lab for undergraduate teaching. It is anticipated that significant research outputs specifically related to the experience teaching and learning with new technologies and ‘the internet of things’ will be developed from these innovations.
I am currently working on research related to pedagogy and teaching with Twitter and will present on the potential of student assessment using the social media platform at UNSW in February as part of an ongoing series on digital literacies. I had the opportunity to present an early version of this to the V.C Paul Wellings in August 2014. I am also currently working on a major research project with Professor Marshall and our book titled Persona Studies will feature my research into student persona formation as an intersectional online identity type that crosses between the personal, and private, and public sphere in the transition from a socially organised online learner persona to a professional one.