My Fulbright at Salzburg University of Applied Science is a split research and teaching fellowship. While there I’ll be teaching four graduate courses in the MultiMedia Art program. Here’s my original teaching proposal:
Art making is a cyclical process of observation, reflection, and expression. My teaching philosophy encompasses teaching strategies that intertwine a student-centered approach with technical development and collaborative practice. Believing that learning is a shared responsibility with students, I emphasize respect, discussion, reflection, research, iteration, rigor, and life-long learning. Through innovative projects that provide both structure and room for interpretation, I encourage students to take risks in both the studio and the world at large. I embrace the concept that environment and social interaction are integral to cognition and the students’ construction of knowledge for themselves.
At the University of Central Florida I have participated in several course innovation projects examining the use of internet enabled mobile devices and active learning in the classroom. By combining these practices I am able to increase engagement in large classes by injecting micro activities throughout a session. These activities can help students question their assumptions through quick polls, find inspiring images for their digital sketchbooks, evaluate understanding through multiple choice quizzes, and encourage reflection via most clear point / least clear point discussions.
The MultiMedia Art program at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences is unique in that it combines study of media design, animation, film, and audio. Their courses in live action roleplaying developed jointly with the MultiMedia Technology department investigate new forms for multimodal storytelling and experience design. I often work collaboratively with musicians and dancers to develop interdisciplinary works of dynamic media. I can contribute my knowledge of tangible interface design, physical computing, and experiential systems to Salzburg University.
I have been working with Marius Schebella from the Salzburg University Audio Department on course selections. I will be able to teach “Auditive Interfacemodelle” (3 units / week) helping students design new interfaces for musical expression, and a guest professor workshop “Gast-Professur und Workshops” (I unit / week) that will explore the role of audio design in experiential systems. The curriculum at Salzburg University already includes courses in the tools that I frequently use (Arduino & Max7) so students should have a smooth technical transition into working with me. Additionally, the school has other workshops and exhibitions that I can participate in. The syllabi submitted with my application are for graduate courses on multimedia practice that I have taught in previous years.
In the past I have taught a range of courses, from introductory to graduate level, in face to face and mixed online modalities, and with 5 to 180 students. Courses include Understanding Art, 3D Design, Intro to Digital Media, Digital Imaging Fundamentals, Fundamentals of Interactive Design, Intermedia Practice, Experimental Systems Sculpture, Digital Tools for 3D Fabrication, and Science of Dynamic Media. Introductory courses tend to focus on technique, safety, critical thinking, and concept development, while advanced courses focus more on professional practice, critique, and development of individual student’s style. Due to the rapid pace of change in digital tools, I am as concerned with teaching students how to teach themselves the tools they need to complete projects as I am with instructing underlying theory. This way they will always be able to find the resources they need to develop and execute their work in an ever-changing climate.
I travel abroad as often as I can, as I find that the content and intent of artworks rely on their context of creation. While artworks travel frequently, making them somewhat accessible, it is hard to transport the context, which makes travel experience invaluable to cultural exchange. In my travels I have had experiences that have prepared me for teaching in another country. In 2008 I lived for two months in Kyoto, Japan. While there I volunteered with two different organizations, Klexon and the Kyoto International House, where I helped tutor people in learning English. I also participated in cultural programs at the Kyoto International House. This allowed for a two-way exchange of ideas and values. While at Phoenix College I taught students from a diverse range of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. I find that this diversity adds flavor to a classroom, in which students can bring their unique personal experiences to design work.
To ensure that students, who may speak English as a second or third language, are understanding course content I plan to implement several strategies. First, I will slow my own speech, avoid jargon, and emphasize key terms such as interaction design principles. I have experience with this already as I regularly ask my students to take notes by hand, which forces a slower presentation. I also plan to present key information both visually and aurally so that students have two different experiences of it. Finally, I use discussion frequently in my courses, and will continue to do so. Discussion helps students formulate, articulate, and critique their ideas all while practicing English. It also gives me a sense of how they are relating to the course material.
Upon return to the United States I hope that my research collaborations conducted in Austria will lead to continued transatlantic projects between UCF and SUAS. Specifically, I plan on organizing a summer study abroad program in Austria for UCF students, and exploring the possibility of a student exchange program during the year.
I expect a Fulbright award at Salzburg University to have a meaningful impact on my work. Having time to focus on my research is significant on its own. Combined with an opportunity to teach abroad provides a unique perspective that cannot be gained anywhere else. Being able to see the world through multiple lenses is key to building cross-cultural understanding. With this experience I hope to improve my ability to facilitate dialog between different groups of people. Additionally, I hope to create new professional connections with people and galleries in Austria that will last a lifetime. I cannot predict all of the ways this experience will impact me, but know that it will provide new inspiration for future work for both my students and myself.