Teaching (and Learning)

In one week I will be teaching Disruptive Technologies for the first time at Stony Brook. My enrollment is lower than I had hoped and that has me a little concerned about how I will have to rethink my course design. I was reminded yesterday to embrace the lower than expected enrollment and to not wish for the alternative — too many students. I suppose that is true, but my design is predicated on teams and only having enough students to form two of them has made me question a few things. I think I have made the right kinds of changes so far to manage it. We’ll see.

Setting that aside I am extraordinarily excited to get back in the classroom for the first time since the Spring of 2012 when I co-taught Disruptive Technologies for Teaching and Learning with my very good friend and colleague, Dr. Scott McDonald at Penn State. Back then it was a graduate seminar that was a popular offering in our College of Education. If I’m honest, teaching it alone without Scott to lean on also has me nervous. In a lot of ways making myself nervous is part of the thrill of teaching in the first place. So again, we’ll see.

I get a lot strange looks when I tell people on campus that I am choosing to teach at all … most people tell me I am crazy. That is probably true given my time constraints, but when I look at the fact that my boss, President Stanley, is teaching this semester I think I can make time to make it work. When people ask me why I do it, the answers have been the same for years — I love it and I learn so much by doing it.

I learn how the tools we provide for faculty really work. I learn how our classrooms really support instruction. I learn where our administrative tools are falling short and exceeding expectations. I learn about how our students see the services we provide. I learn from the readings we do. I learn as we form into a learning community. I learn about all the things that I have long forgotten about how hard it really is to be a college student. I just learn.

An interesting twist this semester is that a member of my senior leadership team is taking the class as a student. When he told me I looked at him like he was crazy — I mean the guy finished his undergrad and has an MBA, so he clearly doesn’t need the credits. What he told me made me smile — he wants to learn. He wants to learn from what we do in class, but in so many other ways he wants to learn about what it feels like to be a students at Stony Brook and have to interact with all the systems our students have to interact with to be a student. His team builds the administrative information systems that support things like bursar functions, HR functions, registrar functions, and all the systems that really make a Unviersity work. He wants to know how his audiences feel … I liked that answer.

He and I just want to learn. And that is what I love about this whole thing — teaching to learn.

I’m Teaching this Spring! Disruptive Technologies Stony Brook Style! #CDT450

This spring I will be back in front of a class teaching, Disruptive Technologies (CDT 450: Topics in Computational Arts) for the first time here at Stony Brook. This is a class that I co-created and co-taught at Penn State as a graduate seminar with my great friend and colleague, Scott McDonald. This will be the first go of it by myself and I suspect it will be quite different not having my co-conspirator by my side … with that said, I have plenty ready to go. You can check out the course site and see what you think. The description the department provided is below. If you are a Stony Brook Undergrad, consider being part of this grand experiment!

An examination of current technologies that could be considered both as emergent and disruptive. The course is a combination of an examination of the way these technologies are used, an examination of the technologies themselves (looking “under the hood”), a dive into the scholarship of community, identity, design, and its interaction with disruptive technology. and creative re- (or miss-)application of the technologies. In other words—keeping with the automotive metaphor—we will not only kick the tires, but we will strip the whole vehicle down, understand how it fits together, and rebuild it with a new ability to see its potential. This course is designed in a “blended” model that will take advantage of all sorts of digital tools and online spaces. This course is different from your typical undergraduate course; it is approached as a grand experiment, which will evolve and grow over the semester, with on-the-fly changes to the design based on your work, thoughts, and feedback. Prerequisites: CDT 208 (MUS/THR/ARS 208) and one 300-level course from CDT, ARH, ARS, CAT, CS, EST, MUS, THR, or a course approved by cDACT Director.