We are pleased to introduce Issue Three of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, which features four essays that range broadly across the disciplines. Three of these pieces ask very specific questions about the role of technology in the classroom. The fourth, which also provided the basis for the second installment of JiTP’s “Behind the Seams” feature, explores the tenuous place of work with digital technologies in the tenure and promotion process within the contemporary academy. Together, these pieces offer practical suggestions for the focused integration of technology into classroom settings in the service of instruction and assessment, and pose challenging questions about the contexts in which this work can be done.
James Richardson’s “Establishing a New Paradigm: The Call to Reform the Tenure and Promotion Standards for Digital Media Faculty” argues forcefully that the academy must adapt its employment structures to more explicitly support and reward precisely the type of work that lies at the heart of the other three pieces in this issue. Richardson shows how the tenure and promotion processes for most faculty working and publishing with digital technologies are ill-suited to recognize, reward, and nurture the intellectual and scholarly activities that such academics must undertake to stay abreast of rapid changes in their fields. The implications of this disjuncture are significant not only for the careers of academics who produce digital work, but also for the kinds of teaching and learning experiences we create with digital tools, the coherence and strength of our curricula, and the ability of academic institutions to retain relevance amidst a drastically shifting educational landscape.
Richardson also joined JiTP Managing Editor Sarah Ruth Jacobs, Issue Three Editor Luke Waltzer, and editorial collective member/reviewer Stephen Brier to discuss the path of his essay from initial submission through multiple revisions and ultimately to publication. This conversation revealed much about the editorial process of JiTP, and captured nicely what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of our fledgling enterprise. We’re enthusiastically committed to supporting authors who’ve chosen to cast their lot with a new journal. That support requires attentive, detailed feedback that reflects both rigorous standards and a sensitivity to the author’s original intent. It also means making sure authors know where they stand vis a vis the publication process and rewarding their commitment to seeing the piece through with commensurate responsiveness. As you’ll see from the conversation, we sometimes succeeded in this and sometimes did not. Our failures reflected an editorial process that has not yet worked out its kinks and a kitchen that sometimes featured several cooks working overlapping shifts. But what we’re ultimately most pleased about is James’ sense that the editorial process helped him reflect more dispassionately about a topic he acknowledges is “deeply personal,” while producing an essay that argues forcefully — and in ways the editorial collective of JiTP supports — for certain structural changes within the academy.
Susan Lowes, Gillian Hamilton, Vicki Hochstetler, and SeungOh Paek collaborated on “Teaching Communication Skills to Medical Students in a Virtual World,” which presents the findings of their research into the potential of virtual role playings to bolster the communication skills of medical students engaged in palliative care. Before moving this component of training into the virtual realm, students reported unease with such sensitive training happening in a group setting. Moving the role-playing exercises to Second Life lifted the pressure of an audience and allowed mentors and students to focus more explicitly on the individual components of these difficult conversations. In this piece, the authors detail the evolution of their instructional design and articulate a sober and cautious approach to deploying technology to help address a specific pedagogical problem.
Kate Singer’s “Digital Close Reading: TEI for Teaching Poetic Vocabularies” considers digital encoding with the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) humanities tag set as both a strategy for teaching close reading of poetic texts and as a gesture toward rethinking the language and methodology of literary analysis in the digital age. In discussing her students’ engagement with a number of difficult texts, most prominently Melesina Trench’s 1816 poem “Laura’s Dream; or, the Moonlanders,” Singer argues that digital encoding — marking up a text with code — offers a new, and remarkably generative way of analyzing literary texts. Doing so draws upon proficiencies around the gathering, sorting and processing of information that are essential for literate practice amidst incessant streams of information and ubiquitous reading. Singer draws connections between the practice of close readings of complex literary works and digital literacy, and suggests how one might be a path into the other: analysis with TEI tags can demystify digital code and can provide an introduction that can motivate students to begin learning other digital tools and computer languages.
In “Incorporating the Virtual into the Physical Classroom: Online Mastery Quizzes as a Blended Assessment Strategy,” Kyle Biedler and Lauren Panton present their research on web-based, in-class, pre- and post-lecture mastery quizzes as a hybrid approach to classroom instruction. Biedler and Panton present a study conducted in a graduate seminar in landscape architecture to show that online mastery quizzes, which are generally accepted by teachers and researchers as a versatile, effective pedagogical device, are also useful as an instrument in assessing teaching effectiveness. Their discussion includes several compelling visualizations of the data they collected, making use of a range of powerful digital tools that are increasingly accessible to researchers working in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Each of these pieces was researched and written in the spirit that James Richardson argues should be more readily valued across the academy. The authors each began with a pedagogical problem and looked to specific technologies to help them address it. Their approaches assert that the role of technology within higher education should be pragmatic, utilitarian, and tailored as much as possible to the task at hand. As Richardson notes, the future of higher education requires structures that enable, nurture, support, and celebrate such activity.
We hope our readers find these four pieces as engaging, stimulating and instructive as we have. We hope, too, that you feel empowered and encouraged to react to any or all of these four articles or JiTP’s short-form pieces — to engage ideas, offer suggestions, and introduce new perspectives. While, traditionally, an audience might respond to published academic work within a limited set of contexts, and discussion might be drawn out over the course of multiple articles in one or more publications, this medium facilitates and welcomes wholly different — immediate, even spontaneous — forms of exchange. We welcome and encourage your feedback and your challenges.
Onward to Issue Four!
Mikhail Gershovich, Baruch College, CUNY
Luke Waltzer, Baruch College, CUNY
Co-Editors, JITP Issue Three
About the Authors
Mikhail Gershovich is the Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute and the CUNY Writing Across the Curriculum Program at Baruch College.
Luke Waltzer is the Assistant Director for Educational Technology at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute at Baruch College. He oversees Blogs@Baruch, manages Cac.ophony.org, and teaches in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy certificate program at the CUNY Graduate Center.
The authors would also like to give a special thanks to Chris Caruso for assistance in editing Issue Three.