The opportunity to participate in the spring 2019 #DigPINS cohort experience changed the way I think about digital media, engage with technology in my everyday life, teach and do research. Throughout our weekly blogs, conversations, and frequent visits to IT, I was able to learn more about topics, such as digital pedagogy, research, citizenship, identity, and networking.
Reading articles about digital citizenship reminded me of the important responsibility I have as an instructor, researcher and friend to critically examine, not only the information I share on social media, but also how I share it. After reading an article on Creative Commons and meeting with Taylor and Autumm, I realized that my pedagogy relies heavily on videos, photos, audio, and other digital sources available online. However, I was unsure if the sources I integrated into my teaching were part of a Creative Commons domain. This led me to revisit much of my work and, in the process, I realized I didn’t use any Creative Commons material. I immediately started redoing all the audiovisual information I had publicly shared with students.
This was not an easy task, but it was highly rewarding, as I began to explore multiple Creative Commons platforms legally available to share creative and innovative work produced by individuals and communities all over the world. For weeks, I visited endless websites and came across hundreds of magnificent photos and videos that vividly showed Latin American culture and history. The discovery of a Creative Commons domain and the endless possibilities available there, led me to an idea, to ask my students in a Spanish Conversation, Composition and Culture course to explore Creative Commons domains for their final research paper and oral presentation. They were required to critically examine audiovisual productions and class readings for their projects. I was impressed, not only by their ability to comfortably navigate different Creative Commons domains, but also with the detailed research they presented. The photographs and videos, which the students analyzed for their final oral presentations brought diverse peoples, cultures and cities into the classroom. The angles, colors, lights, sounds, and many perspectives reflected in the photographs and videos, allowed for the class to better understand the given culture. The integration of public domain sources facilitated cultural awareness and empathy with other civilizations. Their presentations were connected to in-class readings, yet the students had complete autonomy to select outside audiovisual sources to support their research.
Furthermore, after my first blog experience through #DigPINS, I decided to create a classroom blog, where students shared their opinions on class readings and films. The blog significantly helped students to select and develop a research project that linked in-class readings to outside sources. Every other week, students wrote a formal reaction to the readings and also commented on someone else’s blog. In their posts, students shared important observations and posed relevant questions. I was quite surprised by the in-depth analysis the students demonstrated in the works assigned and also by the sense of community that was thereby created. This safe digital space encouraged student engagement in a way I had not seen inside the classroom. Students were honest about expressing their thoughts and demonstrated a level of comfort to say whatever was on their minds. Their candid responses encouraged an interesting in-class dialog that allowed me to call on students to elaborate on their answers. The blog helped everyone in the classroom to actively participate. In fact, this was the first class to receive an A average for their participation grade. This was truly a unique class, and I was fortunate to share my digital media pedagogical knowledge with them. I am thrilled to think of what will come next in other classes.
Another component, which I explored this past semester, was Moodle. For the first time, I used Moodle to post all letter grades and share class material in designated folders. I found this method extremely helpful, as all expectations, resources, and grades were readily made available to the students. Films were also uploaded on Moodle, and the students could access them through their phones, tablets or computers.
Moreover, the #DigPINS experience also helped me to rethink how I conduct my research and integrate it into my teaching. In the future, I look forward to using social media platforms to further advance my research agenda and connect them to special topics courses. I look forward to working on sites such as Academia and Twitter, in order to connect with academics in my field.
I am uncertain as to what the next project will be, but I am excited to explore the possibilities of what I can do in the classroom with an iPad. I will definitely be visiting my IT friends for help and ideas. I want to thank everybody for a life-changing experience!