Reflecting on my teaching, helping others with their teaching, and learning from others about their pedagogical approaches are important parts of my on-going, iterative development as a teacher.
Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium
Since I began organizing the annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium in 2016, I always made a point of including speakers presenting on pedagogical approaches to teaching with or about Science Fiction. While personally interesting to me, it showcases to the symposium audience, which includes many City Tech faculty, how the interdisciplinary literature of Science Fiction can be leveraged in different ways and for different purposes in our classes.
In 2016, a session was dedicated to “Science Fiction Teaching Strategies:”
Session 2: Science Fiction Teaching Strategies Moderator: Johannah Rodgers, New York City College of Technology Leigh Dara Gold, New York City College of Technology, “Exploring Human Experience with Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury” Amanda Lerner, Yale University, “Bridging Cultures with Russian Science Fiction” Daniel Phelps, York College, “Building and Hacking: Keeping Up-To-Date with Science Fiction” Johannah Rodgers, New York City College of Technology, “Todorov and the Incredible Hulk, or Exploring the Roles and Definitions of Fiction Across the Disciplines”
Also, I presented a revised paper, based on an earlier version delivered at the James Madison University Pulp Studies Symposium on Oct. 7, 2016, titled “Engagement, Learning and Inspiration in SF: Use Cases for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection.” My presentation showcases the work of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection for the benefit of different stakeholders within the campus community: 1) frame the historical publication context of science fiction short stories for students, and 2) illuminate the deep history of technological ideas for faculty fellows in the NEH-funded “Cultural History of Digital Technology” project.
Session 1: History of/and Science Fiction Moderator: Aaron Barlow, New York City College of Technology Jason W. Ellis, New York City College of Technology, “Engagement, Learning and Inspiration in SF: Use Cases for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection” Alan Lovegreen, Orange Coast College, “Hugo Gernsback, Interdisciplinarity, and Wonder Stories” Sean Scanlan, New York City College of Technology, “William Gibson’s Dead Tech Collection: Characters, Narratives, Time” Grant Wythoff, Columbia University, “Hugo Gernsback and the Origins of Science Fiction”
In 2017, a panel discussion was devoted to the pedagogical modules developed as a part of the NEH-funded Cultural History of Digital Technology project.
Session 3: An Epic Entanglement in the Glorious World of Science Fiction: Panel Discussion About NEH-Funded “Cultural History of Digital Technology” Location: Namm 119 Moderator: Jill Belli Sandra Cheng, Anne Leonhardt, Satyanand Singh, and Peter Spillane
In 2018, Dean Justin Vazquez-Poritz organized a panel to discuss the influence of Frankenstein on faculty from around the City Tech campus. Pedagogical topics came up in the discussion.
Frankenstein Panel: Mary Shelley’s Novel’s Influence on Scientists and Technologists Location: Academic Complex A105 Moderator: Justin Vazquez-Poritz Panelists: Heidi Boisvert, Entertainment Technology Department Robert MacDougall, Social Sciences Department Ashwin Satyanarayana, Computer Systems Technology Department Jeremy Seto, Biological Sciences Department
And, Prof. Lavelle Porter moderated a discussion with his students about what they had learned about Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.
Student Round Table: “Shaping the Future: A Student Roundtable on Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower” Location: Academic Complex A105 Moderator: A. Lavelle Porter Panelists: Zawad Ahmed Marvin Blain Kartikye Ghai Devinnesha Ryan
In 2019, we opened the symposium with a session on “Teaching with SF Collections.”
Teaching with SF Collections Moderator: Lucas Kwong Jason W. Ellis, “Introduction to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection” Zachary Lloyd, “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching with Science Fiction”
City of Print 2020
As an NEH Fellow of City of Print 2020, the NEH-funded Summer Institute led by Prof. Mark Noonan, I gave a video recorded presentation on how the City Tech Science Fiction Collection was processed to provide access to students and scholars. In the afternoon, I led a Zoom-based workshop breakout session to help participants brainstorm how to use the digital tools that I discussed in my video in their own work as teachers and researchers.
Also, I created a Science Fiction in New York City walking tour as a part of the Summer Institute. I plan to use this in my future SF classes to help situate the role that the city and its locations played in the early 20th century development of the genre.
Cultural History of Digital Technology
From 2015-2018, I was an NEH Faculty Fellow in the grant-funded A Cultural History of Digital Technology: Postulating a Humanities Approach to STEM project led by Anne Leonhardt and co-directed by Sandra Cheng, Satyanand Singh, and Peter Spellane. In addition to taking part in each year’s reading discussions, software workshops, and public speaker series, I developed four class modules that combine a science fiction reading (most coming from the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s magazine holdings), detailed lesson plans, and a hands-on project that teaches mathematical concepts related to the reading with Maple or Wolfram Mathematica. These can be downloaded as a zip file from here.
As an OpenLab Co-Director during the 2019-2020 AY, I contributed to the Community Team’s work of supporting faculty, staff, and students on the platform.
Open Pedagogy Workshops
I took part in the Open Pedagogy Workshops on the theme of Access and Accessibility. These were important discussions about how to be an accessibility minded instructor.
Open Pedagogy Writing
I wrote about my pedagogical approaches, which rely on digital tools and open technology, in a “Pedagogy Profile” on Sept. 9, 2019.
I reblogged a post titled, “How I Work: Distance Learning Edition,” on the OpenLab’s OpenPedagogy site (it originally appeared on my personal website). I wrote this in response to questions that I had received about best practices for distance education after the campus closed due to the pandemic. I discussed my office configuration (neutral background, lighting, webcam), software (Google Hangouts, Google Slides, OBS Studio, and ShotCut), and YouTube video uploading. The tutorials that I include involve annotated screenshots.
Serious Change Through Play
Patrick Corbett and I launched the Serious Change Through Play initiative in 2017 as an umbrella under which our LEGO Serious Play derived teaching and workshop work could reside.
On April 5, 2017, we hosted a Scholars Exchange Workshop on “Mapping and Teaching to the Communication Challenges Facing Our Students with Serious Play.” Attended by faculty and administrators, we led a hands-on workshop using LEGO to fuel discussion about communication challenges and how to overcome them by beginning with haptic building exercises that support thinking, reflection, and public speaking.
In addition to reflection and revision of all of my course syllabi from semester-to-semester, I wrote a zero-textbook cost (ZTC) syllabus following the approved course learning outcomes for ENG2700, Introduction to Professional and Technical Writing. While the program director opted not to approve it despite it meeting the course learning outcomes, I plan to incorporate elements of the syllabus into my other course syllabi and share the syllabus with others on OpenLab and through my professional blog, dynamicsubspace.net. I hope to teach it at some point in the future.