Graduate students awarded certificates for teaching with digital media

CRLT is very pleased to congratulate the first recipients of the GTC+ certificate. Launched last year as a collaboration with the Institute for the Humanities and Rackham, the GTC+ provides opportunities for additional professional development around teaching with digital media for students already pursuing the Rackham-CRLT Graduate Teacher Certificate. In this guest blog, GTC+ participant Antje Gamble profiles the three graduate students who completed the new certificate this year. Antje received her Ph.D. in the History of Art this summer; she has run the GTC+ Twitter feed (@GTCPlus) throughout 2015.

In CRLT’s new GTC+ certificate program, the “plus” adds an important digital focus to the Rackham-CRLT Graduate Teacher Certificate. This newcollaboration between CRLT, the Institute for the Humanities, and Rackham Graduate School gives graduate student educators a way to develop and reflect upon teaching with digital media. Requirements include participating in a series of workshops (learning to use new digital tools as well as effectively integrate technology into teaching), engaging in networking experiences around teaching with digital media, and developing a set of teaching materials and written reflections in an electronic portfolio.

Recently, I spoke via Skype with the inaugural recipients of the certificate to learn about their experiences in the new program. Chatting with Pierluigi Erbaggio (Ph.D. Candidate in Romance Languages and Literatures-Italian), Emily Johnson, Ph.D. (English Language and Literature & Women’s Studies), and Jessica Zychowicz, Ph.D. (Slavic Languages and Literatures), I gained insights on how each accomplished the GTC+ requirements and what they learned from their participation.

As an art historian, my own day-to-day teaching regularly incorporates digital images of artwork. Yet I always wanted a better way to engage with digital media’s use in my teaching. Like Pierluigi, Emily, and Jessica, I came to the GTC+ program for both practical and pedagogical reasons: to gain a valuable addition to my CV as well as to gain a critical framework in which to discuss the use of technology in the classroom. In a sense, we all wanted to better integrate the tools already in use.

In speaking to the new GTC+ recipients, I found some important correlations among their experiences: the program quickly became more than just a line on the CV; its open-endedness allowed for fruitful individualization; and the reflection components were invaluable learning experiences. All in all, the certificate program both complemented their existing pedagogies and also helped them build new sets of skills and develop new strategies for effectively integrating digital media into their teaching.

Jessica Zychowicz completed the GTC+ while finishing her Ph.D this year. She shared that “it was exciting because the more I learned about digital humanities and new media the more I wanted to learn.” For one of her networking requirements, Jessica blogged and presented this past January at the “The Data of Life Writing” Digital Currents conference at the Institute for the Humanities. She found this experience helpful in developing ideas about creating online learning communities. As a result, she developed a class blog as a way to actively engage her students. Additionally through her experiences with the GTC+, Jessica has seen huge potential for scholars and students alike in the increased access to meta-data with the help of a new generation of digitally-savvy librarians using enhanced data systems.

Emily Johnson completed the majority of her requirements for the GTC+ remotely. Through online courses, including one at Code Academy and a Coursera course at the University of Illinois (partner program with U-M), Emily was able to complete her workshop requirements without being in Ann Arbor. Emily told me that she felt that through this unique experience she had “gained an important perspective as a student in an online environment.” This has helped her see different ways to model online teaching (from MOOCs to self-taught modules) that focused on “attitudes and ideas” in addition to skills. The GTC+ helped her “to better think about how to organize an online course and use online technologies for teaching.”

Pierluigi Erbaggio was no stranger to teaching with digital media as he had already participated in “teaching with technologies” initiatives before coming to U-M. He told me that in addition to his pre-existing interests he “was already consulting for CRLT when they launched GTC+, so it seemed like a natural fit.” In our discussion, Pierluigi highlighted the broad applicability of the tools learned through the program, like Twitter. For his digital media pedagogy requirement, he incorporated the use of Twitter into a class exercise that helped students examine Italian literary texts. Students were asked to use this new media platform to share questions, problems and insights, and Pierluigi brought this online discussion into the classroom to spark face-to-face discussions. From reflection to learning new media platforms, Pierluigi felt that the GTC+ helped him “rethink ways to strengthen the connection between digital humanities and teaching.”

If you’re interested in workshops related to teaching with digital media, check out the summer institute that Pierluigi attended; the OOPS that Emily participated in; and the full Digital Currents series where Jessica presented. To learn more about each student’s work, look at Pierluigi’s ePortfolio, Jessica’s ePortfolio, and Emily’s ePortfolio. For more information about the GTC+ program, visit the program’s home page and follow us on Twitter @GTCPlus.

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