One of my key interests is the exploration and integration for theory, practice, and process. These explorations are foundational to how I think, research, and teach. I’ve written a number of posts over at HASTAC that outline the thinking around particular projects, and therefore my teaching pedagogy. Here they are, most recent first:
- 6 things: exploring, contributing, making, thinking, doing in the classroom
- code concepts: performing the algorithm
- html like it’s 1993
- digital cultures and creativity: a teaching / learning practice
- digital cultures as a way of thinking
- digital humanities/cultures with teenagers
Some projects / programs I’m currently working on (2012-2013):
Nairobi, Kenya Study Abroad Course
This past summer I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with my DCC colleague, Krista Caballero on a course development grant that we received to create a study-abroad course to commence in 2014. The course will explore the relationship between social justice and mobile technologies by engaging with Kenyan entrepreneurs, leaders, and citizen movements. Our students have already begun an online (art/performance) collaboration with young adults from an amazing Nairobi-based organization.
Expanding the DCC Mentorship Program
Last year, in collaboration with Pre-College Programs, we developed a pilot program that combined traditional mentoring with hands-on workshops in digital cultures and creativity. In its pilot year the program included 6 DCC undergraduates and 15 high school students. This year, the program has expanded to include two other living-learning programs: Integrated Life Sciences and Honors Humanities, and it includes 24 undergraduates and 45 high school students.
Creating an Alternate Reality Game (ARG)
I can’t talk about this in too much detail, as I don’t want to give anything away. But what I can tell you is that I am working with approximately 25 students to create an immersive narrative experience that promises to be both intriguing and fun.
Undergraduate Research Advising
Though these are not projects of my design, I am putting it here because I feel lucky that I get to spend time with students who are thinking about new technologies, and new ways of thinking about digital cultures, and then work with them to create research projects- from small personal works to larger capstone projects. Their genuine joy for creative exploration makes my day on many occasions.
Open lab Hours
In addition to office hours, another DCC colleague, Leah Flake, and I have lab hours, where students can come and work with the various tech we have in our lab space (3D printing, sound/music station, graphic design station, physical computing workspace). Leah and I spend our time experimenting with whatever we feel like, and students can join if they want. We’ve played with everything from legos and architectural cardboard puzzles to 3D printing, and more recently, using the arduino to make music. This last one meant that we had to cannibalize an old computer for speakers, source the arduino music library, and then begin messing around with it. Fun!
DCC Workshops 2011-2012
DCC Workshops are created and developed by the mind-meld of Leah Flake and me. The workshops generally last for 2 hours, and are meant as a fun, sometimes wacky, introduction to a topic, technology, or process. No experience is necessary, and though the workshops are created and run by Leah and me, they are really co-learning spaces as students bring their own knowledges and expertise to the subjects.
HTML like it’s 1993
Students learn basic computer programming language concepts through building an HTML website from scratch. The purpose of this exercise was to open up the possibilities of ‘web’ screens and interfaces – not to lock them down with right and wrong, good and bad. Instead, to begin thinking of themselves as makers, as doers within ‘digital cultures’ – not followers of what’s already out there. I want them to experiment, create, mess around. By making it purposefully ugly, something from the past, something funny- the pressure is off. Perfection is no longer necessary. It can just be fun. From the ugliness of 1993 HTML comes the beauty of possibility and play.
More on the pedagogy behind this project
The Turing Test
What makes us human? This workshop draws inspiration from Alan Turing’s 1950 essay on machine intelligence, in which a subject is given the task of asking questions to a human and machine and determining which is the machine. Students divide into groups and devise their own set of questions intended to bring out the “human”, and then trade questions with other groups. Two members of each group remotely answer the questions, with one acting as a machine by only using answers from online bots or search engines, and one acting as genuinely human. The “questioner” has to decide which of the two is machine and which is human.
Intro to the Arduino
Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform and a development environment for writing Arduino software. It is used to create interactive objects, from controlling lights and sound to motors and sensors. This workshop introduces the basics of physical computing, from installing the development environment to creating a circuit and programming LED (light emitting diodes) to flash on and off through code. Students have the opportunity to set up a circuit board from scratch and experiment with circuitry, as well as manipulate the instructional code and even create their own.
Visual Exquisite Corpse
The “Exquisite Corpse” is a technique for (usually written)collaborative story creation. In this workshop, students work in groups to invent a rough storyline, film part of their story with iPads or MacBooks, and then rotate the resulting videos among groups, with each new group adding to the story based on the last few seconds of previous footage. The final products are somewhat patched-together video stories with a piece from every group. The workshop combines filming and video editing techniques with storymaking and performance.
Battle of the Bands
Students form groups, or bands, to create music using a combination of instrumental and non-instrument sounds. Each band must create and perform a song that contains at least ten sounds that are not from traditional instruments, such as environmental sounds, white noise, or computer sound effects. Groups can either perform live or create their music with Garage Band or Audacity.
Using sites like Twitter, Tumblr, or Youtube, groups of students find a “word cloud” or “tag cloud” of words associated with a topic of their choice. These words are attached to small foam balls, and then the groups engage in the “slam” aspect of the poetry slam–a friendly game of poetry dodgeball. Each team uses the foam balls they collect by the end of the match to craft and creatively perform a poem. The workshop transforms social media tools of word association into movement, poetry, and performance.
Connect with your Kinect
The computer programming behind the Kinect can be manipulated in order to create one’s own interactive games and performances. In this workshop, students create characters for a storyline, and bring those characters to the screen by using the Kinect to attach the images to their hands or other parts of their body. The workshop encourages creativity and experimentation, with some students working on character creation while others work with the code behind the Kinect.
So You Think You Can’t Dance
This event tied in with an assignment for HDCC105, in which students learned programming concepts that surpass any single language through the medium of dance. Students then choreographed group dances using computer programming concepts like loops, if-then statements, variables, and strings, which they then performed at an event where second-year students acted as judges, giving points on creativity, use of coding concepts, and style.
Performing the Algorithm
details / pedagogy here: • http://hastac.org/blogs/jarah/2011/10/10/code-concepts-i-performing-algorithm
Co-opt the code
This workshop provided an introduction to reading and manipulating code. Students play with open source code to become comfortable reading and understanding basic code concepts through manipulation. The workshop also involved introducing students to the Processing development environment.
Inspired by the show Burn Notice — students will discuss and explore surveillance tools, engaging in a hands-on approach to turning surveillance back on itself through physical computing.
Using the kinect and the 3-d printer together, we will capture the likeness of every current DCC student and faculty, and turn them into (non-articulated) action figures which can then take over the world. Or used for photography, animation, gaming and perhaps some physical computing.
Working Groups 2011-2012:
Working groups are comprised of students who choose to focus on one theme for the semester. The first meeting for each working group is a brainstorming session where students discuss their research interests and then collaboratively decide on a project for the semester. They then meet for about 30-45 hours over the course of the semester to research, explore, create and build. See below for details.
Games and Play
This working group explores critical concepts in games and play, beginning with a critical analysis of games and free play (from card and board, to legos and dolls, to computer and console). Key questions asked: what is fun? How do the rules get subverted? What are house rules and how do they function? How might we change the games we are playing to consider difference? The second half of the semester will be spent brainstorming, creating and test-playing a game of our own.
Creating Interactive Environments
(with Quint Gregory) In a space in which visualization has primacy, in which a 22’ x 9’ curved wall dissolves into imagined worlds, spaces and art that, through their sheer scale, overwhelm our senses, wouldn’t it be amazing to extend that world into our own and our own into it? The Kinect sensor for Xbox holds great promise as a device to make the viewer a controller. However, what would happen if not one sensor but two were positioned in such a way to capture the entire space of the physical room? DCCers consider this an invitation to take up the challenge of solving the challenge of building an interface between the human body and 3 dimensional software for the Collaboratory.
This is an in-depth, hands-on approach to digital journalism- including skill building and production processes with a focus on producing across multiple media. During our first meeting a brainstorming session culminated in a semester-long plan to create an interactive user’s guide to the iPad for aspiring journalists. This includes primary research using various apps, considering workflow, pre-production and production, and then developing a digital platform for display and download of the user’s guide.
University of Maryland, College Park
Departments: LGBT Studies, Digital Cultures & Creativity, Women’s Studies
- HDCC 106: Introduction to Digital Cultures and Creativity, Part II, Performing the Digital; Spring 2013 (Co-taught, with Krista Caballero, Leah Flake, Jason Farman)
- LGBT 298D: Digital Queers: Public Space, Art, & Performance in Digital Age, Spring 2012
- HDCC 105: Introduction to Digital Cultures and Creativity, Part I, Fall 2011
(Co-taught, with Krista Caballero, Leah Flake, Evan Golub)
- HDCC 106: Introduction to Digital Cultures and Creativity, Part II, Spring 2011
(Co-taught, with Krista Caballero, Leah Flake, Evan Golub)
- WMST 488A: Feminist Social Media Activisms, Spring 2011
(Co-taught, with Katie King)
Hunter College, City University of New York
Departments: Film and Media, Women’s Studies
- Media 384: Women and the Media, 2009 (also WMST 384)
- Media 341: Web Programming, 2008-2009
- Media 161: Introduction to Digital Media, 2004-2005
- IMA 760: Tools and Techniques, Teaching Assistant, 2005 (with Mary Flanagan)
- Media 161: Introduction to Digital Media, Teaching Assistant, 2004 (with E. Kermani)
Rutgers University, Newark
Department of Visual & Performing Arts
- Television & Society, 2008