Last updated July 14, 2016
My teaching philosophy begins with considering the main purpose of a university to be a successful learning and training environment for students’ lives and careers. To achieve this in my teaching, advising, and mentoring, I do my best to facilitate a collaborative and creative learning community. I also encourage communication and interaction between students and faculty and try to address the varied strengths and multiple intelligences of student learners. I am grateful for having experienced and helped facilitate many such learning communities, featuring strong interactions and addressing multiple intelligences, during my time as a student, teaching assistant, and lead instructor.
Students display a diverse range of learning styles, multiple intelligences, and community ties beyond the classroom (see Kazmer, 2005; Smith, 2008). Most students will be motivated best by and learn best from a combination of educational approaches drawing on their multiple intelligences. While I cannot address every possible learning style, I try to use methods and strategies that align best with the course objectives and purpose, students, and learning community, drawing on my own research and knowledge, within the constraints and context of course structure, time, and other resources. This requires knowing students’ multiple intelligences and learning styles, addressing them in activities and assignments, respecting students and their other obligations (and expecting mutual respect in return), keeping open lines of communication, interacting with and assisting students, encouraging them to interact with and help each other, and realizing my limits in and biases towards teaching and mentoring.
My philosophy is to value, support, and facilitate such an environment and community using the most appropriate direct and indirect strategies within a structured and focused course. I enjoy having students grasp concepts and apply them creatively to new and exciting situations, to have them share, communicate, create, and apply knowledge in class and beyond. I value the university environment as a collaborative and creative learning community, the experience of building and being part of such a community, and helping students learn and apply what they learn in my classes in their lifelong experiences and careers.
Teaching Interests and Experience
My teaching interests dovetail with my research interests and my skills and abilities as an information professional, and include information behavior, social informatics, information technology, digital libraries, research methods, and social media. My research on the sociotechnical contexts of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and the information behavior of users of ICTs in a variety of contexts, can be applied in courses in information behavior, information technology, and social informatics, areas where I am motivated to educate future information professionals. My use of multiple and mixed research methods also provides an excellent basis for educating students about how to conduct research in academic and professional environments. My particular skills in and knowledge of digital libraries, social media, online communities, usability, and information technology (IT) provide solid grounding for educating students about digital libraries, IT and ICTs, the Web, and social media.
My experiences as an assistant professor, adjunct professor, lead instructor, and teaching assistant have included undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in Library and Information Studies; IT; and Information, Communication, and Technology. This includes working in face-to-face and online courses, and use of instructional technology including Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas, WordPress, and Blackboard Collaborate. In all cases, my teaching has received high ratings and praise from students and professors, and I was one of two awardees of the School’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for 2012–2013. Following my teaching philosophy, all courses I have taught use a variety of assessments where students can learn and apply their skills creatively, sharing their knowledge within and beyond the classroom learning community.
At the University of Alberta School of Library and Information Studies I teach “Foundations of Library and Information Studies” online, a required course for MLIS students in their first term. The course provides these new students with an introduction to the historical, current, and potential roles of libraries and of library and information professionals in western society. I have also developed and teach “Technology, Information, and Society,” a special topics elective course for face-to-face MLIS students that engages in a critical and interdisciplinary examination, from the human and social perspectives, of technology in the context of libraries and information organizations and of the complex relationships between technology, information, and society. The course also serves as one of about six options for students to earn one of their two required IT course credits. In Winter 2017 I will be teaching face-to-face the “Human Information Interaction” course, an elective for MLIS students on information behaviour, seeking, and needs.
My past experience at the Florida State University School of Information included serving as lead instructor for “Technologies for Information Professionals,” which provided future IT and ICT professionals with practical experience and theoretical knowledge of foundational concepts and technologies, including information and technology literacy, operating systems, Web design, computer hardware and software, social media, computer networking and security, digital media, and information visualization. I also served as lead instructor for “Information Science,” a course providing these same professionals with an overview of the history, philosophical bases, concepts, theories, and methodologies of the field of information science, including content on the topics of information behavior, representing and organizing information, information systems (including evaluation and human-computer interaction), information management, and information policy. I was also a teaching assistant for required undergraduate courses in information visualization and technical communication, and for online graduate courses in information behavior and information seeking (a required core course); digital libraries (recommended for multiple specialization tracks); information security; and information, technology, and older adults. I also engaged in syllabus development for the latter (in conjunction with the lead instructor) and for a doctoral-level qualitative research methods seminar (as part of a directed independent study with two faculty members; this latter syllabus is now in active use at the FSU School of Information.
Kazmer, M. M. (2005). Community-embedded learning. Library Quarterly, 75, 190–212.
Smith, M. K. (2008). Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences, and education. In infed: The informal education homepage and encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm