I am concerned with the importance of preparing students to engage in the challenges of the 21st century, particularly environmental, social justice, and technological challenges. New technologies enabled by mobile media in conjunction with global positioning systems (GPS) and the open platforms of web 2.0 provide new means of bringing together concerns with lived space, shrinking distances, transnational alliances, and growing inequalities.
As a digital media artist with a conceptual grounding in photography, and current practices with portable/wearable media, I have been engaged in defining a new form of interdisciplinary New Media education within the University, integrating innovative practices into the traditional educational structure. I envision a model of teaching that approaches the educational environment as a communications network, situating conventional disciplines of media and art production within structures of social exchange. An important aspect of this model is its situation both inside and outside of the academy and the extension of the classroom to the city, locally and internationally, via social computing and physical interfaces.
Over the past few years I have been developing innovative courses at Temple University, New York University, and at Rutgers that invite students to examine the city as a virtual and mixed reality space and the complex means by which cell phones, GPS, mobile recording devices, social network games, and blogging effect their knowledge of and relation to lived space. Using mobile web 2.0 applications, I teach students how to construct parallel realities, mediated representations, sound maps, installations that integrate radio and other communications technology, and visual tags to create new community histories that capture life in their neighborhoods. By creating an internationally networked learning environment linking students in the United States with students in Rome, London and Tokyo, I have also created a mechanism though which students can explore neighborhoods across the globe while developing transnational connections. By examining the similarities and the differences of their neighborhood narratives, students begin to develop heightened understandings of the effects of globalization both at home and in other nations.
Collaboration has become a key element in broadening my teaching arena. Team-taught classes and cross-university engagement have been central to the experimentation of the teaching environment. In the past I have collaborated and co-taught with professors and artists from computer science, interactive technology, film, photography, geography, political science and philosophy. Now in a more formal, long-term capacity, I am collaborating with choreographers, drawing on the rich investigation of movement artists to expand and inform location-based media design.
The goal of my educational initiatives is to create opportunities to consider the effects of virtual collaboration in fostering transnational comparisons, cultural production, global awareness, and friendships across borders. By providing students with new knowledge, skills and a strengthened sense of local engagement, one of the goals I have as an educator is to catalyze long-term social networks and foster a deep sense of empowerment for creating social change.