Joining the iSchool at the University of Maryland

I am excited to be embarking on my next adventure in LIS education – this fall I will be joining the iSchool at the University of Maryland, College Park!

At the iSchool, I will be taking action to advance my values through my teaching and scholarship – to support diversity, inclusion and equity and to fight racism and oppression within the information professions and our educational system. I will continue learning about and addressing these issues in my own teaching, to help all of us – teachers and learners – develop the knowledge and skills needed to navigate, resist and dismantle systems of racism, sexism and other forms of oppression as they manifest in the information fields. I’m particularly excited to start applying what I learned this summer at the National SEED Project’s educational equity and diversity seminar.

I am also helping to launch the iSchool’s undergraduate major in information science by teaching our inaugural course in object oriented programming, and supervising the year-long capstone project for students completing the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Masters program. And I’ll be continuing my work with UMD’s Teaching and Learning Transformation Center on a multi-disciplinary project with colleagues from across the university to help students develop critical thinking skills. We are exploring how critical thinking intersects with with our own disciplinary-specific modes of thinking, (like computational thinking in computer and information science or information literacy in LIS) and how this can improve our own teaching.

As I move forward, two questions continue to guide my work:

  • How does my teaching and scholarship advance individuals and society?
  • How can I most effectively help students learn and grow?

These questions help me stay focused on the things that really matter to me: making a difference for my students and my colleagues, and contributing to a more equitable and – dare I say it? – joyful world. I know that I cannot do this work alone, and that I am in good company. Wish me luck!


Teaching JavaScript for Social Justice

Can teaching JavaScript advance social justice? This spring I took an initial step to incorporate issues of culture, bias and equity into my JavaScript programming course. It’s a small step, and reflects my own growing understanding of these issues. Here I’ll describe why and what I did, and some of my initial experiences. I hope that you will share your thoughts, suggestions and resources.

Why did I do this?

Our students need to gain an understanding of  issues of culture, bias and equity at the same time that they learn technical skills. There are compelling ethical reasons, but even from a purely pragmatic perspective, information professionals need to understand the context in which we use programming skills. We don’t teach reference services, project management or cataloging isolated from their organizational and culture contexts, and we should similarly be teaching programming in its cultural context. Continue reading “Teaching JavaScript for Social Justice”

New course – Studio in Human-Centered Systems Design

I am excited to be designing an undergraduate course that combines several of my passions – systems analysis, design methods, project-based learning and a critical, reflective pedagogy. I have been doing the first two for most of my career, first in the software industry and then in my academic teaching. I’ve been using project-based learning since I started teaching. The critical pedagogy aspect is more recent, and reflects my developing consciousness of how privilege and inequity are systematized in subtle and insidious ways – in both the socio-technical systems that we design as well as the way we teach in higher education.

Continue reading “New course – Studio in Human-Centered Systems Design”

Ready, set, reflect!

One of academia’s great traditions is the sabbatical, which provides an opportunity to reflect deeply on one’s work, question fundamental assumptions, change directions and even reinvent oneself. I have spent much of my life thinking of the U.S. education system as a meritocracy that, for all its flaws, is fundamentally a force for good, for educating the diverse population of our country. I have come to question that over the past several years as I have learned how our educational system also reinforces social and economic privilege instead of breaking them down. Over the next year I will engage with these questions to discern how I can make meaningful contributions to advance social justice through education and technology.

In what ways do higher education and technology act to advance social justice? In what ways do they reinforce injustice, inequity and unearned privilege?

Continue reading “Ready, set, reflect!”