Areas of Teaching
My teaching expertise is in the following areas:
- Internet and Society
- Social Networking Tools
- Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
- Computer-Mediated Communication
- Technology and Society
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
In my teaching, I embrace the philosophy of constructivism and I apply this philosophy to both classroom teaching and out-of-classroom interaction. According to constructivism, knowledge does not exist a priori, but develops in the context of social interaction. The implication in educational settings is that: (1) learners actively construct rather than passively absorb knowledge; (2) knowledge is not static but is constantly updated with experience; and (3) communication plays an important role in learning. Thus, for me social interaction is a pivotal part of the learning process, be it teacher-student or student-student interaction.
To promote social interaction, I try to foster an atmosphere of openness, exchange, and critical evaluation. For example, in the classroom setting, I encourage students to think critically about classroom material, ask questions, and express their views to each other. During discussions of theories and concepts, I try to convey to students that knowledge is gained through scientific inquiry and a willingness to ask and engage with questions. Theories and concepts are presented as tools that help structure knowledge, and that need to be studied, examined, and critically discussed. In my upper-year undergraduate seminars and graduate teachings, I encourage critical reflection of theory and research through such exercises as critical reviews and focused discussions of methods and findings. It is through these reflections that students learn to think independently, look at research questions from many perspectives, and broaden their understanding. Through critical reviews, essays, debates, class discussions, and one-on-one chats, I help students develop their own thinking on issues and to articulate and justify their opinions with fairness and concision. This kind of social engagement I believe elicits curiosity and a passion for research and life-long learning. I particularly encourage students to draw evidence from multiple disciplines, strategies of inquiry, and sources through the use of multidisciplinary approaches and methods.
Outside of the classroom setting, I began offering virtual office hours via an instant messaging application in the winter term of 2006 in an attempt to reach out to students and continue discussions. Students found it useful to be able to ask questions or write comments via instant messaging. This provided them with an alternative mode of interaction when they did not have time to come in-person to obtain information about the course. Moreover, I have written up the results from my own teaching experiences for sharing with the larger academic community. In conclusion, I believe that my enthusiasm for teaching and for actively engaging students in the learning process, combined with my interest in new teaching methods, facilitate the learning experience and encourage students to share their diverse opinions and learn from each other.
February 23, 2016: Technology in our Digital Society, SYDE 261 Design, Systems, and Society, University of Waterloo, Department of Systems Design Engineering (organized by Dr. Michele Bristow)