Instructional Development Award Recipients
Several undergraduate instructors who attended the 2004 SPACE workshops were awarded funds to continue their efforts in integrating spatial analysis into their course curriculums. These pages showcase their achievements. See the full recipient list.
Affiliation: Rutgers University Department of Communication
Notable Achievements in Her Own Words
There is no doubt in my
mind that without the SPACE workshop, I would have had neither the inspiration nor the pedagogical resources to expose
my students to spatial thinking successfully.
Attending the 2004 SPACE workshop at Ohio State University enabled me to integrate spatial thinking and exercises into my teaching. I teach Communication courses from a social science perspective. Most of my courses focus on technology - specifically Internet technology - and its effects on contemporary society. The implementation, adoption, and spread of various technologies throughout society, as well as the cognitive mapping of cyberspace are prime topics of interest, and lend themselves easily to spatial approaches.
Inspired by the workshop presentations and materials provided, I re-designed one of my courses, called "Communication and Social Change," to include spatial approaches. The course is a senior-level undergraduate elective which accommodates approximately 45 students per semester. In the new course design the semester was divided into three topical sections. The beginning of the semester focused on "Diffusion as Change," acquainting students with diffusion theory. The second main topical section was "Social and Political Activism." Finally, the third section was focused exclusively on "Spatial Perspectives on Social Change" and was newly developed based on the SPACE workshop.
My goal for the spatial course section was to open students' minds to a new way of thinking about communication processes. Maps are essentially communication tools, and yet, they are never discussed in any Communication class I've ever heard of. The only visual approaches we teach concern images and colors that are used for marketing, public relations, and advertising; or in multi-media/film productions. Thus, I exposed students to basic cartographic, geographic, and spatial concepts such as space vs. place, the use of visual symbols, and how the changes in cartographic methods reflected and influenced people's view of the world. We also discussed these concepts in relation to cyberspace. In order to encourage hands-on experience, I worked with the students towards their final projects. It was in connection to this project that my experiences from the SPACE workshop were especially useful.
The university was in an evaluation and decision process about which parts of Campus should become wireless. Students could immediately grasp the consequences of this real-life situation. Using a simplified approach, students created time-space logs to record their various activities around Campus. I then provided students with an electronic map of Campus and students classified their data and "installed" their wireless hotspots around Campus. During the decision process we also discussed clustering patterns and human flow within restricted spaces. To create this project and guide students through the various steps, I drew mostly on the workshop presentations of Mei-Po Kwan, Alan Murray, Morton O'Kelly, and Michael Tiefelsdorf. The bibliography provided during the workshop helped identify several readings for the students.
Overall, I consider both the project and teaching a semester section on spatial approaches a success and am planning on repeating the experience next time I teach the class in question. There is no doubt in my mind that without the SPACE workshop, I would have had neither the inspiration nor the pedagogical resources to expose my students to spatial thinking successfully.
I will organize and conduct a "short course" at the annual convention of the International Communication Association (ICA). A "short course" is a 3-hour session for which participants enroll and pay a small fee. The fee is paid to the association and used solely to pay for the session room. The ICA has a division called, "Communication Technology," which is oriented toward social science methods and generally quite receptive to new and innovative uses of all kinds of. ICA also has an "Instructional Communication" division that specifically focuses on pedagogical processes.
Short courses at Communication conferences usually accommodate 10-20 people. Though this is a small group, the close interaction between administrators and participants tends to have much richer outcomes than traditional presentations before slightly larger groups. The administrators of the "short course" give in-depth presentations on their chosen topic and interact closely with participants. Often, supportive material is provided to help participants apply what they have learned to their own research or teaching. I firmly believe that a conference short course would be an effective step towards increasing the use of spatial methods in Communication teaching and research.