About Me

img_2797-copy

I am the Instructional Media Designer and co-coordinator for the Digital Liberal Arts Program at Whittier College.  My focus is to build programs and projects that blend pedagogy with digital technologies.  I teach digital storytelling as a pedagogical tool to engage students in higher order thinking, deep learning, and to build digital literacy skills. My teaching and learning interests are also mapping, blogging as scholarship, wearable technologies, and augmented reality tools.  I’m also interested in learning more about how technology can enhance study abroad opportunities for students.  In May 2016 I helped lead a series of digital storytelling workshops at Metro University College in Copenhagen. Collectively, our group of international students spoke over 13 different languages! You can read about our study abroad experience and watch student digital stories here: denmarkds.soniachaidez.com.

For the 2016-2017 academic year I want to keep exploring how we use mobile technologies creatively–from consumers to creators with technology. From pocket documentaries to iPhone photography and augmented reality techniques; how does this shape what we see and how we share our experiences?
Last fall I worked on a series of community workshops at the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier on mobile phone photography.  From snapshots to photo editing to photo archiving and sharing.  What do the pictures we capture; the filters we use and the subjects we choose say about us? How do we see our community through photos?  Our workshops turned into an awesome community photography exhibit hosted by Whittier Public Library.  Read more about this project here.
The photographs will be on display in Wardman Library at Whittier College in Spring 2017.

Now, a little #TBT : It all started when…

I was 10 years old, my dad let me borrow his JVC video camera to create a “Goonies” style movie starring my friends, the neighborhood kids in search of buried treasure.  I was instantly hooked to the storytelling power this mid 1980s technology gave me! In high school I enrolled in a newly offered broadcast journalism course that allowed me to write, direct and edit a news program that covered local activities, sports and events. It was my entry point into video editing -analog- which was frustrating!  If you got an edit wrong you had to start all over!  A year later our student-produced ‘news’ show got picked up by the local access cable channel and then it got serious- our audience wasn’t just our classroom but the larger community.  Our scripts got tighter and our stories became more critical.  It was our early 1990s version of open scholarship.

In college I enrolled as a Communications major envisioning myself as a news reporter or a film editor. My first internship gave me access to an AVID editing suite and my first taste of digital video editing. I just about lived in the lab exploring new ways to cut video clips instantly. It was awesome!

After graduating I joined my college’s instructional technology and academic computing department.  I worked with a creative and technical team to launch academic programming that focused on science and technology.  In grad school I partnered with a documentary filmmaker and soon I was traveling to places like Mexico, Cuba, Syria and Iraq to create films about women, cultures, space and place.

I am fascinated with how technology can create authentic learning experiences and I’m always game to experiment with a new project!

FemTechNet Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook

I’m just back from the annual Cultural Studies Association conference in Riverside, CA, and I’m excited to share the announcement I made at the panel, “FemTechNet: Transforming what and who counts in digital education”, where I spoke alongside Alexandra Juhasz (Pitzer College), Elizabeth Losh (UCSD), and Ivette Bayo Urban (U Washington). My presentation (for the most part) was about the current project that the FTN Ethnic Studies Committee is currently undertaking to create a pedagogy workbook. The entire presentation/announcement is below the image. To navigate directly to the digital book, click on the cover image below.

Screenshot of splash page for FTN Pedagogy workbook,


Building a Collaborative FemTechNet Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook

I am one of the new co-chairs of The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Committee of FemTechNet, which is composed of a handful of graduate students, post-docs, librarians, and alt-ac professionals. As a committee of primarily junior women of color scholars we keenly feel the pressures of women of color in academia. We understand that for junior scholars the labor of developing one’s pedagogy is extensive. And for these teacher-scholars, experimentation in the classroom can be a risk, even though our institutions encourage and exhort us to practice digital pedagogy, to teach online, to be innovative teachers. The experience of participating in FemTechNet is incredibly valuable and something we believe in deeply, but we know from experience that participating in FemTechNet can be rather time consuming. To make it worse, our home institutions often don’t understand what FemTechNet is or what it requires of us, while offering little support to develop pedagogical skills (especially at small resource poor colleges and state schools). These skills are important as we need to prove that we are exemplary when applying for jobs, or when being evaluated for tenure and promotion. To help scholar-teachers develop these valuable abilities we are leveraging the collective intelligence and experience of the FemTechNet network to produce a practical resource for those who endeavor to share and support others, and those who seek to learn and improve their own skills.

Acknowledging the challenges of teaching these sensitive and contentious topics of race and gender in a time of political contention, economic retrenchment, and increasing institutional precarity for departments of ethnic, gender, and humanisitic studies, this workbook is an ongoing project to build resources for faculty members who are often overburdened at their home institutions, but are willing to take on the difficult task of teaching about gender and racial inequity in our information culture. The book is live, but it is also very much a work in progress.

We would like to highlight (and continue to build) the diversity of FemTechNet through curating and highlighting the existing transnational and multi-ethnic projects already on the site and point towards gaps and possibilities. Considering technology through a race-based and ethnic studies lens highlights the importance of community-based learning and service in feminist digital pedagogies. This is a collaborative, living document that is curated by the Ethnic Studies Committee. It will grow as more instructors teach at the intersections of gender, race, and technology and share their materials.

Submissions are ongoing and we encourage you to share your own Femtechnet content, syllabi, videos, references, and pedagogical resources. Of course, submissions need not be limited to DOCC courses, and we welcome all contributions. Please submit materials to: femtechnetcres@gmail.com. We’re asking that submissions include contact information, biographies, term taught, and institution or context, as everything will link back to the original author to promote responsible citational practices. All submissions will be cited with links back to the original author.

Helpful Links:

Digital Pedagogy and Transformative Digital Humanities

The following are notes from a brief talk I was invited to give recently at UCSB for their annual Research Slam, #SyncDH.

Some context:

Coming back to my grad school institution, I reflected on my own experience as a student there, and I planned this talk to help those grad students with little to no pedagogical training. For example, in my time at UCSB, I had two days of TA training, and then anything I learned by osmosis from observing faculty or TAing for them. I was very fortunate to have worked some amazing teachers, but teaching, as I have learned the hard way, is not something I was born doing well. I takes a lot of work, a lot of risk, and occasional failures.

For this talk, I reflected on some experience I’ve gained over the past year as the Digital Scholar for the Digital Liberal Arts Program at Whittier College, where I hold an alt-ac position supporting digital pedagogy and research at a small liberal arts college and Title V minority serving institution in South Los Angeles. I should say that I’ve worked with faculty in a range of different departments across our liberal arts curriculum on designing large semester-long projects and small one-off digital activities, so these are some observations gained from that experience thus far.

The presentation itself was about 10 minutes long, so I simply prepared some bullet points for the talk which are shared below along with the slides.

What is digital pedagogy?

Brian Croxall and Adeline Koh, organizers of the #MLA13 Digital Pedagogy Unconference, explain it broadly as “the use of electronic elements to enhance or to change to experience of education.” (citation)

The most important aspect is “pedagogy”. Jesse Stommel of Hybrid Pedagogy states: “Pedagogy is not synonymous with teaching or talking about teaching, nor is it entirely abstracted from the acts of teaching and learning. Pedagogy is praxis, the place where philosophy and practice meet.” (citation)

It’s not just about using technology or digital tools. We’re not looking for new tools to do the same old job. Instead, it’s important to reflect on those tools, why we bring them into our classes, and what they add to the process of learning. Likewise, I would suggest we consider what it is about the digital that we want to infuse in our classes: networked connectivity, modularity, collaboration, etc.

Ideally, there are a few ways that digital pedagogy can improve our teaching:

  • Interactivity – social and active learning
  • Brings together theory and practice (Freire and bell hooks)
  • Reflexive and critical
  • Encourages experimentation, creativity, play, problem solving
  • Helps students develop information literacy

Why might you want to take up digital pedagogy in your own classes? 

  • Improve student participation, interest, and ownership of work
    • Give them choices and make them responsible to one another
    • Encourage undergraduate research and student/faculty collaborations
  • Students are given the opportunity for/to:
    • Collaboration – collective intelligence
    • Communication – learn effective skills to produce content, revise, and share
    • Problem solving
    • Project management skills
      • Delegating duties
      • Problem solving
    • Learning Information literacy
      • Work with your librarians! They know stuff and are so helpful!
        • Copyright
        • Creative commons
        • Open access
        • Fair use
        • Public Domain
    • Community engagement (but discuss with offices of service learning on your campus so you design classes that are beneficial to students and the communities or community orgs)
    • Gain awareness of contemporary issues, work toward social justice

When we get to the end there, and examine the potential for digital pedagogy, it starts to look an awful lot like critical or radical feminist pedagogy. This is education that is democratic and non-hierarchical, in classroom that are perforated, bringing contemporary issues, non-students and instructors, etc. into the classroom.

How do you do it?

  1. You can start small. You don’t have to design fully online classes or convert entire courses into flipped ones! Toe-in-the water assignments or in-class activities. If you’re used to using Moodle of Gauchospace, here, try adding a discussion board, or a gallery, or a small wiki assignment.
    • Live-tweet a film screening
    • Create a timelineCollectively map historical locations
    • Make a video essay
    • Design an infographic
    • Build a blog or website
    • Edit Wikipedia
    • Produce a digital book in Scalar
  2. Learn the tools and skills you ask your students to learn. Create your own example (video, digital book, etc.), and then you can teach and troubleshoot with your students.
  3. Scaffold Everything: break up assignments and build your way up to a larger projects. Guide students to be critical readers of media and help them to gain skills needed for their assignments and for the future: writing, editing, citation, hyperlinking, annotating
  4. Evaluation – Assessment should be secondary to learning. Design rubrics to fit your class and its learning goals! Tweak existing rubrics, or design them collaboratively with students to meet the specific goals of the course. Have students assess their peers and each other.
  5. Take risks and allow for failure – Know that there is always a learning curve and that as a class you are experimenting and learning together. Learn from those mistakes and issues and revise the activity for next time.
  6. Share your successes and failures, and ask for advice and assistance – there’s a large community of people working and developing their own teaching who share and build together. Add your voice to the conversation, and learn from the work of others! Use twitter, search blogs, scour GradHacker and ProfHacker on the Chronicle.

I always come back to my own institutional context, a teaching college where 60% of the student body is students of color, many first-generation, working-class students. Always keep your students in mind. How can we best prepare them for the future? What skills do they already bring to your class? They’re not just media consumers. They’re already using social media, producing content, circulating and sharing media – but we can help steer them to do this same activity critically, responsibly, and with purpose.

**For a more extensive discussion of digital pedagogy I’d recommend checking out the work ofLisa Spiro, whose blog posts and presentations have been infinitely useful. Her presentation “Digital Pedagogy in Practice” is especially helpful.

VozMob, Digital Humanities, and Community-Based Public Scholarship

This post is so, so late in coming, and I’ve had it in draft form for way too long, so I’m finally just publishing it.

Back in January, I was invited to give a talk for the Night School LA, a series of free public lectures held at a cool art/performance space at Paper & Plastik Cafe in Los Angeles. Initially, the organizers were interested in my personal research in digital humanities and around migrant workers. Between conferences, talks, etc. I get plenty of opportunities to talk about my own work, and it since I’m in LA so near the populations I write about, I thought it a great opportunity to open up these talks a bit. I’ve even given a few talks in the past about the VozMob project that has been ongoing at IDEPSCA, which runs day laborer centers and programming for precarious workers in Los Angeles, so, given the opportunity, I really wanted to let the jornaleros and bloggers of VozMob have a chance to speak to the crowds that I have the privilege of speaking to because of my position as an academic.

As a researcher in literary and media studies, I’ve admired and examined VozMob for a while, but it had taken me some time to connect with them in person after moving to LA for a postdoc. They’ve lost funding in recent years, and have occasionally gone without staff members to organize/run the program, and yet the project remains because it lives in the community, and the hardworking volunteers who produce content for the site have continued to post and share moments of there lives to populate the website, keeping the project afloat with their unpaid labor. There is, of course, tension between community organizers and academics when projects like this one are initially funded and supported by academic resource-rich institutions like USC, which originally started VozMob, work with resource-poor non-profit community organizations. And in a case like this one, where so many participants are precariously employed or documented, the added labor of coming to meetings, training sessions, and producing content can be a great burden.

It was such a privilege then, to be allowed into a meeting with the Popular Communications Team of IDEPSA and to pitch this speaking event to them. Those present were generous enough to share their stories about working with the VozMob project, and I’m infinitely grateful that these badass men and women took the time to share this space and their time with me. (I’m hoping to make it back to more meetings soon!)

Photo of meeting at IDEPSCA

The meeting I attended looked a lot like this (though this one for Health Promoters at IDEPSCA)

The first meeting was eye-opening, as we went around the room and Juan Carlos, Francisco, Leonso, Raul, Madelou and Luis shared their varied experiences of working with the project and with different programs in IDEPSCA. Madelou, who has been with VozMob the longest, since its inception in 2008, was just as brilliant and formidable in person as she comes across in her blog or their early promotional videos.

They brought this fire, as well as their trepidation, humor, and dedication to the Night School. I was a complete mess, but the VozMob members were absolute stars.

Me speaking at NightSchoolLA Group photo of speakers Audience Francisco speaks Luis speaking Leonso speaks Madelou discusses workers rights, social justice, Maegan Ortiz, coordinator of VozMob speaks

I’m working to find more ways for Whittier College, my institution to contribute to this project, and am hoping once the semester ends I’ll have a chance to attend more meetings, but in the meantime, I at least wanted to share news about the talk, even though I don’t have the time to reflect on it more thoroughly. More soon!

#MLA2015: Generic Interventions: Print and Media Narratives of Global South Cities

Session 19

I just made it to Vancouver, BC for the Modern Language Association, and for those of you who will be there on Thursday, I’ll be presenting on the media of Phú Mỹ Hưng, a.k.a. Saigon South (an edge city of Ho Chi Minh City) on a fabulous panel about Global South cities. This panel is a precursor to an upcoming special issue of The Global South that will be co-edited by Leigh Ann Duck (U Mississippi) and Sabine Haenni (Cornell).*

Here’s the narrative description of the panel:

In focusing on urban sites of the Global South that have been and remain the location of rapid industrialization, technological development and concomitant social (often transnational) fractures, this panel asks how generic narrative structures both portray and intervene in dominant ideas of development. Comparative and collaborative analysis across spaces that have experienced colonization and acute economic exploitation has been a priority for postcolonial discourse since before the Bandung Conference, and Global South studies offers the additional opportunity to examine contemporary forms of deterritorialized capital, which is particularly visible in urban areas. Because such scholarship requires engaging realms of knowledge that extend beyond not only research conducted in a particular language but also interdisciplinary area studies (such as African, Latin American, or Southeast Asian), our goal is, in part, to expand dialogue on the Global South at MLA. Momentum for this shift increased at the 2014 convention, as panels explored the methodologies associated with specific global regions (“Futures of South-South Comparison”), questioned the term “Global South” from the perspective of diverse nations and global regions (“What Is the Global South?”), and considered the institutional contexts and material media through which such conversations have occurred in the past (“World Literature and the Global South”). We pursue this goal through addressing spatial and formal concerns shared across geographies: the genres used to interrogate urban experience.

Ten years after a special issue of Social Text on “Global Cities of the South”—a decade that has been shaped, in narrative studies, by the emergence of world literature as a powerful paradigm in dialogue with comparative and postcolonial literatures—our study of urban genres in the Global South combines close and distant reading practices to consider how local circumstances and broad narrative patterns mutually intervene. Without presuming that genre works in a singular way, and without presuming that genres work in the Global South in the same way they do in the Global North, it examines the multiple ways in which generic structures are appropriated and mobilized for a critique of often ruthless urban development. To that purpose, we explore genres across print and film media. Papers will be held to 16 minutes in order to allow time for a brief (5-minute) response, which will emphasize how these analyses of distinct narrative forms and spaces contribute to scholarship concerning narratives of the Global South.

It’s a bit of a shift from my recent DH-oriented work, but I’m excited to present some my newer media/urban studies work on Vietnam. For full paper descriptions, refer to my earlier panel proposal post. I’ll post the paper following the panel.

Spoiler alert: I was way too ambitious in the abstract so hopefully it all makes sense in the end! At the very least, I’ll get some much-needed feedback and have a chance to share some cool images and information of a place I can hardly comprehend myself.

drhorrible-fingerscrossed

*If you’re interested it submitting an article to the special issue of The Global South on this topic, the deadline for initial proposals has passed but you can send inquiries to Sabine Haenni (sh322@cornell.edu) and/or Leigh Anne Duck (lduck@olemiss.edu). Essays of 6,000-8,000 words will be due by March 2015.


Image credits:

View from Canh Vien – Phu My Hung” by Thomas Wanhoff is licensed CC by SA
طنچة/Tangier” by José Sáez is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.
Street in Lagos” by Zouzou Wizman is licensed CC BY 2.0
Dr. Horrible gif from giphy.com