© 2019 by Paige Normand

As an instructor, my top priority is empowering learners to create ethical, meaningful, and innovative digital composition.  I do this by structuring my courses to include many stages of drafting and revision, offering extensive, formative feedback, focusing on hands-on creation and problem solving, and setting high standards and the means and resources to achieve success.

Agile in the Classroom

 
Purpose

After teaching students in the School of Media Arts and Design for a decade, I realized to truly prepare students for an evolving workforce that demands creative problem-solving and adaptability, I needed to integrate Agile Methodology into my course.

 

In preparation for the course, I became a Certified ScrumMaster then partnered with an Agile Facilitator from an educational tech company to develop a course that used the Agile framework to create a class-wide WordPress site. I wove Agile principles and exercises throughout the curriculum and gave the students experiential learning implementing Scrum. My priority as an educator and a leader has always been to foster self-organization and creative problem solving, and no previous course had demonstrated such student engagement and growth.

The Vision

An interdisciplinary course built on Agile Methodology so students can gain hands-on experience with Scrum while creating a professional website that will serve the university.

The Impact

The course was truly transformational. Students grew into their roles through mentorship, retrospectives, and understanding that the problems they encountered were theirs to solve as they saw fit. While students had significantly varied learning experiences depending on the roles they took on, all students became skilled implementing quick feedback loops, writing user stories, and collaborating with an empowered team. 

AGILE IMPACT

It allows students the ability to really work in self-organizing teams to help reach maximum efficiency that we can’t do in other classes. Agile increases trust between team members and helps create meaningful products quickly instead of wasting time.

 

I think introducing the Agile method in more classes would allow for increased productivity and foster student’s leadership skills. The Agile method is being utilized by many organizations, and exposing students to it early in their career could set them ahead.

—  Communication Studies Major

 

Consultant Training

Purpose

In this course, I trained students to become effective tutors of digital communication.  I recruited and vetted students from Communication Studies (SCOM), Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC), and The School of Media Arts & Design (SMAD), because each of their disciplinary perspectives contribute to successful and compelling digital communication.  This class is a locus for these majors to share and cultivate that expertise in order to better serve the university.  

 

The class frames that expertise with the training of the best strategies for college tutors, via theory, research, and practice.  Tutors for the Learning Centers develop vital professional skills: pedagogical aptitude, professional interpersonal communication, and experience with cross-disciplinary perspective on digital texts.  Students who complete the class are eligible for, but not guaranteed, employment as tutor for Digital Communication Consulting.  Students interview at the end of the semester to become part of the DigiComm team. 

Training Pedagogy 

The tutor training course blazed new ground within Peer Instruction, so I pulled from many different sources to develop the curriculum: I incorporated Peer Tutoring pedagogy, Writing Center practice, and texts on designing effective digital portfolios in addition to extensive hands on production with a range of web builders, writing documentation and resources, and a series of Apprenticeship exercises and reflection essays as the students develop both their digital creation and tutoring skills.  

I focused on training the students for two very different roles: 

  • As peer tutors for one-on-one consultations for students working on digital assignments

  • As course-embedded tutors who would partner with faculty and give presentations and workshops on the course's digital assignment

The first course culminated with a presentation to stakeholders for the program, which gave the students the opportunity to craft the final version of the program we wanted to launch.  Their voice in shaping the parameters of the program were invaluable through our pilot year; I saw time and time again the tutors’ investment and commitment to a program they understood to be their creation.

 

One-on-One Informed Pedagogy

Behind the Scenes of a Digital Assignment

Running DigiComm, I saw the "behinds the scenes" issues students face with digital composition.  This informs my instruction and shapes the ways I approach assignments, so I can inform my learners' process as much as their end product.  When I collaborate with faculty across disciplines, I can inform their curriculum, pacing, and resources to best serve their students to create effective digital content.

Process-focused Pedagogy

Digital assignments demands many stages: drafting, trouble shooting, collecting data and content, building layouts, crafting narrative flow and purpose, revising, and usability testing. Since faculty are most often in the role of evaluating the end-product, they tend to write assignment prompts and discuss students’ work with a final product in mind.  From my vantage point in DigiComm, I have a unique opportunity to observe students as they work through the complex and often circular process of digital composition. I've helped both faculty and students to have more honest conversations about the importance of mistakes and iteration, and ultimately how that informs our expectations of the composition process and the creation of more sophisticated projects. 
 

As a content creator and learner, I am attuned to tutors' and students’ perspective and knowledge of digital media and can capitalize on those insights, as well as redirect students to intrinsic learning objectives and the value of digital communication outside of the classroom dynamic.

 

This also informs my own production and my cyclical understanding of hands-on experience, metacognition of process, and teaching.  See my own work: