Teachers and Professors, together with parents, are perhaps the most influential persons on young people’s future. Who has never heard the story about somebody changing a career plan just because he or she ‘did not like’ a specific knowledge area at school? And how much this aversion is really a lack of vocation or the consequence of the poor interaction between teacher and student?
I believe that one of the qualities of a professor is to know how to establish a close relationship to students, identifying the strongest points in each individual, and to know how to guide them according to their personal vocation, instead of imposing pre-established formats. This attitude contributes to promote a relationship of mutual trust between teacher and students, which is so important to the learning process and to the development of communicational, and creative ideas, as well as inquiry-based learning.
When structuring an undergraduate course, as much as possible I plan to alternate lecture and discussion classes, reserving some time for student presentations. I also believe it is important to foster students’ self expression and participation in class, in order to create a unite group. I believe group work, in the form of supervised class discussions and class presentations are powerful ways of fostering collaboration and critical thinking skills. Another critical step in a course structure is the implementation of a website that works as a central reference guide, where students can look at the course description, structure, calendar, readings, and assignments. Another teaching project that has proven to be very successful is the class weblog, written before each class by the students with their summary of readings and personal commentaries. It is a very effective feedback on students understanding of the course readings and a way for each student to become aware of their peers ideas. With the opportunity to show and share their ideas publicly, students feel more closely related to the course, shifting from a passive audience to active participants in the class. In addition to the weblog, and the website, I frequently use audio-visual materials (e.g. videos) and Internet, as ways of exemplifying class topics.
When structuring a graduate course, I consider it is essential to expose students to a variety of themes, as well as to different points of view of the same topic, promoting class discussion, in order to form critical professional and researchers, who are able to search for information and to develop new theories, instead of only waiting for already “processed” knowledge. To accomplish this goal, classes are generally structured as seminars, in which all students have responsibility to produce text critiques and engage in discussion in class. Besides the blog, the website and videos, I also use a wiki as a collective sources database, and a way of gathering research sources for future paper and research projects.
Because my current research deals with social consequences of mobile technologies, I am especially interested in developing courses that analyze how communication interactions in urban spaces are transformed by the use of mobile interfaces and the mobile Internet. Another topic of interest is the inter-relation between communication interfaces and modes of human communication.