Teachers and professors, along with parents, are often the most influential individuals on young people’s future. Who has never heard the story about somebody changing a career plan just because they “did not like” a specific knowledge area at school? And how much is this aversion really a lack of vocation or the consequence of poor interaction between teacher and student?
One of the main goals of a professor should be to establish a close relationship to students, identifying the strongest points in each individual, and learning how to guide them according to their personal vocation, instead of imposing pre-established teaching formats. As educators, we must acknowledge that our student-body is diverse, come from different backgrounds and learn in different ways. This perspective contributes to promoting a relationship of mutual trust between professor and students, which is so important to each individual’s learning process and to the development of their creative ideas, as well as their critical-thinking skills. It is nothing new to acknowledge that successful teaching means constant learning. I have been teaching for over 20 years, and in every single semester I learn, not only from other scholars, but also from my students, both graduates and undergraduates. Teaching, for me, is also more than reciting facts and knowledge; it is about asking complex questions. I always tell my students that crafting good questions is much harder than giving “proper” answers, because asking questions is the basis for critical thinking.
When structuring an undergraduate course, as much as possible I alternate lecture and discussion classes, allocating time for student presentations and contributions. I also believe it is important to foster students’ self-expression and participation in class, in order to create a dynamic and inclusive group. Group work, in the form of supervised class discussions and class presentations are powerful ways of fostering collaboration and social-based learning. My undergraduate courses are successful in keeping this open structure because their format is highly structured. I have often been praised by students for my course organization, which includes, among other things, a class schedule with all readings, activities, and deadlines they will encounter throughout the semester. I always make sure students read the syllabus and understand all the assignments at the very start of the semester. My courses are normally very reading intensive, so I also make sure students actually read all the texts assigned for class. This is done by asking them to write a summary / reflection about the readings every week before each class. This exercise helps them understand complex academic texts. On that note, I believe that writing is one of the most effective ways to organize our thoughts. This is also an effective way for me to know ahead of time if students are understanding the class material and tailor the class contents accordingly. In addition, since this assignment is done on an open platform, such as a blog or discussion forum, they are able read their peers’ ideas and comments. Having 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.
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 on the same topic. The main goal of my graduate classes is to support students’ self-development into independent researchers and critical thinkers who are able to search for information by themselves and to develop new theories and ideas, instead of waiting for already “processed” knowledge. To accomplish this goal, my graduate classes are generally structured as discussion seminars, in which all students have responsibility to critically engage with the readings and in discussions in class. Each class, one or a couple of students are responsible for presenting the materials assigned to that week and leading class discussion, which involves crafting insightful discussion questions and engaging other students in class. As a final assignment, I normally give my graduate students the option to either write an original academic paper or develop a project (mobile app, website, video, game, etc.) that demonstrates, in a practical way, the theories and methods studied in the course. This has been a successful way of tailoring the final assignment to different modes of learning and interests, and letting students be creative about how they show demonstrate their understanding of the class materials.
I am very involved in graduate teaching and mentoring. I have graduated 7 Doctoral students and currently chair another 4 Dissertation committees. I have also chaired 9 MS committees and currently chair 3. My dedication to the mentoring of graduate students is not only reflected in the number of students I mentored, but also in the numerous national and international conference presentations, peer-reviewed papers, and scholarly books that I have co-authored with them, helping them to become independent scholars and secure jobs in top universities.
Over the course of my career, my teaching has focused on the areas of media studies, mobile communication, digital media and internet studies, and game studies. I have developed four new courses to the NC State Department of Communication’s curriculum, namely, COM 587 Internet and Society, COM 547 Mobile Media and Communication, COM 537 Gaming and Social Networks, and COM 598 Networked Mobilities. In addition, I have consistently taught one of our core Ph.D. seminars, CRD 703 Communication Networks. I have also developed 3 new courses to the undergraduate curriculum: COM 447 Mobile Communication, COM 427 Game Studies, and COM 498 Networked Mobilities. I have also frequently taught some of our core courses, such as COM 250 Communication and Technology.
In addition to teaching at NC State University and at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I have experience teaching internationally in Brazil and in Denmark. In Brazil, I have taught Visual Communication in the undergraduate degree program in Communication at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Digital Media at the University Tuiuti do Paraná. I have also taught a course on mobile methods at the University of São Paulo. In Denmark, I have taught both graduate and undergraduate students in Mobile Media and Communication at the IT University of Copenhagen. In addition, I have taught a graduate seminar on mobile methods at Aarhus University. I look forward to teaching courses within my area of expertise, and particularly developing courses on new topics such as Communication and Globalization, Communication and Creative Practices, and Technology Appropriation in the Developing World.