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Undergraduate Research Dispatch: Lydia Tuan and Digital Technology in Education

This year, BCNM initiated its undergraduate research fellowships, which offer undergraduates the chance to engage in direct research experience with BCNM graduates. Lydia Tuan was selected to work with Amy Koehler-Catterson (Education) on digital technologies as pedagogical tools.

Lydia Tuan is no stranger to online learning. She was taking an anthropology course that relied heavily on digital technology when the BCNM sent out its call for undergraduate researchers. The class accessed all of the readings and did “class discussion” on an application, to the point that in-person class time was secondary to the time spent online. Students arrived in class ready to continue a discussion that had begun in the virtual world. Since the class was structured around an app, she felt as though she were constantly in classroom.

So Lydia was fascinated by Amy Koehler-Catterson’s research proposal on digital education in the classroom. Amy explores digital technologies as pedagogical tools. As a former educator in East Bay schools, Amy wants to find out how to integrate networked digital technology into adolescent literacy classrooms to enhance learning opportunities for all students, not just those in affluent areas. Working with high school teachers in low-income public schools in the East Bay, Amy is designing and research literacy curricula that uses freely available online platforms to read, write, and create in a variety of genres. Her research adds to a small but growing body of scholarship on technology-supported adolescent literacy instruction.

While the project, and Lydia’s role in the research, is far from over, Lydia has already interacted with and organized interviews between Amy and high school teachers and students. She’s been fascinated by the responses of students to the question of how they can improve their learning experience by integrating digital technologies. While some students present clear ideas for useful methods, the majority have been unsure how to address the question. Lydia suspects that since school are increasingly progressive regarding technology use in the classroom, students do not imagine technology as an enhancement, but a necessity.

Lydia graduated this spring of 2016, and is currently enrolled in a Masters program at Cambridge University, where she’s planning a dissertation about reader reception theories of electronic literature. Lydia was introduced to New Media through “The Rhetoric of New Media” in the fall of her junior year — the same time that BCNM introduced the undergraduate certificate program. Her interest piqued, she applied to the program. The following semester, Lydia enrolled in Gail de Kosnik’s “History and Theory of New Media”, which not only showed her how new media could be applied throughout the humanities, but also encouraged her to apply the field to her own academic background, forming the basis for her post-graduate work.

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