3 mins reading
Well, this is an awkward post to write.
I should start by making clear that the feature image of this blog is a bit misleading and, for the benefit of my newborn son, when I say ‘I got a thing’, I don’t mean him. He’s the focus of another post.
Several weeks ago I was told I had received a national teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning as part of the 2019 Australian Awards for University Teaching. Located in the category of ‘approaches to teaching that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn’, the Citation I was awarded was
‘For excellence in developing innovative gamification approaches to enhance Communication students’ learning and facilitating authentic assessment and industry engagement through social media content.’
Bit of a mouthful, and let’s not chew on the details too long. To be honest, I’m kind of mostly hoping my partner will make me a cheesecake anyway.
Many of the blogs on this Digital Learning site offer some insights into my teaching philosophy and practice, and I’m hesitant to summarise the main elements of the award here. Rather than summarise a somewhat dense four-page document, I thought I’d take the liberty to share a few thoughts of others who generously offered their feedback on my teaching in past years. So if you’ll indulge them, I think these testimonials point to broader themes that other educators can find value in, such as learning by doing, leading by example, harnessing student agency, and leaving one’s comfort zone behind. One unsolicited student email sent to me in 2017 commented that:
Your commitment to teaching goes far beyond an agile attitude to technology and media. You are the kind of teacher who walks the walk and inspires students to follow… In many ways, how you approach teaching has changed how I look at the world, because it was so different to what I’d been exposed to and it made me venture into territory I’d never have explored willingly. ‘Learning by doing’ could in other hands be an abdication of an educator’s responsibilities to students, but in yours, it’s a method that empowers students and fosters creativity, innovation and exploration.
My teaching has been in large part inspired by what has been called the ‘Media Studies 2.0’ approach. David Gauntlett, Research Chair in Creative Innovation and Leadership at Ryerson University and a leading proponent of MS2.0, wrote of my implementation of this approach in 2018:
Adam Brown is a leading exponent of the DIY approach to using digital media in teaching. This approach is, I believe, by far the most engaging method, because Dr Brown’s students will feel a strong connection with the materials that he has made himself and the associated conversations around that material which they can have with him both in person and through online communication. Dr Brown is truly ‘living the dream’ of how a lecturer should connect with students in the twenty-first century. This level of engagement is hard work – time consuming, and difficult to do so well that it looks simple. Dr Brown’s extensive efforts over various platforms offer an inspiring example to post-secondary educators around the world, showing what can be done and always highlighting the importance of social engagement and dialogue.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank not only David and the student quoted above, but to all the students, teaching colleagues, family, friends, and canine companions who have helped, supported – and inspired – my teaching at every fork in the road. I often could have chosen an easier route than Digital Learning innovation, and made decisions that would have more readily benefited my career by focusing squarely on other aspects of academia.
But teaching is important, and there is nothing better in my profession than seeing students embrace the possibilities, grapple with the challenges, and find the satisfaction in enhancing their networks, portfolios, and employment outcomes. That’s what I’m here for. It’s what’s kept me here. And just as the learning never ends for the students, the learning obviously doesn’t end here for me either.
That’s enough of all that. On to the next level up…
I’m only just beginning.
And I was kidding myself, by the way. There was no promise of a cheesecake… 😞