Return to Richard's Home Page

Teaching Philosophy


I have fun in the classroom and in part I credit this to constant innovation. I continually revise and change my course materials and the ways in which I teach, not only looking for improvements in pedagogy but also to keep me fresh and excited about the process.

I am lucky in that my courses are often about information technology and new media, so including things like web pages and email early on was a natural outgrowth of the topic. More recently I have added additional modalities such as streaming audio and video, blogs and wikis, and even experimented recently with using students’ mobile phones as a form of feedback mechanism (similar to the use of “clickers” in large lecture classes).

As a researcher in the field of technology and society, I am also able to use the technology presence as a gateway to critique and observation for how these things don’t always have a positive outcome - when things break down in the classroom, I make that a “teachable moment” and dig into why it happened and what the larger repercussions might be. Of course, innovation isn’t just about technology. I was one of the early adopters of the “W” (writing intensive) approach to teaching in our school and have participated extensively with the WILO group in fostering and encouraging this practice, including sitting on their advisory board.

In general terms I seek to engage students in such a way that they see themselves as active and ongoing participants in the process of knowledge production rather than have them see my courses as places to consume information. To this end I work hard at showing that I am interested in their contributions to the course, in the classroom, in their projects, and in our online and face to face discussion fora. I have found, in recent years, that the “wiki” is an ideal vehicle for this type of approach and use it in all of my courses now.

Connection to research

I take the approach that my research activities and my teaching activities are inextricably linked and try to make this apparently in the lecture hall, classroom, and seminar. I use recent research results, research questions, and research methods from my own work as well as peers as a source for discussion, case studies, and examples. I think this helps keep things current but also provides a living model of what it is like to be a scholar.

This connection to research is particularly important in graduate teaching as I hope to be not just a course of information and knowledge but also an example of the working life of the researcher. I strongly encourage students in my graduate seminar, for example, to consider revising their term papers for presentation or publication.


I am not sure if graduate supervision is considered in “teaching” but if so I would like to add that I approach supervision of graduate students as mentoring to advance their careers and flexible support of their needs and aspirations within a framework of striving for excellence.

I also regard part of my teaching commitment a commitment to the integrity and quality of my courses and their place within the “stream” of courses that they occupy in our school. To this end I initiated a process whereby others in our school with similar teaching interests get together from time to time to coordinate our curricula and help shape new directions. I have also mentored new instructors in our school as well as provided informal assistance to those (inside our school and across the university) who are interested in incorporating technology into their teaching. Most recently this has taken the form of leading an international online seminar on the advantages and disadvantages of “podcasting” lectures.