Teaching

Teaching Philosophy

I view education as a process of engaging and motivating students while systematically progressing through a subject. It’s exciting for me to engage students’ interest and to provide a framework for them to understand it. I’ve had this experience while teaching a variety of topics, from building sophisticated web applications to designing games to mastering persuasive essay-writing techniques. Especially when teaching courses with challenging technical components, I attempt to blend theory and craft are together to reinforce and illustrate each other. I believe it’s important that students are trained to consciously analyze their decisions, through the incorporation of reflective practice in any context of design.

Fundamentally, I want to alert students to the systems at work in the media artifacts they are studying and creating; establishing the connection between the fundamental functionality of a system and the dynamic processes that arise provides a powerful framework for understanding. Showing these connections requires giving students a lens for examining system behaviour and the experiences had by those using those systems. My goal is to lead students to develop their own sense of intellectual curiosity in complex phenomena, and then empower them to break these systems down into their fundamental components and understand the contribution of these parts. This influences the way I teach subjects, through modular progress and holistic meaning making. Progressing through this method of instruction allows students to go through a critical process of engagement and discovery, typically through low stakes exercises, where they can make mistakes and then fix them, before engaging the subject at the holistic level with the possibility of more significant revisions. This has been especially true in the disciplinary-specific writing courses I’ve taught, where the practice of students writing and revising their own written work often leads to a better understanding of both the mechanics of writing as well as a self-improved finished work.

I aim to integrate participatory learning components that provide a concrete experience, following Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984). Many of the courses I’ve taught have strong group-based project work, along with lab sessions to acquire new skills; this has shown me how small groups provide a natural opportunity for peer teaching and learning. For example, when teaching a course on game design, where the ability to create interesting systems is paramount, I ensured that the theoretical lecture material on elements such as randomization were explored through simple dice games and then reflected in the creation of new games.

Through play and prompted discussion, students engaged with the material that could otherwise remain quite theoretical; this also served as an evaluation method, as I could listen for and address common misconceptions as well as whether a group was unable to reason out what was happening. I have seen how effectively these kinds of problem solving exercises connect with students, while providing them the opportunity to learn through teaching other group members. While lectures play a valuable role in delivering important theoretical course content, I believe participatory learning techniques are invaluable, particular when teaching students to incorporate theory into their design practice.

Teaching Responsibilities

I have been teaching courses as a sessional instructor and term lecturer in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University for the past four years. This has included two 1-year lecturer positions (one at 50% load = 4 courses, the second at 100% load = 8 courses), with the rest were delivered as sessional appointments. Mainly, I have been responsible for teaching upper division undergraduate courses in the areas of 3D animation, game design, and HCI/interface design.

Courses

School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University, Sessional Instructor & Term Lecturer

CourseCourse TitleTermsAvg. # of studentsDescription
IAT 206WMedia Across CulturesFall 201796Weekly lectures
IAT 210Introduction to Game StudiesSummer 2016200Weekly lectures; service course for non-SIAT students
IAT 309WWriting Methods for ResearchSpring 2014, Summer 2017, Fall 201740Weekly lectures
IAT 312Foundations of Game DesignSummer 2014, Spring 2015, Summer 2015, Fall 2016, Summer 201648Weekly lectures and labs
IAT 313Narrative & New MediaSummer 201340Weekly lectures
IAT 334Interface DesignSpring, Fall 201448Weekly lectures and labs
IAT 343AnimationSpring 2015, Summer 2015, Spring 2016, Summer 201748Weekly lectures and labs
IAT 351Advanced Human-Computer InteractionFall 201440Weekly lectures
IAT 432Design EvaluationFall 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 201648Weekly lectures and labs

Internet Production diploma program, Vancouver Island University, Instructor

CourseCourse TitleTermsAvg. # of studentsDescription
IPRO 240Internet Scripting IFall 2007, Fall 200820Blended workshop / lecture format to a cohort
IPRO 245Core Internet TechnologiesFall 200820Blended workshop / lecture format to a cohort
IPRO 245Internet Applications DevelopmentSpring 2008, 200920Blended workshop / lecture format to a cohort
IPRO 290Internet Project DevelopmentSpring 2008, 200920Supervised projects for external clients, while providing lectures on project management, design critiques, and just-in-time technical lessons on emerging issues

IAT206W, Media Across Cultures

Undergraduate course, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, 2017

I taught IAT 206W for the first time in Fall 2017. The regular faculty member assigned to the course had overhauled it the previous time it was offered, and taught it with a new textbook in a flipped classroom style. The faculty member recommended against using the flipped classroom style this term, but advocated that I use the new textbook. As such, I designed the course around the Visual Methodologies (Gillian Rose, 2016) text, and two major activities: a creative project that explored a particular set of imagery, and a research paper that followed one of the methodologies in the text.

IAT312, Foundations of Game Design

Undergraduate course, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, 2016

I was the teaching assistant for this course in 2010 when my Master’s advisor taught it. After that she moved away, and no regular faculty member has routinely taught it, while I’ve had the opportunity to teach it five times. Given its close match to my teaching and research interests, I’ve enjoyed iterating on its assignments and course activities to improve its alignment to learner outcomes and satisfaction. One major innovation was incorporating board games due to their more transparent use of game mechanics, along providing a nice opportunity for students to use their existing prototyping and fabricating skills.

IAT210, Introduction to Game Studies: Theory and Design

Undergraduate course, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, 2016

IAT 210 is a service course taught on the main campus of SFU for non-SIAT students. It introduces students to the study of games through the lenses of rules, play, and culture. With this higher enrolment, and its traditional lecture format, I had to adapt class exercises to the lecture theatre.

Instructional Skills Workshop

Workshop, Simon Fraser University, Teaching & Learning Centre, 2013

The ISW is an intensive, 3-day peer-based instructional development. Through participation in this workshop, I was able to learn about a wider variety of approaches to active learning, which I have incorporated into my teaching. Active learning approaches have helped immensely for planning labs and workshops, but have also been useful for making lectures more engaging and meaningful.