Students Talk Technology: Tech Tools for College Education

Many studies have revealed that college students today arrive on their campuses with high literacy in the latest technology and mobile devices. It is not uncommon to see students walking around with their beat earphones, texting while waiting in the hallway, and snapchatting with their friends in the dining hall. Yet, in the sea of options, what educational technologies are students using to help them with their studies? In the video above, I interviewed a trio of undergraduate students at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) to quiz them on their favorite tech tools and innovations they hope to see in the future.

All that tech has caused something of a dependency, too. The following infographic reviews responses from SCSU students about their technology-using habits — ultimately showing a trend that leads to a techno-reliant generation.

Infographic

Ideas/comments? Add your two cents to the comment section below!

Ph.D. Finder for Rhetoric and Composition Programs

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Earning a higher educational degree is a notable pursuit. This pursuit usually starts when one has developed an interest around a certain area of study and began looking for universities and programs that meet his/her academic needs. Yet, as a graduating master’s student and Ph.D. applicant, I cannot rant enough how frustrating the process of school-finding can be. My first instinct was to speak with my advisors about possible programs to look into, and then go on Google to find out more about these schools – about their department culture, Ph.D. dissertations written by students, faculty members’ research areas, criteria for admittance, etc. Miserably, I felt luck was a huge, integral part of the search process.

To help Ph.D. applicants narrow their searches, Rhetoric Review conducted its fourth Survey of Doctoral Programs in Rhetoric and Composition in 2007 and published a print article in RR 27.4 (2008). Later, a Wikia site was set up to allow program directors update their department or program information. However, if you take a look at both the original site and wikia, you may find it challenging to navigate through the sites for a comprehensive outlook across the programs reviewed.

This is why we designed and launched Ph.D. Finder – an interactive app that allows users to find Ph.D. programs in Rhetoric & Composition that most closely match their admittance aptitude and research interests.

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Our algorithms are designed to rank programs based on the user’s selection of research interests and self-ordered strength in the criteria commonly used by Ph.D. admission committees for candidate evaluation. We aggregated data from the Rhetoric Review Survey and picked out programs that currently offer a Ph.D. degree in Rhetoric and Composition. Users will be able to see real-time adjustment on the program ranking as they select their area(s) of research and order their admittance aptitude.

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As this app is still in its infancy stage, we realize there are rooms for improvement and look forward to add more programs to our existing database. Since this app is a startup-like project created by two college students, we are, nonetheless, looking for fundings to help us expand this endeavor. Please contact us if you are interested in a partnership or backing us up.

At the meantime, check out the app and let us know what you think!

Ph.D. Finder is created by Ivan Okhin and Jason Tham, both social entrepreneurs (wannabe) and technology enthusiasts based in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Prepping for NCA Convention

This summer, I was notified that my proposal to present at the coming National Communication Association annual convention has been accepted. It was a paper I developed for a mass communication research methods course last year. I must confess that I am really excited for this is my first (national) conference in the communication discipline. In the past, I have been attending local and national conferences pertaining to rhetoric, computers and composition studies; this will be a rather different context as I suppose the audience has shifted from humanists to social scientists. I am spending these couple of nights leading to the conference prepping for my presentation delivery.

Since the presentation format is an interactive scholar-to-scholar configuration, I have remediated my paper into a poster. See below:

NCA Scholar to Scholar

Please let me know if you have any suggestions to make this presentation better. Thanks!

Vine: Redefining Racial Stereotyping in Six Seconds

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Vine debuted earlier this year and has become the most popular video-sharing mobile app today. Unfortunately, the technology has been misused to reinforce racial stereotyping, causing ethical issues that need to be considered and addressed by media practitioners.

Check out the video clip below.

Here is a work-in-progress ethics paper I am developing for a media ethics course this semester. This essay seeks to explore and examine the racist aesthetic in one of the most popular social media today, Vine. By identifying the likeness between Vine and early minstrelsy, and by scrutinizing the identification process in racial stereotyping, this article considers the ethical dimensions in the video-sharing app as a new stage from racial comedy. I also seek to establish strategies for confronting stereotyping on social networking platforms based on three major ethical theories in moral reasoning, namely deontological, teleological, and virtue theories. Following are some excerpts from my paper:

… when Viners are forced to strip off the less necessary scenes of their video, they eliminate some important elements that are essential to telling a complete story. This becomes problematic in ethnic humor, as racist or stereotypical jokes may be perceived out of context.

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In many ways, these Vine videos with racial overtones and negative stereotypes are simply technologically refined minstrels, which mock Black culture as uncivilized. The “Black vs. White” dichotomy further reinforces tension between the oppressed and its dominator.

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Cultural studies scholars believe meanings are always constructed within the range made possible by institutional frameworks. They then are reconstructed as people use them in their particular social situations. “The meaning that any object has at any given time is a contingent, historical achievement” (du Gay, 1996). Hence, a critical look at any demeaning behaviors, either by the members of the marginalized culture or by others, is crucial to developing strategies for intervention.

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A deontological perspective would object any act of prejudice or discrimination, including racial stereotyping. As the universal moral standard according to a Kantian maxim of “do not deceive,” Viners’ stereotypes would be deemed demeaning and thus shall be avoided.

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A teleologist would concur that racist jokes on Vine help marginalized cultures to gain popularity and normalize themselves among White supremacy.

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… an Aristotelian approach to confronting racial stereotypes on Vine may be to allow Viners to continue sharing racial sensitive content while requiring Vine to provide a warning for mature content and an option for Viners to report inappropriate content.

Read the full paper below.

PS: The document will be updated as the semester goes. Check back by late December if you’re interested in reading the final draft.

Image by insidemobileapps.com