What brought you to Hood College?
After graduating with a master’s degree in computer science at Hood, I helped found an IT start-up company with one of my professors. I was working as the director of software engineering with that company and pursuing my doctorate at UMBC when I heard about an opening to teach the graduate Management Information Systems class. I jumped on the opportunity and taught the class for several years. After completing my doctorate I moved into a full-time position at Hood.
What do you value most about your relationship with graduate students?
During their time in the program, in hallway conversations and classroom discussions, I get to learn about what is important to each student. This not only lets me more actively take part in progressing their thinking, making connections and developing their skills towards those areas that matter most to them, but it fosters a relationship that persists well beyond graduation. It seems like every week I get an email or run into a former student and get to hear about a new promotion, new job or new opportunity they have achieved!
What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching in the graduate school at Hood?
The graduate students at Hood have such a rich range of backgrounds and work experiences that they bring to their studies. Because of this, no two classes are ever the same.
Describe your approach to teaching.
My approach to teaching is premised on the belief that learning is fundamentally a process of discovery and that the role of the professor is to prepare and inspire students to actively participate in this process. I think that understanding comes from making connections. In my teaching, I continually reinforce foundational principles by connecting them with practical application through examples, classroom exercises and reflection on practical experiences. My students would probably describe my approach to teaching as very hands-on. Whether we are running around campus examining systems at work, building things in the hallways or engaged in a lively classroom discussion, I challenge my students to craft new theories, discover new concepts and continually apply their new learning to understanding the “big picture” of management problems.
What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood?
In 2011, I delivered the convocation address. I spoke to the incoming class on the challenges and complexities of living in a digital age, where we have nearly unlimited sources of information and what seems to be a similar amount of demand on our attention. This talk seemed to resonate with folks and led to a number of profound conversations with students and practitioners about the dual role of technology in their lives. As with these conversations, its the one-on-one interactions around meaningful topics that happen everyday on campus and that I consider my most memorable experiences at Hood.
Describe your academic interests, research, professional interests or expertise.
In my research, I explore the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the social lives of individuals and communities. Over the past decades, ICT use has moved from being a largely peripheral activity—important to a few but less relevant at a societal level—to become an increasingly central part of the everyday social experience. Whereas technology was once primarily a tool for performing tasks, today it plays a broader role by enabling new forms of expression and building new venues for interaction. I am interested in understanding how ICT can be designed to best support and enhance these new social experiences. I’m currently engaged in research on how social coupons and other social media-based tools are reshaping the small town consumer and small business marketplace, how teamwork in massively multiplayer role player games (MMORPGs) and alternate reality gaming can help guide organizations to more productive forms of coordination and project management, and how online communities can be designed to support deep engagement and reflection by their members.
When you aren’t teaching, what are you doing in your spare time?
Outside of Hood, you can find me all around Frederick. I am a member of the Board of Directors for Celebrate Frederick, a nonprofit that implements special events and activities to offer the community a shared cultural experience. I serve as the volunteer chairman, helping to staff and run events like the Garden Tour, the city’s 4th of July celebration and the downtown “In the Streets” festival. I also play left wing for the Washington Wildcats, an adult Ice Hockey team that plays in the D.C. metro area. In 2012 the team won the D.C. division and competed in Toronto for the international championship!
What are three books that you would recommend everyone read?
1) “The Social Life of Information” by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. This is the book that goes beyond the shininess and novelty of IT to explore the social context behind the information we create and share via technology. 2) “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” by Erving Goffman. Read this book and you’ll never consider an interaction the same way again! Goffman fluidly breaks down social encounters, providing a wealth of understanding that can be applied to make sense of interactions from why an audience gets nervous when watching an actor misstep on stage to why people behave the way they do in social networking systems. 3) “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, because every now and then one must contemplate an escape back to nature, properly equipped with the latest backpacks, boots and other gadgets, of course.