Week 1: Kicking Off Spring 2015

A little bit about me:

My name is Kayla McNabb, and I am a PhD student in the Rhetoric and Writing program here at Tech. While I was working on my Master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University, I became very interested in the use of technology to create transfer in the composition classroom. As I prepared to write my thesis, Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Teach “Literacy for Life”: How to Use MulitmodalMatters.com to Facilitate Transfer in First-Year Composition, my colleague and I developed and implemented a website, MultimodalMatters.com, which helped instructors and students better utilize various Web 2.0 technologies. With this background, I hope to use my time at Tech to expand on my current research and continue making more of these beneficial technologies available in writing (and other) classrooms.

Outside of academia, I enjoy watching educational YouTube videos and TV shows on Netflix or Hulu, such as Doctor Who, Grimm, Dexter, and Parks and Recreation, with my husband, Jonathan, and our dogs, Alwyn and Nola. Back when I had “free time,” I also enjoyed playing board games and the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

Some reflections on Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community:

At my previous university, the institutionally constructed image was not as explicit as it is at Virginia Tech, so this has taken some getting used to for me. I think having the values so readily available to students, faculty, and the community helps establish a sense of expectation for all parties. These principles espouse the university’s ideology and welcome prospective students and faculty to be a part of the community that Tech aspires to cultivate here.

While the principles set a difficult goal, they work as a focal point for the VT community to strive toward. Calling them “principles” contributes to this aspirational mindset. They are not aggressively dictated or enforced from the top down, like a law or rule might be, but they offer guidance to the entire community in a more quantitative way than a statement of belief would and empower community members to encourage each other. The inclusion of an acknowledgement of having “a legacy that reflected bias and exclusion” is an attempt to show the university, like many institutions in the United States and around the world, has come a long way since its early iteration but wants to be transparent about a desire to acknowledge and remember those prior bad acts as a way to ensure continued progress. I find the explicit call for peer-accountability the most interesting part of the Principles of Community. We are all called to encourage each other and ensure that no one in our community is discriminated against.

Acknowledging that Tech has “a legacy that reflected bias and exclusion” is an attempt to show the university, like many institutions in the United States and around the world, has come a long way since its early iteration and as the culture progressed around it. This statement shows that Tech wants to be transparent about acknowledging and remembering those prior bad acts as a way to ensure continued progress. I find the explicit call for peer-accountability the most interesting part of the Principles of Community. We are all called to encourage each other and ensure that no one in our community is discriminated against. This is empowering for both advocates and those who may be at risk for discrimination.

 

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