Welcome

This website contains information about my teaching, research, and other work at the State University of New York, College at Cortland. As an associate professor of English and Professional Writing, my primary work involves new media rhetoric, that is, briefly put, the study of new mediaas a mode of communication. As such I regularly teach Writing in Cyberspace I (PWR 209). In thatclass I teach students web design. However, for the most part, my interests in new media have to do with its philosophical and cultural implications rather than with technical issues. As you can ascertain by reading my blog, I am particularly interested in issues of copyright, cryptography, artificial intelligence, and the impact new media and the growing global information economy will have on higher education.However, these issues do not come up with great focus in most of my courses (e.g. Rhetoric, Contemporary Poetics, various creative writing and general education courses), where I am more likely to be discussing broader theories informing these situations: the concept of friendship in rhetoric, poetics and the manifesto, mass media and contemporary literature, and so on.

In addition to a link to my blog, Digital Digs, this website also includes information on my courses, my teaching practices, my research, and links you may find usefu, incuding a link to NeoVox, an international, student-produced web magazine published here at Cortland. Please e-mail me at alex.reid at gmail dot com with any comments.

My teaching style

As most of my courses take place in the computer lab, and often deal directly with learning to manipulate new media, my teaching style is heavily influenced by the technology at hand. To begin with, this means infusing my practice with a range of new media tools from extensive group-oriented new media projects to informal postings on Web CT or on a blog. This approach reflects the value I place on active learning. I believe that learning happens best through a students direct engagement with the concepts and practices of the course. As such, when you are in my class, you can expect to be asked to participate in a range of activities. Though I do lecture, when necessary, to explain various concepts, if you want to sit back and receive information, you will not like my classes.

In addition to my emphasis on activity learning, I also believe that the classroom should challenge and stretch students. Some professors plan their courses to build methodically on basic information; they might create assignments for you to demonstrate your mastery of the course content as you go along. That’s fine, but my classes are not like that. In my course you will encounter difficult readings and challenging assignments. I want to see students take risks and push themselves to their limtis. As such, when I evaluate student work, I’m not looking for evidence of mastery; I’m looking for the point where a student leaves the firm ground of understanding and steps toward the unknown.

I realize that this expectation that students actively struggle with difficult material and assignments is a little unusual. Our all too common classroom experience is the passive reception of information and the studied presentation of one’s mastery of that same information. However, while this makes my courses hard sometimes, I also like to think it makes them interesting. As students in my class, you’ll have the opportunity to shape your educational experience, to integrate areas that interest you, and take risks. As I see it, at the heart of my approach is my consideration of students as intellectuals, as thoughtful individuals who want to engage important ideas on their own terms. I want my courses to facilitate that engagement, and I expect students come prepared to my classes to do just that.