Certificate Program for Teaching with Technology in Philosophy

Educational Technology Services (ETS) at Penn State offers a Teaching with Technology Certificate that recognizes teaching assistants and instructors for innovative uses of technology in the classroom. While this provides a potentially valuable credential for graduate students looking to distinguish themselves from other candidates for highly sought-after teaching positions, relatively few graduate students in Philosophy and across the Liberal Arts are currently taking advantage of this opportunity. As a Teaching with Technology Fellow, I worked to make the program more attractive through introducing two related modifications to the structure provided by ETS.

  1. Framing the general requirements in terms of the more discipline-specific or area-specific digital literacies that will benefit our graduate students most in establishing and pursuing their careers.
  2. Breaking down the current program’s largely holistic approach to demonstrating competencies and innovations to enable graduate students to develop and be recognized for those particular foci within the broader area of TLT that are most attractive to them.

We maintain a commitment to a principle of mutual transformation. Roughly stated, this principle asserts that our disciplinary training and practices have as much potential to transform our uses of technology as our technologies have the potential to transform our disciplinary training and practices. What the future of teaching philosophy will look like is not going to be determined solely by larger currents in which we cannot avoid being swept up. The decisions we make now concerning the use of new digital media within our ongoing practices will play a role in shaping the direction of development for these media and for the profession.

Commitment to this principle makes a post-critical attitude towards technology in general appear to be the one most suited to carrying out the work of teaching philosophy and of training future members of the professoriate. This does not mean we take on every innovation that comes along and that we continually rework our approach so we can always be highlighting the shiniest new tools. It does mean, however, that we rely on our commitments and our expertise to provide us guidance concerning which (if any) of the emerging technologies promises to make a substantive contribution to our own ways of doing things.

By providing some rich examples of how this can be done and helping graduate students develop their own ways of negotiating the challenges involved in the practice of teaching, we can help them become innovative and conscientious practitioners of the art of teaching philosophy.

Of the badges, Fisher said, “As instructors, we are designers and facilitators of pedagogical interactions between our students and the materials we select for our courses. Often, we are in a position to make choices concerning the (analog and digital) technologies we employ in service of our course goals. In learning how to make these choices effectively and conscientiously, it helps to experiment with a range of options for content delivery, reflect on the various pros and cons of each, and determine which are best suited for the contexts and purposes that are most relevant to our courses.” (from Microcredential pilot open to graduate student student participation in spring 2015)

Visit the Penn State Badges Platform to see the particular badges and missions (metabadges) that we developed to support the development of digitally literate teaching practices.