[SIGCIS-Members] Fwd from Atsushi re SHOT Teaching Panel

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Fri Sep 20 07:41:05 PDT 2013

[Atsushi Akera asked me to forward the message below. Note that the report he mentioned is still available online: http://cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/workforce_history_reports/using.history_.pdf. It includes the first version of what become our main “History Resources” page on the website. Tom]


Hi Marie,


Sorry, I should have replied to your original query. And perhaps Bill has done so already. (I’m been swamped and not on top of my email, so my apologies if this repeats material already sent to list.)


But several years ago, Bill Aspray and I edited a volume called “Using History to Teach Computer Science and Related Disciplines,” which was based on a concept Bill came up with through his work with Computing Research Associates. In addition to the edited compilation, there was a conference… two if I recall… that brought the authors together so we could collectively talk about what we did, and mutually improve what we were writing about. It was not a SIG project, but given the way we work, I think you can call it something that came about in relation to our efforts as a SIG.


I think the one thing the volume does is to document the different modes of engagement between history and contemporary STEM education today. These might be:


·         The value of using history to provide a better sense of the context in which students will pursue their profession

·         A module embedded within a technical course designed both to enhance learning of an (especially difficult) concept (Bode plots or Fourier transforms, for example, might be one good example)

·         Material designed to cultivate normative engagement on the part of students

·         Courses focused on digital literacy

·         Novel pedagogic strategies such as educational simulation (a simulated social-entrepreneurial environment, for example) designed to foster student engagement with humanistic subjects.


I’m not sure whether I’ve captured all of the different modes, but these are the ones that I can think of.


Since I served as the Director of First Year Studies at RPI for many years, I was also involved in much more general thinking about creating common experiences (lecture series, common reading across multiple courses), and how to develop these in ways that created a genuine culture of the humanities within an engineering school. (Student, for example, learned the protocols of critical inquiry in lecture series, where they became accustomed to asking questions of a public speaker because of the consistent format we applied to the lecture series.) Faculty development was also a crucial component—we become specialists in our fields, but never are given the training on how to teach. Objectives based course design; student centered teaching; different modes of instruction and the need to pace and vary content within the classroom.


These are of course very general things not specific to our work as a SIG, but on the other hand, if we are talking about teaching, I think it’s important to raise the point that we don’t want to always start with content when we speak about teaching. The formulation of the panel (how SIGs contribute to teaching) is oriented in this way that may deserve mention during the panel… Traffic between the general and specific is important in successful teaching.


(BTW, this is some of what I hope will come up in our own roundtables on teaching that’s taking place on Sunday morning; opposite, unfortunately, the SIG-CIS program! I’ll have to work on that!)


-          Atsushi


Atsushi Akera

Associate Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies

Rensselaer Polytechnic institute

110 8th Street

Troy, NY 12180  USA

cel: 518.300.0613/fx:518.276-2659/e:akeraa at rpi.edu /w:  <http://www.rpi.edu/~akeraa> http://www.rpi.edu/~akeraa


From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [mailto:members-bounces at sigcis.org] On Behalf Of M. Hicks
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2013 4:49 AM
To: sigcis
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Soliciting Input for SHOT Teaching Panel


Thanks to all who replied so far. I'd still like to get a little more input because I know there are folks in our SIG doing great things with teaching and mentoring. If you have any general thoughts, or specific classes or assignments that you use to bring benefits from our SIG into your teaching, please do let me know.






Marie Hicks, Ph.D.

Asst. Professor, History of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL USA

mariehicks.net | mhicks1 at iit.edu | @histoftech

On Sep 18, 2013, at 1:17, Marie Hicks <mhicks1 at iit.edu> wrote:

Hi everyone, 

I've been asked to participate in a panel at SHOT that discusses how SIGs influence our teaching of the history of technology. There will be one person from each SIG and the panel's goal is to tease out how each SIG's focus influences everything from the teaching of undergraduate survey courses to mentoring graduate students. How do the particular interests of the SIGs aid in "crafting a diversified pedagogical approach"?

I'd like to be able to share some insights from members here who have thought about these issues and used specific theories, methods, or topics from the history of computing and information to develop or reorient their approaches to teaching and mentoring. If you have time, I'd be grateful if you would share your ideas with me in the next few days as I finalize my comments. I'd also really like to hear from grad students who can talk about how the SIGCIS might have influenced their learning experiences (as well as their teaching techniques). The panel will be featured on SHOT's new website so that folks can read the presenters' comments before the meeting. Abstract of the panel is below if you'd like to know more.

Thanks in advance for your help,




Integrating SHOT Special Interest Group Concerns into the Teaching of History of 

Technology: Rethinking Modes of Instruction in a Diverse Community  


Honghong Tinn, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Francesca Bray, University of Edinburgh, UK


Anna Åberg, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden

Gregory Clancey, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Marie Hicks, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA

Ann Johnson, University of South Carolina, USA (Chair)

Geoff D. Zylstra, the City University of New York, USA


This roundtable session proposes to discuss the way in which SHOT scholars have incorporated 

SIG themes in their scholarship as well as in their teaching practices. In recent years, several new 

Special Interest Groups (SIGs), such as the SHOT Asia Network and Exploring Diversity in 

Technology’s History (EDITH) have been formed in the Society for the History of Technology. 

Together with a myriad of well-established SIGs, such as Women In Technology History 

(WITH), the Prometheans, and the Special Interest Group on Computers, Information, and 

Society (SIGCIS), SIGs have offered scholars homes of productive space and meaningful 

interactions during and beyond the annual meetings of SHOT. 

While we are celebrating the diversification of SIGs as a community, the teaching concerns of 

the community should also consider the implications of such diversification. In the 2012 SHOT, 

after the plenary on “Transnationalism and the History of Technology: Lessons from Tensions of 

Europe and Other Projects,” Ann Johnson brought up an interesting question—how do we

mentor graduate students on working in transnational research projects, even as we acknowledge 

the importance of transnational perspectives? 

This roundtable session plans to invite SHOT scholars to discuss (1) the possible contributions 

SIGs could make to advance the field’s graduate student mentoring and undergraduate teaching, 

and (2) how the recent diversification of SIGs may shape our teaching of survey courses. This 

session will discuss the hows and whys in crafting a diversified pedagogical approach towards 

the study of technology’s history, as well as examine the choices of scholars in identifying

particular works or approaches in their teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Marie Hicks, Ph.D.
Asst. Professor, History of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, IL USA
mhicks1 at iit.edu | mariehicks.net <http://www.mariehicks.net>  | @histoftech <http://twitter.com/histoftech> 

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