Troy Hicks, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development, was highlighted at the 18th Annual Book Recognition Event for his book, Mindful Teaching with Technology: Digital Diligence in the English Language Arts, Grades 6-12. The book introduces the idea of “digital diligence,” which Hicks describes as “an alert, productive stance that individuals employ when using technology which is characterized by empathy, intention, and persistence.”
Hicks’s goal for his book is to provide educators with resources to teach more mindful practices to their students as they become more aware of the negative effects of algorithms, misinformation, and filter bubbles, which limits the news and information seen by the user based on their online history. The lessons within the book promote the idea that students should, according to Hicks, become more “critical in the digital media that they consume and more creative as they produce various forms of text.”
For example, the lesson “Seeking and Seeing Alternative Views” allows students to use a website which accumulates political news from across the spectrum to compare the ways that one story is reported in multiple media outlets. Then the lesson encourages students to deepen their understanding of the article by analyzing the headline and main images, as well as evidence in the form of quotations, statistics and links. After examining the article, students use a word cloud to see where each article’s political ideologies might be at play as they examine different words and phrases.
Reviewers of the book have complimented the way that it provides in-depth resources and how relevant the lessons are for the classroom. English teachers across multiple grade levels could benefit from the deeper conversations and forward-thinking brought forth by Mindful Teaching with Technology.
In the writing process, Hicks found it challenging to write a book during a global pandemic. Hicks was unable to try out different lessons and ideas in a physical classroom setting, like he usually would. “Instead, I tried out many of these ideas with teachers during online, Zoom-based professional development workshops,” says Hicks.
However, this challenge ultimately, became a strength of the book, as this era of remote learning allowed Hicks to develop lessons which could be utilized across all classroom interactions, whether in-person or online, as well as in real time or self-paced.