Tinkering With Pedagogy: Experimenting With Technology at the DWRL

At the start of last academic year, the Digital Writing and Research Lab assigned two research imperatives: data visualization and wearable technology. While data visualization is ubiquitous in most forms of media, and serves an already established and crucial role in empirical research and its dissemination, the affective affordances of wearable technology are emergent, and … Read more

Accessibility Project Update: Mapping Narratives of Access

In the DWRL’s ongoing Accessibility project, we’ve kicked off the semester by asking: What makes a story visible or invisible? How does visibility affect accessibility? We considered whether or not popularity, or “trending,” obfuscate access to less normative narrative, and if “fake news” and “alternative facts” operate to distract from, obscure, and ultimately hide “true … Read more

Ethical Design and Time Well Spent

Diagonal matrix with rows and columns of mobile phones with different social media icons like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

The amount of time we spend engaged with our digital devices, especially our smart phones, doesn’t necessarily make us feel more empowered. The organization Time Well Spent argues that the reason for this isn’t some moral failing on the part of users but rather a question of intentional design: “Many people think our devices are … Read more

Invisible Knowledge

Screenshot shows that "trump meme" is the top result.

Since you’re reading this online publication, I imagine that you, like me, leave hundreds of digital traces every day. A lot of these traces are things we can see–things like emails, texts, blog posts, twitter posts, photographs, Youtube comments, or Facebook likes. But today I’m particularly interested in the invisible, unintentional digital traces we leave–things … Read more

Universal Design for Learning: What is it and why should you care?

Clip art showing people with different access needs in sillhouette. Left to right: a person on crutches, a person in a wheelchair, a person with a cane, a person pushing a pram

At the end of this past summer, I was invited to address instructors in the University of TexasDepartment of Rhetoric & Writing (DRW) on the theme of ‘Accessibility’. The invitation arose from some work I’d done for the DRW to make their syllabus boilerplate more accessible — reformatting the existing Word doc with styles to increase navigability, and providing descriptive hyperlinks to web-based references — and reflected a need to better acquaint new instructors with accessibility resources on campus, including within the Digital Writing & Research Lab.

As the talk took place shortly before the start of classes, when instructors were doing last-minute preparation for their fall courses, I elected to speak on Universal Design for Learning, arguing that instructors and students alike are best served when instructors build affordances for diverse learners into their curricula from the outset, rather than adapting only as required by institutional and legal structures. Behind the cut, you’ll find information about the need for universal design, and resources and strategies for universal design in your own classroom.

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Questing for Choice(s)

aisle intro screen

There is a fundamental issue with how we (as academics, players, and creators) view game narratives. This particular art form leaves room for player intervention, for changes and transformations, however, such interactivity has done little to push the boundaries of storytelling beyond alternate endings and perpetual quests. Is this as far as stories can go? … Read more

Accessible Data for Austin

Star Trek's Data standing in front of the Austin skyline.

The various features of built environments can allow us to access the spaces in which we conduct our everyday lives. But for some individuals, the very same features that are meant to provide access to spaces render these spaces out of reach. Barriers in public environments often prevent mobility-impaired people from being able to move and participate freely within a space. In the space of a college campus, for example, many individuals face the challenges of navigating barriers like a randomly placed step, narrow doorways, and uneven sidewalks.

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Augmented Reality Has Arrived and It’s Ready to Be Analyzed! Well, Almost.

Lately, augmented reality has been making a lot of headlines in the tech world. This week, for instance, Microsoft revealed its HoloLens, a visual headset that allows people to interact with and manipulate complex, projected visuals. In a promo for the HoloLens, a woman wearing the headset customizes a Volvo car before buying it, building it up from the nuts and bolts with gestures as simple as pressing her thumb and forefinger together. It isn’t quite the tech we see Robert Downey Jr. playing with in Iron Man’s workshop, but it’s pretty close.

Read moreAugmented Reality Has Arrived and It’s Ready to Be Analyzed! Well, Almost.