Action research
Critical thinking
Creative practice
Collaborative experience


Community / civic engagement
Creative endeavors
Tacit knowledge discovery

John Barber > Teaching

Action Research+Informed Teaching+Creative Practice=New KnowlEDGE

Throughout my teaching I encourage students to learn a body of knowlEDGE through reading and discussion, think critically about how to best use this knowledge to solve a real-world, needs-driven problem, build a solution designed to best address that problem, and then reflect on the outcome(s) and rapidly apply results to the next iteration. Classroom activities are often focused on community / civic engagement. Creative endeavors are encouraged, as I believe a creative practitioner can uncover tacit knowledge that theoretical studies alone cannot reveal. Students evaluate me as being respectful and fair, despite feeling my courses are demanding. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.

Fall 2019 Courses

DTC 356 Information Structures
MW, 12:00 noon-1:15 PM, VMMC 111

DTC 478 Usability & Interface Design
M, 1:25-4:05 PM, VMMC 111

2020 Digital Humanities Summer Institute Courses

Sounds and Digital Humanities
1-5 June 2020

Digital Storytelling
8-12 June 2020


In addition to course specific resources, I maintain many general resources for my teaching, research, and scholarshio. LEARN more.

Capstone Project Archives

Students create projects for my classes to demonstrate their learning. Use the "Capstone Project" links on my current course webpages to explore these projects. You can also explore example projects from my DTC 354 Digital Storytelling and DTC 338 Special Topics courses.


Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is straight forward: Transform lives and build communities.

In practice, this philosophy is informed by action research (Stefano M. Vannotti) and "transformative pedagogy" (belle hooks 36). Vannotti calls action research "systematic inquiry conducted though the medium of practical action, calculated to devise or test new, or newly imported, information, ideas, forms, or procedures and to generate communicable knowledge" (Vannotti 55). LEARN more.

Transformative pedagogy, says hooks, involves student-centered, holistic, and praxis-oriented approaches that allow students to create their own knowledge. Transformative pedagogy involves, as hooks suggests, a "revolution of values" (hooks 23) and embraces Martin Luther King's notion of the "shift from a 'thing'-oriented society to a 'person'-oriented society" (hooks 27).

What does this teaching philosophy look like in my classrooms? Students engage in rapid iterative practices to test new ideas, information, forms, or procedures, and communicate new knowledge. Students learn to think critically and theoretically about their practice (Vannotti). Additionally, as hooks notes, this "engaged pedagogy" (hooks 21), empowered by process, promotes the union of body, mind, and spirit in a "holistic approach to learning" that seeks enlightenment along with acquisition of new knowledge (hooks 14).

Embedded in my teaching practices is encouraging students to formulate a research question, consider multiple answers, choose the one best aligned with the expected outcome, and then proceed with design and solution development. Students document their process and share it with others. In this sharing, and discussion of choices made, additional learning can occur. As Vannotti notes, all "theories, principles, and ideas reside in the artifacts we create" and "build the ground for further investigation" (Vannotti 56). This approach is also, according to hooks, transformational, empowering students by their engagement in the process of solution implementation.

Both action research and transformative pedagogy involve collaboration and critical thinking. With regard to collaboration, research supports more pronounced learning outcomes when learners are engaged in interpersonal activities like talking, building materials things, and sharing with one another. Working alone, we cannot see our own way of paying attention.

Critical thinking comes from people learning to apply their knowledge and skills to problems and then analyzing the outcome(s). Comprehending news ideas is a good start, but more productive is helping learners check and discern between opposing ideas, consulting alternate information sources, communicating their thoughts and ideas, collaborating with others to solve problems (see above), making decisions, and dealing with the results.

Can it work? Why not? Almost everything in the contemporary university is based on the medieval educational system refocused for the industrial age. Attention, timeliness, metrics, standards, these key words promote stereotypes and nostalgia. But, we have revolutionary legacy.

Western culture has experienced four information revolutions. The first was the invention of writing (4000 BC). The second was the invention of moveable type (10th century China; 15th century Europe). The third was the invention of mass printing (18th century). The fourth was the introduction of the Mosaic web browser (April 1993). Each of these revolutions was a moment of change. Its arrival was untimely, unsettling. Each prompted examination of many aspects of scholarly endeavors.

Presently, at this digital turn, resistance comes from institutions trying to control what people should read, in the face of a population of people who can and do read for themselves, in a world of textual abundance, in a world where one can think and do without need for editors. Future success will be based on our willingness to change as teachers, and our willingness to force the university to change as well.

The sort of work described here cannot be quantified in standardized ways. There are no metrics. We must undo traditions to even begin thinking about new ways of assessing learning. We can do this through action research, transformative pedagogy, collaboration, dialogue, building, and productivity, and by feeding back the learning of new uses of technology into future learning.

Works Cited

hooks, belle. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge Press, 2014.

Vannotti, Stefano M. "But How Can We Produce Knowledge by Designing Interfaces?" Interface Cultures: Artistic Aspects of Interaction. Edited by Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau, and Dorothée King. New Brunswick, NJ, 2008, pp. 51-60.


Teaching Goals


Facilitate collaborative inquiry and learning via activity-centered projects with students
Example: Students in my DTC 478 Usability and Interface Design class designed and developed The Collaboratory, a social media platform for communication and collaboration among their CMDC colleagues. This project extended over several semesters and involved multiple iterations, providing opportunities for students, past and present, to collaborate and create shared knowledge.


Encourage students to think critically about how to use their knowledge and skills
Example: Students in my DTC 354 Digital Storytelling class create digital transmedia narratives to provide backstories for re-enactments of historic radio dramas. Students examine their practices compared to desired results. They question how digital media can be used most effectively to expand narrative and storytelling opportunities. Through systematic inquiry, students devise and test new procedures, solutions and applications for a developing body of knowledge.


Provide opportunities for students to create their own knowledge and develop problem-solving skills
Example: Student in my DTC 338 Special Topics: Internet Radio and DTC 478 Usability and Interface Design classes, developed an interactive, online interface through which users could interact with locally produced music on an international scale. I mentored this effort and arranged meetings with local web development and venture capital companies regarding getting the project to market. Students shifted their thinking from a "thing" to something that someone would actually use.


Teaching Results

Graduates find gainful employment.

90% of CMDC graduates, with a B.A. in Digital Technology and Culture, find gainful employment in Vancouver, and Clark County, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Graduates contribute to the economic and community development of our region. Some elect to pursue graduate studies. Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Simon Fraser University, University of California, Portland State University, and University of Washington have accepted program graduates, often with full scholarships. Most graduates remain in the area. They become engaged community members. They put learned knowledge and skills into practice via civic engagement, often directed toward social justice and diversity.

Example Student Projects

Students create projects for my classes to demonstrate their learning. Use the "Capstone Project" links on either my DTC 375 Language, Text, and Technology or DTC 478 Usability and Interface Design course webpages to explore student projects. You can also explore example projects from my DTC 354 Digital Storytelling and DTC 338 Special Topics courses.


Teaching History

Writing and Literary Studies

Prior to my arrival at Washington State University Vancouver, in Fall 2006, I taught a variety of courses at the graduate and undergraduate level focused on expository writing, technical and professional writing, writing for online contexts, literature, and literary studies.

Creative Media & Digital Culture

Since 2006, as a faculty member of the The Creative Media & Digital Culture (CMDC) program I have taught the following courses.

DTC 101 Introduction to Digital Technology and Culture (2014, 2013)
Introduces various forms of digital media, their origins, theories behind their utilization, their creative and professional applications, and their impact on continually evolving digital technologies and culture. Students will develop skills understanding, authoring, and critiquing multimodal texts and other digital media objects.

DTC 336 Composition and Design (2008, 2007)
Explores "design practices and process for composing for a multimedia environment including color, pattern and shape" (University Catalog). Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge by conceiving and constructing digital, multimedia information objects.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Sound Installations (2017)
Explores the conceptualization, making, and exhibition of intermedia time based sound art. This is an expansion on the concept of art installation in that sound introduces the concept of time necessary for listening to the work(s) featured in the installation. The focus of this installation is civic engagement with what we have learned (regarding the power of sound to create and maintain imaginative sense of space and place), what we have created (our sound installation artifacts), and the context in which we have done both (our class / university program). Student projects 2017.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Audio Performance (2015)
Experiments with the use of digital sound in radio and audio performance. Students produced audio performances based on scripts written in DTC 499 Writing for Audio Media and participated in the Re-Imagined Radio performance of The Case Files of Dr. Moreau in April 2015. Student projects 2015.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Digital Multimedia Graphic Novels (2012, 2011)
Focuses on the forms and affordances traditional graphic novels and their varied genres and literary forms might assume as they are remediated into evolving contexts associated with digital multimedia. Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge by conceiving and constructing digital graphic novels following the course focus.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Visual Culture (2007)

DTC 338 Special Topics: Digital Archiving and Curating (2008)
Provides opportunities to investigate, in both theory and practice, opportunities and concerns associated with the collection, preservation, and sharing of digital artifacts. Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge by conceiving and constructing digital, multimedia archival projects.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Internet Radio: Theory and Practice (2013)
Explores opportunities and affordances for the radio medium when its transmission, reception, and contents are contextualized by digital technologies and cultures of the Internet. Students will investigate existing theory and evolving thought/practice, and demonstrate their knowledge by producing and broadcasting responses via Radio Nouspace, an Internet radio station developed for this course. At the end of this course, students should be able to conceptualize theoretical stances and implement practical applications associated with Internet radio. Student artifacts 2013.

DTC 338 Special Topics: Digital Audio for the Web (2009)

DTC 354 Digital Storytelling (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
Examines theory and practice of narrative creation and sharing using digital, multimedia. Research and creative questions include: How might the use of digital media enrich the storytelling experience? How do we make the form of digital storytelling communicate its content effectively? How do we build interactivity into a narrative? How might we apply affordances of multiple digital media to the production and experience of transmedia narrative? Can digital storytelling serve as a form of tinkering apparati for collaborative thinking/creating, as a mode of knowledge production? Students demonstrate knowledge by conceptualizing, creating, and critiquing digital storytelling projects.
Student projects 2017
Student projects 2016
Student projects 2015
Student projects 2014
Student projects 2013

DTC 355 Multimedia Authoring (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006)
Focuses on the theory and practice of combining interactive media (text, images, audio, video, animation) elements for the purpose of creativity or communication. Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge by conceiving and constructing digital, multimedia information objects and interfaces.

DTC 356 Information Structures (2019, 2015, 2014, 2013)
Examines organization (information architecture) of digital information, and how this might influence interaction. Topics covered include organization theory, information architecture, search engine optimization, and search techniques for digital environments and interfaces. Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge through digital, multimedia projects. Titled Electronic Research and the Rhetoric of Information until 2018.

DTC 375 Language, Text, and Technology (2019, 2018, 2016, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006)
Explores how the conceptualization, development, distribution, and interpretation of texts are dependent upon the technologies through which they are created, distributed, and perceived. This is especially important considering the rapid proliferation and diversification of digital communication technologies.

DTC 476 Digital Literacies (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009)
The capstone course where graduating seniors demonstrate their command of the 10 CMDC Program Goals and their knowledge of various digital multimedia literacies. Course outcomes seek to enhance student preparation for professional jobs in digital technology or graduate school programs in digital media and foster social consciousness and civic engagement through building digital media projects for public assistance oriented nonprofit organizations or government agencies.

DTC 478 Usability and Interface Design (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009)
Investigates design and accessibility as applied to the interfaces of media objects to promote ease of user interaction. Students read and respond to major works and demonstrate knowledge by testing or building various digital interfaces.


Professional Service

As service to the profession, I teach week-long courses at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI), University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. This is an invited, non-compensated, volunteer effort. I have done this since 2012.

Hosted by the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL) and The University Library and Archives at The University of Victoria, DHSI is the world's leading professional gathering for international digital humanities researchers, scholars, faculty, and graduate students aligned with research centers, libraries, and academic departments. DHSI convenes for two weeks every June to share ideas and methods and develop expertise in applying advanced technologies to teaching, research, dissemination, and preservation activities. Participants engage in intensive, collaborative, multi-disciplinary classes and seminars ranging in subject matter from text encoding basics to strategies for large project management. Based on my DHSI teaching, I was invited to become an ETCL Research Associate.

My DHSI courses are
Digital Storytelling (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015)
Course focus includes literacy with approaches to digital storytelling, fluency with resources, and making individual or collaborative digital stories. Course topics include storytelling as a fundamental human activity, combining storytelling techniques and computational technologies, organizing and managing digital storytelling projects, and using digital storytelling for digital humanities scholarship and pedagogy. LEARN more.

Sound and Digital Humanities (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)
Course focuses on opportunities/approaches for sound in digital humanities scholarship and pedagogy. Emphasis is practice-based research and/or creative expression. Topics include sound utilization, forms, and associated intellectual rights in digital humanities contexts. LEARN more.

Mobile App Design and Development (2013, 2012)
Collaboratively taught with faculty of the Creative Media & Digital Culture program. Course goals . . .
1). Conceptualize the space and special features of mobile devices.
2). Develop the architecture, design, and multimedia content production for a mobile project.
3). Understand the coding and programming requirements for mobile devices.


Teaching Reviews


Your Zambezi Radio Bridge is an awesome project! I love the way you position yourself as scholar-teacher-artist and I really appreciate the clarity with which you frame your work/scholarship. It can't be recognized if not understood!!
Dr. Kelly Ward
Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Recognition
Professor, College of Education
Washington State University
17 May 2018
LEARN more

I've come to appreciate the depth of your commitment to being a faculty member in the best sense of the phrase. As I think (hope?) you know, you've helped me to see the untapped possibilities for sound in an era awash in visual imagery. I know you do something of the same as a teacher—from getting to observe your class, and this past semester your reading, I have seen a real commitment to being engaged with what your students are thinking and learning.
Dr. Todd Butler
Chair, English Department
Washington State University
2 May 2018

2017 Annual Review

Barber continued his strong work in scholarship/creative activity and teaching this year. The form of which continued to display the range of Barber's talents, which include print publications (multiple journal articles and book chapters), media broadcasts, and juried (i.e. "peer reviewed" and competitive) multimedia exhibits. In 2017 these exhibits were all international, a fact that, along with his regular turns as an external program reviewer and presenter at international conferences, testifies to his continuing prominence in the field. As reflected in both student evaluations and my own Fall 2017 observation, Barber continues his strong teaching for the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at WSUV, where he also concentrates his service commitments in program development and student mentoring.

2016 Annual Review

Barber's scholarly and creative activity in 2016 continues to reflect a wide variety of forms and media. He published at least four print essays and had several others accepted for future publication. At the same time Barber also had a wide variety of material from his creative sound program included or featured in jury-reviewed exhibits in not only the U.S. but also Canada and Europe (Ireland, Spain, Germany, Estonia, and Portugal). When placed together with his active presentation schedule at both national and international conferences, this work demonstrates a strong scholarly/creative profile of depth and creativity.

2015 Annual Review

Barber's scholarly and creative activity spanned a wide range of forms and locations in 2015. Most prominently, he had six installations/exhibits of his creative sound program, work that is comparable to written publication when it is (as in this case) jury-reviewed and highly visible. He also had seven presentations (all international, national, and regional). Though they will be formally assessed upon their publication, he also has a strong pipeline of material in press or under submission, and he has several presentations already scheduled for 2016.

2012 Annual Review

John's archive project on American writer Richard Brautigan continues to have strong impact on Brautigan scholarship. He remains engaged in the work of archiving and curating the online database for The Brautigan Library housed at the Clark County Historical Museum. In 2012, he has a book chapter and journal article accepted for publication. He published several book reviews and had seven sound art works showcased via international radio art stations, festivals, installations, and exhibits.