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 2018 Courses

DTC 375 Language, Text, Technology
MW, 4:10-5:25 PM, VMMC 111

DTC 478 Usability & Interface Design
TTH, 2:50-4:05 PM, VMMC 111

2019 DHSI Courses

Sounds and Digital Humanities
3-7 June 2019

Digital Storytelling
11-15 June 2019


I maintain many resources for my classes. Learn more.


Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is straight forward:
* Transform lives
* 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 prototyping and other iterative practices, each designed to test new ideas, information, forms, or procedures, and communicate new knowledge. This combination of practical work and academic research teaches students 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.

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?" In Interface Cultures: Artistic Aspects of Interaction. Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau, and Dorothée King, editors. 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 and theoretically about their creative practice
Example: Students in my DTC 354 Digital Storytelling class create digital transmedia narratives to provide backstories for the re-enactment of analogue historic radio dramas for live audiences. Students examine their practices compared to desired results, questioning 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: a 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 the interface design of his project and getting it to market. He was able to shift his thinking about his project 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. Other graduates 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.

Additionally, students work on community projects, engaging in hands-on learning by doing. As a result, students become engaged community members, program advocates, put learned knowledge and skills into practice via civic engagement, often directed toward social justice and diversity. See the "Projects" menu tab for information about student projects.


Teaching History

Writing, Literary Studies, New Media

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 Electronic Research and the Rhetoric of Information (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.
  • DTC 375 Language, Text, and Technology (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 (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 have taught since 2012, 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.

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 (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 (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.


Example Student Projects

Example projects from Digital Storytelling and Special Topics courses.