Changing the Face of Higher Education: Digital Image Manipulation and Avatars in Identity Management

Face-to-face classroom interaction in higher education contexts incorporates various aspects of personal appearance in its visual dimensions. The advent of online delivery of education (such as utilization of internet platforms including Blackboard and Desire2Learn as well as social media) is creating new spheres of intellectual communication along with new forms of representation of individuals, including selfies and manipulated photographs. For example, the growing popularity of avatars in higher education provides a new spectrum of representational choices for individuals. This article discusses issues involving personal image modifications in higher education and their implications for intellectual interaction and policy development as well as the monitoring of cheating and student impersonation. The ability to choose avatars with which to associate oneself or to alter one’s image digitally can be construed as liberating affordances and well within the spirit of creative higher education. Many of the narratives concerning the personal choices of image or avatar reflect themes of freedom, possibility, and the exploration of self-identity, although others lament the amount of time invested in these choices. However, use of manipulated images and avatars rather than less heavily modified human faces for interaction can also serve to increase the real-world invisibility of many disenfranchised individuals and decrease awareness of their life circumstances in ways that ultimately are more escapist and confining than life enhancing.

The Disruptive Classroom: The Challenge to Integrate Active Learning

Businesses are paying attention to big disruptions to their normal business operations. Likewise, educational institutions cannot ignore disruptions caused by the influence of world change in this innovative, digital age. Recent research indicates that business-related topics including big disruptions are a major focus of study at universities. However, there are limited studies that address how to integrate innovation such as the disruptive classroom into an undergraduate business education program, especially in the Thai context and within Thai culture. One objective of this research was to show how innovative learning environments are strongly connected to teaching an entrepreneurship course. A second objective was to develop conceptual ideas and convert them into actionable plans. A pilot study was used to test the course design for integrated active learning using the disruptive classroom concept. During the pilot study, students’ perceptions, viewpoints, and areas of interest were explored and incorporated into the teaching plan. Data were obtained using surveys, interviews, students’ reflective papers, and instructor observations. The course design for integrated active learning and the findings of the pilot study can be used to create similar action plans for other types of business courses. The findings of the study can also be used as input to further research into this important and cutting-edge topic.

Using Twitter to Increase L2 Interaction: Findings from a High-Functioning Japanese University ESL Class

n recent years, Twitter has commanded research attention in domains from digital sociology to language pedagogy. This paper explores how daily tweeting allows Japanese university students at the intermediate end of English as a Second Language (ESL) studies to exercise and improve their interactive competencies. The aim was threefold: first, to increase both production and exposure, leading to improved definition of the identity of the L2 user self. Second, to extend learning beyond the classroom and class times, creating a technologically enhanced transformative pedagogy that transferred power to the learner. Lastly, to promote the interactive capability of students through interactions between students, with the teacher, and extending to the global Twitter community for social justice pedagogy. The author uses Discourse Analysis (DA) to contextualize both the methods and findings, and offers suggestions for using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to uncover the interactive gains of using Twitter in this way.