I am a lecturer in the Department of Design Studies at the University of Otago. I have been researching virtual communities for some time and am interested in the design and use of social space generally, including the design of place-based communities. I also have an interest in podcasting as a delivery medium that can be used in education. I have taught digital media design and communication design at Otago since I moved to Dunedin from Toronto in 1993.
I am developing a research project for 2009 that will involve podcasting as part of a strategy to offer a course to students here at Otago while also offering a service for the larger, external community. I will be testing this in a small way this year in a 200 level Communication Design Project course in which students will design and execute a Fair Trade awareness campaign (in collaboration with the local Trade Aid shop on George Street). In terms of what we can do from within a traditional university, I think that, although radical shifts are possible in limited areas and with specific courses, change will be incremental for large, established educational institutions as a whole. We need to demonstrate what is possible within the constraints of our institutional structures and funding models. We can also operate in different spaces (and institutions) simultaneously, and we can apply what we learn from one space to opportunities that we can identify in another.