Mia Zamora is the 2017/18 Fulbright Scholar in Digital Culture at UiB
Zamora is writing a book that incorporates her experiences teaching in Bergen: "I find teaching a very valuable part of my academic practice."
Zamora is Associate Professor of English at Kean University in New Jersey, and is spending the 2017-18 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen in Norway.
Zamora is a scholar and author of electronic literature, which is a focus at Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. She has taught classes on electronic literature, digital media aesthetics, and is now teaching a class on digital genres that gives an introduction to electronic literature, digital art and computer games. In addition to teaching, Zamora has developed collaborations with both the University Library and Bergen Public Library. She worked with the public library on the Turn on Literature exhibition and events last semester, and will be developing a youth-oriented workshop and exhibition at the library this spring, exploring digital self-representation. At the university library, she is developing an art installation that explores the relationship between print and electronic materiality.
The Fulbright in Digital Culture teaches in the Digital Culture program at UiB in addition to having time for their own research. Zamora enjoys teaching in a new culture: "I find teaching a very valuable part of my academic practice. A lot of my research is focused around pedagogical issues, and I often develop research through experimenting reflecting on my work with students. I feel alive in that space!"
She is currently working on a new book project which focuses on networked learning and digital writing/making in an inter-cultural learning context. In this book, she will include accounts of her design, implementation and reflections on the “Networked Narratives” course at UiB, also known as #NetNarr.
"How is teaching different here to at your home institution?"
Zamora grins, "In many ways! Students here have a lot of knowledge and experience from outside their academic learning, and really contribute their knowledge to our classwork. I very much enjoy that. But the way assessement is done at the University of Bergen is very different to what I'm used to, and it took me a while to acclimatise to how that affects the learning situation. At UiB, assessment all happens at the end of the semester, and I think that affects what students understand learning to be. They have learned over time how to do well in this system, so for instance, they're very eager to know what the final assessment will be like, and whether any activities we do throughout the semester are compulsory or count towards their final grade. I think learning is about a lot more than being able to reproduce content at the end of a semester, so I am using more writing throughout the semester, for instance with students blogging. It's very interesting experiencing the differences in institutional cultures."
This semester, Zamora is teaching Digital Genres, a lower level undergraduate course covering game studies, electronic literature and digital art with about 70 students. She is teaching the course in collaboration with other teachers and their classes in Cairo and at her home institution in New Jersey, and having students work together, both within their own cohort and with the other classes, using social media, the hashtag #netnarr, and a website.
Her husband and two kids, aged 10 and 12, have accompanied Mia Zamora to Bergen.
"I fell in love with Bergen when I came to the Electronic Literature Organization conference in 2015," Mia explains. And when I spoke to Leo Flores, who had previously held a Fulbright at UiB, he was very encouraging. I wanted a sabbatical that was a growth experience for the whole family, not just for me, and Bergen is a great experience for us all."