Shafer and Patti Author iBook – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Shafer and Patti Author iBook

Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer and Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Society Lisa Patti are in the preliminary stages of research and development for a new, born-digital text for the introductory Media and Society course at HWS.

The iBook is envisioned as “a visually rich, born-digital, open source, modular textbook,” Shafer says.

Why a digital textbook versus a traditional textbook?

“First, it matches the field we work in,” Shafer says. “Second, we feel the dynamism of the field can be better captured in a digital format. Third, it will allow for greater interactivity. Fourth, it will allow us to create a learning architecture that reflects our pedagogical practices.”

Designed with funding from a Mellon Presidential Discretionary Grant for Innovative Digital Pedagogies, the grant will offset costs for equipment, training, and conference admission. The project also is augmented by a grant from the Center for Teaching and Learning to help “fund the foundational research that we are undertaking in order to assess best practices for intro teaching,” Shafer says.

In this assessment project, Shafer and Patti “hope to apply the input and ideas from our colleagues – their seasoned assessment of best practices – to our new work,” by reaching out to a wide academic community.

In a series of on-going collaborative conversations with scholars at HWS and other area institutions, which will conclude with a colloquium end of the semester, Shafer and Patti have been collecting and sharing ideas on teaching introductory courses, designing media studies curricula, and building digital learning tools. 

At the colloquium, all of the colleagues who participated in the project will convene on the HWS campus for a luncheon meeting during which Shafer and Patti will present a summary of their conclusions. This presentation will serve as a draft of the journal article they will write to share their research with a broader community of scholars.

Shafer and Patti have been colleagues for years, both serving in national leadership roles in teaching media; Patti recently served as chair of the Teaching Committee of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and Shafer is a senior member of the IT Committee of the same organization.

Even before that, however, Patti and Shafer co-taught introductory courses at Ithaca College, “well before either of us were hired at HWS,” says Shafer. “Since then, we’ve been actively collaborating on syllabi, assignments, and strategies for introductory teaching. The idea for this project came out of our mutual investment in teaching pedagogy and our excitement about the possibilities of digital publishing.”

A member of the HWS faculty since 2008, Shafer received her A.B. and M.A. from Cornell University. She earned a Ph.D. from the department of theatre, film and dance at Cornell, with her dissertation “Brand Name Vision: Comedy and Props in the Films of John Hughes.”

Patti joined HWS in 2011. She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature with a concentration in film and video from Cornell University. Her current research focuses on the contemporary translation and distribution of global media.