In summer 2018 I was awarded a Learning Design Technology Incubator Grant from UVA to experiment with creating audio materials to help students in my first-year courses develop critical reading and thinking skills.
The audio materials took different forms - some were audio versions of particularly difficult texts of philosophy, poetry and cultural criticism so that students could listen to the words as they read. Hearing textual material read aloud can help the meanings and significance of keywords, phrases and the structure of argumentation leap out for students in a way that doesn't always happen when they read silently. Others were "How-to" scripts that framed textual material for students, walking them through the critical reading process of a chosen text.
In spring 2019, my collaborator Alison Levine (French Department and Dean of Humanities, UVA) and I were awarded a $23,000 Learning Design & Technology Incubator Grant to expand and extend the initial project into a multi-faculty and multi-discipline College Fellows Audio Library featuring material written by faculty from across the Arts & Sciences who are part of the University's College Fellows program.
The aim is to model for first-year students ways of thinking that are the basis of engaged seminar discussion about unfamiliar texts and objects of analysis -- from the architecture, aesthetic choices and strategies in literary texts to how to approach a film critically, from how to think empirically about the possibility of extraterrestrial life to the importance of empathy when considering historical subjects with very different values and beliefs from those we ourselves hold.
In fall 2020, my co-producer Liza Flood (Postdoctoral Fellow, A&S, UVA) and I were awarded another $10,000 LDT grant to create a micro-podcast series of 'Keywords' - terms students are likely to encounter in their first-year seminars but that are multi-faceted and hard to define.
The audio files are voiced by local actors and directors based in Charlottesville, Va: Clinton Johnston, Ti Ames, and Chris Beaulieu.