SLIS Student Receives Prestigious Honor

SLIS Student Receives Prestigious Honor

Current SLIS student Melody Dworak has been selected as an Obermann/Center for Teaching HASTAC Scholar for 2011-2012.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been offered the opportunity,” she said. “I look forward to being in a role where I can learn more about work happening on the UI campus that fits the HASTAC mission of innovation and collaboration for learning.”

According to its website, “The HASTAC (Humanities Arts Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) Scholars program is designed for graduate students who are engaged with innovative projects and research at the intersection of digital media and learning, 21st-century education, the digital humanities, and technology in the arts, humanities and sciences.”

UI Faculty, visiting professors and graduate students are offered a variety of research opportunities through the renowned Obermann Center.

HASTAC Scholars receive a research award and are eligible to apply for travel grants to share their research. In addition, they blog about their experiences, organize discussion groups and work on a project that supports the digital arts, humanities and sciences at the University of Iowa.

“The project I keep returning to is taking a look at the potential for learning 21st-century skills through open-world sandbox games, thinking on a K-12 level,” Dworak said. “I've done an initial inquiry into the literature and want the next phase of my research to look at how users of a specific game, Minecraft, teach each other through online media. I'm not a gamer or a cognitive scientist, so I'm definitely bringing an outsider's perspective to this one.”

That project will probably be the focus of her HASTAC Scholar work, but Dworak is also interested in looking at professional identity construction through online social networks and has been working on a database project for SLIS Professor Jim Elmborg, which will hopefully facilitate knowledge discovery about the "little magazine" movement.

Two previous HASTAC scholars also have ties to SLIS. Bridget Draxler and Peter Likarish are UI PhD students who worked on the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature iPhone app with SLIS professors Haowei Hsieh and Jim Elmborg. The app was created by a team of interdisciplinary researchers and developers and can now be purchased through Apple.

The Obermann Center also recently honored SLIS professor André Brock by naming him the Cmiel Research Semester Scholar for Spring 2012.