Jim Martinez, Ph.D., is the co-recipient of the 2013 Presidential Engagement Award for Engaged Teaching and Learning by Full-Time Faculty. He received the award for his service learning project in partnership with a Harlem public school.
Why teach at NYIT?
This is my first appointment at a university, and the location and "Institute of Technology" portion of NYIT's name drew my interest. The Manhattan campus, NYIT's global programs, and diverse student population were also big selling points.
What are your current research interests?
Technology-rich, collaborative learning environments that employ group-focused pedagogies. I'm working on creating a study of service learning at NYIT. Opportunities for volunteering at nonprofit institutions and in settings that need community support seem to provide the ingredients for highly engaging and developmental learning experiences. I'd like to investigate this phenomena more closely as it relates to career, college readiness, and civic engagement.
How has the latest technology influenced your teaching style?
I was a technology professional before I became a teacher. Every aspect of my teaching, from preparation to classroom experience to grading student work, involves or makes use of computers, smartphones, apps, and rich media. My job involves teaching public school teachers to use technology in their approaches to pedagogy. Students can find out anything on the Internet, they can fast forward and replay what they need on YouTube. I get them to think critically about the stuff they find out there and engage them in ways that will provoke them to ask questions about topics in my area of expertise.
Proudest NYIT accomplishment
The service learning project I did in partnership with the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and NYIT Career Services. We put a service learning component into a section of the freshman Career Discovery course. Students volunteered at a Harlem public school for 10 weeks, where they worked in teams and supported classroom instruction, provided technology support, and documented their experiences. They made a positive impact and experienced schooling and the effects of poverty on learning from new perspectives. It was a moving experience to watch the growth and development of so many people in such a short time.
Favorite tech gadget
My iPad. I got a keyboard case for it and use it as a laptop, an e-reader, and a streaming video player. Its camera and video technologies are great, and I plan to use it to create video content for my courses and to collect data for future research projects.
Playing with new tech gadgets, do-it-yourself tech projects, tropical fish-keeping, and fantasy football. I've kept a 55-gallon tropical freshwater fish tank that I started in grad school five years ago to distract myself and relieve stress. This past summer, I set up an outdoor goldfish tank and my first saltwater tank with live rock that should be ready soon for a Damsel fish. Eventually, I'd like to keep a variety of marine fish and coral reefs. I'm also building a technology workbench in my home office so I can start tinkering with the latest electronics and 3-D printing technologies.
I contribute financially to and volunteer about 100 hours a year at local nonprofit organizations serving urban youth through the All Stars Project and for the East Side Institute, an international community of educators, mental health workers, performing artists, and scholars driven to create change by promoting and supporting human development in the poorest communities. I'm proud of my work for these organizations.
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