Tuesday, August 26, 2008

my teaching narrative

what follows is a working version of my teaching narrative, a part of my USF tenure packet that is due september 15th. comments and feedback - especially from past, present, and future students - are encouraged and appreciated.

David Silver
Teaching Narrative
Working Draft: August 25, 2008

My earliest experience with college teaching was as a toddler, accompanying my Dad to Cal Poly, where he was a professor of physics. I enjoyed hanging out in the office Dad shared with James Kalathil, and I felt comfortable being surrounded by walls filled with books. Occasionally, Dad would take me on a tour of campus. He’d point out individual buildings and say, “That’s the Design building. That’s Math. Over there is the Library and next to that is Music.” A college campus, he’d explain, is where different people from different buildings come together to make all of us a little smarter. I was intrigued.

I began teaching in 1990, my senior year at UCLA, when I got a part-time job at Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School, or UES, a laboratory elementary school affiliated with UCLA. At UES, I worked as Ruthellen Moss’s teaching assistant for 5th and 6th graders, a lunch-time playground attendant, and a tutor for the school’s new computer lab.

After two years at UES, I became a private tutor, specializing in writing and thinking skills for junior high and high school students and English conversation skills for LA-based Japanese businessmen. With the teenagers, I discovered that they seldom thought about their topics prior to writing. So I slowed down the writing process by introducing a reflecting process - a ten, twenty, or thirty-minute conversation about their topic. I also learned that with word processors teenagers were more willing to write a second, third, or fourth draft of a paper. With the Japanese businessmen, I learned that American popular culture is an excellent vehicle for engaging conversations. My students would come to class having experienced some form of popular culture and we would spend hours talking about it. In addition to increasing their English conversation skills and confidence, they improved their understanding of American culture and often left class with a notepad full of cool new slang.

Teaching College Students

In fall 1994, I became a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Maryland. My timing was excellent. By the end of my first year, American Studies Professors Jo Paoletti and Mary Corbin Sies received a grant to incorporate computer technologies into their undergraduate classes, which allowed them to hire Psyche Williams-Forson and me as teaching assistants for Material Aspects of American Life. In what was probably a first for any American Studies class, we had our students design and author web sites rather than write traditional papers. I also worked with Professors Sies and Paoletti and others to build Virtual Greenbelt, an early virtual museum devoted to Greenbelt, a New Deal-era planned community in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that featured student created and curated work. I spent my last year at Maryland as a research assistant helping to launch the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, or MITH, where I learned a great deal about teaching with technology from MITH’s founding director Martha Nell Smith and fellow grad student Jason Rhody. I learned the most about teaching by talking about teaching with fellow grad student Kelly Quinn.

The best thing about being a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Maryland was the opportunity to design and teach my own course. I designed, taught, and constantly tweaked Electronic Communication and American Culture (1997), American Media Cultures (1998), and Technology and American Culture (1999). Teaching two sections of thirty students each semester for three years taught me how to teach college students.

Instead of writing papers, my students designed and authored web sites or what we used to call “homepages.” First, I would assign a question that would require students to weave together the class readings and original research. Then, students would design web sites comprised of a written argument, a few relevant graphics, some hyperlinks, and a bibliography. With their webs-in-progress online, students would come to class, pair up, read each others’ work, and then sit and discuss what works and what doesn’t. Two days later, having considered their peers’ feedback and suggestions, students would complete a final version of their Web sites. This process taught me that students work harder when their work is online, students work more creatively when their work is read by their peers, and students better understand media when they make media.

While at the University of Maryland, I received a number of individual and collaborative awards for my teaching. In 1998, I won the Center for Teaching Excellence’s “Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award.” The same year I received an American Studies Crossroads Project “Faculty Investigator Grant.” For the Department of American Studies’ use of computer technologies in the classroom, Professors Paoletti, Sies, and Virginia Jenkins, fellow grad student Debra DeRuyver, and I won University of Maryland’s “1998 Departmental Award for Excellence and Innovation in Undergraduate Education.” In 2000, MITH founding director Smith, MITH Fellows Katie King and Paoletti, fellow grad student Rhody, and I were awarded University of Maryland’s “Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology.”

Teaching Graduate Students

In 2000-01, I was hired as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s unique MA program in Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT). I taught two sections of a graduate class called Cultures of Cyberspace. Through CCT, I learned how to design graduate-level syllabi, how to introduce key concepts through mini-lectures, how to step aside to let students discuss and develop their own ideas, and how to encourage students to continue and share their work beyond the classroom. While at CCT, I directed the master’s theses of Jason Gallo (who recently completed his PhD in Media, Technology & Society at Northwestern University), Amy Harrison (now Content Director at WEbook), and Jeff Young (now Senior Writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education), and worked closely with Mary Madden (now Senior Research Specialist at Pew Internet and American Life Project) and Megan Sapner (now finishing her PhD in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin).

Teaching Communication at the University of Washington

In September 2001, I moved to Seattle to become an assistant professor in the School of Communications at the University of Washington (UW). A year later, the School merged with the Department of Rhetoric to become the Department of Communication. At UW, I continued to experiment heavily with digital media and learning.

For four of my five years at UW, I taught Introduction to Communication, a large-lecture class for 450 students. I felt energized to teach media literacy and critical thinking to large amounts of students recently shell-shocked by 9-11, the War on Afghanistan, and the War on Iraq. With “Intro,” I learned how to give large lectures, how to design an introductory syllabus for Communication, and how to work with a team of graduate TAs. Best of all, I got to “meet,” teach, and learn from a few thousand UW students.

While at UW, I designed and taught a number of new courses on digital media and cultural difference. With help from a “Teaching Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Fellowship” from UW’s Curriculum Transformation Project, I developed and taught Cultural Diversity in/and Cyberspace. This course asked students to read, discuss, and write about the social construction of cultural difference and the ways such differences are played out online. In Basic Concepts of New Media, students learned about virtual communities and online identities and then designed and built their own. To keep it current, I continuously revised Basic Concepts of New Media and by 2006 was using Facebook as our classroom platform. Another class, offered through Comparative History of Ideas, was LGBT Media Activism. For over a year, a few focused UW undergraduates lobbied me to teach a course on media analysis and media activism with special attention to queer politics. With help from guest lectures from nearly a dozen professors, graduate students, librarians, and community activists, I taught the class, for free, in Spring 2005.

At UW, I taught one graduate course (three times) called Theories and Criticism of Communication Technologies. I also worked with many outstanding graduate students and directed the MA theses of Alice Marwick (now a PhD student of Culture and Communication at NYU) and Adrienne Massanari (now an Instructor of New and Digital Media at Loyola University Chicago). I also served on the MA and PhD committees of Irina Gendelman (now an Assistant Professor of Instructional Design at Saint Martin's University).

I also tried to teach through newspapers. From spring 2005 to spring 2006, I contributed faculty opinion pieces to The Daily, UW’s student newspaper. During a time when too many college campuses were silent about issues like war and peace, it felt good – and right – to speak out. In all, I wrote four editorials: “Collective wondering” (May 18, 2005); “Play it really, really loud” (December 7, 2005); “Listening to students” (April 24, 2006); and “Learning from Topsy Smalley” (May 26, 2006). Writing the editorials - and being approached by students in class and on campus to talk about the editorials - led me to consider other avenues of public expression and in 2006 I launched my first blog silver in seattle.

While at UW, I was the runner-up or finalist to many campus, regional, and national teaching awards. In 2004, I was a finalist for UW’s campus-wide “Distinguished Teaching Award.” In 2005, I was a finalist for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ “Faculty of the Year.” In 2006, I was runner-up for the Q Center at the University of Washington’s “Q Faculty Visionary Award.” Also in 2006 I was a finalist for the Tolo Chapter of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society’s “Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award.” I did, however, proudly win Alpha Chi Omega Sorority’s 2005 “Professor of the Year.” Also, in 2007, a year after I left UW, the UW Alumni Association asked the Class of 2007 to vote for their favorite professor to deliver an end-of-the-year “fun, unconventional lecture”; I was a finalist.

Teaching Media Studies at the University of San Francisco

In fall 2006, I joined the Department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco. In two years, I have taught six different courses, including five Media Studies classes: Introduction to Media Studies (taught twice), Digital Journalism (taught twice), Digital Democracy, Media Workshop, and Media Internship. I have also taught one Davies Forum, in spring 2008, called Digital Literacy. For this teaching narrative, I will discuss my experiences with three USF courses: Introduction to Media Studies, Digital Journalism, and Digital Literacy.

Introduction to Media Studies introduces students to the field of media studies and Media Studies at USF. To do so, we approach our topic historically. My students read, discuss, and write about oral cultures, illuminated manuscripts, the printing press, books, newspapers, magazines, comics, the telegraph, recorded music, radio, telephones, film, television, cable television, computers, computer games, the Web, and Web 2.0. Along the way, Media Studies professors share their work through guest lectures, Gleeson Librarian Joe Garity teaches research skills through library tours and workshops, and Career Services Center’s Alex Hochman offers tips on how to begin thinking now about future jobs in media and related fields.

By the end of the semester, I expect my students to appreciate a spectrum of media - from the printing press to WordPress, from corporate to alternative media, from broadcast to participatory - and to have a basic understanding of media’s relationships with capitalism, consumerism, and militarism, as well as with race, gender, sexuality, and class. Further, I expect my students to understand that media studies - the discipline and our Department - combines media analysis and media production and I encourage them to begin thinking about what kinds of media they want to make while at USF.

In spring 2007, I developed a new course called Digital Journalism. Part seminar on the present state of journalism and part workshop on the future of storytelling, Digital Journalism teaches students about the current and dramatic transformations that are happening in traditional journalism as well as other media-related industries. Students also learn how to use web-based tools and technologies to gather and access news and stories and to create and distribute their own. Finally, and most importantly, students learn how to learn new tools quickly and independently.

All of the students in Digital Journalism design and maintain a blog. This gives them a free, independent, public, and relatively easy-to-use multimedia platform to publish, distribute, and converse about their ideas and stories. In the past, my students have blogged and photographed the graphic novels exhibit in Gleeson Library (organized by Gleeson Librarians Kathy Woo and Debbie Benrubi), blogged and photographed student murals outside Crossroads Café (organized by Professors Eric Hongisto and Sharon Siskin), interviewed and blogged about the secret garden at the Loyola House (tended by Father Tom Lucas), and photographed, filmed, and blogged USF's organic garden. When students from one class engage in work of students from another class, everyone gets smarter.

In addition to stellar student evaluations, I have received positive qualitative feedback on Digital Journalism. One student wrote: “Digital Journalism is one of the best courses I’ve taken at USF. I feel like I am more prepared to enter the job market that is so oriented toward new media. Prof. Silver showed that he really cared about all of our progress and learning. We had fun and learned a lot!” Another student remarked: “David Silver is an amazing asset to USF and the Media Studies major. He is expertly proficient in new online digital technologies useful to both the Journalism and Production sides of the major. His ideas, as well as his personality, inspire students to go above and beyond normal expectations.”

Last year, I taught the spring 2008 Davies Forum and designed it around Digital Literacy. We read reports about literacy from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and read portions or all of Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, Henry JenkinsConvergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, and Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. We thought about, talked about, and designed a few hundred blog posts about literacy in a digital age. With enormous help from Erin Smith in the Dean's Office, we hosted, listened to, and blogged about eleven Davies Forum Guest Speakers: Bryan Alexander; Ivan Chew; Kevin Epps; Brewster Kahle; Francis Lake; Mary Madden; Jasmine Park; Kelly Quinn; Fred Stutzman; Phillip Thurtle; and Gayla Trail. We took and uploaded nearly five hundred Davies Forum-related photographs to Flickr. With help from Gleeson Librarian Vicki Rosen, we took over a significant chunk of Gleeson Library to recognize National Library Week. And we field-tripped to Haight Street to watch experimental film, to the downtown branch of the San Francisco Public Library to learn about Library 2.0, and to Humboldt County to spend three days at Stonelake Farm.

Part Walden, part Web 2.0, Digital Literacy encouraged my seven honors students and I to log on and log off to better understand the informational environments that surround us. Whether I required my students to shop for and cook a delicious meal and blog about it, or whether I asked my students to find a part of San Francisco that would make Jane Jacobs proud and blog about it, or whether I encouraged my students to reflect upon something important for a few days while at Stonelake Farm and blog about it, the assignment was essentially the same: log off before you blog off. Teaching Digital Literacy was a high honor of a lifetime and the student evaluations were the highest of my academic career.

Teaching Other People’s Classes

In addition to teaching my own classes, I have guest-lectured in my colleagues’ classes. I have given two guest lectures about “Web 2.0” for Professor Dorothy Kidd’s Media Institutions course and gave a guest lecture on “Web 2.0, Crowd-sourcing, and New Forms of Reporting” for Professor Teresa Moore’s Journalism II: Advanced Reporting course. I also gave a guest lecture on “The September Project and Building Public Culture” for Professor Josh Gamson’s Sociology of Culture course.

I enjoy blogging and teaching about blogging. In fall 2007, I gave a presentation called “Blogging 101” to USF faculty, librarians, and staff as part of the Center for Information Technology’s (CIT) Emerging Technologies in Higher Education Speaker Series. Also that semester, I gave a talk called "Blogging" at a town hall meeting at Gleeson Library. In spring 2008, together with Professors Andrew Goodwin (Professor of Pop) and Michael Robertson (Darwin's California Cat Presents the 15-Minute Man), I was part of a panel discussion and blog demonstration called “Blogging Teaching, Collegiality and Self-Expression” as part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Faculty Development lunch series. In summer 2008, I conducted (with help from two recently graduated Davies Forum students) a workshop called “Blogging 101” for USF faculty, staff, and students as part of CIT’s Summer Tech Intensives. I also conducted (and continue to conduct) a number of blogging workshops for the students enrolled in USF’s Garden Project. For this work and my work with my own blog, silver in sf, I was awarded USF’s Full-time Faculty Innovation Award in spring 2008.

Learning about Teaching

I enjoy learning about teaching. For the last two years, I have gained much from Dean Michael Bloch’s Lunchtime Teaching Series for 1st and 2nd year professors. I learned a lot from our discussions and enjoyed getting to know my faculty colleagues over a tasty lunch. In 2007, I attended my first Faculty Resource Network at NYU and enrolled in “Foundations of Online Course Development,” which helped me think through some issues around student learning and student blogging. In 2008, I attended my second Faculty Resource Network and enrolled in “The Landscape of American Food in the Twenty-First Century.” The week-long program was excellent and generated many refreshing conversations (and future collaborations) around food, teaching about food, and teaching with food.


Sara said...

The Davies Forum was pretty much amazing. The assignments were engaging, the bloggging was a great alternative to traditional papers, and the guest speakers all had something to teach the class. Oh, and the parts of Jane Jacobs we didn't read? I just cracked open that book to finish them.

Anonymous said...

Love how you guys are using exploring 'web 2.0' and digital storytelling as an effective means of teaching & communication.

As a founder of Heekya (www.heekya.com) we're always excited to see how storytelling is a powerful and effective means of communication.

I'd love to have a discussion with you how storytelling can help the nature of a class.

moley said...

Hi David,

Good to hear from you via facebook and so happy you've found a place to call home, where you love to teach. Believe it or not, you were one of my favorite and most influential professors at the University of Washington (trust me, ask Thurtle). Though I was only able to take your Intro to Com class, you were constantly an incredible presence in the Com dept. throughout my time there. And what a class Intro to Com was! Somehow, despite the large size and Kane Hall’s sleep-inducing beige tones, you were able to make communications and media themes personal and affecting. Our readings were not simply assigned to be regurgitated, but as a leaping off point for personal reflection and application within our own lives.

During that class in early 2004, you introduced us to (and forced us to get our hands dirty in) digital media just as it was exploding and you sparked in my mind the idea of personal journalism—the intersection of the personal, the medium and the message through blogs and increasingly slanted news coverage—that I would wrestle with for the next three years and would eventually become my CHID Honors thesis. All nascent sources, all notions on the incredible impact of 9/11 on reporting and blogging can be traced back to that class—an incredible accomplishment for such a large lecture course.

Intro to Com was only half your gift to me at the UW, however. As opinion editor for the UW Daily, you ignored removed, ivory tower pretension and wrote wonderful, thought-provoking columns for my section that collapsed the divide between issues effecting students and the academy. Few other professors have wiser used the medium of a campus newspaper to reach students and foster a campus-wide conversation. We may have had a few, small editing disagreements (discussions?:-), but, frankly, I was honored and humbled by our collaboration.

Finally, I cannot ignore the impact your academic presence continues to have on me now. Ironically and fortunately, I am now the communications manager for a Washington education advocacy nonprofit called Partnership for Learning. One of the main duties of my job is blogging about K-12 education issues and your notion of connecting the personal, digital, socio-cultural and academic informs me still.

Thank you.

Maureen Trantham, UW BA, Journalism and the Comparative History of Ideas, 2007

Jessica said...

After getting the notification from facebook that you would like comments on your blog, I would definitely love to leave a comment. And I support your quest for tenure.

I first took Intro to Communication in Winter 2004 at the University of Washington. The first day of class it snowed and the campus was shut down. I remember you coming in and welcoming us all to your class and exclaiming that it was snowing. I was hooked and eventually became a Communication major. I knew this class would be great. You had such an eager appetite for learning and and openness to differences. I believe I took one or two more classes after Intro to Com.

I also really enjoyed your love of libraries and how you once told me in office hours that if you did your Masters all over again, you would have gone to library school. This fall I will be starting library school at the University of Washington. I'm inspired by communication theory and would like to study libraries from a communication perspective.

Looking back on my undergraduate studies, you were one of my favorite professors and I feel very fortunate to have been able to take your classes. I hope San Francisco does you well and that you earn tenure that you deserve.

Thank you.

Jessica Moskowitz, UW BA Communication, Sociology 2006, Master of Library and Information Science candidate 2010.

Dr. Sanford Aranoff said...

We all love to teach. We must understand how students think. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

Elizabeth Atwood said...

As they say on facebook 'Silver is Gold' and this is by no means an understatement.

Although the class size was large when I was enrolled in his UW communications class, I felt as if Prof. Silver was speaking directly to me; this may sound silly and overstated, but it's not, and I am sure I was not the only one enthralled and hanging on his every word.

One of my greatest memories of my entire university experience were the final words he gave to the class when the quarter wrapped. I took furious notes, knowing that it would be some of the greatest advice I would be given. I still have the notes, 4 or 5 years on, and have to say I do look back at them from time to time with great respect and admiration.

Additionally, it is hard to find a Professor who is dedicated enough to his students where he will allow access and advice whenever the need should arise. He was always available, even now years later, to have a casual chat about whatever someone may need. Vast knowledge combined with approachability is extremely hard to find in the academic experience and he has that in totality.

In short, Professor Silver broadened my mind to a more expansive notion of cultural awareness, introduced me to amazing literature that I still regard as my favorites, and inspired me to pursue my current profession in public relations. In fact, he holds the honor for inspiring and nurturing my now successful career.

Every student should have the opportunity to experience his teaching, no matter what the subject.

David, I can not thank you enough, and although I have never really had the chance to properly express this to you, I am glad the chance has presented itself. You are fantastic at what you do and because you found your calling, many others will now as well.

Thank You and Best Wishes,

Elizabeth Atwood
Halpern Public Relations, London England

Anonymous said...

Big Dave!! You honestly made my expeience within communications that much better to push towards my masters in South Africa in the year to come!! Thank you BROTHA!!

johnie R. Kirton 08 GRAD.

sarahshark said...

I remember when I talked to you outside of the HUB. I knew who you were through friends who had taken the LGBT Media Studies Class. To my surprise, you knew who I was, too! You said, "you're Sarah, right? Yeah, I saw you at the queer poetry event in December." You then started laughing and said," it was so funny when you said I don't want to stop eating meat and make a career in women studies just to fit in with the rest of the crowd." I figured I must be famous if another campus celebrity-David Silver-knew who I was!

*elle* said...

In a sea of thousands of students, Dr. Silver made my winter 2006 college learning experience personal and unique. He always encouraged me to think for myself and to take my ideas as far as they could go.
In my current role as a Program Manager at Microsoft, I publish digital media to a worldwide marketplace. My ability to take on a new project, develop ideas, and follow through to produce a result has been instrumental in my success in the workforce. I credit Dr. Silver in helping me to develop these skills.
I feel very fortunate to have learned from a professor that truly cared about my development as a person, not just about my ability to recite material. He would be a great asset to any organization.

Thank you,
Danielle Hastings, UW, BA Communication
Concepts of New Media Winter 2006

Allison said...

I took your Intro to Communication class at the UW a few years ago. It was my first COM class, and I knew I wanted to become a Communication major after taking it. I remember being moved, being inspired, and being educated in a way that changed my life. Thank you, David. I wish you all the best in your tenure process.

Allison Cabellon
BA Communication, December '05

meon said...

Your Intro to Communications class at UW is the reason why I chose to major in Communications. I randomly signed up for the class in my freshmen year and didn't know or expect much about it, but your class totally broadened my horizon and helped me to discover my true interest of study. My most favorite topic in class was media framing and analysis and our assignment on the newspaper coverage on the anti-war protest. It made me realize how tiny details could totally spin the same incident in complete different ways. Oh, and not to mention you got Tupac's manager to give us a lecture. It was golden!

I was lucky to have you as my professor again for LGBT Media Studies before you left for SF. I think it's one of the most significant and live-changing classes I've ever had at the UW. You really created a safe and open environment for students to share their thoughts and experience without judgment; you motivated all of us in class to be activists and the class really came together as friends and a collective force for equality.

Thank you, David, for being a wonderful and inspiring teacher.

Meon Yu
Communications, BA 2006
University of Washington

Anonymous said...

One of my most enjoyable classes (and professors) during my time at UW.

Thanks, David!

Meghann Smith
BA Business Finance, 2006
University of Washington

Lulu McAllister said...

For awhile I struggled with what to call my Digital Literacy professor, David Silver. “David” (although he welcomed that name) didn’t feel right because I wanted acknowledge his clear expertise on and interest in everything we learned; still, “Professor Silver” always seemed too formal for someone so down-to-earth and approachable. After I finally raised the issue with him personally, we settled on Silver.

Silver introduced me to blogging – something that, despite its ubiquity, intimidated me considerably. My first blog posts, which formed the backbone of our class work that semester, were stilted and overcautious. Silver’s criticism of our posts was never inaccurate nor discouraging; he’s not one to pull punches, though they fall softly. I disregarded some of his suggestions (to this day, the title picture of my blog is still way too big), but I always gained something from his feedback. Generally, he kept pushing me to include more of my own thoughts, more of myself in my posts. Unlike many class experiments or projects, this blog is something that I continue to work on and enjoy today. I would even go so far as to say that because of him even my MOM blogs now!

I know it sounds cliché, but Silver is excellent at thinking outside the box. Who else would be able to link a class trip to a Humboldt farm with digital literacy? His teaching style is a refreshing blend of patience and curiosity; personal wisdom and shared knowledge.

My final semester at USF is packed, but if I could make room in my schedule to spend another semester under Silver’s tutelage, I would. He is an important asset to our community.

Avery said...

I just wanted to add a comment about my experiences of Dr. Silver as a teacher. During my first day as a graduate Communication student at the UW, David was an immediate stand-out as the only faculty member present with character, conviction and compassion. These are characteristics it only takes a few hours in person to note. Here I'm going to write about what he did for me instead.

Over the next two years David became not only one of my life's most esteemed instructors, but a friend as well. One of my few regrets at that time of my life (2004-6) was that I didn't start my MA earlier. My timing was such that David would be leaving the department and felt unable to guarantee he'd be an ideal graduate supervisor. Well, he may not have been the faculty member to judge my thesis, but he was every bit as supportive a mentor in an unofficial role as anyone could ask.

David encouraged my development, supported my conference travel, inspired me to start writing chapters for my own book, also pushed me to write my first academic pieces for publication. I cannot thank him enough.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

What a fine record of committed, creative, and stimulating teaching.

And that's just the comments. :) Seriously, it's terrific to see such a career reflected here.

Vanessa B said...

It seems that most of us hope to leave a mark on maybe one person, or thousands. When I think of people that I've met in my life, David Silver is among the few who I truly believe changes peoples lives (a goal many of us hope to accomplish). How do I know this? He may not realize how just going about his every day teaching can help people in tremendous ways, but as many on this blog have already stated, the first day of my intro to Communications class at UW I was changed. Now that's cool! And I'm not the only one who felt this way!

I've told David at least once, if he can remember, that he's the reason I went into communications. As busy a man as he always seems, he always makes time just to chat. I would go to his office with no direction and no real question and somehow, he'd answer it. An amazing teacher isn't just someone who gets the daily lecture across, but opens student's eyes and reminds them that there are people who truly care and there are teachers who really know what they're doing and belong right where they are. A good teacher makes time, makes things exciting and new, and can even get you into something you didn't know was for you. A good teacher can connect with their students and can gain trust and the desire to know more from their students.

And so, David Silver is without a doubt the most interesting, full of energy, approachable, and intelligent professors I've ever had. And this by no means an understatement. If I could have, I would have taken up every inch of his office hours, but everyone in the right mind was thinking the same thing. But even in a class of 500 something students, he can speak to each person individually. Some years ago I stepped into that intro class just for a credit and now I'm almost walking out of my bachelors in communications and a master's degree in public health to pursue health communications. Right on.

Many thanks to you David for all your hard work and inspiration. People can make huge differences and you are one I will always look up to, even though I only had 2 classes with you. So, if I haven't said it before, thanks again and best of luck with your tenureship and who knows, maybe one day we'll bump into eachother.

ps. hope you're still way into led zeppelin...how could you not be right?

Vanessa Brandon

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Excellent post, better comments. Indeed, rather *moving* comments.

Kirk said...


I know from my personal experience and from the comments that I see on your blog that you have made a difference in many lives. I had the privilege of taking your LGBT Media Studies class at UW and it was always both humbling and uplifting to have you take such a personal interest in each member of the class. You were quite busy at the time and even teaching this class for free, yet you always had time for us in and out of class, and you truly cared about us as people, not just as students. That is a rare occurrence in academia, especially in the UW environment. Your care and concern made all of us in that class blossom not just in how we approached the subject but in how we approached each other, and the friendships I made in that course are among the most enduring I have ever made.

Teaching can be just that, or it can be so much more. I'm happy that you never approached academics as just lecturing, but rather as a collaborative effort to seek out and discover new, relevant knowledge. The classroom became a laboratory at the same time that it became a sanctuary; your LGBT Media Studies class in particular was a place where we were safe to explore new and challenging issues in an open and supportive environment that I, at least, looked forward to as a respite from the day.

Students at USF are lucky to have you as a teacher, adviser, counselor and friend. Your ongoing commitment to the lives of your students is incredible, and I'm honored that I will continue to have the opportunity to meet up with you. You've had an amazing career, and with your energy, heart and commitment I know that you will not only make tenure but will continue to transform the subject and the lives of your students. Thank you for all you've done for me and I look forward to seeing much more of you and your work.

Kirk Rehn
UW BA Political Science 2008
USF Law Student 2011

lissle said...

ahhhmm where to start.

The first thing that comes to mind in writing this is Silver's contagious genuine curiosity. He's such a good teacher because he's up there in front of the class and so curious that as a student you're thinking, wow this must be interesting.

I think his open mindedness is also part of what makes him a great educator- something perhaps harder to come by in a lot of teachers- careful not to classify anything into any category without really considering all possibilities. This ties to another effective teaching method that I think he utilizes (probably unconsciously) which is answering questions with questions. This also is quite empowering as a student. Instead of, aren't you stupid this is the answer it's more, let's figure this out together, or I will guide you to the answer by asking questions which lead to more questions, and what do YOU think?
Hopefully that made sense.

He also seems to care a lot about being in touch with how students are feeling about the class. It's like he wants to make sure everyone's in the same boat before we go into learning something together. It makes the classroom feel like a team, like we can all trust each other and so then we are learning as a group- which is awesome.
Along with this same idea, I think he cares about knowing his students. From a student perspective this too builds confidence as he seems to genuinely feel like he can learn from everyone, rather than feeling his students are less experienced and so less smart and inferior.

I think I could even say a lot more! but I'll stop here.

I plan to re-read my notebook from our Davies Forum on Digital Literacy Class and have it forever, along with everything we ever read in there.
Wow! USF is lucky to have you.

melinda stone said...

you are an inspiration. Thanks David for all you do.

Sara said...

David embodies the true definition of teaching: leading by example, offering up the possibilities that not everything you hear/see/feel/read is right and showing the greatest remount of respect for expanding minds and being people of a multitude of backgrounds. I've never learned so much as when in his classes. There is much to be learned in being handed the freedom to do so. Thank you, David!

Sara Giba

Sandra said...

You were one of my favorite professors at UW. You really encouraged and cared about us as individuals. You are definately missed!!

Sandra Lee
UW BA Economics 2007

JennOverseas said...

Reading previous posts seem to honestly reflect your teaching style. As a professor, you are inspirational and encouraging. But adding to that dimension is your uncanny ability to seem sitting in the seat next to the student, learning and growing just the same. You did not teach from the top down, but rather, you used a personable style to offer a mulitude of perspectives on a plate. This type of lecture engagement reveals when someone is doing what they love.
As a professor, you have single-handedly led many UW students to major in COM. Many journeys initiated from your spark in the classroom. While you taught us a variety of media and communication concepts in detail, the usual focus on points that truly matter is why you maintain a lot of credibility amongst students.
I'll always remember our final class, when you revealed some backround on Middle Eastern ethnicities. Point being that while our media was so drenched in the Iraq war, many of us knew very little about the places we occupy. Larger point simply being that a curiosity for things beyond yourself is important. It seemed that you were using every bit of your last moments with the class to convey a valuable, impactful lesson. You were successful.

Thank you, David! Good luck with your tenure.

Jennifer Villaruz
Communications-Journalism, UW BA, 2006

Adrienne Massanari said...

Hi David-

You asked for a few comments about your work as a teacher and mentor. I’m honored to respond.

We started at the Department of Communication at the UW the same year - you as an assistant professor, me as a master’s student. From our first meeting in the fall of 2001, I was struck by your approachability, enthusiasm, and genuine interest in your students and colleagues. Our first conversation went something like this:

AM: Says something about working for a high-tech company before grad school. Has a few nascent ideas about the culture of dot-coms.

DS: Listens attentively. Asks questions. Expresses enthusiasm. Suggests I write about this stuff.

As a new (insecure) graduate student, this was just what I needed – someone who would listen, validate my ideas, and push me further in my intellectual growth. Together we fawned over your new iPod, discussed the insanity of 9/11 and what was happening in the world, and discussed my skepticism (at the time) of scholars’ use of the term “cyberculture.”

In the graduate seminar you taught that first year, I was struck by your ability to facilitate discussions and the ease with which you created a safe, supportive classroom community. I remember when you came in the first day with your mug of coffee, explaining that if the stuff inside was the ‘net, technology, etc., you were interested in the mug itself - the container that shaped the liquid inside. The mug represented the cultural, political, and social narratives we tell about technology that gives the “coffee” its shape. It was a simple and elegant metaphor that stuck with me.

You agreed to chair my masters thesis – and your excitement every time we met reinvigorated and sustained my interest in my topic. Later we organized a major conference funded by the Ford Foundation and the Simpson Center for the Humanities and edited a book together that collected the conference contributions. These first-hand experiences demystified the scholarly process and helped me become more confident in my own work.

Throughout these projects and the conversations that ensued, you remained engaged, curious, and interested in my development as a scholar – but even more importantly – as a human being.

You taught me the secret of successful conference proposals - [sexy quote/pithy comment/outrageous claim here (colon) the real gist of what you’re going to talk about] - which I still think about every time I submit a paper.

Your interest in unearthing hidden cultural narratives inspires me to this day and has become an important part of my own research. You taught me that a teacher’s job is not only to facilitate learning, but also to encourage the growth of students as people.

I know I’m not alone when I say how honored I am have been one of your students and how much your tutelage has helped shape who I am as a teacher and scholar. I have no doubt that your tenure bid will be successful.

Adrienne Massanari
Instructor of New/Digital Media
School of Communication
Loyola University - Chicago

pyrgirl said...

Hi David,

I am thrilled that you've found your niche in San Francisco! However, I will forever be disappointed that because of your move, I was only able to take one class with you. Your Intro to Comm class in the Winter 2005 quarter was one of the best classes I have ever taken in my entire career as as student. Your passion and enthusiasm for Communication, along with your positive encouragement for students and learning, inspired me and so greatly added to my education. Your teachings immediately revealed to me that I, too, shared a passion for the subject of Communication.

I graduated from UW in the summer of 2007 with a major in Communication and a minor in Women Studies. I am now in my second semester of graduate school at the University of Southern California working on my Master's in Communication Management. I will always have you to thank for introducing me to my passion and helping me get to where I am today. I owe you so much more than a blog comment! =)

As they say on facebook, "Silver is gold." That couldn't be more true.

Thank you.

Christie Hoffman
UW BA, Communication, 2007
USC MA Communication Management Candidate, 2009

Christopher McCarter said...

It almost seems redundant. The outpouring of comments praising this man should be evidence enough -- David Silver is a superb teacher, both gracious and receptive. He is an adept thinker overflowing with ingenuity and courage. He is, well, hella cool. And greatest of all, David is a true friend, a comrade, and a people’s man.

I had the pleasure of first taking David’s Intro to Communications class in which he proceeded to blow my mind by illustrating important shifts in the way our culture perceives itself through media, a la Bob Dylan playing an electric guitar at Woodstock. What was doubly amazing about this class is that it was a lecture of about 450 students (in which he called on students by name!) and was continually smart and engaging.

I also then fortunate enough to take LGBT Media Studies in Spring 2005. This class was unlike any I have taken in my college career. It was intellectually demanding, provocative, fun and completely frustrating. I learned a ton about media framing and the sorts of politics involved in that, issues of mainstream versus queer perspectives, and the oppression of minorities across history and the institutionalized discrimination compounded by media. Most importantly, with David’s guidance and encouragement, I learned a lot about myself as a student, both my strengths and my weaknesses. When I think back about this class and the friends I made in it (and still keep in touch with), I can still see how it has influenced me and set me on my current course in life as a queer writer (read as: Move over, David Sedaris).

Lastly, to round out my time with David Silver, I scored a much-desired spot in his Special Topics Communications class in Spring 2006. This class was centered on using a Wiki as a teaching tool. All of our assignments were conducted on the Wiki, both independently and in class. It made for an interesting and irreplaceable dynamic once us students started finding parallels and connections in each other’s work. At that point, we actually had to talk to each other about our ideas and share with one another our knowledge of certain topics. While David received little support for this class due to its experimental nature, I will say he was one of the first professors at UW to ever explore the Wiki as a teaching tool (how he pulled it off, I am not sure). I have since taken classes in which the self-made Wiki is now more widely accepted as a teaching tool and the funding and technology available to these newer classes is incomparable to what was available to David’s class. And yet, David was there, as a forerunner pushing the envelope, as a teacher FOR the students, engaging with technology and new media as a vehicle for learning and practice.

Best of luck to you, David. You are sorely missed.
Christopher McCarter UW ‘08

P.S. How cool is it that this whole process is in a blog?

Tim said...

The first assignment I ever handed in to David Silver was riddled with spelling errors. And he gave me an "A."
You see, David was never the type of guy to sweat the small stuff. His only concern was whether or not you were thinking smartly and deeply. He didn't just teach a subject, he taught his students how to think, how to learn and how imagine. In this instance, I guess he liked the way I thought.
I took exactly one class with David, and it was during the first semester of my freshman year at the University of Maryland. That was 11 years ago. He's still my favorite teacher.
My first project--the one I reference above--was an online essay in which we were encouraged to use hyperlinks and photos to help make it more interesting. We could write about pretty much anything related to American life. I chose to write about the concept of a "comeback" in sports and popular culture. I wrote about Courtney Love, who had just been nominated for an Oscar. I wrote about Dwight Gooden's no-hitter. I thought it was a good essay. David loved it too and said he would have given me an A+ if I could spell.
Over the next four years, David and I became great friends. I pursued a degree in Journalism, (I learned to spell) and he got his Phd, went to Georgetown and then to the West Coast where he belonged. I stayed East and got a job writing about business and sports for right-leaning newspaper. And he was totally happy for me.
I look back on my interactions with David all the time. His energy and passion were so affecting that I think of him anytime I need a dose of motivation. And because of him, I know how to examine the world around me in a critical way, constantly asking questions and taking nothing at face value. The world needs more people like David Silver.

Tim Lemke
University of Maryland
BA Journalism and American Studies '01

Alice Marwick said...

When I started at the University of Washington in 2003, I had been out of school for seven years working in the technology industry. I was nervous about my ability to jump back into an academic environment and feeling disconnected from "Communication Studies" as a discipline. I was immediately assigned to work with David as a Research Assistant and he became my MA advisor and supervised my thesis. Later, I was a Teaching Assistant in his Intro to Communication class. Now I am a PhD student at NYU, working on my dissertation as a visiting scholar at USF, and still working with David, five years later. He has been an integral part of my academic career due to his dedication to students, integrity, and creative approach to "the academy." I have learned an enormous amount from him.

First I want to talk about David's skill with undergraduate classes. He taught an enormous, required intro class - something like 400 students, with 7 or 8 TAs, at 9:30 in the morning - and the students were rapt. They never fell asleep. They never skipped class. It was a complete pleasure to TA for the class as the students were engaged and inspired by the lectures. David got up on stage twice a week with only a small index card in his hand and made somewhat dry material (the history of radio, First Amendment law) come alive. Now I am an instructor myself, and I can say with confidence that I am awed by this ability- I always have 20 pages of notes and a PowerPoint and my students are rarely as interested. I have "borrowed" ideas, readings, and lecture topics from him. He is truly an exceptional teacher.

I experienced this personally working with David as a RA and MA thesis advisee. David encouraged me to dig deeply into whatever I was researching: he bounced ideas off me, pushed me to look in disparate directions, and was always incredibly supportive. We co-wrote a chapter for a book which became my first academic publication, and I learned how to transform research into a finished piece of writing. My (overly ambitious, 200 page) MA thesis benefited greatly from his expertise, advise, and enthusiasm.

David is one of the most interesting and creative people working in the academy today. He is an inspiration to me as I seek an academic career myself. I fully support his bid for tenure and believe he would be an asset to any institution.

Alice Marwick
BA, Wellesley College, Women's Studies, 1998
MA, University of Washington, Communication, 2005
PhD, New York University, Media, Culture, and Communication, expected 2010

Megan Sapnar said...

As yet another fan of David Silver, I thought I'd add my comments to the outpouring of positive testimony concerning his amazing teaching record.

In the fall of 2000, I took "Cultures of Cyberspace" with David in the Communicatios, Culture and Technology masters program at Georgetown University. I am really not exaggerating when I say that this class not only changed the way I thought about cyberspace, it also changed my future. The fall of 2000, of course, was when we were all starting to realize that the dot-com boom really was over. And what a great moment to be studying cyberculture. While plenty of other classes that I was taking at the time were very invested in all things New Economy, David's approach was grounded, historical, and critical. I wrote a paper that semester about web design communities which opened a whole new avenue of research interest. I went back to work after graduating from Georgetown, but really felt that some of the questions I first started asking in David's class were worth pursuing more. I'm now finishing my dissertation, a project that links the social context of the dot-com boom period and the "New Economy" discourse to an historical understanding of web style, production practices and new media organizational structures. I can vividly trace my interest in this subject to David's enthusiasm and encouragement.

One of his greatest contributions to our grad seminar was the way he was able to intuitively navigate a balance that is not an easy one in grad courses. He was able to keep us focused by providing context for the readings, while giving us space to mull it over develop our own critical practices. It was one of the best grad classes I've taken-- that it was his first grad-level teaching experience just floors me!

He has a unique combination of strengths which are clearly demonstrated in many of these comments. I'll summarize them anyway: his enthusiasm in the classroom is absolutely contagious; his mentoring and devotion has helped me to be a better scholar; his greater contribution to the scholarly community with projects like the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies (among others) is positively Herculean; his individual scholarship is original, critical, and thought-provoking; and his use of new media to constantly engage students in new ways is creative, innovative, and effective. What more can I say? This guy deserves tenure.

Megan Sapnar
PhD Candidate
Media and Cultural Studies
Department of Communication Arts
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anonymous said...

I remember taking intro to media studies with you, that was a really fun class. It's rather uncommon that one learns so much from a class that is so fun, but that's exactly what happened. Don't ever change!
- Zack

Anonymous said...

Wow, after reading all the comments here, I think my comment would be a tiny drop in the ocean of praises. But, it is possibly my best chance of writing a word of thanks to one of my greatest professors, my most inspiring mentor and a wonderful friend.

I started writing this “little” message almost a week ago. I wanted it to be a perfect letter of support but when I got to it I just kept writing and writing until I had almost two pages about detailed references to our meetings and the enormous amount of help and support Professor Silver has graciously granted to me over the past 3 and half years. I am just one of the many students who have been touched by Professor Silver’s considerate presence and thoughtful guidance. Even though I have very long story to tell about my various experiences with him, I will keep it short only to mention what comes to my mind when I think of Professor Silver as a teacher and as a mentor.

As a teacher – Into to COM, my first class in the department of Communications was taught by Professor Silver. This class was one of the best classes I have taken in my life. It was educational, it was relevant, it was entertaining and it made me want to learn more. The class’s enormous impact on me was because of the Professor teaching it. He loved the matter he was teaching and he was not only teaching us but also learning from us at the same time. His curiosity in the matter made us want to learn. His care and concern about the different issues and subjects discussed during the course made us want to care about them too. His creative and entertaining touch to lectures made the class setting a non-stressful environment where we were not forced to learn but it was a gradual process. In a class of over 400 students it is very, very hard to get participation. But, he was able to do so as easily as he was able to effectively teach us. Needless to say, like many others, this class was what sparked my interest in the field of Communications. It was quite a change for me being a science student who had never imagined getting a BA. That shows his immense power to deliver the matter and be such an inspiring teacher.

As a mentor – One of the greatest qualities of Professor Silver is his humility and kindness which makes him incredibly approachable. I am so glad that I approached him about his project outside class. After the class was over, I started helping him on The September Project. Our meetings were very casual but I always took something out of it. I contantly learned about the project and looked deeper into my work when he made me see it under a different light. I learned a lot about communication through the project. Specifically I learned about global communication and communication through digital media. I learned how to question and approach challenges from different angles and solve the problems effectively. Not only did this help me in my studies in Communications, it helped me in my achieving my degree in Biology and continues to help me in my life.

I strongly support his request for tenure as he really deserves it. From my experience with him, I know Professor Silver loves his work and is passionately dedicated to his profession. He is committed to passing his knowledge to others and constantly strives for superior creative innovative change in his work. I look up to such a great teacher and an inspiring mentor and strive to be as strongly and passionately committed and dedicated to my work as he.

UW – Class of 2008.

Shelley Risk said...

I am not quite sure where to start. During my senior year at UW, I took a New Media class taught by David Silver before blogging was the phenomenon it is now and the term "cyberculture" had just been coined. He was a tremendous presence in the classroom and by far the most inspiring, dedicated, smart and cutting-edge professor I had during my time there.

He encouraged me to explore my interests and because of his enthusiasm not only for teaching, but also my learning ... I have been able to pursue a career in new media and Web 2.0 with passion and joy. I think back to the time when I left his class and college and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to learn from him.

I feel privileged to share what a tremendous influence David Silver has had on my life, my career and my appreciation of the simple pleasure of discovery.

Shelley Risk
UW Class of '02

Anonymous said...

I still remember in Intro to Media Studies how you predicted Facebook's sudden jump into individualized advertising (ex. Simon Yugler just rented City of God from Blockbuster).

Your teachings continue to stay ahead of the trend and I look forward to the day when more professors have become equally proficient at utilizing internet technologies.


Kelly said...

I have had a hard time stringing together a cogent argument for Professor David Silver’s teaching credentials. This is unexpected, as I consider him one of two most inspirational professors at USF. I suppose the difficulty comes from proximity; I am but three months removed from Professor Silver’s class. What’s more, these past few months have found me encircled in the ideas, theories, questions and explorations begun in the Davies Forum on Digital Literacy. To be blunt, I am obsessed with this “digital literacy” we started to investigate in January. I find myself thinking about comic books and sidewalks, Swamp Thing and Seattle fashion daily. And so, maybe my difficulty articulating praise is exactly why Professor Silver is most deserving of that praise. His class didn’t end on May 16—we’re at eight months and still going strong. I haven’t spoken to Professor Silver since our last official class meeting, but the provocative subject matter, its thoughtful presentation and Professor Silver’s open-minded curiosity have stuck with me long after commencement.

Why is this? Professor Silver’s proficiency as a teacher comes down to three key components. First, the provocative nature of Professor Silver’s syllabus and reading materials deserves praise. Professor Silver is skilled at finding relevant materials from far beyond the beaten path. When conceiving of a class, especially something as abstract as Digital Literacy, Professor Silver leaves no stone unturned. He provides breadth of perspective and philosophy, thus allowing for a broader, more open-ended student experience. Professor Silver’s classes are about options and potential. The second component of Professor Silver’s expertise is presentation. Professor Silver does not just assemble varied sourced of information—he relays that information in creative and stimulating ways, with innovative method and medium. His attitude is open-minded and inclusive. His assignments are original and meaningful. I remember setting out to buy/build/barter my own special journal, taking pictures to represent the California primary, building a fort in the university library and chopping wood (with an axe!). I remember twittering, blogging, flickring, google mapping, photographing, drawing and blogging some more. He realizes that broad topics require broad assignments. Professor Silver also acknowledges that not every method suits every student. Here, then, comes his empathy as a teacher; if a medium doesn’t work for you, try your best, and move on. There were no failures in Professor Silver’s class, only constructive criticism and a desire to try something new. There is no busy work with Professor Silver; each assignment is carefully designed and structured to provide the most bang for one’s academic buck. And, they’re fun to do. Fun, thoughtful assignments lead to more student participation, which means more students are learning. Finally, Professor Silver is unafraid to leave questions unanswered. He does not bombard students with doctrines and definitives; we are allowed to explore the subject matter, and so is he. This has been the most lasting and effective skill of Professor Silver’s teaching arsenal. Try as I might, I can’t stop thinking about the questions he asked that semester. What does digital literacy even mean? I am still pondering the most basic of questions, and I think that is a most effective teaching strategy. Nothing is taken for granted with Professor Silver; a modern-day Descartes, he allows his students to question everything. I can say, with echoes from classmates I’m sure, that I will never look at reading (literally, to read) again.

On a personal level, Professor Silver has encouraged me outside of class to pursue aspects of the class that caught on most with me. He makes incredible connections in the “real” world (testament to his personable demeanor) and doesn’t hesitate to share those connections with students. He is invaluable as an educator of the academic world and an educator of the murky land that is post-grad. That is a rare skill, indeed.

I wish Professor Silver nothing but luck and success on his journey towards (well-deserved) tenure. He is a highly skilled educator who is most generous with his knowledge. Any institution should be honored to count him among faculty.

Kelly Pretzer
USF BA, History 2008

moorebrigid@gmail.com said...

My first class with David Silver was an internship study where the students were asked to find an internship, discuss it in class, write about it and learn from it. Everyone in the class was able to do this and thanks to David, I truly believe every student benefited from being transformed into a professional in the real world.

A couple semesters later, I had David for a Digital Journalism class. It was single-handedly the most important class I took at USF, because it ended up guiding me into the career path I'm on today. We delved into Web 2.0 like crazy every class and the responsibility we as students learned is what I value most from David. Our Golden Gate Park map is something I'm really proud of and will use in my portfolio. He taught us to think consciously about our journalistic work and about how our work can change the way others think.

I now intern at XLR8R Magazine and write for a new start up blog about San Francisco, and I would not have made it very far without the skills I learned from David. Not only did he teach technicalities, he also gave me confidence to trust my instinct, to tell stories with Web 2.0 and to think in depth about what I was sharing with the world.

Jonathan said...

I came to the University of Washington in 2001 as a the second Masters student in the Native Voices documentary film program co-hosted by the Department of Communication (COM)and American Indian Studies (AIS). While I think that everyone has had the experience of being in a class or dealing with a professor who is dismissive towards one's interests, worldview, and knowledge base it has been my experience that David is not one of those professors. While he will ask you critical question about your interests, worldview, and knowledge base he is never dismissive. David wants not only for you to get a better hold on your interests, but also, David asks because he wants to add to his own body of knowledge and worldview. In other words, he cares about what interests you and he's always looking to gain a better understanding himself. As David wrote regarding his father's concept of an institute of learning, "A college campus...is where different people from different buildings come together to make all of us a little smarter..." I think that that quote suits David well. He wants us all to become a little smarter and is courageous enough to use cutting and sometimes bleeding edge technologies to achieve that goal. Finally, I am a doctoral candidate at UW and if wasn't for David who wrote me a stellar letter of recommendation I don't know if I would have been accepted here. I owe David a debt of gratitude that I don't know if I can ever repay unless he is willing to accept my contributions to the world that help make all of us a little smarter.

Debbie said...

My first contact with David came after he brought his Digital Journalism class to Gleeson Library to write about a display we’d created that highlighted the library’s graphic novel collection. David invited me to read and comment on the class blog where students reported on the display, discussed the genre and recommended graphic novels they thought the library should have. We acquired those and the students realized they could have a direct impact on library services and collections. Through the student journalists’ blogging, everyone involved got to contribute their knowledge and opinions, learned more about an emerging genre and helped to build the library’s collection.

Soon thereafter, with David’s encouragement and advice, we started a blog that eventually replaced the news column on the library’s website. I consider it a big improvement: it’s timelier, students can comment and ask questions, and more library staff can participate in bringing our services and collections together with library users. I’m very grateful to David for inspiring and helping us to make more connections with students, and for promoting our work to his students and readers.

With the series David put together for his Davies Forum class in Digital Literacy, culture, communication, and technology converged again. And the conversations extended well beyond classroom confines as the Forum was open to the public and followed up in class and contributor blogs. It was thrilling to hear and read the diversity of viewpoints David brought in for his class, and I loved the very interactive and fun Book Fort that David and his students created in the library as a nod to National Library Week.

David inspires students and colleagues alike with his remarkable combination of intellect, curiosity, creativity, and generosity as a teacher, library advocate, and collaborator. He is a tremendous asset to the university and I feel honored that he is seeking tenure with us.

Debbie Benrubi
Technical Services Librarian,
Gleeson Library/Geschke Center

sneakysalamander said...

My experience in Digital Journalism finally crushed the entrenched notion of what happens when one graduates... Nightmares of a gray cubicle and an unsatisfied vampire-boss fiending for his/her caffeine fix have been laid to rest. Professor Silver introduced an entirely new and inspiring side to media creation that I will always be thankful for: Web 2.0 literacy and a desire to pursue the unusual.

Time and time again David encouraged us to push the limits of what was considered "classic reporting". He showed us how to actively poke and prod our community instead of being engulfed by it. In a matter of weeks our entire class was fully active in blogging. The stories we produced were not of whimsy and personal musings but comprised of substantial information. By the end of the semester we were fluent in the art of writing a creative, informative, accurate, and brief blog post - easier said than done. I came away from those few months with a solid blog in my possession. One that I will continue to use in the years to come.

The energy that radiates from Professor Silver is infectious. One day I ran into him on a bus, his head was bent over a new graphic novel and I’m pretty sure he was chuckling to himself. We started talking about the FCC hearings and the scandalous behavior of several internet providers. Forty minutes later, I grudgingly stepped off the bus and had to catch one going the direction from which I'd just come-I'd missed my stop by a good 15 minutes.

The most awesome attribute of USF are individuals such as Silver, who motivate students to become enthusiastic and involved. A Professor that can tactfully evoke passion in his/her students is a truly rare find- the only one worth $34,366 a year.

thanks for all Silver

shizzaun said...

I met David as a student in the LGBT media studies class. It became the conclusion of my four years at university, and it was one of the first times that this type of setting felt like home to me. I am forever grateful for the direction and inspiration that Prof. Silver offered me. I remember him as being incredibly busy, but always willing and able to make me feel 100% special. He is fun, serious and smart. And he is what students like me need and what universities must have.

good luck and thank you,

Shaun Wood
Peace Corps Volunteer- Bulgaria

Irina G. said...

David, you've been an incredible teacher/mentor/friend. In all of those roles, you have really inspired me (and still do)to think creatively and passionately. You are an energizing and supportive mentor. You always encourage me not to be afraid of following my instincts.

After a long walk and talk with you, I always feel excited about whatever it is that I am working on and I feel confident the big things are possible. Some of my favorite projects have been encouraged by you and only you. When I have a seemingly impossible idea, you never say "that's crazy and not practical," instead you say "how will you do it?" and then we talk and talk and the idea becomes more and more real. In the early years of my grad school, you were the only prof at the UW to support the murals and the Urban Archives, my most favorite projects and ones that I am most proud of.

Being the recipient of your mentoring and teaching has also taught me to be a better teacher. You've shown me to like and to respect my students. This sounds simple but it was a huge paradigm shift for me and changed my entire teaching experience form one of anxiety to one of pleasure. I am grateful and pleased to have had the chance to learn so much from you.

Anonymous said...

Best teacher I have ever had! You made classes enjoyable and interesting. A big thanks goes out to you for that!

Kim Lynch
UW, BA Communications & Psychology, 2006

Joe said...

I was glad to hear that David was applying for tenure; he is a great asset to USF and hopefully with tenure, he'll be here forever. He has an amazing enthusiasm and excitement for teaching and learning and students.

I first met David when he came to USF and asked to meet with me since I am the library's Media Studies liaison. We talked about our library collection, our mutual interests, and we created an assignment for his students to use library resources. What strikes me about David as a teacher is that he loves and embraces new media but also understands the value of things like books and printed media. As a teacher, he is able to convey to students how to use and understand both new and traditional media. I went to many of the Davies Forum sessions and was always struck by David's ability to tie together different aspects of media and raise interesting questions about them.

Non-librarians may not know this, but David is becoming a superstar among librarians. He talks frequently at library conferences and workshops. Increasingly now, when I say I'm from USF, librarians say "Oh, do you know David Silver? He did a great workshop for us." Part of his role as a teacher is bridging those worlds between faculty and librarians. He did a workshop for the USF Librarians about blogging that was excellent and encouraged us to set up a library blog.

David richly deserves tenure and I look forward to continue working with him and learning from him.

--Joe Garity
Coordinator of Library Instruction
Gleeson Library
University of San Francisco

Stephanie Wilder said...

Professor Silver’s freshman COM class changed my life! It is the reason I added Communication as a second major and now four years later am a graduate student in Digital Media- http://mcdm.washington.edu/

For a large lecture class, it was one of the best and most memorable. Professor Silver was able to engage 500 plus students as though it was an intimate conversation or small seminar.

Three things I appreciated about Professor Silver’s teaching style:
1. Connected the past to present: able to relate history and theories to current events and topics
2. Encouraged class to speak freely: able to discuss and debate anything; share beliefs comfortably and intelligently whether or not in agreement
3. Cared about students’ futures: always made time to talk to students one on one, genuinely interested in supporting their goals in addition to sharing and advancing his own visions such as The September Project-http://theseptemberproject.wordpress.com/

David Silver is an inspiring professor who touches the lives of all his students with positive influence; we miss you at UW!


Stephanie Wilder
University of Washington
Bachelor of Arts: Communication and Political Science
Graduate student: Master of Communication in Digital Media

Anonymous said...

When I arrived at UW I was set on majoring in communication though I was pretty discouraged by the competition to just enroll in the classes. My first course in the communication department was Intro to Comm (Winter 05) and by the end of the first class I knew why the class always filled up so fast. Silver’s passion for teaching (and what he was/is teaching) was obvious to anyone who spends time in his classes. I learned a great deal in those ten weeks, but I also enjoyed going to class. Concepts I learned in that course not only helped me become a better critical thinker (and a better student during my remaining time at UW) but they are also concepts I continue to think about to this day in the media saturated world we live in.

A year later I was lucky enough to get a spot in Silver’s Concepts of New Media class. Out of all my classes I think about this one the most. Every day when I log into my facebook account I think about what a simple medium it was at the time we were in class and the ideas we came up with to improve facebook that were soon implemented after we sent off our proposal (don’t think any of us could have predicted the changes in the last two years!). Looking back, I don’t know of any other teacher that would be as forward thinking as Silver, to embrace using a social networking site as a course platform. It was a medium we were all familiar with and gave us a way to communicate with and learn from each other.

I was disappointed you left for USF my last year at UW and I was unable to learn more from you! Your lectures were some of my favorites and I even had a ‘silver’ tag in my blog to remember things from your classes.

Sorry this is probably late, but good luck with the tenure process. If you were still in Seattle I’d make you heart shaped cupcakes for good luck! Looking at your blog and your course syllabus almost makes me want to go back to school!

Jessie Short
UW, BA Communications, 2007

Mary Madden said...

As my husband and I were recently going through the painful process of figuring out what books to give away in order to make room for the steady influx of good reads that had been piling high on our dinner table, I started to do something I promised myself I would never do. I began pruning from among my college and graduate course books.

Off went Screening the Sacred: Religion, Myth, and Ideology in Popular American Film. Along with it went The Complete Works of John Milton, and about a dozen other titles that I donated to the library with the rationale that I’ll just check them out if I ever really need them again. Yet, when I came to the stack of books that were assigned for David Silver’s “Cultures of Cyberspace” course, I couldn’t let even one of them go. Wired Women has got to stay. The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory? It’s a classic! As was just about everything we read in that course back in the Fall of 2001.

This has always been one mark of a great class for me: It ages well (And that’s no small feat for a course about the internet). Another mark of a great class is the degree to which a professor encourages you to own your ideas beyond the classroom and boldly share your work with others. When an instructor creates a respectful, supportive environment where students can accept and learn from criticism while also being inspired by the work of their peers, that’s a powerful—and exceedingly rare—dynamic. More than that, it teaches skills that serve the students well in work life, personal life, and beyond. David has gifted his students with these skills so many times over that it’s hard to overstate his impact.

There’s not enough space on this blog to accommodate all of the wonderful things that should be said about David Silver’s teaching and mentoring over the years, but it’s delightful to see so many of his former students contribute comments here in a way that’s illustrative of Silver’s signature embrace of collaborative production. In my time as a student of David’s, I always felt that I was being challenged to become a better reader, writer and critical thinker. But perhaps more importantly, I also felt challenged to become a better person.

In my experience, David’s approach to teaching has always been organic—way before being organic was cool. David teaches to the whole person, incorporating your past, present and who you will be. For that reason, I also hope that this teaching narrative will continue to evolve over time, because David’s achievements are ongoing and will inevitably extend far beyond this tenure application process. As impressed as I am to see his long roster of accomplishments recounted here, I’m equally excited to see where his story will go.

-Mary Madden

Aaron Dias said...

Starting out at USF was a little intimidating, but I got lucky. I had the fortune of being in the Introduction to Media Studies course in the fall of 2007. I had the even bigger fortune of having David Silver instruct the very first class of my college career. It couldn't have started, and ended, on a better note.

I know it may be too soon to look back and say "wow, what an amazing class," but I think it's true. You know a course is valuable when the topics and discussion begin to transcend into other classes...some that couldn't be further from the world of media studies.

In the past year, David has helped encourage and motivate me towards following what I'm passionate in. This is especially valuable considering a lot of us don't know what we're passionate in, until someone lets us know. And to that, thank you!

Dylan said...

I have had the hardest time keeping this message concise because David has done so much for me throughout my education at the University of Washington, and subsequently enhanced my career opportunities as well as enlivened my interest in the field of communication.

During my time at UW, I had the pleasure of registering for several of David’s course offerings and working on an independent research project for the September Project. Each experience showed me all the remarkable things that David’s unique teaching style can do: I watched in awe as he turned a 500 person lecture hall into a dynamic group discussion; I became inspired to change my major to Communication; and I built supportive and intellectual friendships that have lasted well beyond the classroom. Even now, years after graduation, my fellow classmates and I meet regularly to attend university lectures or volunteer for local non-profit organizations. All of which was motivated by course discussions and dynamic lectures in courses such as LGBT Media Studies. The impact of David’s courses transcends across many aspects of my life, and has been the most relevant in building my career and my own personal enrichment.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to recommend David for tenure as I am sure that David’s work at the University of San Francisco has been as important to the students there has it has been for all of my classmates and I at the University of Washington.

Jennifer said...

Hi David,
I apologize for adding to this discussion so late - I've been busy with teacher training/reading my grad packets, etc...
I don't even know where to start, and I know that David knows much of how I feel about him as a teacher. But for those who do not know, there really isn't too much to add to the wonderful panorama of things already said.
David is inspiring - he cares about his subject; thus he cares about whether or not you actually connect and learn about what he's teaching.
David has connected his scholarship and teaching methodology - this is something my grad mentors keep telling me is essential in the classroom.
David cares about people - other people have said this, but it really is true that he can make a 400 + person lecture feel personal and connected to things in your life.
If I can touch half of the people you have touched in your career David, I will count myself successful.
Thank you.

Jennifer LeMesurier (used to be Larson)
University of Washington, BA Communication and Dance 06
Graduate Student in English, Language and Rhetoric

Candace Faber said...

I never had the pleasure of having David Silver as a course professor, but I nonetheless benefited enormously from the energy, creativity, insight, and commitment to student growth that he brought to University of Washington. During the time we both worked in the Simpson Center for the Humanities, I witnessed David's engagement with students, faculty, and visitors on a number of levels. He was always an advocate for students, fostering an open and tolerant academic environment and encouraging everyone to find their passion and put their best efforts forward. He has the rare ability to help people see their own potential and spur them to realize it, a real gift for his students.

I should also mention that the "September Project" he founded has influenced my thinking about the world, about communities, and about how to engage with publics. It was and remains such an innovative model of community engagement, and really the wave of the future -- an open network for building person-to-person connections, sharing ideas, and sustaining a vision by spreading it. That model has powerfully influenced my professional approach to community engagement.

In short, David's impact has been long-lasting and far-reaching, even for those of us whose interactions with him were primarily outside the classroom. He is the professor of the future, but more importantly, he is a genuine person with a love of teaching who reaches students in a way few can. He would be an asset to any institution.

Candace Faber
University of Washington 2005
Master of Science in Foreign Service, Georgetown University 2007
Currently: Deputy Cultural Attache, U.S. Embassy Warsaw

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