Ph.D. in Education, 2017
School of Education
January 1, 2013
Research Investigates Digital Media and Social Communication Practices that Immerse Students in Engaging, Interesting, and Relevant Tasks
Viet Vu is a second year doctoral student in the School of Education, specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology. This program represents the intersection of his interests and experiences. These experiences include being an English language teacher for 10 years and a filmmaker for six years, and earning two graduate degrees, a M.A. in education with an emphasis in TESOL and a M.F.A in film and television from UCLA.
Viet has produced short documentaries on the subject of digital filmmaking that have aired on NHK Japan Broadcasting. He has authored five English language textbooks for Japanese elementary school students and spent seven years in Tokyo developing curriculum and conducting teacher-training courses based on these textbooks. When he returned to southern California, Viet combined these experiences into the design and the execution of a graduate level writing course at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) that challenged students to visualize and articulate their ideas through digital stories. In reflecting on their story-telling experiences, students commented: “I found that my writing was a bit more organized….My focus was clear and I think better developed…. I planned much more effectively than with other papers.”
Viet recognized that these video experiences gave all the students a chance to show who they really are.
I really think it brought everyone a little closer because everyone was able to show their personality and learn many different things from one another.
Student comments encouraged Viet to continue his research on digital storytelling and find opportunities to apply his findings. In Spring 2013, he will introduce an intervention in a preparatory writing class at UC Irvine that uses digital video production practices to scaffold academic writing skills and strategies, and to mediate students’ perceptions of their relevance and authenticity in the classroom.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is digital storytelling’s ability to give voice to struggling readers and writers, as well as students who do not fit the typical academic model.
Viet believes there is a demonstrated need for a learning environment that allows for the development of students’ positive epistemic identities, which is especially important for students being initiated into discourses of academic English.
In addition to digital storytelling, Viet plans to investigate other forms of digital media and technology, and social communication practices that immerse students in engaging, interesting, and relevant tasks, as opposed to routine school work assigned for the sake of schoolwork.