Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Leadership, 2009
School of Education
July 1, 2009
Alumna Promotes Scholarship, Contribution, and Compassion
Dr. Karen Brzoska, Associate Director of the Instruction and Information Technology (I & IT) Learning Center at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is a 2009 graduate of the CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Leadership, with an emphasis in Educational Technology Leadership.
When Dr. Brzoska entered the doctoral program in 2005, she was an experienced college lecturer, designer, studio manager, distance learning specialist, and videographer. Her activities at Cal Poly Pomona included studio design, allocation of staffing responsibilities, and creation of innovative learning programs for faculty, Cal Poly students, K-12 students and teachers, and learners from local and global communities.
Dr. Brzoska pursued doctoral studies with specific questions in mind:
- As leaders in higher education, how can we work with leaders in the K-12 sector to create technology-based programs and materials for children and teenagers?
- What resources and training can we provide to help our young people learn how to use digital media to express their thoughts and ideas?
- How can we connect with community-based organizations to leverage talent and expertise?
- Through service-learning opportunities, can our university students apply their knowledge of digital media to the benefit of local groups?
Dr. Brzoska’s interest in extending the power of digital media to build community arose from her experiences in the classroom and in the field. She had been Project Lead for the Electronic Learning Network’s Initiative in Africa. Funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the African Women Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment CD and Internet curriculum that were produced blended African tradition and current technologies to provide women scientists with the skills necessary to assist and educate rural women farmers in East and West Africa.
Subsequently, Dr. Brzoska served as the lead designer and producer of Seeds of Peace, a CD and Internet curriculum targeting high school students in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, Jordan, and the United States to promote the ideas of coexistence and conflict resolution.
While engaged in international-level work, Dr. Brozska also maintained her on-going interest in digital story telling. In Pomona, she coordinated the Community Digital Storytelling project that gave voice to local high school students as they expressed their concerns and hopes about the future.
When it was time to select an area for dissertation research, Dr. Brzoska chose to study the process, product, and impact of digital storytelling. Her dissertation, Shaping Our World: Digital Storytelling and the Authoring of Society, drew on theories of literacy, genre, and media and in-depth portraiture and case studies to analyze the instructional use of digital content production in higher education. Her committee commented that her “findings illuminated both the benefits and limitations of digital storytelling for educational purposes, and helped point to strategies for its effective deployment in the college classroom.” Dr. Brzoska is in the process of producing a series of short videos that highlight the many ways students are engaging in digital storytelling for the presentation of scholarship. The first video of the series can be accessed at http://video.csupomona.edu/KLBrzoska/LiteracyIntro-245.asx
From her academic and professional experiences, Dr. Brzoska believes that education, acceptance, and contribution are interrelated acts, one dependent upon the other. She explains the evolution of her perspective as follows:
As a child I viewed learning as a means to an end. Memorize the times table, and you can move on to the next phase of math. Increase your vocabulary, and you can write more effective, persuasive essays. Today I view learning in a different way. I see it as a catalyst for developing new insights, for sharing knowledge, and for participating in discussions that lead to further exploration and new learning.
I have learned a great deal about the importance of building community and the significance of simple gestures such as listening and sharing. I’ve also witnessed first hand the power of digital media in communication and self-expression. The medium itself is not important; whether it be digital video, web, print, or blogs, the act of sharing one’s life, hopes, dream, and fears can be a powerful deterrent again the propagation of stereotypes, myths, and hate.
Through my ongoing education and practice, I hope to discover additional ways to help others learn; more effective ways to build teaching and learning communities that are not bound by religious, political, and geographic boundaries; and sustainable ways to expand our individual realities while working toward shared realities of peace, prosperity, and compassion.