UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pierce Salguero, associate professor of Asian history and religious studies at Penn State Abington, is the recipient of the 2020 Teaching and Learning with Technology Impact Award.
The Teaching and Learning with Technology Impact Award celebrates the accomplishments of faculty members whose work transforms education through the use of technology. The award is given in recognition of excellence represented by a single contribution or series of contributions.
Salguero has made numerous efforts to incorporate technology in the classroom and enhance learning. Through a series of grants, he created the “Jivaka Project,” a repository for photography, videos, GIS data and virtual-reality (VR) videos that catalog a range of information about Buddhist temples, meditation centers, and community centers around the Greater Philadelphia area. For students, it’s an immersive experience at the intersection between religious studies and medical humanities.
Some of educational experiences for students that led to the immersive technology includes:
● Student ethnographic field work in local communities around Philadelphia
● Photos, videos, and high quality sound recordings of American Buddhists by students
● Partnership with a documentary filmmaker to produce films for use in class
A student inspired by the Jivaka Project recently used Salguero’s techniques to help tell the history of a Buddhist temple founded by formerly interned Japanese Americans after World War II, at a former farming hub in Seabrook, New Jersey.
“We are interested in the remaining Buddhist denizens of Seabrook, how World War II and Japanese internment camps have affected their culture and are using creative nonfiction writing to capture their experiences,” the student said.
Salguero also led an interdisciplinary team to develop a course that incorporated VR technology, 3-D design, new media, psychology, art and religious studies. The course led to a series of similar endeavors and the launch of Transmedia Narratives, an interactive approach to learning that encourages transdisciplinary work. Salguero is continuing this work this summer with development of 360-degree images that offer a virtual field trip of Japanese temples. The goal is to promote project-based and thematically driven course content that appeals to 21st-century students.
“These efforts have all had impacts far beyond the scope of a single class, positively affecting students, faculty and the very programs we use to learn,” a nominator said. “These efforts have increased the visibility of Penn State Abington as a leader in innovation in teaching and technology at Penn State and beyond.”