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Matthew Trevett-Smith

Assistant Director and Assistant Professor (2013-2016)

The following represents Matthew’s bio when he left the CTE in 2016.

Photo by: Christian Hommel Photography

Photo by: Christian Hommel Photography

Matthew joined the Center for Teaching Excellence in the fall of 2013, bringing with him a passion for both professional development and anthropology.  Matthew works closely with faculty, graduate students, departments and schools to increase digital fluency and leverage digital engagement to stimulate and support learner-centered integrative thinking. He also hosts Virginia’s Academical Podcast.  This program adopts a talk show format to promote excellence and innovation in teaching at the University of Virginia and beyond.

“My job is not to tell the instructor my ten ideas for how to improve her or his teaching.  Rather, my job is to be a listener, to offer research-driven suggestions when asked for, but primarily, to help the instructor think, reflect, and decide for her- or himself how to improve their teaching.”

Drawing from his anthropological fieldwork, Matthew believes that digital technology can empower students, teachers and alumni with a personalized learning experience in a way that was never previously possible. Digital media provides new opportunities for learners to pursue their interests and find educational resources, experiences, and courses any time and any place.  “It is my job to help the faculty, graduate students, post-docs, staff, and administration to better understand this evolving landscape, and to develop an individualized teaching pedagogy consistent with the UVa mission.”

New digital technologies give students the ability to participate in “learning networks” that enable them to pursue their individual interests and learn at any time, in any place and at any pace, both online and off-line, on Grounds and beyond. These learning networks can provide direct access to a variety of educational resources. Within these networks is an expanding variety of providers, including K12 schools, museums, libraries, colleges, and universities. There is also an explosion of resources ranging from e-books and websites to virtual worlds and engaging multimedia content, as well as connections to peers, mentors, alumni and teachers who will support learning.

What Matthew describes is a learning theory for the digital age, one which demonstrates the special importance that is given to the effect technology has on how people live, how they communicate, and how they learn.  The gap between the digital and the physical, and its effect on our ideas of education, community, culture, person-hood and relationships, is ripe for pedagogical insight.

Under this type of model, learning becomes a process not of knowledge consumption, but instead, a process of knowledge creation.  “Faculty are the perfect people to teach students how to build their learning network and take advantage of the learning opportunities presented by our digital technologies.”  In this framework, faculty become more than bearers of knowledge, they become learning architects, modelers, learning concierges, change agents, synthesizers, connected learning incubators, and network gurus.  Students are then able to take the skills they’ve gained in building their learning network and foster them throughout and beyond their time in college.