Earlier this year, I found out that I was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant for a research project titled, “The Digital Literacies of Indonesian Secondary Students: An Exploration to Inform Their Educators.” From September 2019 – February 2020, I will be hosted by Dr. Puji Astuti and her colleagues at State University of Semarang/Universitas Negeri Semarang (UNNES) and will be collaborating with Dr. Astuti to conduct this research. Our study aims to inform Indonesian teachers and teacher educators about their students’ digital literacies for the purpose of helping them address technology-related curriculum mandates and prepare Indonesia’s youth for full participation in our connected global community.
This grant will afford me the opportunity to take a research leave from Rochester and to embed myself in a new cultural and academic context for five months. My proposed study will allow me to get to know middle and high school students in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia, and to ask them about their interest-driven digital literacy practices. I’m curious to know what apps, forums, social networks, and other websites they turn to in order to learn and develop expertise. I wonder what differences and similarities I’ll discover between the young people in my previous research and these youth, in terms of how they navigate the internet and use it to find mentors, work with collaborators, and build knowledge. During the grant period, I will be living and working at UNNES as a “Dosen luar biasa” (Extraordinary/Visiting Lecturer, Professor), giving guest lectures in classes, presenting at local conferences, and facilitating two week-long writing camps for UNNES faculty, modeling them after those my colleague MJ Curry and I have been co-facilitating at Warner in recent years.
I’m thrilled not only to have the opportunity to travel to new places and meet and learn from new people, but also to work with Dr. Astuti again! Our relationship dates back to Puji’s arrival at the University of Rochester in August 2012. During her Ph.D. program at Warner, I had the pleasure of serving as her academic advisor and dissertation sponsor, and to this day, Puji remains the only student I’ve ever known who remained steadfastly committed to a single research focus for her entire doctoral program. When she applied for her program, she knew that she wanted to study the use of Cooperative Learning techniques in English as a Foreign Language classrooms, and she used every class paper to deepen her knowledge of this area of research. She’s published and presented extensively on her dissertation findings, including two papers that we published together for IJAL and TEFLIN.
I am grateful for Puji’s support during the long process of conceptualizing, proposing, and planning for this project – our first video conference with her department chair about this project was back in October 2017! At some point in the final year of her Ph.D. program, we had a meeting in my office about her progress, and about her return to Indonesia, and in that meeting, we made a commitment that her departure was not going to be the end of our relationship. We dreamed of me coming to Indonesia and us meeting up in Bali, and since that meeting, I’ve had a post-it note hanging on my office wall, documenting that commitment. After all of our persistence, it is finally happening, and I couldn’t ask for a better host and partner in this project! Puji has been an invaluable resource for the numerous logistics of bringing me to UNNES, and I know that she will be just as invaluable as a research partner on our project.