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Gardner Campbell will give a thought-provoking talk titled "Romantic Computing" on May 6 in Monterey, with videoconferencing to the Middlebury campus.

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Learning Innovation Expert to Give Second Envisioning Middlebury Talk, May 6

April 27, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Gardner Campbell, associate professor of English and special assistant to the provost at Virginia Commonwealth University, will speak at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey on Friday, May 6, with video conferencing to Middlebury. Campbell is the second in a series of speakers–the first was Google Ventures founder Bill Maris–invited to bring diverse visionary perspectives to the ongoing conversation about Middlebury’s future. 

“Gardner Campbell is one of the most widely respected intellectual leaders in the area of digital pedagogy and digital learning,” said Amy McGill, associate provost for integration strategies. “We hope his talk will inform Envisioning Middlebury by helping us think about how we think about learning.”

Campbell’s talk, “Romantic Computing,” will explore the idea that teachers and learners should engage in the same kind of unconstrained, emotionally open and intuitive exploration of the digital world that the Romantics pursued in the physical world.

“We use computers primarily to automate transactions,” said Campbell, “but for many of the most audacious architects of the digital age, computers represented a quest to improve our lives by transforming the stories we can weave together as a species. For these architects, computers were the most unusual invention in human history, with the sole exception of language itself. They saw the potential for cyberspace to become a thrilling extension of the best parts of our humanity.”

Educational institutions need to rethink their ideas about the role of technology on campus, Campbell says. “I hope the audience will come away with a new conceptual framework for the role of networked computing in teaching and learning, as well as a sense of urgency around the need for higher education to step away from the automation of “content delivery” and toward the goal of augmenting human intellect, together, in a spirit of shared adventure and commitment.”

Campbell, who describes himself as “an intellectual omnivore,” is a former radio announcer, a professor of Milton and Renaissance studies, film studies, and new media studies, and a bassist. He has worked in teaching and learning technologies for more than 25 years, nearly 15 of those as an administrator. For the past three years, he served as vice provost for learning innovation and student success and dean of the innovative University College. He’s been a member of numerous advisory boards as well as the governing board of the New Media Consortium, serving as chair in 2011. He speaks frequently at conferences and workshops, both nationally and internationally. He blogs at Gardner Writes and can be found on Twitter @gardnercampbell.

“Gardner’s work in digital learning clearly demonstrates his embracing of the explorer’s mindset and has shaped initiatives at colleges and universities across the country,” said Amy Collier, associate provost for digital learning, “including Middlebury’s emerging MiddCreate initiative.”

Middlebury recently announced the launch of an institutional initiative called Envisioning Middlebury, which is designed to engage all of Middlebury’s locations, campuses, and constituencies in a year-long conversation about the institution's future. The ideas about opportunities and challenges, gathered through public talks, surveys, and facilitated discussions, will help guide the strategic planning process in 2017.

Campbell’s talk is open to all Middlebury faculty, staff, and students. The talk will take place at 499 Van Buren on the Monterey campus, starting at 12:15 p.m. Pacific Time (3:15 Eastern), with video conferencing to Davis Family Library room 105 in Middlebury.