Monica Bulger is a 2009 Gevirtz Graduate School alumna, earning her Ph.D. in Education. Before studying at Gevirtz, Bulger taught in the UCSB Writing Program. She is now a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford where she studies scholarly use of digital resources.
How has your Ph.D. from the Department of Education helped prepare you for work at the Oxford Internet Institute?
The GGSE provided a strong foundation in teaching and learning theory while also encouraging practical experience. My interdisciplinary training at UCSB gave me insight into the challenges of cross-disciplinary dialogue, which has been very helpful since I work in a department where only 3 of us out of 20 faculty have backgrounds in Education.
Who did you enjoy studying or working with during your time in the education program?
At the start of my time at the GGSE, I was fortunate to have stats with Michael Brown, qualitative methods with Betsy Brenner, and survey design with Russell Rumberger, all of whom were very generous with their time and expertise. I participated in an educational technologies planning committee with Patrick Faverty, Willis Copeland, Tina Sloan, Dean Conoley, Ron Kok, and Susan Johnson where we deeply discussed potential learning benefits of different tech options for the GGSE classrooms. This experience was particularly beneficial as a student because I was able to see how we applied our research to practice. Bill Doering and Robert Schwalje were also on the committee and their team was incredibly supportive of allowing the GGSE to be a test-bed for classroom technology use. I worked on a campus-wide research project with Dorothy Chun and Julie Bianchini which allowed me to see how educational researchers communicate with and contribute to multidisciplinary dialogues. Charles Bazerman continues to mentor me in discerning the relationship between literacy and the Internet and I feel grateful to be able to discuss ideas with such a leader in the field.
What is it like adjusting from your teaching days in the UCSB Writing Program to conducting research?
I was fortunate to work in the Writing Program at a time when teachers were struggling with the question of how and whether to use new technologies in the classroom. These struggles informed my graduate research in digital literacy and remain at the core of my work.
How do you see the Internet studies and education working together? Do you find yourself becoming more interested in part or the other?
The Internet is the case study to which I apply theories and methods of educational research. Studying how scholars, students, kids, and older adults use the Internet is really interesting to me and I can't really consider approaching these questions without a learning perspective and technical focus.
Are you adjusting to the English weather after living in the “American Riviera”?
We live in Oxford, so nearly every morning I see cows in the meadow on my walk to work. We've traded beaches for canals, but Oxford is beautiful in its own way. In Santa Barbara, you can't see the sun set behind a centuries-old castle. I love the history here.