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Crossing the Digital Threshold: Vincent Bish, TIE'21

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Technology, Innovation, and Education reflects on his time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Vincent Bish

Vincent Bish: "This picture represents that moment, everyday, where we crossed a digital threshold to create a community of practice."

Photo courtesy of Vincent Bish

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes 12 Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Vincent Bish will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) at HGSE's Virtual Commencement on May 27.

Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt, faculty director of TIE, comments on Bish's selection: “Vincent has been a thought leader in classes throughout HGSE and across the university, including at the Kennedy School and the Design School. His peers praise him for stretching their thinking and enriching their class and section discussions, while remaining humble and respectful of alternate points of view.

As usual, the students are more eloquent than I could be … so here are some of their comments in nominating Vincent as this year’s Intellectual Contribution award winner:

  • 'Vincent often gently pushed the others in the class by asking thoughtful questions, and counter-questions, to get clarity on our inner lives. His work in our section definitely made us all into better students, and better leaders.'
  • 'He is great at sharing his story and pushing the rest of the team to think deeper and better.'
  • 'In every course we both attended, Vincent was an excellent source of inspiration in both how he approached learning in general (e.g., by creating a “broad picture”), and in how nimble and vulnerable he remained despite his inexhaustible well of knowledge.'
  • 'I had the pleasure of being in two classes with Vincent this year, despite the fact that we are in different programs. Every time Vincent spoke, his tone invited others to listen, and the words he spoke were reflective and thought-provoking. Vincent brought his authentic identity to intersection with the intellectual concepts we grappled with this year, deepening the discussions we shared. I feel lucky to know him and have shared this year together.'

Serious study, leadership in connecting ideas across courses, engaging fellow students with perceptive questions, and a relentlessly positive and open disposition are qualities we highly value in TIE, and Vincent Bish clearly demonstrates these virtues every day.”

We spoke to Bish about his time at HGSE, his future plans, and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What does this photo mean to you?  

We huddled around our computers — backs hunched: some cross-legged on their apartment floor, others while minding children in their laps, but myself, I burrowed away into any corner of the house I could commandeer as my own. This picture represents that moment, everyday, where we crossed a digital threshold to create a community of practice.

Our screens, and this school we found inside them, became a digital campfire: a place where we — across the globe, wet from the rain of life — gathered up the best of life’s kindling to share and be edified by the choice offerings and insights of others.

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, with T550: Designing for Learning by Creating Dr. Karen Brennan created a course that will be a gold standard in how I create spaces that embrace the variability of all learners. From the audio recordings that accompanied all readings, to the finalization, design, and multiple representations of the syllabus, to stamina to show up for the wide number of students she had with the speed and depth that she did. I hope to figure out how to translate these things to the private sector, not just in informal learning spaces and in designing L&D modules, but in how I show up as a leader who creates teams that are inclusive across various abilities, financial realities, etc.  

Also, exposure to the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics framework, and by extension, to systems design in Dr. Chris Dede and Adeeb Syed’s T545: Motivation & Learning: Technologies that Invite & Immerse course will forever change how I see educational policy.

Lastly, Universal Design for Learning by Dr. Liz Hartmann and Dr. Jose Blackorby’s Universal Learning for Design has given me a tool box that will touch every part of my career going forward. UDL is one of the most valuable pieces of educational exposure in my academic career.

"From adult learners with children or those who are caregivers to K–12 education where physical, development, or financial roadblocks may make being in the classroom less than feasible, the pandemic has created an educational moment where all those people are not filtered out of education and we need to make sure they are not forced back out of the classroom after we return."

What are your post-HGSE plans?

My plans are still open but, as of this moment, it’s to graduate from HKS with my MPA next May.

What is something that you learned this year that you will take with you throughout your career in education?

The natural synergies of constructivism and project-based learning are something that I will definitely take with me.

Also, thinking through how students use embodied learning to understand complex and abstract subjects will affect my understanding of both learning and experience design going forward.

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education? 

That blended learning environments (ones with both asynchronous and synchronous components) are a necessary part of any conversation on educational equity. From adult learners with children or those who are caregivers to K–12 education where physical, development, or financial roadblocks may make being in the classroom less than feasible, the pandemic has created an educational moment where all those people are not filtered out of education and we need to make sure they are not forced back out of the classroom after we return.