My teaching, advising, and research work are primarily aimed at professional development for aspiring and practicing preK-12 school leaders. Since 2001 I have explored the application of imaging technologies in the development of leadership practices that support social justice and democratic/participatory processes. In order to provide experiences that teach these leadership skills and, at the same time, collect research data, I developed a virtual classroom simulation (copyrighted as Experiential Simulations [ES], and for this project referred to as “Identity Reflections”).
Technology is at the heart of this effort. I worked with a team of designers and programmers to develop a system for generating “pseudo-identities” for students in an online environment, and to develop and create a gamified experience. The gamification of the on-line experience involved the awarding of points (winners were determined by votes from students and the instructor) for specific communication and leadership skills that the students practiced in the face-to-face setting before entering the virtual space. A bank of masks was created so that a student’s identifying features, marking age, race, etc., were masked and replaced with the visage of someone with a different set of identifying features. As students communicated with one another in synchronous chat, they did not know they they were being projected differently, nor did they know that their classmates were masked. The ES process alters a person’s perceived identity and, in turn, alters the way leadership students (undergraduate and graduate) experience the impact of racism, sexism, classism, and other distinctions of difference, and gives students an opportunity to reflect on how these “isms” impact collaboration and decision-making. This project not only aims to satisfy the University of Minnesota’s Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), but also works toward one of its primary goals: the creation of a socially just society.
Shollen, S. L., & Brunner, C. C. (under review). Virtually anonymous: Does the absence of social cues alter perceptions of leader behaviors? The Leadership Quarterly.
Rusch, E., & Brunner, C. C. (2013). Transforming leadership identity in a virtual environment: Learning about the leading self. Journal of Transformative Education, 11 (1), 45-68.
Shollen, S. L., & Brunner, C. C. (2011). Virtual environments leadership: Do physical characteristics matter? In B. White, I. King, & P. Tsang (Eds.), Social Media Tools and Platforms in Learning Environments: Present and Future (pp. 156-170). Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg Press.
Brunner, C. C., Hammel, K., & Miller, M. D. (2010). Transforming leadership preparation for social justice: Dissatisfaction, inspiration, and rebirth—An exemplar. In S.D. Horsford (Ed.), New perspectives in educational leadership: Exploring social, political, and community contexts and meaning (pp. 261-278). Peter Lang Publishing.
Miller, M. D., & Brunner, C.C. (2008). Social impact in technologically-mediated communication: An examination of online influence. Computers in Human Behavior, 24 (6), 2972-2991.
Brunner, C. C., Opsal, C., & Oliva, M. (2006) Disrupting identity: Fertile soil for raising social consciousness in educational leaders. In C. Marshall & M. Oliva (Eds.), Leading for Social Justice: Making revolutions in education (pp. 214-32). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Brunner, C. C., Hitchon, W. N. G., & Brown, R. (2002). Advancing social justice as a part of educational leadership development: The potential of imaging technologies. On The Horizon, 10 (3), 12-15.