2019 Keynote Speakers

Joy Robinson, "Researching Collaboratively: Teachers, Teams, and Technology"

An accessibility copy (PDF) of the talk is available at
Slides (PDF) from the talk are available at:


Headshot of Dr. Joy Robinson

At an early age, we are encouraged to collaborate; we share wooden blocks, exchange colored crayons, and learn how to play together. But, by the time we reach college, our collaborations are fraught with difficulty and struggle. In industry, research, and sometimes in teaching, workers are required to operate in groups to complete large tasks or tackle wicked problems—complex, situated, ill-defined issues with an indeterminate scope. Some of our most significant human accomplishments (for example, DNA mapping and the internet) would not be possible without interdisciplinary teams of engineers, architects, humanists, doctors, scientists, and others. This talk focuses on collaboration in our digital age including how we as academics talk about, demonstrate, and teach collaboration in our classrooms; what we as researchers might need to know and understand about the digital tools that shape and inform our writing; and what industry could learn about teaming and how to foster and nurture teams. I call for more collaboration across the aisle, so to say, in the academy and beyond, removing the silos that have shaped our field's history and restricted our scholarship. As a field of intersections among Technical Communication, Business Communication, Rhetoric and Composition, Communication, and English, we need 21st-century ways to work, share, and foster agency both as consumers and designers of, and for, the digital tools of today. By “standing on the shoulders of giants,” we can do and say more, but to reach further, we need to share and collaborate.

Joy Robinson is an Assistant Professor in Technical Communication and New Media at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Robinson runs the eValuation and User experience (VUE) lab; a dedicated space for user experience (UX) and social science research. The lab specializes in biometric research and evaluation through specialized equipment such as eye tracking glasses and heart rate wristband monitors used to explore human autonomic responses to design/interfaces/stimulus. Her work has been published in Technical Communication Quarterly, the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Communication Design Quarterly, and IEEE Professional Communication. Her forthcoming multi-authored article in Computers and Composition, “State of the Field: Teaching with Digital Tools in the Writing and Communication Classroom,” explores how teachers use and employ technology throughout their various teaching tasks. Her research and teaching interests explore technical, social, and theoretical interventions for situated human systems such as users, teams, and groups who are working/playing/studying in various contexts. Her wide-ranging interests arise from 20 years of varied work opportunities as a biomedical engineer, metallurgical engineer, technical consultant, and digital media specialist. Now as an assistant professor in English, she looks for new collaborators frequently and finds them in all walks of life.


Chris Gilliard, "Click Here If You Agree: Opting Out of Oppressive Systems"

headshot of Dr. Gilliard

What if the starting point for how and when technologies are deployed within the classroom were not centered around where that tech falls along plotted points of diversity of inclusion, but, whether said technology should be deployed at all? In the rush and the institutional push to embrace “technology,” educators face an unfortunate set of choices where we (and here I mean the collective we of instructors, "users," instructional technologists...) are left to call for more accurate, diverse, and more inclusive systems rather than question the technology’s use at all. This keynote will begin with a different view: that inclusion in oppressive systems is not the kind of inclusion we should be striving for. Our goal should be to re-set the criteria for making adoption decisions, and to re-envision our participation - or not - in these systems.

Chris Gilliard is a Professor of English at Macomb Community College. His current scholarship focuses on privacy, institutional tech policy, digital redlining, and the re-inventions of discriminatory practices through data mining and algorithmic decision-making, especially as these apply to college students. He is currently developing a project that looks at how popular misunderstandings of mathematical concepts create the illusions of fairness and objectivity in student analytics, predictive policing, and hiring practices.