Distinguished Teacher: Glynda Hull
23 April 2003
Whether in a Berkeley classroom, a remote village in northern India, or an after-school program in West Oakland, Glynda Hull uses multimedia technology tools, and her infectious enthusiasm, to lure her students into the world of literacy.
“She has the ability and skill to draw even the most laconic, shy students into the discussion of ideas based on readings, observations, and fieldwork experiences,” says Professor Lily Wong Fillmore, who co-taught a course with Hull in the spring of 2002.
Hull is a professor in the Graduate School of Education’s Language and Literacy, Society and Culture program. Her current research focuses on educational uses of and equitable access to digital technologies. Last fall, she spent time in India working on a project to provide computers to rural schools. She tells the story of one visit — to a tiny rural village without shops or electricity, whose elementary school has a single computer powered by a set of solar panels.
“What an amazing thing it was,” says Hull, “to walk among the children and observe their fascination with this new tool and a previously unavailable science curriculum that was being delivered via CD-ROM. They sat en masse, facing the machine, listening and watching intently and silently as distant marvels were revealed.”
Very much in character, Hull returned the following week with a small gift she hoped would change their relationship to the technology: a brief movie, illustrated with photos taken during the initial visit and narrated in Hindi. The students’ excitement at seeing “themselves, their school, their goats, their water pump, their headmaster, their village” on screen was uncontainable, she recalls. And what came next “was perhaps predictable: the children took over the technology, creating their own movies.”
For courses she conducts at Berkeley, Hull shares her interest in the educational potential of technology in settings closer to home — inner-city East Bay schools, where her students take on tutoring and mentoring roles in literacy and digital storytelling efforts.
A former student, Mark Jury, says Hull was a major influence in his mid-life redirection into graduate school and teaching.
“Glynda has an exceptional knack for tracking the emotional pulse of her students,” said Jury, now an assistant professor at the University of Albany in New York. “She always seems to know just what gestures to make to boost sagging spirits, to encourage perseverance, to ease the multiple anxieties that always seem just over the shoulders of grad students.”