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The light turned red. My heart was racing as though trying to keep up with the lights’ intrepid blinking. Sweat was running down my face and I was shaking like I had a chill that would not go away. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. This was the moment – the moment that would change my life and the trajectory of my future.

“Do you want to continue?” he said.

“Yes. If we don’t go now, we never will.” I answered.

The traffic light turned green, the car sprung to life, and we accelerated through the intersection across 97th street, down 111th avenue in North Edmonton, Alberta.

We were on our way.

In 12 short hours, we would arrive in Vancouver.

Neither of us knew that with the dawn of this new day we were both at a literal and figurative crossroads and that by dusk it would find my heart beating out of control, and me fighting for breath – and my life.

This day would mark the beginning of a journey that would lead me down a path of discovery to uncover the best of who I AM – through a decade of heart failure – in the face of a reality of an uncertain life combined with a doctor of philosophy in education. I would find my voice through media, art, technology, and writing. I would find my joy in researching the forever unanswerable questions: How do we learn? and Does technology make a difference?

It would lead me to be able to survive the past six years, enduring unimaginable suffering, and come out the other side with a new hope for life in the form of two donor hearts – when three lives became one. A new HeartLife whose purpose is to ensure others do not suffer as I did – and a resolution to educate however I can about what it means to be alive through learning from the experiences we engage. All of this culminating in a research program where the pathways of my lived experience and academic scholarship intersect.

So, I am as I started. 

At a transition where crossroads meet.

But this time I idle there – without fear.

Agency and identity development are central tenets of my scholarship throughout my graduate and academic career and play a key role in how I shape and understand my own identity – as a woman, researcher, and person with a medical disability. Living with heart failure for 15 years (diagnosed in 2005) and as a two-time heart transplant recipient (2014, 2018), both my scholarship in agency and learning technology and lived experience has become my own lived curriculum – currere (Pinar, 1975) – through which I continue to discover meaningful relevance across many disciplines. As a faculty member at UBC in Curriculum and Pedagogy, I advance my interdisciplinary scholarship by engaging in fundamental questions about How we learn? and Does technology make a difference? by examining the very nature of human agency and inquiry across the disciplines of ADST ­– applied design, skills; STEM –­ science, technology, engineering, and math; and the democratization of knowledge in the process. Within ADST and STEM education, I am uniquely positioned in relation to the Standards for Technological and Engineering Literacy (ITEEA, 2020) which include Medical and Health-Related Technologies (MHRT), of which teacher educators and educational researchers are only beginning to explore. Selected themes of my research include:

Technology and its Applications to Educational Contexts:

  • Critical examination of learning environments in ADST, STEM, and MHRT (Code et al., 2020);
  • Democratization of knowledge through social media and technology (Code, 2013); 
  • Design and validation of virtual environments for assessment (Code & Zap, 2017);
  • Critical pedagogy and the psychosocial impacts of technology (Code et al., in press).

Methodological Innovation for Understanding Self-Processes and Agency:

  • Through measurement (Code, 2020) and learning analytics (Code, in press); 
  • As education through public discourse and knowledge translation (Code, 2019); 
  • As the object of study through autoethnography (Code, 2019).

Since arriving at UBC, I have enriched my scholarship by examining my own personal journey and lived experience (e.g. Code, 2019) – and aligned it with my ongoing scholarship in agency (e.g. Code, 2020) and learning technology (e.g. Code & Zap, 2017). This alignment has resulted in a comprehensive research program with a breadth and depth of impact across domains in education, public health, and medicine and has resulted in a noteworthy increase in productivity.