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avatar for Bettina Fabos

Bettina Fabos

University of Northern Iowa
Associate Professor of Visual Communication
Cedar Falls, IA
Bettina Fabos is an Associate Professor of Visual Communication and Interactive Digital Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Her current work revolves around digital culture, digital visualization, digital photo archiving, and public memory. With a background in journalism, media production and media literacy pedagogy, Dr. Fabos has written extensively about the role of the U.S. media in democracy and Internet commercialization. Specifically, she is the author of "Wrong Turn on the Information Superhighway: Education and the Commercialization of the Internet" (Teachers College Press, 2004), which argues for the role of public education and public archive initiatives on the Internet, and the co-author of the leading introduction to mass communication textbook, "Media and Culture" (Bedford/St. Martin’s), which is used in mass communication survey classes across the country, selling over 40,000 copies a year. Additionally, Dr. Fabos is co-author of two other textbooks: "Media Essentials" (2014) and "Media IN Society" (2013). Her articles on digital literacy, visual communication, critical pedagogy and public memory have appeared in the Review of Educational Research, Reading Research Quarterly, Library Trends, the International Journal of Qualitative Studies and Visual Communication Quarterly. Fabos has also authored numerous book chapters and is an avid presenter at education, digital humanities, mass communication, visual communication, and most recently, history conferences.
Dr. Fabos graduated from Oberlin College in 1987 in English Literature and began a career as a print reporter. She then earned an M.A. in Telecommunication Arts at the University of Michigan in 1992, becoming an award-winning documentary reporter and video artist, and continuing for a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture at the University of Iowa. While earning her doctorate, Dr. Fabos received both a four-year Iowa Presidential Fellowship and a year-long Spencer Fellowship. Her dissertation was the recipient of the Spriestersbach Award for top dissertation at the University of Iowa in 2002.
Combining her knowledge of pedagogy and interactive digital studies, Dr. Fabos is currently interested in the pedagogical value of interactive chronologies and in the teaching of historical narrative from a more inclusive “bottom up” point of view. Her most recent web development project is the interactive photo history of Hungary, "Proud and Torn: A Short History of Hungary" (available in 2016 at proudandtorn.com). Dr. Fabos is also one of the four creators behind FORTEPAN IOWA (fortepan.us)—a photo archive of downloadable, high-quality photos taken by amateur Iowan photographers and featuring everyday life in Iowa, 1860 to present. Uniting the disciplines and faculty of Visual Communication (Dr. Fabos), Public History (Dr. Leisl Carr-Childers), Digital Photography (Noah Doely) and Interactive Digital Studies (Sergey Golitsynskiy), FORTEPAN IOWA is the first sister site of the Hungarian-based FORTEPAN archive. FORTEPAN now boasts 40,000 curated photos and 180,000 visitors per day. Dr. Fabos intends to create curriculum materials for incorporating FORTEPAN IOWA into the study of history and digital literacy in K-12 Iowa schools. She and her colleagues are also in the process of developing a toolkit that will make the FORTEPAN digital archive concept replicable across the country and the world.