Tag Archives: technology

Technology bans

I recently read an article about positive results (measured in test scores) when technology is banned in a classroom. As I’m prepping for Summer and Fall I’m becoming  disturbed by this trend and the questionable data, and the longterm implications of these bans.

Questionable data? But the grades improved.

Years and years ago I was asked by an Instructional Designer what grades were for – the meaning of grades. This is a surprisingly tricky question. The easy – but incorrect or at least short-sighted – answer is to demonstrate learning. So measuring the success and effectiveness with increased grades (as averaged by students across the course(s)) seems like a good measure. Technology is banned and average grade on midterm increased from 70% to 80%. Seems like HUGE results, right?

Well……what was the status of technology before? How was technology used in the course? I could argue that my use of Twitter has increased average paper grades from 70% to 80% because of how I use it to support learning about writing. Because of the combination of my pedagogy and the research it’s developed upon. If technology is implemented and well used in a classroom, grades and learning can be improved.

Not to be rude, but a technology ban that results in increased grades demonstrates a stronger link to previous poor technology usage (or at least lax technology usage that students exploited).

Student’s don’t know how to take notes on computers/tablets/technology just because they are ‘digital natives’ (which is always already a problematic concept). Students also probably don’t know how to effectively take notes for a given subject area. High-Impact Practices demonstrate again and again that students struggle to make connections across disciplines and explicate what they’ve learned. In these studies with positive results – did the technology ban result in some attention to note-taking. The articles I read usually include students self-reporting better note taking. This indicates to me that attention was paid IN CLASS to how to take notes, or just note-taking in general. Which means the results are not 100% a direct consequence of the technology ban!

Ok, rant over on that part.

Long term implications

As the instructor of the Media Literacy Institute on Digital Citizenship this summer, I’m really interested in the long-term implications of this. What happens when students go to work and only have laptops? What happens when these individuals communicate and engage in online spaces after experiencing bans? Bans usually indicate bad, so in what ways are technology bans creating internet communication errors? I’m not saying the job of all college faculty is to train all individuals to use the internet, i’m speaking more broadly about the implications of a ‘ban’.

What does a ban mean to you? Banned books usually excited readers to read what’s on the list, to become emotional about their favorite book that happens to be on the list. They discuss them more, they fight them more. Is that the mentality that supports positive digital citizenship on the global world wide web?

I really think we need to rethink the ‘technology ban’. I’m not arguing that all faculty should include technology in their classrooms – instead spend time discussing why technology is not appropriate for note-taking in your course, how to effectively take notes for better learning and exam/essay performance, and leave it at that. Why do we ban, when we could instead empower?

This is my call to empower technology in classrooms to support learning (I’m going to add this to my syllabus).

This is my call to empower discussions about effective note-taking in your class instead of a technology ban. I’m serious – call the section “Effective Note Taking” and describe (in positive terms) why technology is less effective and explain effective notes. Then let students remix those ideas to meet their individual needs. You’re empowering learners – including learners with disabilities without requiring extra effort by any student.

This is my call to return to student-centered syllabi and pedagogy by considering learning instead of blaming and banning technology.

If we all ban together (pun intended) to positively support and engage learners, using whatever technologies (paper and pencil are technology BTW) appropriate for our classrooms, we could create syllabi and students and classrooms focused on learning!


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Teaching Publicly

I have had these plans to post reviews of books and articles I’ve been reading lately – but I haven’t sat down and written those posts yet. So, I’m writing something completely differently today and it will be more stream of conscience than well thought out.

Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Zeynep Tufekci about her public scholarship, critique of social media data use, and why scholars are so well poised to critique contemporary data politics. What caused me to want to write this stream of conscience post is Tufekci’s discussion of twitter. When asked about her social media use, and what she posts, Tufekci discusses the classroom and the way instructors strive to make the classroom open to different ideas – especially to engaging with different ideas from different angles to support student learning. She essentially brings this approach to her social media posts – how would my students respond to this type of a post, will this post maintain the comfort level of my students in my classrooms.

I love this idea.

I have struggled for a while with my Twitter scholarship – which has caused endless writer’s block and article writing that takes too long to complete. My hangup is closely related to Tufekci’s point – if I publish about Twitter and someone (hopefully) reads my paper then all my student writing for class is now public to my audience. Even students who didn’t provide permission for their tweet to be published in my article will now be found and read, and possibly read out of context. Our classroom is in twitter meaning my Twitter scholarship is always scholarship of teaching and learning, but I cannot ever guarantee the anonymity of students who happen to take my classes.

I see many scholars discuss their use of twitter without mentioning students – but I can easily find their classes and find their student writing. Do other scholars struggle with these ideas?

While I discuss this element of public writing with my students before they create their twitter handles and begin publicly performing student, do students truly understand what this means? Especially in freshmen composition where students are more traditional (18, right after high school graduation) – they are new to ‘adult’, do they understand what this public record can mean for them?

How do my discussions of public writing to support learning, public writing to support student ethos, public writing to support future post-graduation plans transfer? What elements do students remember later?

As I’m writing this, and writing about writing about twitter, I’m also outing my students’ public writing. I use this blog as sample text for assignments, peer review, word cloud play time, but are my students aware that digital literacy and information literacy stress contextualizing information which could cause readers here to check for legitimacy – does this blogger actually use twitter? I want to support meaningful information literacy practices, but that needs to mean consider the ways additional information could be connected and the ramifications (positive and negative) of connecting various pieces of a digital users identity/footprint. Are they comfortable investigating that?

Many are uncomfortable googling themselves, have they considered the ways they can be found through the choices of others? (Thanks Facebook)

So my stream of conscience writing became a huge list of questions – how do the information literacy practices valued within higher education support connecting my students to my public work? How do students connect my classroom self with my public/twitter self? How do readers of my work connect my students as validation of my work? Digital and information literacies support good practices in the effort to fight ‘fake news’ and similar misinformation campaigns – but we need to consider how those same practices make our digital work even more public possibly for negative ends. Then consider – what are the ramifications of my writing about social media tools?

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Choice in Curriculum

Yesterday I attended a Center for Academic Excellent (CAE) session on offering choice in the curriculum. I saw direct connection to an article my Freshmen Composition students read by Brian Ray, “More than Just Remixing: Uptake and new media composition.” The idea is students develop research questions based on their interests as they align with course content – then spend a long period of time research, investigating, studying, that questions. Students then present their findings, in essay format or multimodal format. The key – and the connection to Ray – is students need to determine the format, the mode, the technology that will best represent their thesis.

For the past few years I’ve asked students to create a multimodal project based on their final essay in freshmen composition (this assignment is not unique to me, but really fun and important). The major goal is to play with non-essay mediums and genres specific to a student audience. I’ve noticed students struggle with the medium they’ll use – they automatically default to wanting to use powerpoint because it’s familiar within an education setting. When I remind students the assignments asks for no powerpoint – they choose Prezi. No matter how much we’ve discussed that they need to select a medium that best conveys their point for the audience, they select comfortable and familiar technologies.

I noticed with the examples discussed in the CAE session that students seemed to select comfortable and familiar mediums in other classes as well. While the choice is empowering, I wonder how to structure assignments to support student risk taking. I also wonder if working toward risk taking and supporting tech exploration moves the emphasis away from what technologies can support toward developing technology skills.

So the struggle is, how can a composition classroom focused on developing strong academic writers and thinkers also support similar critical thinking/engagement with technologies when use skills may also need to develop.

How does adding choice that include multimedia add a new layer of complexity and how can instructors deal with the connection to skills? How can I develop a multimodal assignment, connected to course curriculum that supports critical thinking? critical engagement with how technologies support meaning making and carry communication? skill and practices development through new technology play that will support life-long learning?

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Media Literacy and Composition Studies

At the 2018 SXSW EDU conference danah boyd discussed media literacy, and contemporary struggles with media literacy. Namely, she pointed that the focus on skills and practices as applied through various digital tools can do as much harm as good. When we support student development of digital literacies and media literacies – they may use those skills to weaponize extremist groups (on both the left and right – using the American political system).

boyd points to the need to consider, discuss, and reconsider epistemology – how do we make knowledge, how do we discuss knowledge, how is that knowledge valued. Practices and knowledges have significant amounts of overlap – but they are different. That difference between the two is where media literacy falls short. Even incorporating information literacy, and many other xxxxx literacies, these approaches tend to focus on the skills and abilities, how students make knowledge of these existing communication acts without considering the larger cultural context, how knowledge operates, is made, is valued (or devalued) within the larger culture. Essentially, we are in the middle of a culture war that media literacy is ill equipped to engage in.

What I found so compelling about her discussion is the connection to Composition Studies. For decades, Composition Studies has been in a similar culture war. I re-read Yancey’s “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key” last night and was struck by her bleak picture of diminishing English departments, her tracing of the devaluing of ‘writing’ because of the numerous definitions, ideas, and assumptions held about writing. As we currently read about universities in Wisconsin cutting English programs and majors – reducing English faculty to Composition Instructors (not by title, but content area valued at the institution) it’s clear there is a similar culture war within higher education – or simply an area of the same culture war boyd mentions.

As a Composition Instructor I often hear “students can’t use APA and it’s just a series of rules,” or “students don’t understand grammar,” or “students can’t write.” My job is reduced to rule memorizer and grammar teacher. The understanding of writing, the value it lends to the university is rule based – ignoring the significant evidence that writing supports and develops reading, thinking, agency, identity, and so much more. boyd’s point really resonated with me – I do think that media literacy as supporting skill development is as useless as composition lecturing on grammar and MLA/APA rules. That decontextualizes information, knowledges, ideas, values. It removes these skills/practices from the real-lived situations where writing happens, where media making and consuming happens as if the ideas presented through the use of the correct rules doesn’t matter. It potentially weaponizes writing abilities, similarly to boyd’s discussion of weaponizing media literacy skills.

As a discipline, many within composition studies are focused on ideas and explorations of transfer. How do we help students understand the contexts they write within, the audiences they write for, the arguments available within those spaces, the practices expected, and the ideas valued as the approaches to helping students recognize the grammar and style guide rules. We spend more time developing epistemology than we discuss rules. Could this be the answer to media literacy – contextualize the skill development, ask students to determine the appropriate media for their message. Both approaches place significant value back on the message. Words matter, ideas matter – let’s spend time discussing that.

The downside to this discussion is always time and content. K-12 teachers prepare students for graduation requirements and standardized testing. Adding one more area of discussion that’s difficult to assess (if 30 students use 30 different media how can that be assessed?) is asking a lot of teachers. Similarly, college composition faculty spend so much time trying to help students think creatively and analytically and critically is there time to add more media literacy into the composition curriculum. I only have students for 15 weeks their freshmen year, and if i’m lucky, 15 weeks their junior year. That is such a short period of time to engage with epistemology, and writing, and disciplinary writing, and discourse community, and and and and…….

I know boyd’s video has been somewhat controversial and my aim is not to critique or defend her. Instead, I want to consider her struggle, the struggle of media literacy, through the lens of the struggle of composition studies as a discipline. Is there anything media literacy can learn from composition studies, and is there anything composition studies can learn from media literacy to help students as they wade into the contemporary culture war?

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What do we mean by OER?

I just finished reading The Educator’s Guide to Producing New Media and Open Educational Resources by Tim D Green and Abbie H Brown. I was really excited by the title of this book, and hoping for a discussion of creating OER to meet individual classroom needs – a discussion i’m hoping to cultivate as part of my Media Literacy Institute this summer.

Overall this book provides great, very basic, how-to instructions for first-time producers of digital materials for classrooms. A ton of time is spent going through how and where to click, how to plan for digital materials to reduce time spent creating. The richest chapter is the how-to create a podcast.

Unfortunately, if you know a little about how to create materials, this is not a helpful book. I skimmed so much of the how-to clicking because it’s either clicking I already know, or clicking I can figure out when I’m creating new media.

What I found most interesting about this book is the discussion of Open Educational Resources, or OER. There is a basic overview of Copyright considerations (I think Hobbes covers more in Copyright Clarity and highly recommend that book to anyone interested). It’s the discussion of creating OER by culling sources through an RSS feed, or simply sharing worksheets that is so interesting to me.

Yes, culling a unique list of sources is OER – sharing that source (like a reading list) is technically OER. But I don’t think that’s how most educators use the term “OER”. I think most educators think of digital articles, free to download (and change/modify/remix) textbooks – not personalized magazines of articles. I kept wondering how the personal list of sources was any different than a Learning Management Source module. I have accumulated the sources in my LMS module to support student learning, I created the assignment sheet with my unique approach to language and document design – if I published the module folder here does that mean i’ve created an OER?

I don’t want this post to sound like I’m splitting hairs on definitions, however, I do think having a baseline agreement on what OER means has implications for adoption and credibility of those resources. It seems Green and Brown are arguing for a really broad understanding to increase searching for, remixing, and adopting already-available sources. But that argument seems misplaced in a book about producing resources.

I wish more time and guiding questions were available to help educators with the decision making portion of OER. I have my students read digital articles, while my colleagues circulate articles about lack of engagement with digital articles. I wanted to see questions to guide my design (beyond the paragraph on UDL) to help students engage with the digital materials i’ve created for them in the LMS. I wanted the book to say “students struggle with engaging with digital text (see research studies here, here and here (yes I need to start looking for this research so I have actual examples in the future))” here are some questions to consider to support student reading engagement and content learning as you design your own digital media, or as you remix existing media to support your learners.

I love access to digital materials, and I think there are a lot of opportunities for digital resources to support more engaged learning with so many of our students. But not if we don’t ask the questions and consider what students need as we discuss how to design, remix, and cull sources. If you want to have these harder conversations, unfortunately this is not the book for you. If you want some basic information on a few types of digital resources available to K-16 classrooms, with detailed information on how and where to click – this is the book for you.

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Theory of Teaching

I’ve shifted the focus of my Freshmen Composition courses to focus on key concepts and theories of writing. At the beginning and end of the semester students are asked to write Reflection essays developing their own theory of writing (they struggle with the idea of writing about their own writing, and using I – fun questions to respond to). To support this development we work through composition-based readings and themed readings (digital rhetoric related). After the initial reflection, while we focus on themed readings and develop an approach to reading and writing analysis at the college level, students are asked to revisit the key concepts as anchor terms for their learning. My approach is heavily based on Teaching for Transfer, Writing about Writing, Transfer research, and learning research. My goal with this curricular approach is to empower students through awareness of their own learning.

Yesterday I was reading an Inside Higher Ed article on the need for educators to also develop their own theory of teaching. Unlike the Teaching Philosophy which often approaches teaching from a more abstract philosophical and theoretical view of teaching, this theory of writing should be the more practical ideas that aid teacher excitement, which aids student learning. Their learning focus, similar to my learning focus in curriculum design, aims to support student learning as the ultimate end goal. If we approach teaching from cognitive and content bases – but focus our theory of teaching on cognitive skills and practices that support content learning and maintain our enthusiasm students should learn better.

I love this idea. And immediately began to consider how can I use this. Also, what groups would benefit from this discussion an exercise. During the summer I teach a Media Literacy Institute geared toward K-12 educators. This year I’m focusing specifically on Digital Citizenship for 6-12 educators (although K-6 are also welcome).

As I’m exploring contemporary ideas of digital citizenship, I’m seeing a significant amount of teaching ‘digital citizenship through positive reinforcement.’ This typically means the teacher should use ONE positive social media example per day in the classroom as course content is discussed and explored. For instance, to move into a discussion of remix, I’d mention “A friend from my doctoral program knows we’re focusing on remix as a key concept, so she forwarded me this video on Facebook. I’m sending it to you all on Twitter to support your reading and discussion about Article X for class”. In this way, I’ve mentioned positive uses of technology, i’ve related that use directly to classroom and content learning so students begin to reinforce positive social learning with their use of digital technologies to reinforce positive use of technology. Overt instruction on digital citizenship practices is also helpful – but this positive approach seems to be the key.

Here’s where I see the connection to a theory of teaching. As educators we often measure learning through tests and essays where points are deducted or earned to form a grade. Positive reinforcement of digital citizenship requires connections to learning, but no formal assessment, and few to no negative stories of misuses, dangers, epic failures. The goal is not to scare students into good citizenship, but to teach students positive approaches to using the spaces. This doesn’t always align with contemporary high standard testing practices – so how would educators develop a theory of teaching that included positive reinforcement of digital citizenship across the curriculum? How can cognition and learning better support positive approaches to teaching so incorporating digital citizenship as part of existing curriculum tied directly to individual theories of teaching seems more doable immediately?

As I continue to grapple with the feasibility of these ideas, I realize I need to write my own theory of writing before assigning this idea so I have a working example – so look forward to that future post 🙂

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Makerspaces at Conferences

This past weekend I presented at the Feminisms and Rhetorics 2017 conference. I presented a maker session on using coding robots (my ozobots) to support learning writing processes and theories (maker pedagogy with a focus on transfer).

The conference call for papers included a call for maker sessions, but for this conference it seemed very few presenters submitted to publish under that category. I attempted to attend a few maker sessions that didn’t happen, and generally did not see many listed in the program. Whatever the cause for fewer maker sessions, it caused interesting mindset reactions in my session.

I presented on Friday afternoon – after a largish lunch with our keynote speaker. The conference began on Wednesday, lasted all day and into late evening on Thursday, included activist sessions and workshops Friday morning, followed by our keynote address, then my session. By my session many attendees seemed a bit overwhelmed and tired. There was a lot of conference happening before my session. What I appreciated most was the joy and excitement in my session when I told attendees the point was to give them time to experience my theory pedagogy, they were going to play with robots.

While i’ll follow-up later with discussions of the theories, I want to take a short break to discuss the idea of maker time at conference to support good learning at conferences. Educators burn-out too. We become overwhelmed at conferences. My session now has me wondering if there should be more productive ways to organize conferences to build in experimental time, experience time, play time.

What i’m not arguing is that my format was the best. What I am considering is the way my play-based format, using the ozobots and some keynote theory slides, but focusing on spending time with the theories as experiential learning offered time for attendees to process some of their learning. Even if attendees never use robots (I understand the cost prohibitive nature of this tech – I only have 4 which influences how I design some of my pedagogy), even if attendees don’t process my theories but some of what they’ve learned from other sessions, could there be benefits to makerspaces at conferences where all attendees work through their own learning in experiential ways that are meaningful to them?

With a focus on transfer (I’m reading How People Learn, I highly recommend these ideas), I’m also wondering how makerspaces can aid learning transfer. How can attendees use these maker practices in new spaces to continue to support their own development. While being overloaded with ideas for new projects is great, it’s also exhausting. Can makerspaces help information processing in meaningful ways?

I feel this post has even fewer answers than I normally provide, I’m epically failing as an education blogger by just adding more questions to an already complex field, but I’m really happy with these ideas. I’m also considering possible applications in the classroom. Yes, I use robots, but with course times, regularly engaging maker activities requires a lot of work (and areas where I need to improve my approach to flipping). How does the classroom need to be reimagined for this to work? This same question would apply to conferences too – how would a conference be reimagined to allow for maker learning processing space? How do we get student/attendee buy-in for such a different approach? I have tons of students who love lectures, they are comfortable with and familiar with lectures, modify that approach and students need guidance. I’m assuming conference attendees would be similarly mystified to new approaches to conference learning. How do we teach students/attendees how to learn in these new approaches?

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Rules, Games and Rhetorical Theory

Douglas Eyman Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice

In Chapter 2 of his book, Eyman reviews the applications of rhetorical theory to digital contexts as scholars work through the difficult question: ‘what is digital rhetoric?’. Eyman spends time discussing the way theorists have reimagined the rhetorical canon – notably Brooke’s Lingua Fracta: Toward a rhetoric of new media. While Eyman’s discussion is lengthy and detailed I want to focus on just one tiny detail here.

Eyman sites Porter and Sullivan (1994) saying “[b]ecause rhetoric is a situated and applied art, it generates principles, not rules. The difference is significant: principles are always interpreted and adjusted for situations (and rarely survive in pure form); rules circumscribe absolute boundaries (115)” (64 in Eyman’s text). Stated another way, context matters to rhetoric, and rhetoric must be understood in context. This is an important distinction for me, and seems to be my breaking point with Eyman – the digital in digital rhetoric cannot be the only context considered!

As a side note, I forgot my computer charger this morning, not noticing until I arrived at work. I began asking around to borrow a power cord – the IT department, Library, and Instructional Design team don’t lend chargers. While waiting for my cord to be delivered (thank you to my wonderful husband), I needed to find ways of completing digital work from my phone (an Android) – a much smaller screen, very different interface from my MacBook. I produced tweets – similar tweets to what I would’ve produced had I used my computer, but how I interfaced to create the tweets, my thought process for approaching my digital work was completely different. While this happened today as I was considering the content of this post was both frustrating and fortuitous, I am really noticing the lack of humans in digital rhetorical theory today.

As someone who studies new media, rhetoric and games, this play on principles and rules is really meaningful to me. In this chapter, Eyman’s goal is to work through existing discussions of digital rhetoric, the glows and the grows (a Lesson Study approach to showcasing praxis recently adopted by the Center for Academic Excellence at my institution – I love the terminology), specifically the ways the canon has been adapted to study production of digital texts more frequently than analysis.

This emphasis on how – production – makes sense. Interacting with interfaces is new, as interfaces continue to change, as new tools are developed, as new ways of communicating becomes possible through these interfaces and tools, users must determine how to deploy, users make choices in how they construct their digital communication acts. What is seen, what is viewable by the rhetorician, are the ‘final’ product choices (‘final’ because interfaces can and do and should change!). As Brooke points out, reimagining the canons can add to the fields understanding of rhetoric. But, the canons were designed by Aristotle in a time when oral rhetoric had a time and place for delivery. With digital tools, no digital communication is ever complete/done/delivered. Stale content on a website is an evil in the digital age – updating information to entice users to continue to visit the site is the expectation.

This is where I think a return to principles and rules – especially influenced by games and play – can add a lot to discussions of digital rhetoric. Eyman points out that Aristotle’s canon of rhetorical practice is heavy handed in rules. For example, Aristotle offers a discrete list of fallacies – of all possible arguments to be adapted to all situations. While useful during Aristotle’s time for the fixed audience and purpose of rhetorical education (democracy and public forum government), this approach is heavily rules based so constantly adapted to meet contemporary needs and contemporary understanding of the situatedness of rhetoric. For this reason, Eyman, very wisely, frames his approach in practices.

However, because I’ve played games (and become a competitive nightmare) like Fluxx where the rules and goals change with every turn, I think Eyman’s framing on principles needs to also account for the human element behind the decisions. In Fluxx games, the strategy is often to hold on to new goal cards until you can play the rule, action and keeper cards to win. This requires a combination of cards in your hand/deck, and a lack of cards in another players. Often this also requires in-play rules allowing/requiring players to play 3 or more cards per hand (long set-ups to playing new goals can be easily overridden by other players). The cards are shuffled, they will appear in the deck in any random order – it is up to the players (and their understanding of the game) to play the cards (to run the code in computer terms).

When discussing rules and principles of digital rhetorical theory, the principles and canonical adaptations need to account for human choice. While this leads to super messy theory – because we really can’t guess what a human will do – this accounting goes beyond invention (overall aligning my discussion with Eyman who similarly finds the canons binding).

This is where game theory, play theory, can offer a lot to discussions of ‘what is digital rhetoric?’. In games, rules are meant to be played with, often players determine which rules to enact, which rules to enforce, which rules even become active in a given game. I played Life with my husband and son and they bought stock. I can’t remember ever buying stock in the game previously. In my family growing up, those rules never became active and we chose to ignore the game pieces provided. In Fluxx games the players actively choose to make rules and goals. In both situations, play depends more on principles than rules. Play theories account for and recognize the situatedness of rule enacting.

As I work through theories of play for a November presentation I’ll continue to refine this idea. Initially I see the moment in Eyman’s digital rhetorical theory discussion where play theory would further complicate the ideas, and also bring the users back into the discussion in important ways. What is digital rhetoric without the users? How can we reimagine the question ‘what is digital rhetoric?’ to also account for and acknowledge the users?

The consideration of what play theory can offer is still just a kernel of an idea……

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online composition course theory

Last week I perused the Kairos list of books they’d like reviewed. Many are books I want to read or am planning to use in my courses in the Fall. As I then moved books from my home office to my work office I organized the books I used in my dissertation on online composition courses. Revisiting the Kairos list, I’m noticing a HUGE gap in book-length research on teaching online (from composition scholars – I know there is research).

What I’m wondering is if:

  1. we see the existing research as comprehensive enough – to which I have a huge issue. I know Teaching Writing Online is still a highly recommend text, but I critiqued it in my dissertation 3 years ago and still think we need to move far beyond that text
  2. we are publishing in mostly article length projects. There are advantages to this, especially with amazing digital publications allowing for playful composition in our articles.

What I want to focus on here, is #1. Last week I also read a post on Hybrid Pedagogy about Critical Digital Pedagogy (I can’t find the article now, I’ll update this post with the link when I find it). What I found so important about this particular transcript of a speech was the focus on where we are as scholars of praxis with online/hybrid courses, and the potential for growth. Focusing on the idea that growth is not just inevitable, but needs to become the focus again of online pedagogy discussions is so important to me.

While my current institution fills more hybrid classes than online classes, the potential for graduate certificate student growth in online and hybrid grad classes exists. To develop this program and provide meaningful courses to post-bach professionals, our department needs to not only engage with current composition theories and coursework, but with online and digital pedagogies to provide courses that allow students to navigate for meaningful interactions.

The focus on Teaching Writing Online as translating curriculums to online space is insufficient, the hard questions aren’t raised and addressed. The messiness of online courses, the changes that occur part-way through a term to accommodate learners is missing. While critical digital pedagogy offers more critical thinking approaches to pedagogy than answers for designing learning given the tools students and faculty can access-

-and I would like to suggest adding considerations of race, class and gender since all may have an affect on student literacies when they engage with the courses – heck considerations for the HUGE variety of student literacies when they engage with digital material needs further discussion and consideration. Additionally, what do students expect from an online course, what do they get from an online course? These were questions I raised from the variety of data I found in my dissertation that still need further exploration. Just because students use Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean we (educators/researchers) know anything about HOW they engage, so we don’t know what it will take to help students engage with critical engagement-

-the questions raised in critical digital pedagogy discussions seem to be the focus of just a few researchers (within a specific publication and their training institutes – why if you’re discussing critical digital pedagogy did you design ‘training’ based summer programs instead of a conference that would include more voices on equal footing – especially the voices of women and people of color?).

Yes, i’m actively critically engaging with critical digital pedagogy as I write this blog post, I understand the irony, but I do believe it is a solid theory to re-address the conversations that need to happen in relation to online/hybrid composition pedagogy, even the use of technology in f2f composition courses.

Through these meandering theory connections I’m wondering where the connection is between critical digital pedagogy and the NCTE/CCCC Teaching Writing Online discussions in actual practices. Why do some groups continue to work with one group of texts, while another group works with a separate set. What approaches to online course design do current online composition educators rely on for theory? Beyond developing studies based on current praxis – what are the current gaps in knowledge? What would it require to find out?

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I’m reading The Available Means of Persuasion as I sift through readings for my forthcoming graduate courses. Helping students grapple with dense ideas of rhetoric, digital media, digital media literacy, digital rhetoric, and media literacy (literacies, etc.) requires students read a breadth of approaches.

I’m fascinated with their discussion of rhetorical agency. They explore the “the way agency is distributed across human and nonhuman actors” to understand how “multimodal public rhetoric is linked to the material concerns of technology and space” (p. 11). Their theory explores kairos, kairotic invention, and rhetorical agency as these assist a public rhetor’s preparedness for seeing the available means of persuasion.

While their attention to kairos and rhetorical agency is incredibly helpful, i’m left wondering in what ways the tools they discuss continue to use us (the users). Their aim is to inspire composition instructors to help students develop practices as multimodal public rhetors. This is amazing, I love it! But…….using the available technologies kairotically focuses time and attention on the situation, but never reflects on the affordances of the technologies being used.

Keep in mind, I do understand that a 15 week (or less!) composition cannot cover EVERYTHING. My aim here is not to critique their approach, but to wonder where and when reflection and critique of the affordances and algorithms of these technologies can feasibly be integrated into praxis.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was speaking with a colleague in the Library when he was approached by a student. Said student had questions about an undergrad honors thesis on Netflix and their LGBTQ category. After some back and forth questioning, the student was fairly happy to hear a body of research exists on YouTube videos and ‘coming out’ as genre. During the back and forth, the student commented on the prevalence of the LGBTQ queue in their stream (where I didn’t know it existed, but I have tons of kid categories). Additionally, the student commented on the types of films/shows featured (hence the ‘coming out’ genre analysis idea). When I began to mention the role the Netflix algorithm played in determining some of that information there was a significant amount of blank stares leveled at me. It’s not that considerations of algorithms influencing what viewers/users have access to is a difficult to understand concept – it just significantly complicates our traditional humanities approach (in this case – genre analysis).

As I read Sheridan, Ridolofo and Michel’s discussion of kairos as an important aspect of multimodal public rhetoric I immediately remembered the Netflix conversation. As we (composition instructors) include multimodal projects into our curriculums, is there a good space for discussing how the algorithm influences user experiences? When approaching a thesis as a genre analysis, it seems genre analysis as a method should include analysis (to the extent possible since most algorithms are kept fairly private) or at least discussion of the fact that an algorithm based on user preferences influences what a given user sees – highlighting the genre being analyzed. But, where does that conversation belong within the curriculum of an undergraduate degree? There is so much to discuss and practice at the Freshmen Composition level, adding yet another task that detracts from writing practices as transferrable simply dilutes writing learning. So where?

On a side note, I’ll begin teaching a Content Management course Spring 2018, this concept clearly needs to be a concern within that class!

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