The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Making Connections

Personal Connections– Learning

Four years ago I suffered an injury that tore one of the tendons that controls movement in my thumb. I eventually regained use of the thumb and was able to perform all daily activities with little trouble. All except one. It was difficult and very painful to write. So I turned to using the computer. I bought myself a laptop and thankfully my part-time job was a fully computerized environment. At first I saw it as a very efficient substitute writing tool; it was much quicker to type than to jot down notes. About half a year later I began to feel that learning was becoming more difficult, and causing more fatigue, and my creativity had been highly impacted.

It wasn’t until I took this course that I began to really investigate the relationship between the two.

In thinking about the definition of text and looking at the evolution of writing spaces and technologies made me reflect on my current and previous modes of learning. Earlier notes were meticulously underlined, highlighted, written in different colours (while also possible on the computer, rarely used these functions because I owned a black and white laser printer). The handwriting was all over the page, with little clumps of information, connected by arrows and diagrams. The margins were reserved for ‘outside links’, where I made personal connections and devised memory aids to help me synthesize and remember information and ideas. This practice also extended to any papers, textbooks, and novels that I read. However, the injury discouraged this and I ended up typing a few notes on the computer (instead of directly on the page—which made the information feel … disconnected).

Remediation

The concept of remediation was also very useful in my understanding of the difficulties with embracing technological use in schools. As a TOC I visited many schools and saw many classrooms wherein the computer lab was used for typing lessons, KidPix, or research. Many schools also have Interactive White Boards (IWBs), and teachers use them as, in essence, a very cool replacement for a worksheet. Remediation helps frame and pinpoint the reason for this phenomenon: the use of technology is not just a set of skills, it’s a change in thinking and pedagogy. Literacy is not just literacy anymore, it has become multiliteracies and Literacy 2.0. Teachers cannot continue to teach reading and writing the same way as before, because text is not the same anymore.

December 22, 2009   No Comments

Connections

In trying to make some final connections between my own research on Graphic Novels, increased literacy and multimodal texts, I read a few of the projects that seemed most relevant to me.  What follows are my thoughts. (Just pretend the italicized words are my thought bubbles.)

I just want to remind myself to consult Drew Murphy’s Wiki on using Digital storytelling for the reluctant reader.  It might be an interesting contrast to what I did for my project.

http://wiki.ubc.ca/User:DrewRyan#Creating_Classroom_Community_Through_Digital_Storytelling

I turned out his project was more about engaging students in storytelling using digital media, rather than getting them to read more.  I think that would be an excellent next step to promoting reading with graphic novels and other types of visual media.  As I thought when I read the title, this is an excellent example of a further remediation of text.  As Bolter describes it, one technology building on the other.  In the same way, the skills learned using multimodal texts allow the reader to progress onto the next, more sophisticated media.  The use of digital texts also allows even more input and creativity from the writer (consumer as producer).

This quote from Noah Burdett: “With the need for speed a literate person needs to be able to think critically about the material in terms of its relevance and its authority.”  NoahBurdett_ETEC540_majorproject  http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept09/2009/11/30/final-project-literacy-and-critical-thinking/

“To become multiliterate “What is also required is the mastery of traditional skills and techniques, genres and texts, and their applications through new media and new technologies” (Queensland, 2004). “from Learning Multiliteracies by Carmen Chan

Philip Salembier discussed the New Literacy and Multiliteracies in From one literacy, to many, to one.

He really explains how we have to be prepared as teachers and parents to understand that literacy means more than reading and writing and that digital literacy is not just understanding how to navigate the internet.  All of these are aspects of the new literacy, along with social networking skills.

Fun interactive story http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:ETEC540/2009WT1/Assignments/MajorProject/ItsUpToYou by Ryan Bartlett.  Might use this style to get the seniors to do a research project on Social Injustice.

Finally, just because this one blew me away! From Tracy Gidinski http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept09/2009/11/29/the-holocaust-and-points-of-view/ I hope I can use this style at some point either with my Marketing or International Business class or perhaps even a simpler storyline for an FSL course.

December 2, 2009   No Comments

Negotiating Spaces and Making Connections

Throughout this course we have interacted with several spaces for reading and writing: our course wiki, the community weblog and the discussion boards. We have also engaged with several spaces outside of the course through peer projects that make use of websites, videos and Web 2.0 technologies. For me, this course has really been about how reading and writing changes within each of these digital spaces.

Bolter (2001) states that “the reflexive character of each technology permits writers to find themselves in the texts they create and therefore to know themselves in new ways” (p. 189). The discussion forums were an essential reflection tool for our course. In the Digital Literacy and Multi-literacies forum, Kathleen Cavanagh reflected on writing in online forums and provided a list of best practices on creating postings that grab the attention of the digital reader (Do Web Browser Affect Literacy, Nov. 21, 2009). In the same thread Erin Gillespie pointed out the importance of generating community for knowledge creation. She also mentioned how ‘the personal touch’, ‘shared insights’ and ‘co-construction of knowledge’ are what makes discussion forums motivating and engaging (Nov. 24, 2009). Drew Murphy followed up by stating that “posting[s] could become a very intense learning experience when people’s ideas are squeezed into a small, community space” (Nov. 24, 2009, para. 2).

Within the short 13-week span of our course, I believe we have built a learning community through simultaneously making use of multiple digital reading and writing spaces. Though work-related challenges limited my participation at times, this environment for me, extended my understanding of the course concepts as my peers provided unique points-of-view. Through individual postings, we collectively pulled together ideas and in turn each person could come away with a new understanding of themselves.

Online, our thoughts can be hyperlinked and thus be flexible, interactive and quickly disseminated. This made me think about how the spaces within our course shift our writings from being informal (discussion threads or weblog comments) to being formal (assignments posted to the weblog, wiki, etc.). However regardless of what is posted, in these content spaces we continually move between being consumers and being producers. Just look at the Community weblog to see exactly how much content, we as a group have generated in such a short amount of time. Then look at all the links we have generated!

In terms of readings, I particularly enjoyed Bolter’s chapter “The Breakout of the Visual” as well as Dobson and Willinsky’s article “Digital Literacy”. With the proliferation of images in multimodal realms there is a need for students today to be multi-literate. In the Multimodality and the Breakout of the Visual forum, Dilip Verma stated that he sees graphic design skills as eventually becoming “as valued as spelling and grammar in the 21st century” (Nov. 5, 2009). In another thread entitled “Visual/Textual?” Kelly Kerrigan reflected on how visual representation has become prominent in society today and that MET courses reflect this transformation by encouraging students to explore different modes of representation. ETEC540 supports this claim as we have had the opportunity to present our work in shared digital spaces, leaving room for us to make use of hypermedia and hyperlinks. It was interesting to peruse the projects where people took a more visual approach:

Final Project – Graphic Novels, Improving Literacy
Catherine Gagnon

A Case For Teaching Visual Literacy – Bev Knutson-Shaw

Pen and Paper Project – Ed Stuerle & Bruce Spencer

Navigating the Hypermedia Sea – Marjorie del Mundo

Hopscotch and Hypertext – Liz Hood

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and appreciated the opportunity to engage frequently in the various spaces of the course.

References

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

November 30, 2009   2 Comments

Final project: Literacy and Critical Thinking

Here is the abstract of my final paper and a link to both a podcast and a print version.

Abstract:

The New London Group (1996) starts their discussion of multi-literacy by presenting the needs of future citizens in the work place of tomorrow. They argue that to engage and negotiate critically with a working environment, students need to have multi-literacy skills or the ability to communicate meaning through a variety of mediums. Students also need to participate in literacy activities as members of communities; they need to be able to discern meaning from multiple media sources and produce meaning using these “new media.” The change in participation and literacy is in part because hypertext, the Internet, and associated applications have changed the way knowledge is created and presented.

The author is no longer the authority. As we all become authors of a collective knowledge the authority of knowledge is no longer clear, print is no longer associated with truth as it may once have been. Knowledge is created changed and rework, represented mixed and fed in to what is becoming known as a participatory media culture. The following is both a historical and modern understanding of how western society has understood the transmission of knowledge and how the transformation of the transmission has changed what it means to be educated or knowledgeable.

Critical thinking

NoahBurdett_ETEC540_majorproject

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Final Project – Graphic Novels, Improving Literacy

Before I started this course, I had noticed the increased availability of graphic novels in our school library.  My teenage son is a fan, preferring Manga to the North American style comic books.  When our school recently began school-wide silent reading to promote literacy, student interest in and requests for graphic novels increased further.  There seemed a clear link between this form of literature and the need to improve  literacy rates as part of our province’s Student Success initiatives.

In the past weeks, I researched the topic of graphic novels to find the link between improved literacy and an alternate form of literature.  This website is meant to be an informative document.  My hope is to link it to the school website for parents to find documented answers to their questions about how to get reluctant readers engaged in regular reading.

A website is unlike a traditional essay in that I found it difficult to conclude the document.  You will find both internal and external links.  Typical of websites, the readers can choose the path to follow – it was never meant to be linear.  Ultimately, I hope this site encourages readers to continue their own journey in learning about graphic novels.

November 28, 2009   1 Comment

Commentary 3: Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracy Skills

Commentary #3: Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracy Skills

Erin Gillespie

ETEC 540

November 27, 2009

Recently, I attended a literacy skills planning meeting. Various curricular text types were explained including procedural text, expositional text, descriptive text, persuasive text and narrative text. The literacy committee recommended that students and teachers use the Internet to increase exposure to the curricular text types and the skills inherent in each. Several suggestions involved Web 2.0 applications, such as blogging, collaborative document creation and wiki editing.  Interestingly, the committee did not consider Web 2.0 itself as embodying an emergent form of multiliteracy skills. In digitally advanced nations, members of society read and write in Web 2.0. Why was this form of emergent multiliteracy overlooked by my curricular designers when we all share the vision of preparing students for the  future with “real world” skills? Web 2.0’s emergent multiliteracies are meaningful and deserve a place in curriculum design.

In the article Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning?, Bryan Alexander (2006) describes Web 2.0 applications and common practices within the concept. The major qualities of Web 2.0 are considered by Alexander (2006) to be content blocks called “microcontent”, openness, folksonomic metadata and social software. Alexander (2006) describes how services like social bookmarking, blogging and RSS feeds reflect the qualities of Web 2.0.  He concludes that Web 2.0’s services, which are emergent and therefore risky, may not be considered highly in the field of education.  In 2008, Alexander extends his argument with Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies. Concerning the status of Web 2.0 in the field of education, Alexander (2008) posits a more optimistic opinion.   He describes the “archival instinct” of the Web and states that many pedagogical possibilities of Web 2.0 are explored by teachers and students (Alexander, 2008). The implication of increased value of Web 2.0’s emergent multiliteracies in education further strengthens the argument that this genre requires serious consideration by teachers and curriculum design teams.

Alexander (2008) describes Web 2.0 as being composed of social connection, microcontent, social filtering and openness, similar to his theory in 2006. Instructors must understand these qualities to identify pedagogical possibilities of emergent multiliteracies. Social connection is fostered by Web applications that literally connect people based on the variables of interest or personality (Alexander, 2008).  Alexander (2008) lists a number of examples, such as blogs, FaceBook and Flickr to clarify. Microcontent is considered by Alexander (2008) to be small in size and to require a short investment in learning time. Alexander’s (2008) implication is clear in that microcontent makes Web authoring, and publishing, accessible and realistic in terms of time investment for teacher and student. Social filtering is the process of relating information between primary and secondary sources of Web content. Alexander (2008) considers it “the wisdom of the crowd”, and social filtering is evident in folksonomies created through tagging. Finally, Alexander’s (2006, 2008) fourth quality of “openness” for Web 2.0 content  refers to any content posted on the Web for a global audience to see and use. Considering the literary text types I must teach this year, none seem as dynamic and exciting as the genre of emergent multiliteracies of Web 2.0.

To consolidate my teaching style with Web 2.0 multiliteracy, I must always keep in mind pedagogical possibilities related to Alexander’s (2008) four qualities: microcontent, openness, social filtering and social connection. On a practical level, how could a teacher reach the professional satisfaction of exposing students to this emergent text type in a meaningful way? One popular technique when teaching text types is to take advantage of the traditional method of storytelling. I have taught narrative text and descriptive text through storytelling.  A challenging thought is how to use storytelling to teach emergent Web 2.0 multiliteracies! However, the emergent genre of Web 2.0 storytelling, as described by Alexander and Levine (2008), supports Alexander’s (2006, 2008) theory of Web 2.0 multiliteracies and pedagogical needs.  

Alexander & Levine (2008) argue that Web 2.0 has changed the genre of digital storytelling by blending digital storytelling with Alexander’s (2006;2008) Web 2.0 qualities. Expensive desk top publishing programs are being replaced by free Web 2.0 tools, effectively shifting the pedagogical focus from mastering a tool to telling a story with a tool (Alexander & Levine, 2008).  Web 2.0 digital storytelling is considered to be fiction or non-fiction with possible blurred boundaries, and is broad in scope (Alexander & Levine, 2008). The most significant difference between digital storytelling and Web 2.0 storytelling is the singular, linear flow of the former and the multidirectional flow of the latter (Alexander & Levine, 2008). With Web 2.0 qualities of social connectedness and openness, stories can virtually go in any direction, well beyond a linear form. Curriculum designers must recognize and design for these emergent qualities before advising teachers to use Web 2.0 tools to support literacy skills.

The emergent multiliteracies of Web 2.0 have meaningful literacy skills which should be included in curricular design. For example, Alexander and Levine (2008) note that content redesign is out of the hand of the primary creator with Web 2.0 storytelling. This implies that one challenge will be in teaching students about the consequences of openness and social filtering. In other words, an emerging skill embedded in Web 2.0 multiliteracy is Web 2.0 content analysis. The proposition by Alexander and Levine (2008) that there is a Web 2.0 storytelling genre exemplifies the need for continued research and increased pedagogical recognition concerning emergent multiliteracies. The revelation that each emergent Web 2.0 literacy genre may have its own set of multiliteracy skills should make every curricular designer and practitioner in digitally advanced educational environments sit up and take notice.

References

Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 32-44. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0621.pdf.

Alexander, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and emergent multiliteracies. Theory into Practice, 47(2), 150-160. doi: 10.1080/00405840801992371

Alexander, B., & Levine, A. (2008). Web 2.0 storytelling: Emergence of a new genre. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(6), 40-56. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume43/Web20StorytellingEmergenceofaN/163262

November 27, 2009   3 Comments