This course opened my eyes to the history of text and the emergence of multiliteracies. I watched the latest Robin Hood (with Russell Crow) a week or so ago. Set around 1200, I couldn’t help but notice how the written work incorporated in it (edicts, etc.) had those handy spaces between words, and weren’t very historically accurate. Aside from movie critiques (which will now probably continue), I’ve found myself looking at literacy and the evolution of how we communicate from a very new perspective. I feel that in this new digital age, we’re probably going to begin to see more remarkable changes in how text is used (or not) in future communication. It reminds me that we’re at a very interesting crossroads in how communication takes place.
Some of the conversations on new forms of colonial-like outcomes vis-a-vis corporate (and open-source) programs has also given me pause. The default language settings in word processors and even in applications like email now cause me to question the negative outcomes in terms of conformity in this regard. Perhaps it is the integration of text in novel ways through new multimodal communication that this will be tempered. I’ve also been forced to think about my own choices in terms of disseminating ideas, and come to the conclusion that for better or worse, I’m more or less a luddite. Even with the choice to do some assignments using new media, I tend to stick with the paradigm I’ve been in – essays/text-dominated writing – for the most part. So while I embrace the idea of new forms of expression and find them invigorating, my personal change will probably follow a slow path. I think part of this is context. In non-academic settings, I think I’m more likely (and have been) to integrate multimedia and non-text elements, but I’m reminded that the indoctrination I’ve been subject to over many years that places writing, particularly traditional essay writing, will take effort and persistence to change. Part of the draw to Web 2.0 for student assignments and activities that appeals to me is that through more collaboration and interaction, I can see how students can engage and develop/share ideas in ways that are meaningful.
Another aspect that is very intriguing, from my place as a language instructor, is what this means in terms of how language might be best taught. I now wonder if in the future the focus on language instruction will change. There has been an ongoing swing in emphasis between form (accuracy) and function (communication), and it seems to me that language instruction is going to head to a new place where multimodal communication will need to be incorporated in teaching languages. I’m sure that this will cause tension, but will also offer novel ways that we can engage students in meaningful learning, particularly in academic preparation programs.