This has been one of the more enjoyable courses I have taken. I do not think we spend enough time considering some of the major human accomplishments that still have an effect on us today. Our transition from orality to literacy was monumental and as Andrew Jevne points out, many of us nowadays take such technologies as writing for granted. Another point worth considering is how these accomplishments define who we are.
One way we are being redefined as educators is how our roles are evolving from experts to participants in learning alongside our students. Garth Finlay discusses this changing role and how Web 2.0 in particular is diminishing the teacher and parent as authority figures as flexibility and collaboration become the classroom norm. We are also being redefined as writer and reader. As Ken Buis so aptly points out, “like sparks of creative flows across the synaptic pathways of the brain, media-rich stories are being created across the internet uniting author and reader into a combined and seemingly paradoxical role of both producer and consumer” further discussing how the technology we use in our daily lives is impacting culture, identity and learning.
Angela Novoa elaborates on the cultural transformations taking place with the integration of digital technologies. She makes the important point that as our students create, distribute and consume content through text with the integration of audio-visual components, they are developing new ways of understanding and further developing their multiliteracies. This could be argued for the integration of previous technologies as well. In Sian Osborne’s research paper on the The Impact of Paperbacks on Western Culture, she looks at the democratization of literacy and how the advent of the paperback helped bring about literacy to the masses. Storytelling and reading were not longer elitist activities and soon became habit for many. These remediations helped and continue to help redefine ourselves within our cultural contexts.
Bao-Van Hill discusses the role of remediation of writing in the identity of an entire nation in The Romanization of the Vietnamese Language. As the Romanization of the language was brought about by a Jesuit on a mission to spread the Gospel of the Roman Catholic Church, Catholicism became widespread. This remediation also improved literacy in Vietnam. Bao-Van further discusses the current ‘Englishization’ of Vietnamese education which is now changing the language being used in many Vietnamese homes. Writing technologies are redefining our roles but is it possible that we reinvent writing technologies in order to refashion our definitions of mind and self as Bolter (2001) suggests? Are we the same people we were when we first started writing? Does the Romanization of a language, for example, change who we are? Perhaps it is simply that the remediations of writing, especially from print to electronic, have enabled us to create and share more and that different aspects of who we are will become apparent with different modes (and purposes) of writing.
Just as print technologies defined our relationships in the past, electronic technologies are now doing the same (Bolter, 2001). As Kim Melvin points out, the tools and technologies we use to write allow us to see ourselves and the world around us in different ways. Though just developing at the time Bolter wrote Writing Space, we are now seeing a ‘networked’ culture where the web is just a metaphor for how we function in various communities and where the network is displacing the hierarchy (2001). While seen as ‘fragmented’ when looking through the lense of a print culture, hypertext and hypermedia are helping create subnetworks of individual communities that connect or disconnect at will.
Thinking and writing are inseparable. Writing is simply putting on paper (or any other physical or digital surface) what is already writing in our minds. Though, as Bolter (2001) points out, writing helps us better define our thoughts out of the confusion and emotion going on inside our minds. Hypertext further helps us hypermediate the mind (Bolter, 2001) – to expand, talk back and develop a reflective relationship that TV, radio, and printed text could not. While at the time of writing, Bolter was uncertain of whether the future of text would remediate culture, I believe it does. We are now not only able to create and share more of the different aspects of who we are, remediations of text are changing the patterns of human knowledge, thinking , beliefs, and behaviour though hypermediated shifts in symbolic thought and social learning.
Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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