Making Connections

When we first began this course, I was uncertain. It seems that is a natural progression throughout the MET program; each course is a new adventure. Looking back on the readings and assignments we have completed, it is impressive how much we have learned. My most embarrassing moment was very early on, googling ‘codex’ as I had no idea what we were talking about.

Ong was a challenge for me to understand and apply to my own life and teaching practice, but Bolter presented ideas that have an instant impact. The concept of remediation immediately made sense, and I now look at daily life and education through this lens. There is tension between text and visuals, and we can see the impact in the ways media has changed. Take a look at how newspapers are beginning to look – how they are changing to become more visually appealing and more like a site. We are watching text and communication change so quickly, due to rapid technology growth and change, and it is hard to predict where we will be next. We rely heavily on images and graphics, and we need to ensure that our students are prepared with the tools to decipher text and visuals.

There is concern for the repercussions of such an evolution of text. We hear concerns about youth losing the ability to write and read cursive, spell effectively, and create full sentences and paragraphs without texting lingo and emoticons. These are certainly elements that need to be considered, but I think there is a balance to be struck. Yes, there is a sense of loss when we look back with fondness at sending handwritten letters, but we must consider the gains made in global communication and efficiency.

Last week I was having a discussion with an elementary teacher about the concern that youth are losing the ability to write formally. We see texting lingo creep into typed stories constantly. Within his class, he has seen these shortcuts creep into handwritten work too. This fascinates me, because I can understand how fingers on a keyboard connect naturally to texting language, but when it leaps off the keyboard and into the physical act of printing and cursive writing, we are seeing a true change in the way people are thinking. For example, whenever I type the name Albert on my computer, I can’t stop myself from automatically typing Alberta. But when I handwrite it never happens. It is so connected to the keyboard in my mind that it stays there. We are now seeing a generation where it is infiltrating all areas of writing.

Instead of being concerned with what we are losing, we need to begin thinking about how we can meet the communication needs of our current and future society. If we teach our students how to read and write informal text, visual text, and formal text, they will be prepared for anything and everything that comes their way.

What I appreciated most about our coursework was how it was structured in such a way that we could find those areas that we truly connected with, in both the research topics and the tools we used to present our ideas. I am leaving this course with so many ideas to incorporate into my classes – starting first with digital storytelling and graphic novels.

How about you?

 

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Connections Collage

As I thought of how best to make connections between the wealth of ideas explored in ETEC540, I realized I now had a variety of media to choose from to complete this task, many that were introduced to me through this weblog itself. In keeping with the themes explored in the course, I have chosen to complete this activity in a new space for reading and writing – through this Connections Collage, I will take you on a visual journey of our learning of text technologies.

Connections Collage by Sheza Naqi

Thank you and all the best,

Sheza

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A Community of Connections

It has taken me some time to write this culminating and concluding weblog post. In our preceding readings we have been exploring how written languages have been in a constant state of change. Developed through our readings with Ong (2002), we examined how different writing systems from various cultures have affected the evolution of print. This shift throughout our history from an oral to a literate culture has also impacted the way in which thoughts, ideas, and understanding has and will be developed. Bolter (2011) states that, “Ancient and modern Western cultures have often constructed writing technology to enhance the power and status of abstract or technical discourse and thought…” (p. 192), in doing so, the manner in which we communicate has also altered the way in which we design and conceptualize. I would suggest that hypertext continues perpetuate this idea, and in doing so, this new media “disrupts” the once linear nature of print.

This disruption in the linearity resonated with me as this activity unfolded. I reconnected with Alexander’s (2008) microcontent; a concept actualized as I sorted through the myriad of topics and ideas. As an aggregator of content, our community weblog helped me to sift through content.  It was also apparent that our contributions were evolving, in which I felt a recognition due to our greater understanding of the changing nature between culture and print. As I perused contributions made in our community weblog, the demonstration of this understanding came through in the different media woven with text.

Connecting with past posts took me to earlier readings, which taught me to look at the history of print. For me, there was value in understanding our transition from an oral culture to a literate, and to the media’s role in affecting how we tie this into education. Most importantly, it has changed my outlook on how oral and literate culture affects schools today. The ideas of fulsome praise and agonistic name-calling (Ong, 2002b, p. 45) created new respect for different music, media, and print.

Further to this, Cope and Kalantzis (2009) questions of  “why”, “what”, and “how” related to literacy pedagogy was touched by many. Many posts have directly referenced or touched on Multiliteracies (The New London Group, 1996),  both in terms of the changing role of the student, but also for the need to instruct for these different literacies. It was also recognized that supports for changing literacy instruction needed to be there for teachers as well.

In my concluding thoughts, I am taken back to the finality and closure of print (Ong, 2002c). As indicated by Ong, print denotes a sense of ownership. With our electronic writing community, we challenge this notion, suggesting that ideas and knowledge be shared freely. I leave with a final quote from Bolter (2011), “If technologies really determined cultural values, then the notion of copyright would already have been severely curtailed, if not abolished… Hypertext seems to suggest a different economic and social model…” (p. 211).

Thanks to Jeff and Teresa for a wonderful semester. And to all of you for the excellent discussions and feedback,

-Jerry

 References

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

Bolter, J. D. (2011a). Writing the self. In Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Bolter, J. D. (2011b). Writing Culture. In Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed., pp. 203–213). New York, NY: Routledge.

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 4(3), 164–195. doi:10.1080/15544800903076044

Ong, W. J. (2002a). Writing restructures consciousness. In Orality and Literacy (2nd ed., pp. 77–114). New York, NY: Routledge.

Ong, W. J. (2002b). Some psychodynamics of orality. In Orality and Literacy (2nd ed., pp. 31–76). New York, NY: Routledge.

Ong, W. J. (2002c). Print, space and closure. In Orality and Literacy (2nd ed., pp. 115–135). New York, NY: Routledge.

The New London Group. (1996). A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60–93.

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Making Connections – Theory to Practice

“It may be that cultures invent and refine writing technologies at least in part in order to refashion their definition of the mind and self” (Bolter, p.189).

This course has truly been an exploration of how 21st media is enabling our culture to identify how technology is shifting our modes of communication. Before starting the MET, it was clear to me that when given the opportunity to use technological tools, my grade 3 students were far more engaged and committed to producing thoughtful work. Still, I had a certain amount of faith in the value of traditional writing that made me apprehensive of completely giving up familiar practice. Our studies around the theme of multimodal writing had me think critically about how, even as a primary teacher, I need to think about creating opportunities for students to write purposefully by linking in-class learning to the outside world. Writing for the sake of practicing proper grammatical conventions is an idea that is often rejected by today’s students. I now view the classroom as place for students to think and develop outside experience, under the guidance of a teacher. In reading several chapters of Orality and Literacy (2002), it became clear to me that writing is not only for the purpose of forwarding information but rather a way for the author to process and reflect upon their own thoughts. Bolter (2001) goes on to say that electronic writing affords the writer a more “appropriate space for the inscription of the self” (Bolter, p.189).

Throughout this course, it has become increasingly apparent how electronic communication has influence today’s classroom environment. Digital writing is said to have improved our communication to others, strengthening affiliations amongst teachers and students and building collaborative commonplaces for which to share knowledge. It is hard to break away from the authority of the printed book. The idea of visual images having meaning, is sometimes difficult to conceptualize when print has a long established history maintaining a cultural environment where “tradition and innovation were in balance” and where “verbal representations were of higher order than visual” (Bolter, p. 208). As the New London Group (1996) warns, technology will continue to remediate new writing spaces and even transform the way we use language. Technology accelerates the speed of communication, increasing the overall amount in which we write and enabling us to extent our state of reflection. Access to the Internet has granted the writer with the freedom of expression – perhaps the most profound element of digital writing.

Many thanks to Teresa and Jeff for a wonderful semester,

Jessica Hall

Reference:

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.

Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and Literacy. London: Routledge.

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May’s Making Connections

ETEC 540 was quite different from what I first anticipated when I began this course and I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I found that the course’s broad overview of literacy and various forms of communication enabled me to make the link between several of the theoretical elements I had explored in previous courses, my personal interests in reading and Web 2.0 communications and my professional background as an educator.

Upon beginning the course, I was expecting to learn more about how to integrate new literacies in the classroom. However, I appreciated and even preferred this exploration of the history of orality, literacy, print and hypertext more, as I could apply it not only to a classroom environment, but also to the ways in which I communicate with others daily in my private life.  This course enabled me to appreciate my love of visual learning and expression as a component of literacy rather than just a love of art.  Bolter’s chapters on visual texts and expressing oneself in cyberspace were particularly interesting to me.

This semester I also took ETEC 531, which deals with technology and culture. There seems to be an interesting overlap between that course and this one, which made me appreciate the ways in which text and technology are an integral part of the way we live, and the ways in which we express ourselves textually are reflections of the changes in our culture and the affordances of technology.  While keeping the courses ‘untangled’ was a challenge because of the close ties between the readings, assignments and interactivities, I would recommend that other MET students consider taking both at the same time, as both courses enrich each other and the course texts, that is Bolter (2001) and Murphie and Potts (2003; used in 531) echo each other on several topics.

In terms of the weblog, I particularly enjoyed the ways in which my colleagues’ research was available for me to peruse and review.  While the course materials had a solid linear structure, leading us through history, the weblog allowed me to follow tangents that echo Bolter’s (2001) argument that hypertext (like thoughts) are non-linear.  I was particularly fascinated with his statement that “if the mind is a hypertext, then the same arguments about instability and contingency apply to the mind as to literary hypertexts” (p. 197).  The weblog is, to me, a tangible representation of the branching out of our collective thoughts and understandings of the academic materials we’ve explored and our personal applications of it.

Thank you all for enriching my understanding of how we communicate in this technological advanced world.

Best Wishes for the Christmas and holiday season and all your future pursuits,

May

References

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed.) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Murphie, A. and Potts, J. (2003). Culture and Technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Connections…and a Boxer

Hi everyone,

Last year, our school hosted a speaker, Dr. JoAnn Deak, for professional development. She is an educator and psychologist, and she spoke to our staff about ‘stretching bands’ in students’ minds, and how to do this in a way that causes a measure of healthy stress so real learning happens as much as possible. ‘Stretching bands’ means causing a bit of tension, and putting someone out of their comfort zone. The end result of band-stretching is noticeable learning in areas that once made you nervous. ETEC 540 stretched my bands more than any other course I’ve taken in MET so far. From the beginning of this course, I think, we were exposed to a form of this dynamic with Neil Postman’s depiction of Socrates telling his friend Phaedrus a story about Thamus and Theuth, two figures beginning a dialogue about what unknown territory they were about to embark on with the invention of writing (Postman, p. 4).  What will writing do to consciousness? Will it truly be useful or will it create superficiality? I felt similar sentiments when looking at the impressive list of unknown resources in our Rip.Mix.Feed activity. What are these? What purpose do they really serve? Will some of these technologies change how I socialize and organize? If so, for better or worse? Will I be organized online and socialize less with my family? What’s the trade off in all this? I think this course has been brilliant for pushing members (me anyway!) into the unknown, whether it was looking back to pre-computerized technology and considering changes because of them, or through the challenge of contributing meaningful to varied spaces (discussion threads, course blog, wiki,) after synthesizing reading.

One point that resonates with me from our impressive list of readings was from Ong’s chapter Print, Space and Closure. He reminds readers that historically one of writing’s purposes was to recycle knowledge back into the oral world, and I have thought a lot about that point when considering later readings, blog posts and threaded discussions, particularly from Bolter in Breakout of the Visual (Ong p. 117) and especially when considering modern teens and how many are glued in some way to a form of technology. I find myself wondering – if writing served to recycle knowledge back into the oral world, if in modern terms all of the time and attention sucking technologies are serving a similar purpose and creating a new ‘cultural moment’ (Bolter, p. 47). We spend more time online and with technologies, but doesn’t this make us want to share what we gain from them? Aren’t we talking more about the technologies we are using? Is a new form of oral culture emerging from the online visual one? Ong is quite clear when he argues written words leave residue but oral tradition does not (p. 11), but I’ve felt myself questioning this when I consider the complexity of how the two interact.

I have to remind myself in this MET program to take a breath and focus on the quality as opposed to quantity of interactions. I found myself worried a fair bit about if I had done ‘enough’ here and ‘enough’ there. Because of how the course was spread out with two section, I feel I made less personal connection, but the trade-off to that was the exposure to so many unique perspectives.  I’d like to thank all of you for a band-stretching course and for the immense support from Jeff and Teresa.  I also include this picture of my dog Desi – she reminds me daily that being too consumed by technology simply will not do. I call it ‘Breakout of the Boxer’.

Best wishes,

Ginelle

 

References:

Bolter, J. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2ed]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ong, W. (2002). Orality and Literacy. London: Routledge.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, The Judgement of

Thamus. New York: Vintage Books.

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Making Connections in Cyberspace

            ETEC 540 was a different journey for me, a journey where sometimes I lost focus on what I was reading or learning.  At first, I found myself lost in different spaces, like weblogs, wiki, and vista.  I did not necessarily feel comfortable writing in cyberspace, probably because I did not clearly understand where this will bring me in the end.  

            Even though, towards the end of the course, as I was seeing the big “picture”, I was still wondering if the changing spaces of writing were all ones I like to be in.  At times, it might have felt unnatural, perhaps because I am a digital immigrant.  

            With that said, the way ETEC 540 is organized has made me experienced writing in new spaces for a much larger audience than the one I signed up for last September.  This fact alone is extraordinary, although it has made me and is still making me nervous.  Not knowing exactly who is going to read my thoughts is something new for me.  I have to say that each time we had to post in the weblog or even in the wiki I felt it was nerve-racking.  I assume an actor or actress must encounter this feeling prior to performing in front of his/her audience.  

            I have asked myself if this was a normal reaction.  As stated by Bolter (2001) “today in constructing electronic writing, our culture has chosen to blur the distinction between the public and private” and it is interesting to see that “the writer is never isolated from the material and cultural matrix of her networked culture” (p. 202).  Since it is part of our culture, I suppose it is fine to say I have been there and will still be there in the future.

            Indeed, when I first noticed that we will have to write in multiple spaces, and as I previously said, sometime in cyberspace, I was scared.  After all, before starting the MET program my digital print was nonexistent.  Yes, I was completely untraceable in the World Wide Web.  But everything has changed now.  Maybe I would have liked to choose the way to do it, to break the ice as a digital writer; I would have probably chosen a completely different way at expressing privately and publicly my views on orality, the remediation of print, multimodality, literacy, digital technologies, and all topics we have discussed in this course.  And perhaps, as language is part of whom we are, by using a different language it would have been easier for me to express myself and connect on a deeper level.  Or, maybe it would have been just different.  I wonder if it is possible to completely connect at a deeper level with each other in such an environment.  I mean truly connecting.  Sometimes, I wonder if my way of communicating was clear enough to interact efficiently with my peers.

            Towards the end of the course, I heard myself saying: “Oh, if I would have known this, I would have done things differently”.   Maybe, this is just like in real life.  It is difficult to know how something you have not really experienced will be unless you experienced it.  And I can say that I am grateful for what I have learned so far, in this course, from my peers and my instructors, but also in my other MET courses.

            ETEC 540 has given me the consciousness of my thoughts and writing what is on my mind (Bolter, 2001) means; I guess I am writing with all of you a part of the culture in which we are living in.  Ong (2002) argued that “writing and print isolate” (p. 73), it is certainly not the case anymore with the remediation of print (Bolter, 2001).  As with everyone, I might have a bigger role to play in the collectiveness of our thoughts than I would have given myself credit for; perhaps, I should take more time to reflect on my written words, which is somehow contradictory since we are living in an era of acceleration.  

            I have enjoyed making connection within the readings in the course material and most importantly, at sharing thoughts with this group of great people.  What’s making me sad is that, as electronic communication is allowing immediate connection, unfortunately, it seems to be also temporary (Bolter, 2001, p. 204).  I am always a little sad at the end of one course as I would have liked to keep in contact with everyone.  Is this how communication through electronic devices and social networks are working?  I am always asking myself how to keep in contact with the wonderful educational colleagues from around the world I have met here; I seem to value more the professional relationship than I will do for any reading.  I understand it might be difficult to do and at least I want to say how much I have appreciated the educational ‘moments’ I have shared with all of you.

             Thank you all for what was such a great learning environment for me!

References

Bolter, J. D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the word. London: Routledge.

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Making Connections in Delicious

After the journey through this course, I have decided to add a Delicious account to store my websites and resources related to Educational Technology, Literacy, and other neat things that I have come across in ETEC 540. The discussion thread from earlier in October gave me some accounts to follow (I hope this is okay). I will continue to make connections on here and tag relevant websites.

I want to thank you all for your hard work this semester. I valued reading each post on the Weblog as well as the Vista discussion forum. The Weblog really did grow on me and I liked navigating through it. I had a hard time getting used to the permanency of posting my assignments for everyone to see. Now, it does not seem so bad and I am thankful for getting to read other perspectives on similar issues as well as perspectives on issues that I didn’t get a chance to explore in depth.

Topics that I am interesting in continuing to explore after this course are digital literacy, the effect of hypertext and hypermedia, and the usage and value in using visuals in education.

Here is my new Delicious account. I plan for it to continue to grow throughout my MET career and beyond. Thanks for a great semester!

http://www.delicious.com/awernicke

Alicia

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Making Connections

(Avenia, 2012)

I, like many of my classmates, find the resources and advice that have been shared throughout ETEC 540 to be of immense value. The conversations through Vista, Wikis, and the Weblog have captivated my attention and taught me many things. I began the course with a simplified definition of text, something that is written, and technology, a tool that aids production. Thirteen short weeks later, after reading Ong and Bolter especially, text is no longer something that is written. Text is technology, it is a thought process, it is a picture, a video, a podcast, and is represented everywhere in everything. My literacy is shaped by my culture, it is represented in my brain, and is a neurological science as much as it is a visual art.

ETEC 540 has taught me to deconstruct everything I read, and when I say read, I mean every story that is told to me, shown to me, wrote for me and wrote by me. Text is much like Web 2.0, as J. Kendell points out “with Web 2.0 we don’t just use the internet we interact with it” (Josay, n.d.). I would say that we do the same with text. We certainly don’t just read or write text, we interact with it. Through this interaction we find new ways to tell familiar stories.

As the delivery of text changes so do our expectations of text. Text is no longer a traditional medium of expression. A digital text is collaborativevisual more than it is linguisticsocial and immediate. Text and technology are changing classroom practices and pedagogy. We now communicate via text with social networks from all over the world. We use technology to create links between our orignial texts and those produced within our global community of practice. The means through which we tell our stories has forever changed. Our culture shapes text, our mind express text and  everyone interprets text differently. Text is intimate and text is also vast. Text will never again be simply and only, something that is written.

References

Avenia, T. (Artist). (2012). Text Word Art [Image file].

Avenia, T. (2012, Nov. 25). The history, present, and future of educational technology: Web 2.0 and beyond [web timeline]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://www.tiki-toki.com/previewembed/entry/75467/0908883653/900/480/

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. [2nd Ed.]. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Brochu, J. (2012, Nov. 24). Rix, mix, feed: Reloaded [website]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/ripmixfeedreloaded

Brochu, J. (2012, Nov. 27). Facing the web 2.0 social networks in education. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/27/facing-the-web-2-0-social-networks-in-education/

Cavanagh, S. (2012, Nov. 25). Media as metaphor? [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/25/media-as-metaphor/

Crawford, M. (2012, Nov. 28). Educating the net generation. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/28/educating-the-net-generation/

Francis, K. (n.d.). Getting Graphic [weebly website]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://gettinggraphic.weebly.com/

Galiano, S. (n.d.). Delicious profile [social bookmarking list]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://www.delicious.com/saragaliano

Hall, J. (2012, Nov. 25). Electronic books and digital information systems. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/25/electronic-books-and-digital-information-systems/

Kendell, J. (2012, Nov. 28). Web 2.0- Not just for higher education. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/28/web-2-0-not-just-for-higher-education/

Pena, E. (2012, Nov. 21). ernesto’s rip mix feed blogspot [web blog]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://ernestosripmixfeed.blogspot.ca/

Matthews, A. (2012, Nov. 28). Technology and the resurgence of orality. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/28/technology-and-the-resurgence-of-orality/

McQuaid. (2012, Nov. 29). Fairy Tales for Twentysomethings. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/29/fairy-tales-for-twentysomethings/

Murray. (2012, Nov. 26). How can an educator possibly manage web 2.0 storytelling lessons amidst the vastness of the web 2.0 world? [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/26/how-can-an-educator-possibly-manage-web-2-0-storytelling-lessons-amidst-the-vastness-of-the-web-2-0-world/

Naqi, S. (2012, Nov. 25). Breakout of the billboards. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/25/breakout-of-the-billboards-by-sheza-naqi/

Ong, W. J. (2002). Orality and Literacy [2nd Ed.]. New York: Routledge.

Penner, J. (2012, Nov. 19). Theorizing smartphone toon. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/90118477@N05/8199833105/

Ross, T. (2012, Nov. 27). Characteristics of digital literacy [concept map]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://www.gliffy.com/go/publish/4075106/

Stefanyshyn, D. (2012, Nov. 28). Web 2.0 – A dream in education. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/28/web-2-0-a-dream-in-education/

Wernicke, A. (2012, Nov. 27). Breaking out the visual. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/27/breaking-out-the-visual/

Whetter, A. (2012, Nov. 27). Contradictions of digital literacy. [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 30, 2012 from http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept12/2012/11/27/contradictions-of-digital-literacy/

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Storytelling with Web 2.0 Tools: A New Genre?

The Beginning

“Web 2.0 storytelling: the emergence of a new genre” by Alexander and Levine begins provocatively. In the past, according to the authors, stories had “a beginning, a middle, and a cleanly wrapped up ending” (p. 40) and were told, in one-way exchanges, by a storyteller or story tellers to a passive audience. “Or at least that’s what a story used to be, and that’s how a story used to be told” (p. 40). Such an extreme oversimplification of stories and storytelling throughout history immediately puts me on edge. The authors continue “Stories are now open-ended, branching, hyper-linked, cross-media, participatory, exploratory, and unpredictable.” (p. 40). With the exception of “cross-media”, these sound very much like the characteristics of oral storytelling, as we’ve learned from Ong (2002). In fact, most of these adjectives could be applied to some print stories as well. So the article begins badly, from my perspective, setting up a false foundation as a base of comparison from which to describe the changes to storytelling brought about by Web 2.0 tools.

Due to more user-friendly web publishing techniques, it is now very easy to create web content. To quote Cope and Kalantzis, “the practical business of doing multimodality is easy now, and because it is, we are using the affordances of the complementary modes to ease the semantic load that had been placed on written language” (p. 18). Alexander and Levine argue that ease of use and the affordances of Web 2.0 technology, such as collaboration and the findability of microcontent, have given birth to new practices for telling stories, and that these new practices constitute a new genre.

The Middle

The authors acknowledge that to “claim that there is now such a thing as ‘Web 2.0 storytelling’ invites risks” (p. 46). The risks, as they see them, are: 1) pinning down a moving target by giving it a name, and 2) asserting that storytelling is happening online contradicts a reported decline in reading. I see the latter as an explanation – there is a decline in book reading because more reading takes place online. The first risk is more valid. How can all the different forms and styles and even genres, of storytelling that use Web 2.0 tools be described as a genre unto themselves? (A mystery story told in a series of podcasts. A personal diary published on a blog, with comments from readers. A science fiction video posted on YouTube.) A genre is identified by shared conventions or style or form. I don’t see how these examples of Web 2.0 storytelling share any conventions or style or form.

However, their claim that Web 2.0 storytelling constitutes a new genre may be a red herring. Alexander and Levine write “we suggest there is most certainly a new form of expression that is compelling to educators” (p. 46). Although I would argue that there is not simply one new form of expression, there is a compelling and vast array of tools available to educators that offers possibilities to experiment with form, set up student collaborations, and mix and mash content from multiple media and genres. The authors describe a project they have been working on called 50+, in which they aim to discover more than fifty ways to tell the same story using Web 2.0 tools. With so many ways to tell a story, “aptness of mode” (Kress, 2005) takes centre stage: “the new media make it possible to use the mode of that seems most apt for the purposes of representation and communication” (Kress, 2005, p. 19). This is exciting for educators, and I think this idea is the strength of this article. The enthusiasm of the authors to experiment with Web 2.0 tools should encourage educators to consider “the facility of new media” (Kress, 2005) and incorporate them into their teaching, not for technology’s sake, but because they have a discovered a mode that is apt.

The Cleanly Wrapped Up Ending

A short piece on The New Yorker website this week called “On bad endings” talks about the many books, including classics such as War and Peace and Wuthering Heights, that start out great but end poorly. Columnist Joan Acocella says that it’s as if the authors, forced into the necessary step of closing out the narrative, have run out of energy and inspiration. She quotes E.M. Forster, who  said in “Aspects of a Novel” that nearly every novel is a letdown: “This is because the plot requires to be wound up. Why is this necessary? Why is there not a convention which allows the novelist to stop as soon as he feels muddled or bored?”  Indeed, why is there also not this convention for academic commentaries?

On a final note, since the publication of the Alexander and Levine article in 2008 there has been a retreat from the open space of the Web to the paid, closed, and proprietary spaces of apps (Anderson, 2010). Increasingly, people are using the Internet to download their favourite newspapers, magazines, movies, and music directly to their devices, bypassing the Web altogether. Has this trend away from the hyperlinked, flexible, and interactive silenced the buzz around Web 2.0, or are they parallel streams?

References

Acocella, J. (2012, November 27). On bad endings. The New Yorker. Retrieved from The New Yorker website http://www.newyorker.com

Alexander, B., & Levine, A. (2008, November/December). Web 2.0 storytelling: emergence of a new genre. Educause Review, p. 40-56.

Anderson, C., &  Wolff, M. (2010, September). The Web is dead. Long live the Internet. Wired. Retrieved from the Wired magazine website http://www.wired.com/magazine

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “ Multiliteracies ”: New Literacies , New Learning. Pedagogies: An International Journal, 14, 164–195. doi:10.1080/15544800903076044

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and Composition, 22(1), 5–22. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2004.12.004

Ong, W. (2002). Orality and literacy: technologizing the word. London: Routledge

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