The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Posts from — December 2009

Rip.Mix.Feed… comic strip

In one of my previous MET courses, some classmates created comic strips with ToonDoo. I never had a chance to try it out, so I thought I’d make one for this course.

Click on the image to see full size.

December 22, 2009   No Comments

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).


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

Connecting a Course

Strength of Weak Ties

As other 540ers have confessed, I also did not devour every word posted in our multiple places. It truly would have been overwhelming (at least for me!) to keep up with the assigned readings, interactivities, and assessment for multiple courses and then read everyone else’s assessments and commentaries. It tended to mirror the overall information overload of today that was an undercurrent or tangent of many 540 discussions. In many ways it felt as if ETEC 540 were a mini-information overload all its own. To cope, after the course’s first, few weeks, I tended to zero in on posts from particular people. Initially, I fooled myself that running eyes over the screen on everyone’s entries constituted reading their posts. This could almost be conceived as a double cheat given the course’s focus! However, I did favour certain contributors over others. I do wonder what I missed by this concentration, but it does seem to suit the course content. Discussions in the last two modules communicated heavily around the students of today soaking up and using information differently and I do view it as a coping mechanism. Part of the changing spaces of reading and writing is organization. Ordering how we locate, access, evaluate, and synthesize the data and information as personal sense-making and way-finding. The ambush of information in 540 made me realize I need more work in this area. Owning up to lacking organizational skills is an extremely difficult truth for a librarian to face!

Another Kind of Divide

Many interesting posts centred on the digital divide in every sense of the word – age: natives to immigrants; economy: haves and haves not; format: print versus digital. Another splice of this was the divide between practice and theory. I believe this was most apparent in Module 4’s “Modern Literacy and New Media”. Rise of the spectacle took a back seat to discussing personal and practical observations on the benefits of using images in delivering curricula. This was representative of another personal challenge with 540. The breadth of posts provided great interest, but made depth difficult. With such user-generated content and course direction, the possibilities are truly endless. It was a hurdle to contribute to postings that really did come from every possible angle. I suppose I learned too long another way. My experience with education began with “sage on the stage” and progressed through to “guide on the side”. ETEC 540 evolved as we went and was based on participants’ experiences. Since we are speaking of making connections, I never fully transitioned to free form. Perhaps I am too used to guiding principles and regulations – to prepping for a focused discussion of material.


I cannot say that the postings’ positions, although persuasive, changed my approach or understanding. (Perhpas I am just stubborn…) However, my formerly strong notion of advancing continuum did collapse. The prompts and postings highlighted the recursive nature of technologies and introduced the notion of how much of the previous is taken forward and revisited beyond that.

On a practical note, the interesting ways colleagues are using web 2.0/social media did inspire. Although my focus is on post-secondary faculty, I can easily tweak (steal!) class colleagues’ innovative ideas. It was also comforting to find (especially though the Rip Mix Feed strand) that not all MET candidates think in code and text in their sleep. The mix of what appear to be innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority. and perhaps a few laggards was very non-threatening. The heterogeneity of MET courses continues to impress.

Although not a benchmark recognized outside of me, the readings and postings of 540 provided the most number of entries to my notebook of pull quotes. I can predict they will be heavily consulted and used moving forward in the MET program and my work.

December 19, 2009   No Comments


Making Connections

I have found this  course to be enthralling. Beginning with the very first assignments in which we looked at the changes from orality to print, my attention was captured. In my role as a library media specialist, I have found ways to incorporate our activities in class with collaboration with my teachers. For years I have struggled to convince my teachers of the acceptability of Wikipedia as a resource. When the comparison was made between the development of the Oxford English Dictionary and Wikipedia, I found the pathway to acceptance. Our readings on the development of a print based society with the development of the scroll and codex enabled me to make connections with students as well as discuss with teachers how the format of print MAY have influences Aristotle’s plot structure. Interestingly enough, one of our Grade 7 Social Studies standards addresses the changing formats of communications, so I am developing a unit around the change from scroll to codex to digital—my social studies teachers are willing to let me teach it!

While I enjoyed both Ong and Bolter, I found Bolter’s writings to be more palatable because of the conversational tone of his writing. Ong’s more scholarly format was more difficult to comprehend; although I found his premise that the shift from primary orality to literacy changes the way humans think to be quite thought-provoking and fodder for many collegial discussions. Bolter’s writings were quite intriguing as well, particularly his concept of the Web as a textual universe. Kress’s article and his premise that a multimodal approach to communication is necessary sparked an interest in multimodal forms of literacy and the dichotomy which exists between the artificiality of educational institutions and real world literacy; forming the basis for my project. My project has since taken on a life of its own,  and I am scheduled to investigate some business training simulations in January in order to contrast them with educational simulations.

As Erin demonstrates in her final project, a dichotomy exists between the world our students inhabit outside of the classroom and the educational world. As educators, our mandate is to prepare students for the world they will enter and to find ways to bridge the gap between the educational arena and that world. As  George Siemens expresses, the ability to see connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill and one which most students fail to master.

December 18, 2009   No Comments

Paradoxical Paradigm: Multimodality Literacy

Paradoxical Paradigm: Multiliteracies and Multimodalities


The development from an oral society to a print based society demarcated the transformation of speech and thought, restructuring literacy. (Ong). Writing as a technology along with development and proliferation of multimodalities continues to challenge traditional views of literacy. With the fundamental purpose of education to “ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community and economic life” (New London Group), one must challenge the viability of traditional educational institutions.

One of the criticism of the educational system involves the artificiality of the classroom experience. Educators decide what students should study as well as the particular skills that need to be demonstrated and create an artificial environment in which students practice those skills in isolation and out of context. This greatly contrasts with the situational, contextual environment in which learning is applied and decisions are made outside of the classroom/school environment. In an informational society, the advent of digital technologies catalyzes changes  in the educational institutions, in order to prepare students for the future they will enter. Mulitliteracy and multimodalities are critical skills necessary for digital citizenship. Educational institutions remain tied to traditional codex formats in their dependence upon textbooks and other print resources despite the proliferation of digital media. Pedagogists encourage the transition to a multimodality literacy. (New London Group) A learning conversation in the Web 2.0 era “consists not only of words, but of images, video, multimedia and more” (Downes 2009). George Siemens advocates incorporating connectedness, diversity, currency and a shifting reality in order to effectuate the cataclysmic change critical to the development of 21st century literacy skills. (Siemens, 2009).

Traditional Literacy

Transformative Multimodality Literacy

Isolated Skills

Situated Practice



Controlled Environment


Text Based

Contextual Framework



The following video demonstrates the contrast between the constraints of educational institutions and real world literacies.

YouTube Preview Image

Stephen Downes proposes that learning occurs in communities, “where the practice of learning is the participation in the community” (Downes). This viewpoint is corroborated by recent studies conducted by the Digital Youth Project in which the traditional, formal role of education is challenged:

“Rather than thinking of public education as a burden that schools must shoulder on their own, what would it mean to think of public education as a responsibility of a more distributed network of people and institutions? And rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of education as a process of guiding kids’ participation in public life more generally, a public life that includes social, recreational, and civic engagement? “(Ito et al).


Information workers need dynamic learning skills which will enable them to navigate the varied aggregate formats in which information is available in a digital age. The industrial based model by which most formal educational instruction still occurs does not prepare students for the world they will enter. “Fluent and expert use of new media requires more than simple, task-specific access to technology…” (Ito et al)


Bersin, J. (2009). Modern Corporate Training: Formalize Informal Learning. Retrieved from

Downes, S., Learning Knowledge and Connective Knowledge (2006), retrieved on Dec. 1, 2009.

Gee, J., & Hayes, E., Public Pedagogy Through Video Games, retrieved on Dec 1, 2009

Ito, M., Horst, H., Bittani, M., Boyd, D., Herr-Stephenson, B., Lange, P. G., Pascoe, C. J., Robinson, L., Baumer, S., Cody, R., Mahenran, D., Martinez, K., Perkel, D., Sims, C., & Tripp, L. (2008). Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project.

Livingstone, D. W., and Eichler, M. (2005). Mapping The Field of Lifelong (Formal and Informal) Learning and (Paid and Unpaid) Work. Retrieved from retrieved on Dec 1, 2009

Multiliteracies. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2009, from

New London Group. (1996). A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard Educational Review66(1), 1-33. doi:

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

Siemens, G., Connectivism, retrieved Dec 1, 2009

Sontag, M., A Learning Theory for the Net Generation, 2008, retrieved on Dec 1, 2009

December 18, 2009   No Comments

Considering Some Less Noticed Effects of Technology’s “Ecological Change”

A recurring theme in discussion of digital writing technologies is the unprecedented freedom they offer both writer and reader; freedom from the constraints not only of paper and of place, but of linearity, hierarchy, and passive receptivity, among other limitations of tangible media-based print.  There is also considerable celebration (if conspicuously less actual use) of the potential for enhancement through image of ideas and genres traditionally expressed entirely in text.  But much less is said about the areas in which these technologies may have quite a contrary effect; for example, impact on demographic and other survey-based information, use of and resistance to bureaucratic forms, and what can be lost both in the present and from the historical record in terms of personalization, subtext, and incidental and unintentional artefact, in a shift to increased use of digital media.  Although there is a great deal of flexibility possible in these technologies, there is also increased homogeneity, restriction of ability to resist and subvert bureaucracy, and potential great loss of contextual insight.

Two areas particularly interest me: the effects of digitization on forms and related information gathering tools; and the implications of the disappearance of physical documents such as forms, letters and printed photographs.  The following essay offers a brief look at each.

Required Fields and Invalid Responses

Jay David Bolter devotes most of Chapter 6 in his book Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print to the implications of hypertext for writers and writing in particular.  “If linear and hierarchical structures dominate current writing, our cultural construction of electronic writing is now adding a third: the network as a visible and operative structure” (106).  Bolter acknowledges the network as a very ancient “organizing principle” of writing; now, Bolter maintains, the network can “rise to the surface” of the text.

Bolter continues to illustrate how hypertext has the potential to be non-linear, non-hierarchical, interactive, and dialogic.  Bolter is interested in the writer’s perspective, but the implication is equally clear for the reader, who is freed from a traditionally passive role.  Gunther Kress is gleeful about the social effects of this power newly offered to the reader:

The screen offers the facility in ways that the book did not . . .  for the reader to become author . . .  I can change the text that comes to me on the screen. . . . That factor, of course, brings about a radical change to notions of authority: When everyone can be an author authority is severely challenged. The social frames that had supported the figure of the author have disappeared or are disappearing and with that the force of social power that vested authority in the work of the author (19).

The overall picture they paint is of collapsing walls and expanding vistas – a new era of possibility in writing and reading facilitated by digital technology, in which their user or audience invoked invariably has both full access and unfettered use.  Their enthusiasm is shared by many theorists and users.

But while theorists re-imagine the structure of text and its implications for writing in hyperspace, and the flower children of the world wide web ‘reach out’ to each other in an orgy of blogging and friend-making, institutions and bureaucracies discover their own uses for new technologies.  In the realm of forms and official documents, where traditionally the roles of writer and reader meet and cross, the digital environment is increasingly used to enforce separation and inflexibility.

Bolter and Kress overlook the traditionally non-linear and non-hierarchical possibilities in these types of writing, which are lost as they become electronic.  In what was one of the few aspects of print where the reader could talk back as writer, the relationship between text and reader has become increasingly rigid, unidirectional, even dictatorial.  The reader’s traditional power to resist the writer’s agenda by leaving demands unanswered, writing complex responses across divides of restrictively small spaces, commenting in margins or on the back of the sheet, and so on, has been eliminated.

In a digital age and environment the aims of the designers of a form or template can finally find their fullest realization.  The freedom of the reader to resist a passive role, to step beyond reactive compliance, to write what is rather than what is expected, accepted, acknowledged, or allowed, can at last be effectively curtailed.

The result is an increasing occurrence of online and electronic forms – surveys, reports, applications, evaluations, purchase orders, and many others – in which the user’s options are severely limited. Many of these are driven by economic interests; among them a desire to save considerable expense on data collection and analysis, and a cultural preference everywhere from academia to industry to government, for quantitative information.  Opportunities to comment are available at the discretion of a form’s author, but may also reflect bias, as in the case of a university department reviewing its programs, which included 13 open comment fields in its survey of faculty and two in its survey of students[i]. Others are filled with responses from a prepared set, rather than individually composed; an example is report card software with ‘comment libraries’, which may serve a perceived desire for consistency (uniformity?) and be intended to save time, but also limit the reader/author to saying only those things which the author/reader deemed appropriate or thought to include.  Ironically, this environment is powerfully reminiscent of Kress’ characterization of traditional print, in which “[o]rder is firmly coded” (7).

required fields

Figure 1: An example of fields in a form designed using an online survey utility.

In this example of an online form[ii], the Full name field allows only 25 characters – fewer than this user needs.  Date of birth is required, and for Gender choices are the traditional male or female.  The potential negative effects are clear.  Certain elements of the user’s reality are denied as possibilities: a long name; a non-traditional gender identity; uncertainty about date of birth – unimaginable in Western culture, but common in many places; in regard to any facet of interrogation, a desire to maintain privacy.  Answers for which the form’s author has made no provision – for whatever reason – may be rejected as an ‘Invalid Response’.

Even the pop-up box directing the user to complete required fields allows only one response – ‘OK’.  Many such ‘interfaces’ offer only a few pre-scripted responses – e.g. ‘now’ or ‘later’, for an action which the user may not wish to take at all.

These requirements and omissions can create alienation, barriers to service, and misunderstandings or misrepresentations through relying on information so gathered.  The denial in a single form of alternative gender identity may seem trivial, but in both language and statistics that which is not named appears not to exist.  When this question appears so in, for example, a census form, the statement to citizens from government is that it recognizes no other gender identities.  And any law or social policy based on the data would reflect only these two possibilities.

The cumulative effect is, as Neil Postman presciently wrote in 1992, that “[t]heir private matters have been made more accessible to powerful institutions.  They are more easily tracked and controlled; are subject to more examinations; are increasingly mystified by the decisions made about them; are often reduced to mere numerical objects” (10).

Compare these characteristics of electronic forms with this traditional paper example.


Figure 2: Calgary School Board high school reporting form, completed in December 1920.

The Calgary School Board has indicated how it wants teachers to report on the Progress, Attendance and Deportment of students.  DEPORTMENT is given prominence with bold uppercase, but not one teacher who contributed to this pupil’s report chose to comment in that column[iii].  Teachers have made the priority of deportment to them just as clear as has the school board.

Though this may seem trivial, it has significant potential to convey shifting priorities, and to resist bureaucratic dictation at the ‘front lines’ of work.  Similarly the record left for history reveals both what was elicited and what was produced – and the nature of any gap between them.

My Grandfather’s House

Personal mementos also suffer a loss of dimension in entering the digital world.  Most people have had the experience of looking through old family papers and photographs – finding yellowed letters and dog-eared snapshots of parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Many interesting insights come through pieces that were not necessarily saved for posterity; they are often the unexpected fruit of incidental artefacts, items filed temporarily and then forgotten.

It is almost reflexive – at least for older people[iv] – to turn photos over and look on the back for a name, date, place, or some other glimpse into their origins.  Although we think of these images on paper as having but two dimensions, they in effect have three – the ‘back story’ adds depth, sometimes well beyond the words themselves.   Handwriting may be recognized, giving context to incomplete, vague or cryptic notes.  “Grandpa MacDougall’s house” describing a photo leaves questions lingering in type that are answered by your grandmother’s distinctive script. A photographer’s imprint, the photo paper, film lab’s package or mailer, even a frame or an album and mounting materials add context.  Their absence is more than merely a loss in the tactile element of documentary history.

The example below of a Kodak slide mailer shows some of the insight and context that may be provided quite incidentally.


Figure 3: Kodak photo processing return mailer, 1959.

The photographer, most likely the addressee, lived in Edmonton, Alberta (his residence can be pinpointed on a map should a researcher wish to do so).  Those who knew him well could also identify him here by his handwriting.  The postmark gives an approximate date to the photographs within – July 1959.  At that time this little package – measuring about 11cm x 6cm x 1.5 cm – could be sent by letter post for eight cents, from Toronto (suggesting that Kodak had no labs closer than that to Edmonton).  By looking at the photos themselves one can learn also that he is a skilled photographer, with high standards – as evidenced by the quality of the photos, and the fact that in spite of it he has noted on the back of the box, “BIRDS.  Not good” – and with a tendency to keep even his unsatisfactory work carefully filed.

Letters are likewise filled with information beyond what the words themselves convey, encoded in handwriting, illustrations, paper, envelope, postage, postmark, stamp, layout of page and density of writing, and any additional marks such as seals, recipient’s notations (handwritten or stamped), and any scars of passage.

It is likely that the almost complete digitization of personal communication in some parts of the world will soon result in, among other things, a generation of children who may never have received a personal letter by post, are even less likely to have written one, and very possibly would not recognize the handwriting of any but their closest family members.  Casual interpersonal communication is generated at an ever accelerating rate but is increasingly ephemeral and without context.  Even formal letters now rarely include the traditional header providing date and place of their writing, and email messages are characterized by casual style that often omits even a salutation.

As explained by handwriting expert Rosemary Sassoon, “[a]n individual sample of handwriting reflects the writer’s training, character and environment.  Collectively, the handwriting of a population of any period is a reflection of educational thinking, but overall it is influenced and ultimately moulded by economic need, social habits and contemporary taste” (9).  On a personal level handwriting can be powerfully evocative, especially the writing of someone loved but no longer living.  Bolter and Kress and their fellow enthusiasts apparently overlook the fact that writing, produced by the human hand, inherently straddles the divide between text and image, conveying both literal meaning and at least a few hundred of the proverbial ‘thousand words’ of pictorial richness.

Ultimately, the effect of digital media on personal memento may be quite the opposite of what its proponents have expected and declared.  Rather than the facilitation and proliferation of unique and personal archives and aides-mémoire, the result may be an increasing bulk of material with ever fewer individualizing characteristics.

Ecological Change

Writers such as Bolter discuss traditional prose, fiction and non-fiction and academic writing, while others are interested in myriad ways of using hypertext to expand the possibilities of educational materials, artistic expression, personal memoir, alternative approaches to publishing, and implications for copyright, collaboration and cultural entitlement.  While the advantages they see in hypertext are real for all these forms, and while the forms discussed in this essay differ significantly in structure and function, they are all part of a larger social whole.  What are the implications for a society in which people are able to express themselves with ever greater flexibility and variety in creative ways but quite the opposite in their interactions with the state; and in which personal memento becomes increasingly ephemeral, two dimensional, and homogeneous?  Such questions are inevitable, as Neil Postman recognized, “when one grasps, as Thamus did, that . . . it is not possible to contain the effects of a new technology to a limited sphere of human activity. . . .  Technological change is neither additive nor subtractive.  It is ecological.” (18).



[i] An actual case, presumably reflecting the attitudes and assumptions of the department, which shall of course remain nameless.  The decisions made were probably not calculated, nor are they unusual.

[ii] Designed specifically for illustrative purposes for this essay, using the commercial online survey utility Vovici EFM Feedback.

[iii] The same is true for this pupil in the following term.  The implication may be that none of the teachers thought his deportment needed comment, but given the nature of their other remarks that seems unlikely.

[iv] In a quick and entirely unscientific experiment with the teenage members of this author’s household, even considerable curiosity about the subject of a photo did not prompt the examiner to turn it over.


Works cited:

Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001. Print.

Calgary School Board. Report of the Progress, Attendance and Deportment of Student. 1920. Print.

Kress, Gunther.  Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning.  Computers and Composition 22 (2005): 5–22. Web. 6 Nov. 2009.

Postman, Neil. Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology.  New York: Vintage Books, 1992. Print.

Sassoon, Rosemary. Handwriting of the Twentieth Century.  London: Routledge, 1999. Web. 16 Dec. 2009.

December 16, 2009   No Comments

Road of Childhood Memories

When you move from one country to another to live, you think you gathered the things you had planned previously. But it is not always true! Before coming to Vancouver , my childhood pictures were among those things that I had planned to bring to refresh my memory, from time to time. Till now I haven’t found them and even this weekend I searched the whole home but it was useless. Thanks to flickr and Web 2.0 that help to feel some of those memorable places, people, food, .…and remember you that once upon a time you were there and you know those railroads, places, people.

Some of the pictures seem to be exactly the same as of my own pictures and the others are very similar. You can have a look at them here.

December 14, 2009   No Comments


“…a newer medium takes place of an older one, borrowing and reorganizing the characteristics of writing in the older medium and reforming its cultural space.” (Bolter, 2001, p. 23)

Bolter’s (2005) definition of remediation struck me a bit like a Eureka! moment as I sat at lunch in the school staffroom, overhearing a rather fervent conversation between a couple of teachers, regarding how computers are destroying our children. They noted how their students cannot form their letters properly, and can barely print, not to mention write in cursive that is somewhat legible. The discussion became increasingly heated as one described how children could not read as well because of the advent of graphic novels, and her colleague gave an anecdote about her students’ lack of ability to edit. When the bell rang to signal the end of lunch, out came the conclusion—students now are less intelligent because they are reading and writing less, and in so doing are communicating less effectively.

In essence, my colleagues were discussing what we are losing in terms of print—forming of letters, handwriting— the physicality of writing. However, I wonder how much of an impact that makes on the world today, and 20 years from now when the aforementioned children become immersed in, and begin to affect society. Judging from the current trend, in 20 years time, it is possible that most people will have access to some sort of keypad that makes the act of holding a pen obsolete. Yes, it is sad, because calligraphy is an art form in itself, yet it strikes me that having these tools allow us the time and brain power to do other things. Take for example graphic novels. While some graphic novels are heavily image-based, there are many that have a more balanced text-image ratio. In reading the latter, students are still reading text, and the images help them understand the story. By making comprehension easier, students have the time and can focus brain processes to create deeper understanding such as making connections with personal experiences, other texts or other forms of multimedia.

As for the communications bit, Web 2.0 is anything but antisocial. Everything from blogs, forums, Twitter, to YouTube all have social aspects to them. People are allowed to rate, tag, bookmark and leave comments. Everything including software, data feeds, music and videos can be remixed or mashed-up with other media. In academia, writing articles was previously a more isolated activity, but with the advent of forums like, scholarly articles could be posted, improved much more efficiently and effectively compared to the formal process that occurs when an article is sent in to a journal. More importantly, scholarly knowledge is disseminated with greater ease and accuracy.

Corporations and educational institutions are beginning to see a large influx of, and reception for Interactive White Boards (IWB). Its large monitor, computer and internet-linked, touch-screen abilities make it the epitome of presentation tools. Content can be presented every which way—written text, word processed text, websites, music, video, all (literally) at the user’s fingertips. The IWB’s capabilities allow for a new form of writing to occur—previously, writing was either with a writing instrument held in one’s hand, or via typing on a keyboard. IWBs afford both processes to occur simultaneously, alternately, and interchangeably. If one so chooses, the individual can type and write at the same time! IWBs are particularly relevant to remediation of education and pedagogy itself, because the tool demands a certain level of engagement and interaction. A lesson on the difference between common and proper nouns that previously involved the teacher reading sentences and writing them on the board, then asking students to identify them—could now potentially involve the students finding a text of interest, having it on the IWB, then students identifying the two types of nouns by directly marking up the text with the pen or highlighter tools.

Effectively, the digital world is remediating our previous notion of text in the sense of books and print. Writing—its organization, format, and role in culture is being completely refashioned.


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

December 13, 2009   No Comments

Multimodalities and Differentiated Learning

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

While there are many theories out there on how to meet the needs of diverse learners, there is one common theme—to teach using multimodalities. The strong focus on text in education has made school difficult to a portion of students, students whose strengths and talents lie outside of the verbal-linguistic and visual-spatial-type abilities. Thus the decreasing reliance on text, the incorporation of visuals and other multimedia, and the social affordances of the internet facilitate student learning.

Maryanne Wolf (2008) purports that the human brain was not built for reading text. While the brain has been able to utilize its pre-existing capabilities to adapt, lending us the ability to read, the fact that reading is not an innate ability opens us to problems such as dyslexia. However, images and even aural media (such as audiobooks) take away this disadvantage. Students who find reading difficult can find extra support in listening to taped versions of class novels or other reading material. Also, students with writing output difficulties can now write with greater ease with computers or other aids such as AlphaSmart keyboards.

Kress’ (2005) article highlights the difference between the traditional text and multimedia text that we often find on web pages today. While the predecessor used to be in a given order and that order was denoted by the author, Kress notes that the latter’s order is more open, and could be determined by the reader. One could argue that readers could still determine order with the traditional text by skipping chapters. However, chapters often flow into each other, whereas web pages are usually designed as more independent units.

In addition, Kress (2005) notes that texts have only a single entry point (beginning of the text) and a single point of departure (end of the text). On the other hand, websites are not necessarily entered through their main (home-) pages, readers often find themselves at a completely different website immediately after clicking on a link that looks interesting. The fact that there are multiple entry points (Kress) is absolutely critical. A fellow teacher argued that this creates problems because there is no structure to follow. With text, the author’s message is linear and thus has inherent structure and logic, whereas multiple points of entry lends to divergence and learning that is less organized. Thus it is better to retain text and less of the multimedia approach such that this type of structure and logic is not lost. The only problem is that it still only makes sense to a portion of the population. I never realized until I began teaching, exactly how much my left-handedness affected my ability to explain things to others. Upon making informal observations, it was evident that it is much easier for certain people to understand me—lefties.

Kress’ (2005) article discusses a third difference—presentation of material. Writing has a monopoly over the page and how the content is presented in traditional texts, while web pages are often have a mix of images, text and other multimedia.

It is ironic to note that text offers differentiation too. While the words describe and denote events and characters and events—none of these are ‘in your face’—the images are not served to you, instead you come up with the images. I prefer reading because I can imagine it as it suits me. In this sense, text provides the leeway that images do not.

Multimodalities extend into other literacies as well. Take for example mapping. Like words and alphabets, maps are symbolic representations of information, written down and drawn to facilitate memory and sharing of this information. Map reading is an important skill to learn, particularly in order to help us navigate through unfamiliar cities and roadways. However, the advent of GPS technology and Google Streetview presents a change—there is a decreasing need to be able to read a map now, especially when Google Streetview gives an exact 360º visual representation of the street and turn-by-turn guidance.

Yet we must be cautious in our use of multimodal tools; while multimodal learning is helpful as a way to meet the needs of different learners, too much could be distracting and thus be detrimental to learning.


Kress, G. (2005). Gains and Losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning. Computers and Composition, 5-22.

Wolf, M. (2008). Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper Perennial.

December 13, 2009   No Comments

Teachers Unite

As I read and re-read the “Digital Literacy” article by Dobson and Willinsky and “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” by The New London Group, I couldn’t help thinking that something was missing.  Both articles put forth new ideas and provided the reader with valuable and thought provoking information and yet were incomplete.  What is missing is a page in the articles which explicitly states how to “creat[e] access to the evolving language of work, power, and community, and [foster] the critical engagement necessary for them to design their social futures and achieve success through fulfilling employment.” (The New London Group, p.1)  The multiliteracies approach strives to fulfill the above goal, which is a noble one, but the article left me wanting practical strategies which I could use in my Grade 5 classroom, consisting of students ranging in reading and comprehension levels from none at all (ESL students as well as native speakers) to Grade 7.

The authors of the “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” article assert that “literacy pedagogy now must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms associated with information and multimedia technologies.” (p. 2) I absolutely agree because if we don’t, then the students will not be able to fully participate in and take advantage of the new media.  I also strongly believe that we must not give ourselves wholly to the new.  We must also make room for three R’s – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  For the students to be able to fully participate in their community they must be well grounded in the basics of reading and writing.  I am not sure if we can skip the basics but I am sure we can teach concurrently with teaching them to navigate the superhighway of the new technologies.  The authors agreed that the “disparities in educational outcomes did not seem to be improving.” (p.3)  They went on to state they agreed that “what students needed to learn was changing, and that the main element of this change was that there was not a singular, canonical English that could or should be taught anymore.” (p.3)  The article was written in 1996 but I am glad we still teach the standard English language, including Canadian spelling.  “[Cultural] differences and rapidly shifting communications media” (p.3) notwithstanding, we must have a clear picture of what it is we want our students to achieve and how we are going to do it.  Having a single standard of English language will not hamper students’ progress.  If anything, it will help level the playing field as long as we teach it to all students and expose them to the cultural differences and the rapidly shifting communications media.

The idea of multiliteracies is a sound one but we must not stray too far from reality with its bright, vibrant and multi leveled students who come from an incredible array of backgrounds.  We must remember that many teachers who are currently working in the classrooms come from pre technology based education and will need instruction and support to themselves become comfortable with the new technology.  Not all teachers are yet comfortable in giving up the reins of power and the repositories of knowledge and allowing their classrooms to become collaborative environments not just among students but with the teacher as well.  The change to a classroom where the teacher is the facilitator in students’ acquisition of knowledge is here but it is far from being the norm yet.

The authors assert that “as educators, we have a greater responsibility to consider the implication of what we do in relation to a productive working life.” (p.6)  As educators, we must be cautious not to focus all our efforts on teaching solely to the “working life” of students and the demands of the marketplace.  It is one thing to teach our students to be adaptable, innovative, creative, critical thinkers but we must be careful which one we promote:  “as opening new educational and social possibilities or as new systems of mind control or exploitation.” (p.7)  The authors, when stating that “it may well be that market-directed  theories and practices, even though they sound humane, will never authentically include a vision of meaningful success for all students” (p.7) need to take a stronger stance and state that it will never include all students, and it should not include all students.

If “our job is not to produce docile, compliant workers” (p.7) then we need to allow students to question, teach them how and then allow them to question the teachers and the information presented to them and the way it is being presented.  We cannot ask students to “develop capacity to speak up, to negotiate, and to be able to engage critically with the conditions of their working lives” (p.7) without allowing them to do the same in the classroom.  We must go even further and demonstrate it by questioning ourselves.  We cannot produce students who are critical thinkers by ourselves being “docile, compliant workers.”

I feel that these articles highlight the disparity between the academically centered educators, and those of us in the trenches.   While their ideas are good, they lack grounding in the real world issue of a modern classroom.  If we are to achieve a true multiliteracies approach, there must be a melding of the classroom teacher and the academic educator.

Dobson and Willinsky’s (2009) chapter “Digital Literacy.”   Retrieved November 15, 2009, from

The New London Group.  (1996) “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies:Designing Social Futures.”  Harvard Educational Review 66(1), pp. 60-92.

December 7, 2009   1 Comment


I have thoroughly enjoy ETEC 540 I wish I had more time to mull over some of the ideas- but taking 3 courses don’t allow for that pleasure.

For my connections I decided to look at different postings, commentaries, projects and papers on images and how these are changing the way we think. .

In the discussion forum people have lamented the decline in the prominence of text and the rise of the image. Comments like “ images tend not to promote higher level cognitive functioning”, or communication is suffering as a result of the rise in images reflect many people’s fears of the rise of the image. Bolter says that images lack “narrative power”. .

Personally I think we should celebrate the rise of the image and what an exciting dimension it will bring to our understanding of the world. .

Tracy Gidinski in her final project “The Holocaust and Points of View” begins with an image taken during the holocaust because it “allows for students to connect with the past with people who where roughly their own age.” The students could have read text written by students the same age- for example The Diary of Anne Frank, but I doubt it would provide the same impact this photo has. She goes on to say that it will also allow for students to see different points of view. This is interesting because often text does not allow for various points of view- only the one the author presents. Kress (2005) says that images are far less open to interpretation. Rich Biel says, “I would argue that images can be manipulated to highlight different aspects of the images and downplay others and thus lead viewers to interpret the images in a particular way. This requires viewers to interpret- a higher level thinking skill.!.

In a post supporting the image Maureen Coyne quotes Driscoll,” Graphic representations have been particularly effective in facilitating encoding and memory storage of information” (Driscoll, 2000, p.106). .

In addition, graphics help learners acquire “structural knowledge, which represents relationships between concepts in a content domain” (Driscoll, 2000, p.106). As a result, I think a decline in textual modes of representation is not such a bad thing considering graphics help learners learn easier..

Sarah Wood in her research project Photography :History and Cultural Impact says “Photography (image) is a more powerful medium than written or oral discourse to communicate messages of social importance. The visual stimulus forces people to look and decide for themselves what the truth is. I think this makes a very important point-even if text allows for more thoughtful consideration-it does little good if it doesn’t attract peoples attention. .

In the book On Photography Susan Sontag (2001)makes a valid point about the rise of the image or more what she perceives as the decline in print literacy. She says at one time reading and writing were activities for the elite. In order to democratize the world, the goal for universal literacy has been pursued. She feels that the only ones who consider traditional literacy to be superior are academics and so once again they will become a medium only for the elite. While I think there is truth in this, I believe that while traditional literacy is democratizing, I think visual literacy is even more so. Sarah Wood says “ Photography reduces language barriers and no longer requires the audience to be literate to decipher the message.” .

While I agree that the image is becoming more powerful that text I don’t think we need to worry. Just as we teach people to read and think critically about what they read, we need to teach people how to read images. I appreciate Caroline Faber’s post ,”While I do appreciate that there are times when the exclusive use of either photos or text is appropriate, it seems more that the coupling of the two results in the greatest degree of understanding.”.

Through the weeks we have explored the changes in communication from orality to hypertext. There is no doubt that each one has changed our culture significantly and so to will the next ones. And we will always have those who react to the change with criticism (which is not a bad thing). Change is what humans do best. We will perhaps stumble and make errors but ultimately we will adjust to the changes until the next one comes along.

December 7, 2009   No Comments

Storage and Performance

I attempted to work through how technologies’ characteristics of storage and performance affect fluency. It represents a start. Please follow this link to see my attempt.

December 6, 2009   No Comments


I create many digital booktalks for use in my school. Although I have directed students to use animoto, I myself usually used moviemaker or photostory, so I decided to give animoto a try. I found animoto to be quite user friendly and intuitive in its design. I found myself frustrated with the time limit of the free version, I was not able to use all of the images and text I created. While my usual booktalks I create cover 8-10 books, this one for animoto contains one book only and a related magazine article. I used images I took (copyright). I was quite impressed with the selection of music animoto contained. While for my purposes, I think photostory is the best option, I will continue to direct students too animoto as I think it serves their purposes well. I also see it as a means of introducing teachers to digital production.

YouTube Preview Image

December 6, 2009   No Comments


I have used delicious for my personal bookmarking for quite some time now, but I had not yet made the transference to educational use. I created one delicious account for the sole purpose of accumulating “professional” bookmarks which I can use for teacher training, etc.

Then I had a brainstorm. I am in the midst of working with an 8th grade teacher on research projects. We generated a list of topics with the students of current issues they feel strongly about and they chose research topics based on their interest. Topics range from cell phones in school to dress code to teen pregnancy.  Because the issues are “hot topics” much of the commentary/data on these topics is best found on the internet. In order to facilitate students research time, I created a delicious account for my media center  ( and began accumulating bookmarks as we (students, teacher and I) found appropriate sites.  I linked the delicious account to the online card catalogue.


Then I sent out a school wide email  with the account information and an explanation of delicious  (I attached  a video that we can begin to accumulate bookmarks pertaining to multiple curricular areas. I was so excited on Thursday and Friday because a math class was researching statistical data so we began bookmarking and tagging those sites. I am in hopes that more teachers will begin to bookmark and tag online sites as they realize the value of this tool.

December 6, 2009   No Comments

Connections between my learning and my life

This course has allowed me a unique opportunity.  As a Teacher-Librarian I am mired in questions about the future of print and often find myself challenging my colleagues to see beyond what they percieve to be their role today and to honestly look at how they may need to morph that role to meet the the changing space of reading.

As many of my classmates have stated I particularly enjoyed reading the work of Bolter.  His writing style held greater appeal for me as a learner.  I found it to be much less scholastic than that of Ong and this too may indicate a paradigm shift in how people read and gather information.  Like my Net Generation students I am moving most often in a digital world.  I expect to be engaged in the material.  I want to be hyperlinked and hypermediated.  The MET degree that I have almost completed and my Bachelor of Education degree have both been done without ever setting foot in a library.  I did not conduct a catalogue search, wander through the stacks or crack open a dusty tome. 
I, too, am experiencing a remediation of print.

Having an opportunity to question my beliefs about this “unprecedented” change in reading and writing that we are currently experiencing has been the best part of this course for me.  I truly enjoyed the chance to see that while the scale of the change may, indeed, be fantastic in the digital world it is but one of series of major remediations that has occurred as text and technology have evolved.

Additionally, I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their generosity of thoughts, ideas and observation as we have co-created the community weblog together.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your work and have learned more from the collective in this case than from the “published” authors. 

On a personal note, for all of you who sent messages to me as I went through this most difficult of terms, a most sincere thank you. 


Louise Thomson

December 4, 2009   1 Comment

Fun with Rip.Mix and Feed

I have spend the evening playing with Dump’r- looking at a variety of different slide-show tools, cartooning sites, loading my pictures of Peru to Flick’r and then plotting them on a This is going to take a while to complete so won’t post the results here- but it has been fun. I thought I should try something I had never done before- well I’ve never used Dump’r before either but I thought I should learn a little more about widgets. Robin Good has 6 very imformative videos about them on YouTube So just to try it I created one in Pol-Daddy- Here is my widget.

December 4, 2009   No Comments

Reflections and Connections

ETEC 540

Revisiting Commentary # 1 and Reflections

A Symbiotic Relationship: The Written and Spoken Word

Writing, the new technology of Plato’s era, was being promoted as the elixir for improving memory. It was seen as the “specific tool for memory and wit.” However, Plato argued contrary to this and suggested that it would foster “forgetfulness in learners’ souls.”  Plato further elaborated that learners would have a show of wisdom without reality.  Ironically, Plato had his ideas and teachings written down and this is why we have access to them today. Walter Ong (1982, 2001) suggests that it is impossible for pre-literate cultures to operate as literate ones do. According to Ong writing has led to the expansion of literacy and a restructuring of human consciousness. He does not see this as negative as he states, “[t]echnology, properly interiorized, does not degrade human life but on the contrary enhances it” (Ong, p. 82). He also suggests that to understand writing “means to understand it in relation to its past, to orality, the fact that it is a technology must be honestly faced” ( Ong, p.82). Neil Postman (1992), on the other hand, seems less accommodating in his pronouncement that [n]ew technology alters the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the characters of our symbols; the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop” (Postman, p.120). Regardless of the criticism leveled against new technology, my experience throughout this course has taught me that their emergence is inevitable.

   The past few months have been a bit challenging due to my limited knowledge of the technological world which has gone through much deconstruction! Hypertext, digital literacy, multiliteracy, social technologies and Web 2.0 were unfamiliar terms. But I thought I knew about ‘orality’ and ‘writing.’ It turns out that I had to refashion my thinking about these. I never viewed writing as technology. Ong transported me to imagine a world without literacy which ended in a misreading of Daniel Chandler’s ‘Phonocentrism.’ This led to much rethinking and reordering. As a result of this experience and my research project on silent reading, I have come to recognize writing as a technology which has become deeply interiorized by many including myself. I now believe that orality is more natural and has to come first as children develop literacy skills. As children become exposed to print they become aware of the symbiotic relationship between writing and speech. Writing has become so much a part of our lives that we see ourselves in and through our media. Our innocent children observe our behavior and develop emergent literacy according to studies done by Marie Clay (1992).

   As we traversed this course we discovered how orality and writing was represented on papyrus scrolls, codex and the printing press and then eventually moved on to hypertext and word processing technologies. My reading of The Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext and the Remediation of Printby David Jay Bolter allowed me to understand the development of a new kind of literacy that has emerged as humans moved from oral to visual literacy and back. Digital literacy and emergent multiliteracies have now become terms which have to be seriously considered by educators. The journey for suggests a combination past and present technologies merging. While I am somewhat concerned about the sustainability of the dependence on technology, I remain aware through the work of the New London Group, Dobson and Willinsky’s article and Bryan Alexander’s “Web 2.O and Emergent Multiliteracies,” that digital literacy is the way forward whether we want to admit it or not. The important thing is that we recognize that our students are going to need critical skills in order to make sense of everything that is presented on the Internet and train them well. We cannot be satisfied with just knowing the basics if we want a future generation that is wise as are result of having so much information at their fingertips.

As I sang a duet with a student recently, I realized that we can’t turn back the clock and wish away a return to the classical training I went through but we could merge the old and the new to create a new delightful symphony. This is how I am beginning to view the era of multiliteracies. The appeal to the senses that the ripmixfeed offers will certainly lessen the generation gap which exists between many teachers and students. As the curtain falls on ETEC 540 I know its spirit will live on in our pedagogy. We have certainly proved the critics wrong. Even though I did not participate as much as I would have liked, I felt part of the community of learners. Classmates were more helpful than when I was in a physical setting. One of things that I thought was strange too is that I felt compelled to produce quality work for others to see, due to motivation from my peers’ posts. There were times to that I felt I couldn’t measure up to their standards. I remain very positive about this course as it fulfilled its mandate to explore the changing spaces of reading and writing and I certainly had more than enough spaces to read and write.



Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 32-44. Retrieved from

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

Bolter, D. J. (2001). Writing Space Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print.New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbalm Associates.

Ong, W. (1982, 2002). Orality and Literacy.London and New York: Routledge.

December 4, 2009   No Comments

An article to share = 540 Reflection

   Hi all! I was asked to write an article for the International Baccalaureate Organization’s (IBO) grassroots educational magazine in Hong Kong titled The International Inquirer. I work at an IBO school, in a bilingual environment and I teach the Primary Years Program (PYP). The article is a reflection on what we learned during the digital literacy exploration in 540 and I really tried to blend MET with my actual practice. I asked permission to share the article here and I was encouraged to. Way to go CopyLeft movement! My article is more generalized than my MET work, and it is written to inspire ed-tech integration. I would not have written it as well without help from this community and knowledge gained through this course. Thanks for inspiring me! During the copy process, some formatting changed and I can’t seem to fix it. The article is not supposed to be APA as the format for references is up to the editor, but I certainly aimed for APA throughout! Erin

A Concept-Driven Curriculum and Educational Technology Integration

In 2001, Mark Prensky, an influential voice in the field of educational technology, considered students in kindergarten-college, who were born into a technically advanced society, to be “Digital Natives”. Prensky’s (2001) Digital Natives were the first generation literate in the digital language of computers, the Internet and video games. Individuals born prior to the introduction of home computers and broadband are considered Digital Immigrants, and they speak “digital” with a strong accent (Prensky, 2001). Similar to Prensky, Don Tapscott (1998) considered  students born between 1977 and 1997 to be members of the Net Generation, a generation of critical thinkers who question the values contained in information. The Net Generation have “grown up digital” and in 2009, we are teaching the new Net Generation, some  members who are being raised by the first “Net Geners” (Tapscott, 2009). Curriculums will never catch up with the digital language this generation speaks unless there is a shift toward centering the learning experience on the individual and providing learners with the tools of new media to enhance interactivity and, importantly, constructivist connections (Tapscott,1998).


 Kids on PC teaching adults at a conference how to play a game(Kids and Computers, 2007)

 In 2007, cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch posted a video concerning this issue on YouTube. The video, A Vision of Students Today, emphasises how the educational system of the 20th century fails to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.  Web development never slowed down to let Digital Immigrants catch up. In 2004, Tim O’Reilly coined the phrase “Web 2.0” and the new Net Generation spoke another digital language dialect (Alexander, 2008). Educators inhabiting the world of the new Net Generation must revamp and extend their prior technology skills to address emergent multiliteracies in the Web 2.0 world (Alexander, 2008). An exploration of how the PYP could meet the needs of the new Net Generation learner through the educational design of a concept-driven curriculum opens up learning possibilities for student and teacher.

The concept driven curriculum in the PYP is a pedagogical approach to learning and teaching that supports inquiry based learning (IBO, 2009). The eight key concepts identified in the PYP (form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, responsibility and reflection) support the transdisciplinary model of teaching and learning (IBO, 2009). Integrating educational technology opportunities, specifically Web 2.0 tools, into a concept driven curriculum is one way to enrich lines of inquiry (Alexander, 2006; Levy, 2008; Reid, 2007; Wesch, 2007).  Web 2.0 tools give educators the means to incorporate digital literacy opportunities into the inquiry process to help meet the transdisciplinary learning needs of the new Net Generation (Alexander, 2006; Bolter, 2001; Cameron, 2004; Prensky, 2008).

The selection of Web 2.0 tools is dependent on a number of factors, not all of which can be discussed here. For the sake of making reasonable recommendations, it is assumed that the digital divide in Hong Kong IB schools is not a severe restrictive concern. Students need access to a computer with a reliable Internet connection and teachers may require in-house technical support (Bates, 2000). It is also assumed that educational technology integration has been discussed at the administrative level and the school has a general atmosphere of culture change in favour of designing educational spaces with Web 2.0 technology. Staff enthusiasm for learning new Web 2.0 tools in an already stretched schedule is one indicator of this cultural change (Bates, 2000). It is recommended that the terms of service and privacy policies for Web 2.0 applications be analyzed with the school’s online student safety and intellectual property policies in mind (ISTE, 2008). Finally, grade level planning meetings concerning how concepts could be supported with specific technologies during the inquiry planning process would clarify the purpose of the Web 2.0 tool.


  (ICT Enhanced Interative Writing, 2009)

A number of Web 2.0 technologies are available to teachers and choosing a tool may seem daunting. However, it is up to the teacher to decide how the tool could be integrated to make concepts in the planner relevant to the student. Alexander (2006; 2008), in his discussion of multiliteracies, identifies four qualities of Web 2.0 tools which help students develop their digital literacy. They are considered by Alexander (2008) to be the creation of microcontent, social connectedness, openness and social filtering. The new Net Generation speaks this language and learns in this manner (Bolter, 2001; Anderson 2008). When choosing tools it is important to identify characteristics of the new Net Generation in order to inform educational design. These students desire faster interactions with information, multitasking, processing multiple data simultaneously,  informative graphics with a text backup, hyperlinking through materials rather than reading linearly,  networking with electronic communication devices, immediate and clear feedback or reward in return for efforts (Bolter, 2001; Cameron, 2004). Our students see technology as empowering and necessary (Bolter, 2001; Cameron, 2004).


Web 1.0_2.0_comic(“Ed-Tech 1.0 Meets 2.0”, Gillespie, 2009. Created on MakeBeliefsComix)

Digital storytelling and the emergent form of Web 2.0 digital storytelling is a tool popular with educators (Banaszewski, 2002; Benmayor, 2008; Meadows, 2003). Enthusiast, educator and Web 2.0 researcher Alan Levine has created an excellent resource for anyone interested in Web 2.0 digital storytelling at Blogging and wikis have been popular for over a decade and both have been researched and found to be supportive of constructivist learning opportunities. Some recommended tools are Landmarks’ Class Blogmeister (, Edublogs (, Wikimedia’s Wikikids ( and PB Works ( For a snapshot of wikis in use, visit Educational Wikis (

Other excellent Web 2.0 tools to support digital literacy and inquiry are Kerpoof Studios (, M.I.T’s Scratch (, Make Beliefs Comix (, Voice Thread ( , Prezi (, Gliffy diagram software ( , the Jing screen capture application ( and the sound editor Audacity ( Creative Commons ( is an excellent place for student and teacher to search for “copyleft” and reusable and web content. The above Web 2.0 tools are designed in English, but some lend themselves to bilingual content. Generally, they are tools which can be mixed and “remixed” with one another. For example, a wiki could have an embedded 2.0 digital story which is itself hyperlinked to a blog in order to meet the student’s digital literacy preference for nonlinear reading. In addition, the forums on the online curriculum centre (OCC) are rich resources concerning the practical implementation of Web 2.0 tools. Several Ning ( networks, wikis and TED ( talks have been created by IB educators for IB educators.

Our students are memory stick carrying members of the new Net Generation, a generation defining emergent multiliteracies. In a knowledge society, our learners need liberal arts skills to be integrated with information technology (Bates, 2000).  It is the educator’s responsibility to integrate tools with meaningful relevance to our 21st century students in order to help them reach their greatest potential when navigating a concept based inquiry. Today’s students live Web 2.0 digital lives and a growing number of teachers are beginning to explore and develop new ways of teaching with these technologies and practices (Alexander, 2008). It is the intention of this article to provide inspiration for IB teachers to integrate Web 2.0 tools in order to help students construct knowledge necessary for a meaningful understanding of concepts.



Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 32-44. Retrieved from

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

            Bates, T. (2000). Managing technological change: Strategies for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Beetham,H., & Sharpe, R. (2007). An introduction to rethinking pedagogy for a digital age. In H. Bentham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age. (pp 1-10). London:Routeledge

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

Cameron, D. (2004). The net generation goes to university? Journalism Education Association Conference , Griffith University. Available online from

International Baccalaureate Organization. (2009). The IB primary years programme. Available online from

International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE]. (2008). ISTE’s Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. Available online from

Lamb, B. (2007). Dr. Mashup or, why educators should learn to stop worrying and love the remix. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(4). 12-24.

Levy, P. (2008). Inquiry in the Web 2.0 environment: Tools for students for ‘design for learning’? Learning Through Enquiry Alliance Conference 2008. Available online from

Reid, P. (2007). Inquiry based learning with Web 2.0. Educational Computing Association of Western Australia 2007 Conference Proceedings. Available online from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Available online from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Prensky, M. (2006). “Don’t bother me mom-I’m learning!” St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House

Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing up digital: The rise of the Net generation. NY, New York: McGraw-Hill

Tapscott, D. (2009 ) . Grown up digital. NY, New York:McGraw-Hill.

Wesch, M. (2007). A vision of students today, video. Available online from

Image References

Kids and Computers. January 13, 2007. Flickr upload by shapeshift. Available online November 25, 2009, from

Owen, H. (2009). The ICT Enhanced Iterative Writing Process \’;//.[Electronic Version]. Retrieved from

Gillespie, E. (2009). Ed-tech 1.0 meets 2.0. Created on MakeBeliefsComix , GNU license

December 4, 2009   No Comments

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

I feel like in the past few months of the course my original ideas on communication technologies have been completely torn apart at times, stretched out to accommodate new ideas at others, and turned around, upside down and shaken out when I have least expected it.  I came into the course with specific notions of orality, literacy, and hypertext/social technologies.  I realized very quickly that my ideas were quite closed, and desperately needed to be challenged, opened up for debate, and in some cases, revamped in their entirety.

Projects and discussions in the course offered great theoretical thought provoking materials, such as Ong and Bolter ‘battling it out’ for a win on two different sides of the arguments regarding technological determinism.  Throughout each stage of the course I found myself stopping frequently to consider the information, search for further reading on topics of interest, and eager to begin research for commentaries which would help me to come to terms with issues that left me with more questions than answers.

Orality and Literacy

Considering a world without literacy was an incredibly rich experience.  I had never considered literacy to be technology, and had not thought in depth about the implications of print to a society or culture.  Questions regarding the effects of literacy seemed to fall out of the pages as I read about changes in our society over the past few thousand years as communication moved from orality, to a combination of orality and literacy(through the lifespan of papyrus scrolls, codex, the printing press), to more modern technologies (hypertext and word processing faculties).  Real-world examples came to mind in my own area, of the First Nations cultures in my community that have been, effectively, ripped from orality and heaved headfirst into literary traditions.  Where many, if not most, cultures have had thousands of years to adapt, what happens to cultures that are expected to openly adapt, and adjust to the dominant literary traditions in less than a century?  There are still First Nations people alive today that can remember a time of pure orality. 

New Technologies

I began to realize that communication technologies affect our lives as we choose to (or are coerced/forced/manipulated) into adopting them.  We take on new technologies, realize they ease our daily lives and as a result, develop a perceived need for them and then work to develop increasingly efficient and effective technologies that we can no longer seem to live without.  I wonder at how our world will change as a result of online technologies including but not limited to social media technologies and hyperlinking trends.  We seem to be in the midst of a huge revolution in an Internet presence that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.  This presence that we can not see or physically feel, is affecting our society in exponentially increasing degrees.  Michael Wesch’s, Youtube video, Information R/evolution really brings to light the dramatic changes that have already occurred since the introduction of these new technologies.

Branching occurs whenever a new technology is introduced.  Literacy has branched off from oral traditions and new technologies are creating yet another branch in the media of communication.  In a world where “social media” and Web 2.0 are new terms arising from technologies of the recent few years, the rate of change is exceptionally fast, as new technologies build upon old, answering the needs of current society.  As Francois de la Rochefoucauld reminds us, “The only thing constant in life is change.” 

orality to literacy

Please take a look at the chart I have attached which provides a general overview of some ways the transition from Orality to Print to Hypertext and Online technologies has occurred.  It provides an overview of the branching off which has occurred as a result of these three technological movements.  In their book, Remediation: Understanding New Media, Bolter and Grusin state, “Our one prediction is that any future media will also define their cultural meaning with reference to established technologies.  They will isolate some features of those technologies…and refashion them to make a claim of greater immediacy.”  (271)


Bolter, J. and Grusin, R.  (2000)  Remediation: Understanding new media.  Accessed at: Accessed at:

Wesch, M.  Information R/evolution.  Accessed at:

December 4, 2009   No Comments

Making connections… one frame at a time

The process of creating the social media projects has proved incredibly rich in terms of practical application of theoretical ideas from the course.  I chose to pursue a slideshow montage for my presentation and after exploring various sites, discovered that there were many approaches to creating slideshows.  Some sites ( offered bare basic applications which allowed for slide show creations in minutes, but with few means to truly personalize the show.  Other sites offered extensive possibilities for paying users but limited to no services for site visitors ( 

            As I attempted to locate a site which would meet my needs I tapped into the resource of extensive know-how within the course via course members.  Responses directed me towards sites such as Photopeach, Diigo, XTimeline, Capzles, and Slideshow, realizing that these sites, together with the rest of the list of sites I was accumulating, were representative to an enormous diverse amount of program options available.  I began to explore multilingual options as well, such as Myslide (, available in both French and English. 

After entering into a conversation in the discussion groups led by Erin, I realized the potential value of a site which would list some of the social media technolgies available for use.  The site could be organized in categories alphabetically, and be filled with social media application resources added by MET students based on MET student needs.  The Wiki can be found at Social Technologies List and provides a stepping off point for a comprehensive, non-overwhelming, useful tool for searching out useful social media technologies.  I was pleased to come across Ryan’s bookmarks on boasting an extensive list of links to nearly a hundred social media sites, all tagged effectively for easy reference.

The slideshow was still in the midst of creation and needed some attention.  In realizing that I had been thus far unable to find a site that offered everything I needed, I chose to utilize Kizoa, which allows for great affects which I could not create through another program.  I knew that I would have to combine programs to achieve the effects I was looking for.  Because the school district I work for does not allow open program downloading, I located and utilized, for the first time, and online photo editor to add text to my images thus working around a restriction within the Kizoa program.

In the end I achieved an effect which was very close to that which I had in mind at the onset of the program.  In exploring the projects of others I saw that this theme of pre-existing ideas which did not seem to fit within the framework of certain programs was not unique.  A video montage had been created, after I imagine, hours of work, but had been abandoned as programming shortcomings interfered with actualization. 

John created a great Photopeach slideshow about a trip to Asia, Travels to Asia, including textual information to guide the viewer through his memories, brought me back to my own trips to Hong Kong a few years ago.  Peg created a wonderful Slideshow of miscellaneous experiences over the past few years in her Museum of Memories.  Noah offered an artsy slideshow, Sunshine, complete with music to set the scene, about Vancouver.  The pictures brought me back to the time I spent living in the lower mainland and the beauty of and relief experienced from seeing the sun come over the mountains on the city.

I must say a personal favourite would have to be the witty slideshow movie created by James.  Initially as I opened the show entitled, How to Cook a Hard-Boiled Egg I expected a brief cooking show, much the same as the 5 minute video recorded cooking shows my grade 9 students had created for the class.  I knew in the fist few slides that I would not be learning how to cook this egg and instead would enjoy a hilarious, witty, satirical look at the extensive memories and feelings a hard-boiled egg can be responsible for creating.  I also had to chuckle at the line from the Beetles song he chose, chiming in at the perfect moment, “I am the Egg Man.” 

Seeing the various programs available for slideshow creation and realizing the seemingly limitless possibilities made me realize not only the potential needs that could be met with such programs, but my own goals and preferences as well.  While would be great for teenagers looking to put together a s quick show and link it to Facebook, Twitter, or Bebo, other shows offered extensive possibilities in terms of text (, music allowances, (Photopeach), artsy photo effects ( and more.  Slideshows can be an extension of artistic creations or a simple way to collect images in one place to share with others.

Some other great slideshows to view are:

What a great activity with incredible results! 


December 4, 2009   No Comments