The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Category — Discussion

Module 1 Reflections

First of all, I am very impressed with our knowledge community! I’ve read several postings, commented on a few and generally felt inspired by my classmates. The theories of distributed knowledge and constructivism are at play in our community. By sharing their insights, my classmates have provided me with fresh perspectives on difficult issues. I think the community weblog and our introductory web project are  interesting and valuable ways to begin a course focused on “the changing spaces of reading and writing”. A community blog is exciting, challenging (eek, posting an avatar and resizing it!) and effective. I actually started a Class Blogmeister based on this format for my grade four students!

My feelings toward the intentional disorientation on this weblog is one of relief. I like the fact I have to sit back and think about how to connect posts and how to use the available tools to make the most of linking thoughts together (tag searches, searching by name…etc). I think some benefits of disorientation are forcing a student to challenge old thought patterns, reaching more learners (like me!) and displaying/creating knowledge in a new way to create new learning connections. One disadvantage may be some students may feel frustrated or intimidated navigating such an environment and thus, be less motivated to engage in the learning oportunities.

Defining text and technology at the beginning of my MET studies would have been as simple as looking them up in the dictionary. However, given the opportunity to analyze the terms and engage in discussion about them (and to reacquaint myself with the history of Webster’s Dictionary)  simplicity is now out the window.

Some of you may have noticed I posted my concept of text and technology a little early. I was not devaluing the importance of our class discussions, but instead I posted early simply because I printed out the module and mixed up the pages. I posted my terms before my introduction!

Now, reflecting on this, I see how some text for me must be in print, in my hands, when it’s “important”. Yet, I also see how our digital module had the same important text organized in a more efficient manner. I discussed the concept of printed materials with several classmates and was relieved to find that other students behaved the same way.

I also discussed anticipated changes in relation to text and technology. The emergence of YouTube as a return to orality, the concept of hyperlinking as an emergent textual form and issues surrounding the educational acceptance of digital literacy. Postman (1992) reminds us that there is a power struggle inherent in any society that adapts technology. However, I now feel philosophically closer to O’Donnell and Engell in “Papyrus to Cyberspace”,  from the Cambridge Forum(1999) broadcast, on the grounds of finding a societal balance for the costs and benefits of new technology. For example, I now see YouTube as democratizing and balanced as it does not seek to replace text as it provides people a space to speak from.

At the end of Module 1, I’d like to return to our modular reading (in Module 1 of 540), where we are reminded that we are in a “post-print” society. I love the concept of “post-print”, whether I read it or say it aloud! “I am a member of a post-print society”, very impressive. I now see how writing itself is a technology and I’m excited to learn how “post-print” society adapts to our socially created drive for text representation. Clearly we’re adapting as I’m engaged in a rich discussion for my e-learning class using a community weblog! Erin


Cambridge Forum. (1999). From Papyrus to Cyberspace.  Available from ETEC 540 Module 1.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.

September 19, 2009   2 Comments

The Art of Text

Coming from a design background, I have come to see text as an art form that is often manipulated as content or as part of a layout and for me, that is usually how I intermingle text with technology. Text is no longer a static form but it can also be animated. Looking back at the origins of text in its more static form, some examples of text as an artistic, symbolic form is its use in hieroglyphs and asian characters. Technology works to, in some form, mechanize the text through writing tools, printers and other text-making tools.

One mingling of text and technology that came to mind is the use of calligraphic tools not just for communication but as an art form. In Asia, the calligraphic brush was more widely used in the past to paint characters in languages. When painted, the symbols have flowing strokes and lines, with some strokes more emphasized than others. Today, those same characters in print have been “mechanized” and converted into harsh lines and strokes that are even throughout. The same can be said for handwriting.

What are the implications of text and technology today: How much have computers created a kind of convenience in the way we communicate and will handwritten texts still exist in the future? In the last 10 years alone, I think technology has done a great deal in changing the way we look at and learn how to use text using computers, cell phones and other, more advanced non-traditional devices.


September 18, 2009   2 Comments

Module 1 Reflections

I have enjoyed creating blog entries for the first module and reading my classmates’ entries. It’s surprising how many unique images people chose to represent the curriculum of Module 1. In the past, I have enjoyed creating bog entries for ETEC courses and think that they offer a great opportunity for me organize my thoughts, watch my progression through the course material, and learn from others. I also imagine how I could use the same means when I design elearning courses.

September 18, 2009   No Comments

Module 1/Weblog reflections

This module has been a great introduction to the changing world of text and technology. I have been struck by all the different types of images that we (as a class) were able to find on Flick.r and how they all seemed to relate to technology and its impact on writing and literacy.

I like the collective space and can see how this experience will help when I introduce blogging to my students in the future. That being said, I  like being able to post my musings to the forum within the Vista platform. I find it’s much easier to read and respond to others.

September 17, 2009   1 Comment

Face-off: OED and Wikipedia

I am not nearly as brave as Drew, although we used the same springboard. He posted a wonderful multimedia interpretation. I’m afraid I’d be too incoherent. Six classes, three meetings, and twelve hours later, I will be grateful if I can form thoughts and type them. But here it goes…

The OED and Wikipedia connection and comparison offered in Module 1 is interesting. In my position teaching college students research skills, I am often called into classroom to destroy the authority of Wikipedia. Instead, I highlight its wonders and woes as I would with any resource.

Consulting Wikipedia for text was enlightening. There are eight entries. The longest by far is for the recent text messaging. The eight entries have multiple sub-headings and present very detailed accounts of text messaging’s social impact and worldwide use. Other entries of note are for the Swedish band, Text, and text as it applies to computing, “ordinary, unformatted, sequential file.” I started to ruminate on the entry for text as it relates to computing, (and might add another post) but decided to stay on course for the course.

Text (literary theory) needs to be “wikified  to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.Please help by adding relevant internal links, or by improving the article’s layout”. The other entry similar to OED, referring to the Bible/scripture, has no link to further information.

I’m reminded of Ammon Shea, author of Reading the OED: One man, one year, 21 730 pages, who described the OED as “a catalog of the foibles of the human condition”. It’s a reflection of its time, an historical perspective. The OED attempts to align with current communication and incorporate new word styles once they graduate from fads (CBC has wonderful, short segments lamenting additions from Homer’s “Doh!” to cyberphobic) but cannot keep pace with the ferocity with which Wikipedia grows.

The OED’s James Murray relied on Dr. William Chester Minor for close to ten thousand submissions while Wikipedia relies on millions from the masses. Dr. Minor was a murderer, clinically insane, and committed to an asylum. (The Professor and the mad man: A tale of murder, mystery, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary details their extraordinary relationship as well as the building of the OED.)

I don’t mean to be delivering book reports, but the above helped me situate the two terms we’ve been deliberating – text and technology. I return to Drew’s post where he highlighted their interconnectedness. I do not argue against his thoughtful conclusions, but offer a twist. The emergence of technology forced a growth or manipulation of the understanding of text. As technology took hold, the other had to adapt or was adapted. I appreciated the images of weaving in the reading and on this blog, but am wondering if, in this case, there’s more of a push-pull; if technology isn’t subsuming text? And if so, what does this forecast?

I must truly be tired… as Derrida springs to mind. The relationship between the signifier and the signified shifts. There is nothing concrete and the signified varies in context – culture, time, etc. As I’ve just dumb-downed Derrida, I should stop. Actually, I should most likely wait until text‘s entry is wikified or be proactive and perform the ‘wikifying’ to create my own wikiality. (I’ve been trying to link to Stephen Colbert’s clip for half an hour, but am left hanging each time and now the icons are greyed out.)

September 16, 2009   No Comments


In this first Module, I think we all learned how to get acquainted with new resources. Personally, I’ve never used Vista or a Weblog, so it has taken me quite some time to try to figure out the “method”, pace or way to do the assignments.

Although Vista has a more structured format, I’ve found the Weblog to be much more user friendly. I can check others’ postings easier, and now that we have new features (authors, dates, etc.) it’s easier to look for information within the blog.

As students and teachers (most of us are active teachers), I think it is essential to get acquainted with new technological resources. This is the first course I’m taking directly with UBC and it’s my first experience using “alternative” delivery modes- we always used Blackboard at ITESM. These new resources push us to learn new things, force our brains to work a bit harder and to find the solution to technical problems we’ve all had.

One great advantage I see in the weblog over Vista, is that we’ll be able to see the postings we’ve made after the course has ended (or at least I think I do).  We probably won’t be able to sign in as users, but we’ll be able to read older posts.


September 16, 2009   No Comments

Assessment and blogs

The thought came to me last night that if I were to use a blog in my class, similar to this one, how would I go about assessing the work my students contributed?  I’ve used a wiki and found the rubric I had created for the assignment was easily transferrable.  Are there any thoughts on that?  Anyone use blogs in the high school classroom yet?

September 16, 2009   4 Comments

Reflections…by Tracy Gidinski

I’ve much preferred using a blog system to the Vista system for several reasons:

  1. I’m familiar with it as I have been experimenting with different blogging platforms for several years, and prefer Word Press to other platforms.
  2. It has a simpler interface
  3. I love the ease of being able to upload images and other media.

I find myself, however, copying my own posts to a new version of my own personal blog (that I set up a while ago, but just started really using for this course), just so I can see my posts in one place (even without the comments from others).  If I could design the ultimate interface for this (i.e., if I had the technological skill to do this), I would love to see us writing on our own personal blogs, with any of our posts with, for instance,  the category “etec 540” be automatically shown here (with the ability to add comments to either location).  That way, we could view our own posts in one location (including things unrelated to this course, perhaps), view others’ posts on their own blogs, or view the entire upload of etec 540 posts on this site.  But alas, I don’t have that technological prowess.

Is there a way to have the ability to go to the next page of older posts on this?  I find I have to read daily in order not to miss any posts, and due to a (minor) car accident last week that played with my shoulder and made sitting at the computer a little uncomfortable for a short time, I missed a lot of information.  (The shoulder is now fine and the car is under repairs, by the way.)

I wonder, though, if the use of a blog changes the formality of our writing?  I find myself writing in a style that is different than the posts from my previous coursework because of the fact that it is a blog.  For instance, my use of parenthesis in this post is indicative of the style I use while on Facebook, when writing emails to friends, or, to some extent, when writing blog articles on my school blog to my students.  Perhaps this phenomenon is affecting just myself, and I should be using a stricter level of formality in these posts.

September 16, 2009   4 Comments

Summary of Community Weblog

 When I initially begin to “surf” around the community Weblog, I was getting very frustrated.  It was a feeling of chaos and clutter.  I was looking to find some means of scaffolding my learning and to balance where I was and where I had to go.   This blog is not, in my opinion, user friendly.  I do not feel that this has aided in my learning, as I was feeling frustrated with my progress and my location.   Upon reading the Summary page, I understood that the blog was created in a fashion that is disorienting; rather unfair to lead the students astray J  


In the Community Weblog, the pages I enjoyed the most are those that appear different.  The photos are unique, the style of writing deviates from the norm.  Perhaps this is because I spend the bulk of my day looking at formal documents and I want to have something catch my interest.  



September 15, 2009   2 Comments

Searching and sorting?

I’m new to blogging and I’ve got a question for anybody out there that has the expertise/time/interest to respond:

Is there a way to search for authors? I tried to find the posts that I had created and couldn’t seem to find an easy way to search or sort postings in order to find the ones that I had created.

September 15, 2009   2 Comments

Using the blogs

I’d like to comment on my experiences with using this blog so far.  I’ve never worked in this medium until this week but can certainly compare it to a wiki, which I’ve been using in my class as well as to collaborate on course design.

First of all, I’ve enjoyed being able to read other posts.  I could (and did) spend hours reading posts, discussion topics and generally playing with the buttons to familiarize myself with this environment.  I told some of my coworkers earlier last week that I would just come home, turn on the laptop and the next thing I know I am in a world that exists only inside this window.  And then I start to open more and more windows as I read, respond, research… well, I wouldn’t leave this spot until it was time for bed.  And still, the ideas would dance in my mind to the point of keeping me awake long past my bedtime.

The ideas came from all the wonderful posts I read and wanted to add to.  I’ve taken online courses before where the amount of research required kept us from reading other posts and perhaps saving some of the valuable resources other students might have discovered.  In other words, time constraints kept us from benefiting from each others’ research.

I think the pace so far has allowed me to read and reflect.  I am also enjoying the way I can work in a non-linear fashion.  I can spend time reading blogs or posts on the discussion boards or following up on links that have been provided by other students.  Or, I can be anti-social and go read my textbook.

It’s the social aspect of this medium that makes it so delightful and compelling.  And thank goodness I don’t have to put on my boots come winter to go off to a campus.

On the downside, I have struggled with figuring out how to post to a certain page and have feared publishing a post and finding I did it all wrong only to not be able to delete it (ungrounded fears).  I created my own blog last week for a space to experiment.  That way I wouldn’t feel foolish if I made a mistake.

And I will let you in on a secret.  One of the other students and I regularly talk on the phone or chat when we are unsure on how to proceed.  But that is quickly turning into discussions on what we might research for our Module 4 project.

As for comparisons to a wiki, I think the wiki might be simpler to understand and set up.  As such, it might be more suitable for my high school classes.  When I tried the experiment last year with my grade 12s as an alternative to a group project and presentation, there was a lot of trepidation.  I liked the wiki because it allowed me to see exactly who took part in the group work and when and how often they worked.  I am not sure how that would work in a blog.

I will continue to investigate this blogging business and hopefully, I’ll be able to use this technology as comfortably as I have used Blackboard for online courses or wikis for class projects.  For now, I just hope this publishes to the right page.

September 15, 2009   2 Comments

General comment on the postings as a learning exercise

Now that we have completed most of the assignments for Module One I would like to comment on the posting to the community weblog. I have found it very interesting to read the highly varied and creative responses of the students.  When for example, we were first given the assignment to create two responses to the word text and technology I drew a blank. Other than a dictionary definition I found myself perplexed where I should turn and what I could produce. Then, as people began to post their responses I felt more at ease (less of newbieitis??sp) and began to enjoy the exercise, use my own creativity and benefited immensely from the process. I also have found the form valuable in being able to read all the different ideas, views and opinions as well as engage in discussion and response. It has been a great deal of work but very worthwhile. (Plus, I have learned where to click and how to sign it now and am no longer getting lost somewhere on the cwl. )  As a teacher, I find it an excellent learning tool as there is a place for individual response and group discussion via post. I like it as it requires me to make connections and think critically, while at the same time establishing some impressions of classmates and their views.

September 14, 2009   2 Comments

A Matter of Metaphor

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My title, lifted from my favourite chapter (3) in Nardi and O’Day’s (1999) Information ecologies: Using technology with heart, describes my take (or my aspiration) on technology far better than I ever could.

“Our concepts about technology are often embodied in highly packed metaphors….Metaphors matter. People who see technology as a tool see themselves controlling it. People who see technology as a system see themselves caught up inside it. We see technology as part of an ecology, surrounded by a dense network of relationships in local environments” (pp. 25-7).

Nardi, B.A. & O’Day, V.L. (1999). Information ecologies: using technology with heart. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

The combination of Kurzweil and Nardi/O’Day is powerful, but manageable. Kurzweil’s TED talk highlights the embeddedness of technology in our everyday lives as well as its seemingly unstoppable, exponential growth. Nardi and O’Day act as society’s conscience sitting on our shoulders and prodding us to act wisely. The spotlight is not on technology, but on human activities that are served by technology.

The juxtaposition of the straightforward, engineer Kurzweil and the combination of HCI researcher Nardi and O’Day, the anthropologist provides a balanced view. A balanced view is often hard to find. One can move from the technophiles’ beliefs to the technophobes’ assertions, but there is often no middle ground in the debates and literature. As much as black and white would be easier, technology is gray and overlays everything.

Studying something as ubiquitous as technology is challenging, but becomes all the more necessary to unpack. These courses are an invaluable resource to this study; each of us brings his/her own “dense network of relationships” to shed different understandings on the term.

September 13, 2009   No Comments