The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Module 1 Reflection: Collecting People, Collecting Knowledge

Last semester for ETEC*565, I created blog which housed my personal learning journey for the course. This was my first foray into blogging. From this experience I learned how important it is to regularly contribute to a blog in order to fully engage with the subject matter. As well I ended up with a nice snapshot of my growth over the course of the semester. Our Community Weblog takes a different approach in that all of us post to the same blog – a shift from building individual knowledge to creating distributed knowledge, built on collaborative and network literacies. This exposes all of us to diverse perspectives allowing each of us to construct new understandings of the topics raised. As our communal writing space archives all contributions, we will also be able to reflect back on our collaborative journey by the end of the course.

Postman (1992) states “new technologies alter the structure of our interests: the things we think about. They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with. And they alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop” (p. 20). With our Community Weblog environment we can create a knowledge database with a structure that allows for spontaneity, the ability to link back to original sources and the ability to embed images and video to support our writings. The disorientating nature of the navigation differs so greatly from the linear ways of learning most of us are familiar with, thus it can be frustrating for many to determine where to start or how to proceed with participating.

On the other hand, the blog environment encourages us to push our understandings beyond text-to-text communication to create dynamic and flexible interpretations that we can continue to build on. Unlike our discussion forums, ideas are much more dispersed and are organized only by the tags and categories the participants employ. This allows for each individual to create their own connections and take responsibility for their own learning. The comments feature allows us to make connections and begin to tie ideas together. We all are responsible for the success of our shared space and thus participation will be essential throughout the semester for this to be a truly valuable experience.

On that note, with two sections contributing to the blog the amount of posts to-date is overwhelming – almost too many to keep track of. The search, tagging and category functions are absolutely key to being able to find information – somewhat of an organized chaos!

Karen Stephenson states that “experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people” (Stephenson, in Siemens, 2004, An Alternative Theory, para.1). As we all have different skills sets, experiences and knowledge we bring to the table, as a collective we are much stronger than we are on our own. Our weblog then becomes yet another link of our personal learning networks. It will be truly interesting to see how this space evolves over time.


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

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved September 20, 2009, from

September 20, 2009   No Comments

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/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

Text we R, text i AM

Text, to me, is what we are, what I am. I love words and everything they make us and give us. I love reading. I love seeing words. In this information age, text defines us and gives us life. Text has allowed us to progress and move forward, but it has also isolated us from one another. We no longer need to seek the company of others in person. We can enclose ourselves in the safety of our homes and take on any persona our imagination allows. To me, text is me. It is the first time my daughter spells her name with the inverted C.

I chose the above concrete poem to represent what text is to me because it conveys what text is.  It does an excellent job of illustrating the depth and breadth of text in modern languages.

September 16, 2009   No 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