Two Themes

Even though this course covered a lot of ground, most of the content was quite closely related, particularly when viewed at the end. For me, two themes were of particular interest and I noticed that many other students commented and wrote about them as well.

The first theme was really just the importance of developing a historical perspective on the transition from one writing or communication medium to another. I wrote about this topic and I noticed that others like Steph, Dennis Pratt, kimprobably, and a host of others, did as well, often for their research project. Examples were explorations of the change from scroll to codex, manuscript codex to print codex and the range of topics clustered around the “break out of the visual” concept.

We are fortunate (maybe) to be living through a significant transitional stage now in the late age of print, or early digital age, so understanding that western societies have experienced these changes before helps us recognize that these transitions do in fact lead to an altered knowledge landscape – they always have. But it also reminds us that we aren’t the first generation to go through this, and that the change from print to digital may not even be the most significant shift in communication mode. Several students made variations of this observation.

I think the concept of technological determinism was closely connected to this, and most of the literature and discussion encouraged us to develop more sophisticated ideas on technology describing a more complex interactive relationship between technological innovation and society.

The other theme I thought was prominent was the enhanced understanding of literacy – or perhaps a better term, multiliteracies – that we are developing. There was a wide range of perspectives offered on this topic, with some students very comfortable with an expanded definition that could accommodate a range of literacies meaningful in the digital age but others arguing that the definition had become too broad to have much value, and that the word had become synonymous with competency. Check out some of the discussion posts (Sian Osborne and Jim Cash had some great ideas), and some of the Community Weblog commentaries and papers/projects by Doug Connery, David Symonds and Jennifer Stieda to name three. Teresa Dobson had a great discussion board post about the origin of the word multiliteracies in the 1960s.

So much of the course content tied together in a nice linear way (very appropriate for those of us educated in the age of print) although the multimodality of some lessons fit in very well too.

Great course.


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