Reflections on ETEC540

As we close the term, ETEC540 has certainly evolved into more than the sum of it’s parts…. it’s many, many, many parts. Reading the syllabus prior to registering, and then looking through the prefatory materials during the first few days, did little to prepare me for the absolute growth that I’ve experienced over the past thirteen weeks. From Plato’s Phaedrus to Xanadu, the combination of my personal notes, the collaborative blog, the wiki, and the two sections’ worth of forum postings is a trip down memory lane, if memory lane is the Vegas strip or Tokyo’s Shibyua Crossing (and coming from a villager of Haida Gwaii, that is saying a lot!)

Throughout this course I have continued to think back of the Global Objective #5 listed in our Prefatory Materials: Students will consider how the “information explosion,” caused in part by the development of increasingly efficient vehicles for the creation and circulation of text, has modified human understandings of what it means to be educated.” 

What does it mean to be educated? As Bolter mentions in his ninth chapter, I feel that the process of “being educated” involves an ongoing remediation of the ways in which we think about and interact with the world and the “definitions” around us (Bolter, 2001, pg. 189). It now seems that I can’t go a day without coming across some piece of news that links to this course- For example, this month’s Popular Mechanics magazine predicts after tablet computers will come scrolls (pg. 80). After learning about the field of haptics, I now consider the tactile sensations that come with using writing tools. When I hear of new words, I almost compulsively look them up in the OED to learn about their roots and connections. The sensations that come from interacting with language and literacy, as it continues to be remediated by technology, is almost a synesthetic experience – stimulation in one medium immediately evokes that of another, and that experience continues to cycle. We no longer just hear audio, we visualize it; we no longer just read text, we hear it, we no longer scribe letters, we type them, but at the same time we hear the click of the keyboard, see the mechanical motion translate into an electronic creation, and then remix that as well in a continual loop. I feel like I will be “making connections” between what I’ve been exposed to in ETEC540 for a long time to come.

Bolter discusses writings of different types of minds – Analytical, Cartesian, electronic writing and the postmodern self (Bolter, 2001, Ch. 9). One unexpected product of this course was that it acted as a technology-assisted text showcase – Especially during Rip.Mix.Feed which was, of course, more current than any of our assigned readings could be (for example, many of the tools listed in Alexander’s (2006) article were no longer in existence). With thirty nine MET students between our two sections, the break out of so many useful textual tools in ETEC540 only makes me wish I had more time to explore them all. The insane thing here is that despite all of the resources that we can pool as a group of learners, each of our own classroom or work context would likely produce at least as many, if not more tools; many of which would be different than the ones contained in the present work. The potential textures of writing that this collection could create is again, an explosion, but one that we are becoming accustomed to.


Alexander, B. (2006) “Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?” Educause Review, 41(2), 34-44. Retrieved from

Around the corner: 2012-2022. (2012, December). Popular Mechanics, 189(12), pg. 80.

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-8058-2919-9

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Web 2.0 – Not Just for Higher Education

In most schools in the western world the internet, or web, has become an integral part of education.  The internet has created a global world that is interconnected in a way that we never thought possible; however, the early applications of the web, Web 1.0, were such that users could view webpages, but there were a relatively small number of people that were authors.  For most, whilst the web was intriguing, it became simply another source of information.  Today we have transitioned to a different type of web, Web 2.0.  While it is difficult to give a simple answer as to what the differences are between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 one of the key ideas is that “with Web 2.0 we don’t just use the internet we interact with it” (Josay, n.d.).  Instead of just using the internet to view webpages and obtain information we now have the ability to interact with that information and with its various authors.  This type of social, interactive experience is one of the reasons that Web 2.0 tools are becoming popular in the field of education.  Another reason that Web 2.0 is important to the field of education, at all levels, is its ability to aid teachers in differentiating instruction in their classrooms.

In ‘Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning,’ Bryan Alexander discusses in detail how Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking sites and social writing platforms are being used in higher education.  Although we cannot yet say that these tools are being used in all K-12 settings, it is apparent that these types of social software are becoming more and more common in elementary, middle and secondary classrooms.  Social software such as blogs, wikis, podcasting and social networking sites like facebook and twitter are very popular among our K-12 students.  Not only are they highly motivated to use these tools in their own personal lives, to interact with others, most are intrigued and willing to learn about how to use these tools in an educational way.

Blogging is one of the Web 2.0 tools that I use on a regular basis in my grade six classroom.  For most subjects, I have created a blog space on our class website and I often post questions, ideas, or quotes for students to discuss.  It has been fascinating to see how students use the blog space to collaborate and share information with one another.  Students are able to comment or add to another students post and I see the students learning from one another on a daily basis.  I have also found that some of the students that struggle to participate in discussions in class are much more confident to share their ideas over the blog space.  Through this process students can communicate, collaborate and build communities of learners with each other.  They are able to share information and this information is able to be reused and remixed in a variety of ways.

Not only do Web 2.0 tools allow for students to interact and collaborate with one another these tools can also help teachers to differentiate instruction in their classrooms.  All educators know that no two students are the same and therefore no two students learn in the same way.  As educators we are expected to be flexible and to be able to meet the needs of all of the students in our class, regardless of where they are at emotionally, socially and intellectually.  In order to do our best to meet the needs of all of the students in our class we must be willing to differentiate our instruction. It is important for educators to understand that “by varying learning activities and assessment materials teachers challenge students at different readiness levels, appeal to students’ varying interests, and accommodate students’ preferred ways of learning and expressing themselves” (Government of Alberta, n.d.).  While differentiating instruction is something that most educators agree is important, it is also an area that most teachers find difficult to put into practice.

Technology, and especially Web 2.0 tools, enable educators to differentiate instruction more effectively, efficiently, and easily.   With the plethora of tools available to anyone the possibilities are endless for what students can do to both learn and demonstrate their understanding of concepts.  One example from my own teaching is the use of Web 2.0 tools when studying a class novel.  Once we have completed the novel students work individually on an after-reading activity.  The students have a number of different activities that they can choose from and in each activity there are two or three interactive Web 2.0 tools that they can use to show their understanding.  Students can use Pixton or Storybird to summarize the novel, they can use Glogster to create interactive posters about the characters, students can create a song on Garage Band about a topic in the novel, use a Wordle to look at key ideas and terms or use digital story-telling software to create an alternate ending.  These are just a few of the many tools that are available to educators.  There are interactive tools for every subject and every level and with some preparation by the teacher these tools, when paired with effective instructional practices, are a way to ensure that we are meeting the students needs and interests and taking into consideration the variety of learning styles in our classrooms.

While Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking sites and social writing platforms are popular in higher education we are also beginning to see their uses in education at all levels.  Along with these types of social software we are also beginning to see the increasing popularity of other interactive Web 2.0 tools, such as the ones discussed above.   Web 2.0 tools have become an important part of an educator’s teaching practices.  These tools not only allow for teachers to effectively differentiate instruction, but they are also motivating for students who can collaborate and show their learning in a unique way that takes their distinct learning needs into consideration.



Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning. Educase, March/April, 33-44.

Government of Alberta.  (n.d.). Differentiated Instruction.  Alberta Education.  Retrieved November 27, 2012 from

Josay, M.S.  The Difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0.  Retrieved November 27, 2012 from




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Educating the Net Generation

In educating the net generation it is vital to show awareness of their unique educational needs, without which the benefit of their education is questionable.  Both educators and the tools and techniques they use must rise to the challenge of presenting information in a way that is dynamic and engaging for the net generation who have grown up in front of computer screens and alongside the Internet.  The more traditional approaches to teaching no longer provide the same benefits for these students as their learning styles and needs have changed as quickly as the technology they now turn to when seeking knowledge (Mabrito & Medley, 2008; Tapscott, 1999).  This new relationship between students and knowledge has led many schools, often post secondary, to attempt new methods to bridge the gap between student and learning.

For example, many universities and colleges have attempted to update their libraries by creating live chat features, mobile help desks, and email surveys.  The responses to these new elements, however, have shown that it is not simply any technology that connects with the net generation, rather they disliked many of these new alternatives and rarely made use of them (Ismail, 2010).  Ismail’s study at the Marywood University Library, suggested that students did not want to make use of their social technology or live chat options for research in an academic setting, rather they wanted to use ‘older’ options like technology or in person help desks (Ismail, 2010, p. 20).  To some, including Ismail, this seemed contradictory to what most people think about the net generation – if they are not interested in utilizing the newest, fastest technology, then what do they need to be successful in education?

The question then, is perhaps not what the newest educational technology is, but which is the best suited to students’ needs.  The increase in successful online learning programs demonstrates that the net generation has at least some interest in making use of technology in their education (Llanos, 2007) while educators are curious to see what can be done with the myriad of options (Dupler, 2007).  This combination of willing students and experimenting educators has the potential to expand the realm of education into something that better meets the needs of this unique generation of learners, whether it is the use of the Internet, podcasts, or even games (Dupler, 2007).

Given the variety of tools available for engaging the net generation, much discussion and research has gone into evaluating the most popular of the options.  This means, for the most part, that universities and colleges like Marywood (Ismail, 2010) introduced a new technology and then reviewed how it went.  Vincini (2005) suggests that instead of pursuing the trial and error approach with educational technology, institutes seeking to reach net generation students would be better served by making use of a set of guidelines that help filter out good and bad options.  Included in those guidelines is the need for active learning involving “Interaction, feedback, and collaboration” (Vincini, 2005, p. 1), which specifically details the elements that accompany clicker response systems, blogs, and wikis.  Even in the isolated realm of this program (UBC’s MET Program, specifically ETEC 540, Fall 2012) these elements compose the majority of the online courses and are thus vital elements to the success of both the program and the students, even though not all of them are members of the net generation. The requirement that these aspects share and encourage is that of active learning, which ties closely to the next guideline, that of learning by doing.  By engaging learners with material and elevating information to something interactive, more learning styles are being met, both for net generation learners and for others.  Vincini goes on to introduce tools designed by Tufts that include these aspects, though this is not surprising given that the tools were created by the University who published the article (2005).

In seeking to meet the needs of the new generation of net learners it is not always a question of why we should adapt to meet their special needs, but more so a question of how.  In working towards the goals of engaging with this group of learners on a higher level and through means that they both relate to and are inspired by, their education develops into something more than simply knowledge gain.  The use of active tools that may break with the less student centered models encourages the net generation to embrace their learning, while giving them experiences to connect with the knowledge they gain.  In other words, taking the time to meet the needs of the net generation has the potential to enhance education for everyone, while bringing teaching into a realm of near limitless potential, the realm of technology.


Dupler, M. (2007).  Technology could draw “net gen”.  Tri-City Herald.

Ismail, L. (2010). What net generation students really want: Determining library help-seeking preferences of undergraduates. Reference services review, 38 (1), pp. 10-27.

Llanos, C. (2007).  Digital education a virtual reality.  Oakland tribune.

Mabrito, M., Medley, R.  (2008) Why professor johnny can’t read: Understanding the net generation’s texts.  Innovate4 (6).  Retrieved November 16th, 2012 from

Tapscott, D. (1999).  Educating the net generation.  Educational leadership.

Vincini, P. (2005).  Learning tools for the net generation. Academic technology at tufts.

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Delicious Connections

I thought it would be great to connect all the tools and projects from our course into delicious as a resource for fellow students and for the teachers at my school to learn about some of the great Web 2.0 tools and how they can be used.. thanks to everyone. I posted this on the forum but this might be more accessible.

saragaliano’s Delicious

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Technology and the Resurgence of Orality

Features of orality are resurfacing with modern technology. Writing has been the overwhelming technology for recording information for centuries. At its inception, writing was criticized for how it would affect our mind. (Postman, 1992) It removed discourse, much of the personality, though emoticons are used to mimic emotions of the speaker, and encourages a lazy memory as users look up information rather than store it.

The decline of the printed book as a childhood developmental tool has been decried since before I was a child. Television, with its flashing images, sounds and motion, draws attention immediately. Like writing, the video is unable to be questioned. Modern technologies bring discourse back into our lives. Twitter is increasingly a part of every TV show. News programs urge viewers to visit their webpage for in-depth analysis, follow them on twitter, and to comment or even report details on location. Human beings are social. Social nature requires interaction which is why television is increasingly supplemented by the internet. Computer technologies are reaching a point where the rhetoric is being reintroduced to our primary forms of communication.

Writing stores our knowledge outside of human mortality, creates a permanent record in which people can share words and ideas beyond their physical, audible presence. As Ong (2002) mentions, in an oral culture words are gone before they are finished forming in the mouth. The permanence of the written word takes away the discourse inherent in an oral culture. A speaker interacts with their crowd. Reading into how they react, offering explanations and responding to questions. The written word is unable to respond to queries from the audience. Foot notes from authors predict how a reader may react and readers are still able to interact with the medium itself. Books may be highlighted and filled with notes. This creates community if many people read the same book, contributing their observations but these individual notes are not shared with the whole audience.

The modern written word consists of hypertext. (Bolter, 2001) Instantly searchable electronic bits able to serve as pathways to other forms of knowledge. Comments allow authors and audience to interact. Through conversation, writers meet their audience, elaborate and change. The written word is no longer permanent – it flows and changes like ideas in a conversation. The social nature of the internet has allowed for the discourse of orality. A web author receives comments on his work from readers, he may then change or augment his work to reflect problems in understanding or new information presented by his readership. This discourse enables him to engage in rhetoric. They must be accountable for their knowledge. Challenges to an idea in a journal were limited to the few who purchased the journal, read the article and became motivated to write a formal letter. The effort required to challenge an idea is a limiting factor.

Bolter (2001) describes how writing is being remediated by modern technology. Ong (2002) focuses on how technology, writing, has changed us, allowed us to think the way we do. As such, we cannot completely remediate the written word. It will always be a part of us as orality survives today. Writing has become a way to augment the image. Pictures easily capture more detail than anyone wants to read about and the increasingly simple publication and storage of pictures has popularized their use in information distribution. An instant update to friends using Twitter can be replaced by a picture. Instagram and Tumblr create photo blogs without the need for any sort of written word. The written word has become less prominent in the media from which we obtain information, its main purpose is to augment the information contained in the photograph.

Google Goggles allows people to search images. A birder may snap a shot of a black bird with a yellow patch. Goggles would search the image for objects of similar colour, shape and size. A group of similar images would appear hyperlinked with ever more images indicating that particular bird’s life history, audio files of bird song, videos and even traditional text. This allows the photographer to gain large amounts of information, all without a single bit of writing; video made searchable frame by frame as images, audio tracks transcribed. Underlying much of this would be text. That image would not stand for only a picture of a yellow winged black bird, but a combination of audio and visual cues. With the image published and labeled, our birder can engage with the community who can inform of mistakes, answer questions and provide additional details.

Language is the DNA of writing, we would not have words to write otherwise. The written word is the foundation of modern communication, it has shaped our minds and culture. As we move away from the written word as information delivery, we will not lose it. The interaction between speaker and audience is again part of our information distribution systems. The community of internet allows for discourse lost in traditional print media. The ever changing nature of technology has brought about an end to some of the initial criticisms of writing. Plato would rest easier if not for the internet’s further replacement of our memory.


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

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

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books.

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Web 2.0 – A dream in education

In the article ‘Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies’ by Bryan Alexander (2008), many issues surrounding digital literacies in our current education system are presented. While he does recognize that there are teachers embracing the need to incorporate new technologies and practices into their own educational pedagogy, he acknowledges that “K-12 institutions are often behind, building classrooms constructed physically and socially along decades-old patterns” (Alexander, 2008). This struggle between integrating technology while still covering the required learning outcomes, is one that has been at the forefront of the British Columbia (B.C.) education system including the creation of ‘The B.C. Education Plan’ (2011). While the idea of personalized learning and using web 2.0 tools, as described by Alexander, to strengthen the skills students require to advance in today’s current work force sounds idyllic, actually implementing such a plan will require more than a mere document published by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

It is no secret that technology currently plays a significant role in the personal lives of most Canadians, as well as in their professional responsibilities. It was found that the top 10 ‘in demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004’. Furthermore, teachers are given the task of “prepar(ing) students for jobs that have not yet been created, using technologies that don’t yet exist, and solving problems that we don’t even know we have yet” Fisch (2009). This need to change how we look at education has resulted in a new term being coined; ‘The 21st Century Learner’. The B.C. Ministry of Education (2011) currently describes 21st Century Learning as a model where, “students use educational technologies to apply knowledge to new situations, analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions. Utilizing emerging technologies to provide expanded learning opportunities is critical to the success of future generations.”

This need to address skills required for learners is supported by Alexander where he discusses how technology has changed the definition of literacy. He demonstrates this by explaining “in the process of searching for material through a search engine like Google, the student is faced with choices about how to sift through documents, assess the quality and credibility of information and make decisions about intellectual property” (Alexander 2008, p. 157). From personal experience I have found that this need to allow students the freedom to do research on the internet, and be able to assess what they find, is often suppressed in classrooms due to teachers’ fear of letting go of control. Alexander points out that “the literacy requirements for such searches are very complex, shift rapidly, and require new skills that encompass a more worldly public literacy”. Teacher’s already struggle to ensure that all of the learning outcomes are covered in a single school year, let alone incorporating the internet skills required to ensure students are using technology in a safe and effective way.

Currently, in many schools, it is up to the individual teachers to foster these skills and keep up with advancements in technology. However, I believe that our current system cannot handle the changes that will need to be made if we want to successfully develop those ‘21st century learners’. In December of 2010 The B.C. Premier’s Technology Council Report set out to describe what a transformation in the educational system might look like. They described the needs of a new knowledge-based society as one that, “traditional skills like literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking need to be applied in different ways and supplemented with new skills and attributes in order for students to become full participants in a knowledge-based society.” (Premier’s Technology Council (2010).
I believe that in order for our system to successfully develop these skills at all levels we need to not only make some radical changes to the current design of our system, but increased support from the Ministry of Education in both funding and direction will need to be addressed.

This idea that there needs to be a shift in how education is approached in the province was attempted by the B.C. government in a document titled ‘the B.C. Education Plan (2011)’. This plan sought to educate students through personalized learning and technology integration. While the plan appears to be a huge leap forward as it calls for more individual based learning, there is a lack of framework and policy on how to apply the plan given our current issues with classroom composition. With increasing class sizes and a growing number of students with special needs, teachers are struggling to keep up with the demands, let alone implement a personalized learning structure. Furthermore, the funding to obtain technology is the responsibility of individual schools and often does not take into consideration the financial need for maintenance and replacement as technology advances.

Technology is increasing at such great rates that even if teachers were trained on current technology, chances are that those skills would be obsolete in the near future as might the websites and sources currently used to support that learning. For example, Alexander discusses Wikipedia which used to be frowned upon as a source at an academic level. He states “students increasingly consult Wikipedia for research, to the consternation of some teachers” (p. 15). However a study by Reavley et. Al (2012) found that “the quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia is generally as good as, or better than, that provided by centrally controlled websites”. The amount of knowledge required to keep up with current practices using the internet as a tool is not a reality for many teachers.

While Alexander provides some valid points on the current tools that can be used in the classroom and what the future may hold for education, without the funding and direction from our Ministry of Education, full integration of personalized learning and technology will not be a reality in the province of B.C. Even if teachers were given an opportunity to be trained in current trends of technology, the reality is that ongoing training would be required to keep their knowledge up to date and currently there is not any funding or strategy in place to address these needs.

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

B.C. Ministry of Education (2011). 21st Century Learning. B.C. Ministry of Education. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Fisch, K. (Producer) (2009). Did you know? Shift happens. Available from

Premier’s Technology Council (2010, December). A Vision for 21st Century Education. Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Reavley, N. J., Jorm, A. F., Mackinnon, A. J., Morgan, A. J., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., Hetrick, S. E., . . . . (2012). Quality of information sources about mental disorders: A comparison of wikipedia with centrally controlled web and printed sources. Psychological Medicine, 42(8), 1-10. doi: 10.1017/S003329171100287X

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Utilizing Interactive Fiction and Fan Fiction In Creating A Proof Of Concept

This project will suggest instructional possibilities for the changing nature of text. As discussed through our forum conversations, hypertext has played a significant role in evolving print (Bolter, 2011a). Identified by Bolter (2011b), technology and culture has changed the way we write and communicate. This proof of concept will explore the use of different writing technologies, while exploring two literary genres.

Graham and Perin’s (2007) meta-analysis on writing forms the foundation for the structure and design of activities. Two writing targets with substantial effect sizes were identified for use in the creation of this project, they included; i) collaborative writing and ii) specific writing goals. The Keller’s (1999) ARCS model was also instrumental in informing design considerations with respect to learner motivation. In planning for this proof of concept, a blended learning environment will be utilized to support collaborative student work.

Interactive fiction and fan fiction are the two literary genres that will be used to achieve these student writing goals; interactive fiction solicits user input through the navigation of different textual pathways (Seegert, 2009), and fan fiction is original work that extends on popular media (Black, 2005). Interactive fiction relies on computer based hypertext, and it also uses print in a non-linear manner (Bolter, 2011c). Another dynamic is the manner in which fan fiction changes our traditional view of writing.

Studies of these literary genres indicate that they would both provide high suitability in meeting the needs for this project. Most importantly, they demonstrated a good aptitude for connecting with students in writing environments. In researching interactive fiction and fan fiction, it was discovered that there were a significant number of sites that already support this work from an educational perspective. This project is significant in the manner that it supports Multiliteracies (The New London Group, 1996), where students become creators; remixing popular work and forming their own extensions.

This proof of concept will utilize Google Sites and Docs to deliver content regarding instructions, activities, and to provide students with wiki and document space in which they will share research, contribute & edit writing, and as an organizational tool. Using these tools begins to challenge the notion that writing is a solipsistic operation (Ong, 2002). As students co-create text together, discourse can occur in real time over the direction of writing.

You are invited to access to this proof of concept at the following web address:  In addition, I welcome you to visit the teacher’s guide for this proof of concept which provides the research based rationale at:


Black, R. W. (2005). Access and Affiliation: The Literacy and Composition Practices of English: Language Learners in an Online Fanfiction Community. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(2), 118–128. doi:10.1598/JAAL.49.2.4

Bolter, J. D. (2011a). Hypertext and the remediation of print. In Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed., pp. 27–46). New York, NY: Routledge.

Bolter, J. D. (2011b). Introduction. In Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed., pp. 1–13). New York, NY: Routledge.

Bolter, J. D. (2011c). Interactive fiction. In Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (2nd ed., pp. 121–160). New York, NY: Routledge.

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. Carnegie Corporation report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education., 13, 2008. Retrieved from

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS Motivational Process in Computer‐Based Instruction and Distance Education. New directions for teaching and learning, 1999(78), 37–47. doi:10.1002/tl.7804

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

Seegert, A. (2009). Doing there vs. being there: performing presence in interactive fiction. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 1(1), 23–37.

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

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Facing the Web 2.0 Social Networks in Education

            While the Web 2.0 provides a mix of familiar and emergent technologies (Alexander, 2006), I believe that educators are facing new challenges at how to choose and integrate them into their pedagogical practices.  Nevertheless, it has become also challenging to face the Web 2.0 in education as interactivity between students is growing.   Students have to learn how to use the blogosphere in a proper and respectful manner with educators guiding them.

Digital Literacy and Online Social Networks

            Alexander (2008) has defined the Web 2.0 “as a way of creating Web pages focusing on microcontent and social connections between people.  It also exemplifies that digital content can be copied, moved, altered, remixed, and linked, based on the needs, interests, and abilities of users” (p. 151).  Readers become “visitors” (Bolter, 2001); the remediation of the reading and writing spaces in the Web is now undeniable. 

            Clearly, the openness of the Web 2.0 allows students to link onto many spaces filtering content with tags.  The flexibility and interactivity of hypertext (Bolter, 2001) also enforces the use of students’ critical thinking skills as they search for resources in order to be creative and productive citizens.  

            Further, online social networks are also part of the Web 2.0 where digital literacy is quickly maturing.  For instance, as cited by Alexander (2008), social networking such as blogging can be viewed as a “powerful stimulus for questioning personal identity, representing oneself through writing, and understanding an audience” (p. 156).  More than ever, students can create and share information with their growing audiences. 

            Moreover, using social networks enhances the online social skills students require to perform in this digital age.  As students share thoughts in multiple spaces, Alexander (2006) noted that “blogging has become, in many ways, the signature item of social software, being a form of digital writing that has grown rapidly into an influential force in many venues, both on- and off-line” (p. 38).  Indeed, the influential force Alexander (2006) refers to is showing how powerful social networking has become and why digital literacy has developed so rapidly.

            Blogging and other social networks affect the way people are interacting with their environment in which they have an influence both consciously and unconsciously. 

 Using Social Software or Social Networking Tools in the Classroom

            A diversity of social writing platforms are now supporting people’s writing and creating; they have also become spaces where people can edit others’ content (Alexander, 2008).  These new writing spaces can be used in the classroom. 

            In fact, some online tools allow browsing on topics of interest and may be helpful to enhance teaching in regular or online classes.  Also, various social software or social networking tools may be embedded and used in websites to evolve discussion (Alexander, 2006) between students and/or with educators.  The distance between people in the blogosphere does not exist and it makes it easier for everyone to discuss and share information.  

            Additionally, new forms of interactivity between various ethnic backgrounds are now possible by using social networking tools; it infers openness to the entire world and this certainly benefits the classroom by giving students numerous learning opportunities.  For instance, as suggested by Alexander (2006) “a professor might include the feeds from a research group and senior seminar alongside a series of blogs from colleagues around the world” (p. 42).  Indeed, educators may use networking tools pedagogically with limitless possibilities using these powerful online discussions.

 Limitation of Social Learning using the Web 2.0

             In recent years, while “our networked information ecology” (Alexander, 2006, p. 44) has been transformed by a burden of innovation coming from Web 2.0 projects that are constantly growing, it is noticeable how these projects are often coming from bottom-up, which is good news in many ways.  

            Indeed, the “Web 2.0 lowered barrier to entry may influence a variety of cultural forms with powerful implications for education, from storytelling to classroom teaching to individual learning” (Alexander, 2006, p. 42).  Interestingly, this has given access to new communities where people may not have reach opportunities and success previously.  

            However, the positive influence coming from the Web 2.0 to explore knowledge and experience resourceful collaboration is great, but it might also have its limitation.  In fact, the web space, being a place where resources are in constant transformation, people might be confronted when facing new challenges in innovation.

 Intellectual Property and Privacy Concerns

             Interestingly, ways of communicating are changing as more technologies are developing which may bring some challenges in terms of preserving information.  As data moves from space to space, it is getting more difficult to keep track of everything (Alexander, 2008).  

            Indeed, intellectual property can become an issue as content holders may find it more difficult to prove that some content belongs to them.  Moreover, it is clear that copyright violation might be done more frequently as any citizen with little knowledge in technology can access online contents at any time.  “Storytelling by blog, for example, has already appeared, as has publishing novels through podcast” (Alexander, 2006, p. 42).  Consequently, it has become crucial to teach our students not to plagiarize work found on the World Wide Web and respect people’s authorship in any form at all time.  

            Using the web might also raise the question of privacy.  Clearly, divulging our identity on the Web may be subject to consequences; educators must inform students about keeping their personal information private as one never knows who is going to read or use it.


             What a great feeling it is accessing the Web 2.0, creating and sharing resources with new audiences.  However, as suggested by Bolter (2001), how can we preserve all that content to build on while it is constantly moving and changing?  How can we adapt to this unstable and what seems to be disorganized new culture?  Now, in the 21st century, is the growth of our society safe in this new environment?  We need to take a moment to face and ponder these questions.


Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning. Educase, March/April, 33-44.

Alexander, B. (2008). Web 2.0 and emergent multiliteracies.  Theory Into Practise, 47, 150-160.

Bolter, J. D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext and the remediation of print. NY: Routledge.

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Breaking out the Visual

There is no question that our culture today is a highly visual one. Images and graphics that accompany text, videos, artwork, and other visual modes of representation are used to communicate information. With the accessibility of visual hypermedia made possible by the Internet, we have an inescapable obsession with the visual. Bolter (2001) argues that print is being remediated by the emergence of visual modes in his fourth chapter of Writing Space entitled “The Breakout of the Visual”. This does not present so much of a problem as it does an interesting challenge in which both teachers and learners need to adapt to the multimedia environment. Though the image will not ever completely overtake the written word, as is suggested by Bolter, there will definitely be challenges to the increased use of multimedia for information presentation.

Remediation of Print

Visual representation is becoming a dominate way to communicate ideas. Pictures are forms of expression that can add to or even replace the need for prose alone. Writing in its traditional form was pictorial in nature many years ago. Just as print has remediated manuscripts and oral communication, print itself is now being remediated by visual modes of representation (Bolter, 2001). Bolter points out that text rarely exists today without graphics and print is continuing to remake itself in order to represent reality as effectively as digital and other visual technologies (2001).

A reason for this growth of visuals is because of the growth in amateur photographers and the ease with which they can produce photographs (Bolter, 2001). Multimedia and computer programs allow for just about anybody with access to a camera to post and produce visual art. Graphic design is more common as programs have become available at lower costs. The accessibility of such technology has therefore refashioned the traditional writing space.

From an educational view, the use of diagrams, graphics and other visuals are extremely beneficial for reinforcing concepts. For instance, in his article entitled, “Gains and Losses: New forms of texts, knowledge and learning” Kress believes certain information is best expressed with a diagram, such the nucleus of a plant cell (2005). A diagram lessens the need for language interpretation and focuses on a shared understanding. However, the parts of a diagram require personal connections and prior knowledge in order to construct meaning. McTigue and Flowers conducted a study that found that children in grade four had a hard time comprehending nonlinear, highly visual texts (2011).  They also found that there have been increases in the frequency and variety of visual graphics in textbooks and other educational resources. McTigue and Flowers suggest that teachers educate children on visual literacy, because textbooks often do not discuss the graphics in detail in the text portion and this is created graphic comprehension problems.


Bolter believes that animations and videos can supplement and even bypass prose altogether (2001). Often, as forms within hypermedia, we see text displaced in favour of graphic presentation such as videos, images, symbols and so on. This is changing our method for acquiring information from interpreting text to now interpreting a picture or graphic. With the Internet and hypermedia, we can access much more information than was possible in the past and in less time. What learner wouldn’t want to learn about something from a five minute video rather than reading and comprehending a lengthy article on the same information? Our need for immediate information has driven our thirst for information to be presented in a quick and effective manner.

Digital Literacy

As our culture becomes even more engrossed in the visual mode of representation there is a need for digital literacy education. Students look to the animations, videos, images and sounds to help them process and understand. The images and sounds within digital media claim to create immediacy and authenticity (Bolter, 2001). Dobson and Willinsky discuss in their paper on digital literacy the importance of considering the effects of the networked text environments on the readers’ abilities to navigate information (2009). An author’s perception of appropriate linkages of material may not be reflective of the reader’s. The nonlinear, associative thinking may not improve comprehension, and therefore reading through a webpage may be more challenging and confusing than perhaps a linear printed book. Further considerations in this area need to be taken in order to ensure best practices in teaching students.

Another challenge with hypermedia is the multiple entry and exit points on websites. Students no longer have to read left to right, top to bottom. Often, there are images dominating the organization of web pages (Kress, 2005).  This visualization may affect how a student deciphers information on a page and what route they will follow to gather more information. The multiple, nonlinear paths create opportunities to so much more information than has been available to students in the past. The effect of the access to and retention of this abundant information also needs addressing.


The written word will not be fully replaced by the visual. Instead, it will be refashioned to be shorter, more concise and either accompanied or bypassed with a form of digital media. With this change in information presentation, teachers need to be aware of the costs and benefits to their students’ learning. They must address multimedia in the classroom and find effective ways to incorporate digital literacy skills in order to have students capitalize on the vastly changing multimedia sources available to them.


Bolter, J. D. (2011). Writing as technology. Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge and learning. Computers and Composition. 22(1), pp. 5-22

Dobson, T., & Willinsky, J. (2009). Digital Literacy. In D. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.) Cambridge Handbook on Literacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McTigue, E.M., Flowers, A.C. (2011). Science visual literacy: learners’ perceptions and knowledge of diagrams. The Reading Teacher. 64 (8), 578-589.

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I tried to follow something that happened recently, it wasn’t a big story, but I found it interesting because it all started with a simple tweet. I opened a blog in blogger, then I used a tool named storify, that help you building a story from social media entries. And for the epilogue I used Google drive apps and a royalty free image. I really had to resist my impulses to use photoshop, but I didn’t.

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