Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Entries Tagged as 'computer-mediated communication'

Thoughts on txting

July 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

As Internet and text messaging became viral, young people began to use innovating and unrecognizable expressions and txting languages to communicate. At first, as a linguistics major student, I felt that txting lingo and all those abbreviated letters are destroying not just English but languages in general just because it violates the standards to the extent that some texts are unrecognizable without an explanation. After reading Carrington’s article, his view on txting as a new genre that innovates and enriches language widened my perspective on this evolutionary change of expression. Yes, I agree that txting should be considered as a new form of communication as a cultivated mix of formal and informal language. Technology has brought this new form of language and according to some statistics, 95% of cell phone users between the age of 18 to 29 send text messages. However, texting is not even 20 years old and within this short period of time, this new form of language genre became extremely viral that even linguists feel threatened.

However, as Carrington points out himself, “there is also no room for an engagement with, or co-option of, new forms of text as they evolve around new technologies and social practices,” the language has a shifting trend without a policy or standard. This may help develop stylistic adaptations that account for the loss of socioemotional features, but at the same time, it can also cause communication error between people who use txting language and who do not. This I believe is the main reason for why older generations tend to regard txting language as a disease.

In Korea, there is a chat app namely KakaoTalk, which is similar to What’s App. The total number of registered users, as of April 2014, is 140 millions worldwide. From children to elderly, almost everyone in Korea use this app instead of using SMS text messaging. The app allows you to send pictures, videos, create a group chat, create a poll, calendar, voice call, and connect to personal blogs. On top of these functions, the app provides animated and vivacious emoticons. As Whitney mentioned in class, some people are evidently clever at using the perfect emoticons at the right situation. These emoticons are upgrades from what Facebook or special characters that smartphones already provide. I think the meanings are quite self-explanatory.


The app is not only used among young generation, but it also allows parents to communicate with children, teachers with students, businessmen with businessmen and even people who meet on craigslist communicate through KakaoTalk. Some people even post the screenshots of their conversations with others to tell stories. It has become such a powerful mean of communication and culture that no other form of language or text can allow us to do.

Part of the reason I believe is being able to express feelings and emotions that we were not able to convey through texts. We already have been through hundredfold of linguistic transformation throughout the ages. The problem is not only about txt language signifies a decline in language nor it evolving spoken language; but we should also focus on side effects. My only concern at the moment is how we can educate our students to differentiate between txt language and academic language. Not every teacher will be able to teach the difference unless they fully understand what txt language is.

Carrington, Victoria. “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” Cambridge Journal of Education 35.2 (2005): 161-175. Web. 8 July 2014.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

IM language and Intuitive Text

July 16th, 2014 · 1 Comment

In Baron’s article “Instant messaging and the future of language discusses the importance in distinguishing “creativity and normative language use”, the author suggests that there is a concern regarding whether younger students, who are early in adapting instant messaging language might hinder the acquisition of formal writing skills.  This article was written in 2005, and engagement in instant messaging has come a long way with with the invention of smart phones.  During our class discussion we talked about the difference between autocorrect and intuitive text.  I argued that the intuitive text technology in smart phones actually promotes literacy. I have two reasons for this.  The first is a personal experience I have had.  I have seen myself shift back to formal spelling in most of my IM conversations on my phone, and it makes me aware of spelling words correctly since I need to have an idea of how to spell something to be able to swype the word.  I have reverted back to using correct spelling simply because it is easier that tapping the tiny keyboard on my screen.


The second is an example that I shared in class. My mom recently bought a smartphone, and prior to that she owned a flip-phone that she only used for calling out and receiving phone calls.  She was not comfortable with texting due to her perception of her English language literacy levels.  However, since familiarizing herself with the smartphone and the app, “WhatsApp”,  she started to message me.  She told me that she loved that her phone gave her word suggestions and spelling corrections, and many times she will say to me “Angela, I learned how to spell another word today!”


Furthermore, after having the opportunity to view John Mcwhortor’s TedTalk during class. His asserted that IM/texting language or what he calls “fingered speech” showcases young people’s ability to be flexible and intelligent in the way they negotiate their use of the English language.  I especially enjoyed his point that people who use “fingered speech” are literate in formally written English and can switch between different registers.  However, if you were to ask an adult who has not had experience with “fingered speech” they might not be able to decipher what is being communicated.
In short, I think it important for students to understand the time and place for the use of different registers in language and as teachers, we definitely need to be cognizant of teaching students which spaces allow for different registers as it arises in specific cases in our classroom, but overall, in my experience during practicum, most students are able to differentiate their use of IM language from formal language in their written work.



Works Cited:

Baron, Naomi S. “Instant messaging and the future of language.”Communications of the ACM 46.7 (2005): 30-31. Web. 8 July 2014.

John McWhorter TedTalk: Texting is killing language! JK!!!

— Angela Lee

Tags: computer-mediated communication

An Education for Instability

July 16th, 2014 · 4 Comments

In his article “A Curriculum for the Future”, Gunther Kress writes that a radical shift in thinking and curriculum in ELA classrooms is due to occur in response to the different needs of the contemporary adult in 21st century society. He states that the world has changed so much that the 19th century model of education is just not applicable anymore. Kress calls for a shift in curriculum from an education for stability to one for instability:

“Associated with this are the new media of communication and, in particular, a shift (parallelling all those already discussed) from the era of mass communication to the era of individuated communication, a shift from unidirectional communication, from a powerful source at the centre to the mass, to multidirectional communication from many directions/locations, a shift from the ‘passive audience’ (however ideological that notion had always been) to the interactive audience. All these have direct and profound consequences on the plausible and the necessary forms of education for now and for the near future.” (138)

The notion of a multi-directional communication and a shift to an interactive audience is what stands out for me in Kress’ assertion. As such, I have designed an activity for use in an ELA classroom that allows students to be creators and participators in such a communication. Using a variety of online tools, students are able to work collaboratively to create a co-authored product. The product can be inspired by whatever you are currently studying in your class—it could have a thematic or topical connection to a literary text, or it could simply be a pre-writing exercise begun with a prompt. The only stipulation is that the activity be carried out in silence thus disturbing the notion of passivity and activity, telecommunication and proximity, and the product of the individual vs. that of the group. So far in this class we have explored the following topics:

• modes of representation in ELA classroom/21st century literacy
• visual literacy and rhetoric
• media literacy
• social media and the notion of participation
• new literary forms/e-literature
• computer mediated communication
• gaming

I also designed this activity to address pieces of all of the things we have discussed thus far in regards to these topics.

In a group setting, students will work in silence to participate in a back channel conversation while they co-author a textual document with a particular purpose. This purpose may be nebulous or fixed. The backchannel application I use is Today’s Meet and the document will be created in Google docs. Each student will be invited to share the document and simultaneous editing will be possible. Google docs also has a “chat” capability which may or may not be used. I will begin the class by explaining the task and the “rules” as well as work with the students to determine the loose direction of the task. Once we have a sort of trajectory, we will begin and allow the interaction to take us where we will. The backchannel and the doc will be projected on the screen for all to witness (though it occurs to me that maybe just the backchannel might be appropriate). After the time is up, we will take the product (the created text) and render it in a text visualization tool. A teacher could then take this one step further and have the students create a found poem from the word cloud that serves as their reflection on the task.

After I execute this today, I will post the products as an exemplar.

Works Cited:

Kress, G. (2000). A curriculum for the future. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 133-145.

The Products:


Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 3.45.43 PM

The Today’s Meet chat transcript was lost to the ether but, interestingly, the group chose to communicate via in-doc Google chat instead.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · e-literature · Lesson Plans · multiliteracies · Presentation · Seminar Prompts · Social Media · Visual Literacy · Weblog Activities

Blogging: The amateur author empowered

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments

Before the internet, and before blogs, those who wished to publish their written work needed to jump through many hoops before they would ever see their work publicized and consumed by a large readership. However, thanks to the availability and user-friendliness of blogs, anyone can be an author these days: all you need is a computer and internet connection, and something to say. One of the best things about blogging is how one is able to individually control all aspects of your work production: you don’t need a publisher, or an agent, or an editor to stamp your work as “worthy” of being shared. And this kind of control could be very empowering, especially if you are normally someone who is bashful about sharing your ideas aloud or having your work scrutinized by a third party.

Lankshear and Knobel state that the “quantum simplification of web publishing spawned a new mass generation of bloggers in a very short time” (2006). I find the language of this statement revealing: “spawned” pointing towards quick and prolific production, while the phrase “generation of bloggers” is interesting because it puts emphasis on the fact that these new bloggers most often fall within a certain age bracket, and that this generation is defined by the technology we use. Within this mass of bloggers, some have emerged as noteworthy, and some have climbed to fame despite their lack of formal education in journalism, creative writing, or other professional degrees. Granted, it isn’t easy to become a popular blogger, and success usually takes some talent. But the fact that amateurs are gaining access to a field of discourse they would never have been able to touch before could lead us to question the need for formal education. The gatekeepers to the world of publishing seem to have lost power with the rise of blogs.

Along with the new medium of blogging, then, comes the responsibility to contribute in acceptable ways. Sometimes the problem with the amateur author isn’t WHAT they say, but HOW they say it. Bloggers with many followers could have a lot of power: bloggers have the ability to “mobilise massively at short notice to challenge an opinion or state of affairs and achieve a result” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). As I stated in our seminar, the writer of The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman), an online comic and blog, famously rallied his readers to donate money in order to insult FunnyJunk, a website that was posting The Oatmeal’s comics without permission. The battle between the two sides had consequences that departed from the world of the web and bled into the physical world. Inman, an amateur author who found huge success in his online comics, had no trouble at all getting thousands of people to donate a large sum of money to support his cause. Had Inman been dishonest, he might have kept the money for himself; instead, he followed through and donated the sum to the charities he indicated he would support.

I believe that as teachers, then, we need to think about teaching our students how to interact online, and ask them to consider the full implications of their online actions. We have been told about the dangers of leaving a bad digital footprint, but I think that more emphasis needs to be put on interacting respectfully online, even if one is anonymous. Digital footprint aside, the internet can go from being a community to being a mob in no time, and oftentimes, the mob, disguised by usernames and avatars, can do irreversible and real damage.


Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2006)/ Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy. American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, U.S. April 11, 2006. Available:

Tags: computer-mediated communication

Texting is to Text and that does not make one lose their sense

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments

Yesterday’s discussion of texting and what it is doing to the “younger generation” is something that I find highly interesting and thought provoking. Some of the discussion that was brought up in class was highly enlightening and made me rethink things that I had previously thought and felt about texting. I had never thought as texting or “text talk” as something that was negative to a student’s development, or as something that would bring about negative outcomes to the English classroom.

After watching John McWhorter’s TED talk presentation and his use of the “fingered speech”, which might not be the best term for it as I can think of, however I really like the concept that he is going for. His presentation and discussion of the fact that the English written language is undergoing a complete overhaul of writing, as we know it, is a point that struck a chord for me. This sentiment has intrigued me because thinking of text as written speech is completely what it is and it highlights a completely different point of view to take into consideration.

Text is by no means the downfall of my generation, nor generations to come. As John McWhorter puts it, we are becoming bildialect through the usage of texting, which means that this is an exciting time and one in which there is a huge shift from writing as a means of expressing one’s ideas professionally into a means of communicating quickly via writing through a phone.

Overall, I firmly believe that this discussion is necessary to have and to bring to light: texting is not the downfall of our generation, nor will it ever be. It is an evolution that is need of particular attention and not something to be feared.  This class discussion is exciting and providing a platform in which the actual inquisitive discussion is happening and not merely nay saying because it is the belief that some believe should be put forward.

Tags: computer-mediated communication

Thoughts on txting

July 14th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Both Baron and Carrington’s articles raise the question of whether texting or other forms of computer-mediated communications are “degrading the language” (Baron 29). Carrington quotes a BBC news article which states that “text messaging, email and computer spell-checks have long been blamed for declining standards of spelling and grammar” (162). It also links “txting to youth to declining standards to poor achievement to social” (163).

I find these claims interesting because it appears to create a dichotomy between the two. You either text or you write “properly”. There does not appear to be a middle ground. What is not being recognized is the fact that different mediums have different expectations and conventions, and that while written English has its areas of use, so too does txting. If someone texted or wrote on social media like they did on their essay, their peers would view such a practice with eyebrows raised. Likewise, submitting an assignment as the Scottish girl did completely in text will draw the ire of teachers.


Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

Interesting Read re: :)

July 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Read it!

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Uncategorized

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd!- Seminar Lead on Computer Mediated Communication

July 13th, 2014 · 1 Comment

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd! By Justin Bolivar

In response to Baron and Carrington’s articles surrounding the idea that texting is destroying “the Queen’s English” both articles cite that shorthand communication between adolescents threatens the state of the English language. However, both articles speculate that shorthand could have a negative impact on English language, but fail to produce, at least in my opinion, a concrete example of how this is happening. When I first approached writing this post, I was going to write it in text-speak, however, to code the post into that language would have taken me much longer than if I were to write it “properly,” as per our sources.

In Carrington’s article “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” she takes on the story of a student who wrote about their summer using shorthand language. Now, what we do not get to see in the article or in the news story she covers is if this student who used this language was consistently using it throughout her course work. For all we know, it could have been a joke that she was attempting to play on her teacher, or, she was bored of her summer vacation, and simply wanted to act out. The article ends rather anticlimactically when Carrington states that “I doubt very much that her actions signal the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it and suspect that ‘standards’ will survive for some time.” Therefore, we have parents, administrators, and teachers getting up in arms about textspeak in the classroom, however, I propose that bringing in the idea of textspeak can actually help in a classroom setting!

On practicum, the final assessment task, as mandated by IB for my grade 10’s was to write a letter using Shakespearian language. Now, Shakespearian language is hard enough for them to understand, but to write a letter seemed daunting. In addition, who writes letters anymore? Thus, what I set out to do is make the assignment more tangible for the class, and something that they could relate to. What I did is create an assignment where students would write text messages between the characters, so that they could practice Shakespeare speak in a safe environment, but also so that they could revisit some of the key plot lines of the play. I introduced the assignment as a fun assignment, and marked them rather liberally. My learning objective was to have them become more comfortable using a medium most of them are used to, so that I could help to build other skills for another assessment. I have attached the assignment below, as well as some student examples:


In preparation for the final assessment task of the unit, where you will write a letter to any character from the play or be yourself, but in Shakespearian language, “Shakespeare Text Message” will be your first step!

Individually, your task will be to write six text messages of appropriate length (three sent and three received) using Shakespearian language. These responses will be shared with the class for collaboration and feedback, so that you have some information for your final assessment.

Student example:

Mercutio: Romeo! Romeo! Hast thou hithered the tidings?

Romeo: Nay Mercutio I hast nought

Mercutio: Young Juliet hath a baby upon her bosom!!

Romeo: What wretched sirrah hath done this to my

Juliet?!?! I shall dispatch of his soul!!

Mercutio: Hahaha peace gentle Romeo, peace. Doth thou not see the date? ‘Tis Aprils Fooling!!

Romeo: I bite my thumb at thee

Mercutio. Plague on you! Plague on you a thousand times!!


Works Cited:


Carrington, V. (2005).Txting: the end of civilization (again)? Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 161CCC175.


Tags: computer-mediated communication · multiliteracies · Social Media

Txt v.s. Text

July 12th, 2014 · 1 Comment

English is “under attack”! Standardized English is the legitimate text to use. The widespread use of txt language is a social disease; it leads to addiction and lowers individual’s ability to shift between text types. Txt is a spoiled version of English.

These concerns center the question raised by both of the articles: does the use of txt or instant messaging language degrade English?

When I read the articles, I wondered: what is considered as “correct” English? I believe the definition changes with the environment as “language has always been a product of social attitudes” (Baron, 2005). For example, there are variations of English all over the world, such as Chinglish in China, Singlish in Singapore, and Konglish in Korea; these are socially acceptable language in their respective countries. In those societies, we cannot say what the majority is speaking is incorrect. Applying the same concept, txting, then, is a product of the txting community. Can we truly state that the language is wrong in their community?


Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

“Instant Messaging and the Future of Language”: “Englishes,” Registers and the Vernacular

July 8th, 2014 · No Comments

First of all, the article in itself is a meta-commentary on the instantaneous nature of much of our communication and media today. Whether this is intended seems irrelevant but intriguing nonetheless. The medium is, indeed, the message. This is not to say that this article does not pack a great deal of punch in terms of making a statement on issues and ideas we face on a daily basis.

To begin with a bit of a digression, reading this piece reminded me of recent discussions of how English is now often referred to as Englishes in critical-theoretical circles. David E. Kirkland, in “English(es) in the Urban Context,” discusses the how English Language Arts teachers need to navigate through teaching more academic English but also acknowledges that students use other ways of speaking (ones traditionalists would often consider lesser). Kirkland essentially argues that other “Englishes” (essentially differing vernaculars) should very much be acknowledged and included in our teaching but that they be tempered with the more formalized language that students will need when applying for jobs, taking university courses, etc. This meshes quite well with what Baron is trying to say in her analysis of IM inside and outside the classroom. She argues that teachers and parents should ensure these forms are included in what, how, when, and why we teach. IM and texting do not seem all that threatening at this juncture but it can be difficult to predict where these sorts of technologies will carry us. Baron, in her research, also makes an interesting observation that not only are there are certain stratum in IM and texting but also that the research:

Suggests that IM conversations serve largely pragmatic information- sharing and social-communication functions rather than providing contexts for establishing or maintaining group identity. (Baron 30)

We have the expected language of texting (e.g. “lol”, “ttyl”, “brb,” etc.) but people are using these forms of communication deemed “above” the commonly used “textspeak” that many of us are familiar with. This idea, then, brings us into a discussion of registers. We all speak differently depending on the context we are in and with whom we are interacting. This is taken a step further in terms of how we use a very specific medium. Texting, IM, Facebook messaging, etc. can all be used at different levels and with different results. Baron also recognizes that there is trend of people using IM as a sort of “voicemail” or away message. The person, or “user,” is not physically interacting with the medium but they are still sending information to be decoded by the receiver or viewer of that message. The author also, somewhat hilariously, notes that subjects of her research were found to interact “face-to-face” though she seems to put this at par with activities like “listening to music,” “surfing the Net” (an already seemingly outmoded turn of phrase it seems), and “eating.” Regardless of what is going on while we are texting, we are using IM “Englishes” to communicate, form bonds, and to be included in social groupings – as are our students. Baron also makes an interesting point of including the idea that IM and texting are mediated and manipulated by ever-advancing predictive text and auto-correct technology which can often blur the line/transition between what we think, write, and send to others in our correspondence. This, perhaps, means adding yet another layer to the multiple registers within the realm of text, i-, e-messaging, etc.

-George Frankson

Works Cited

Baron, Noami S. “Instant messaging and the future of language.” Communications of the ACM 46.7 (2005): pp. 30-31.

Kirkland, David E. “English(Es) in Urban Contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities.” English Education 42.3 (2010): p 293.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Social Media