Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Literacy and Technology: Some Thoughts on a Chapter

I jumped into McVee and Miller's Multimodal Composing in Classrooms with the second essay, "The (Artful) Deception of Technology Integration and the Move Toward a New Literacies Mindset"--which I think is as good a place as any since it's about teaching a course on literacy and technology. They dive into the student-educators' anxieties, objections, and burgeoning ideas about using technology in the classroom. As such, it's the perfect entry for readers at the same place in their professional development.

They begin with, I think, some frightening statistics about the use (or rather, non-use) of technology by most teachers today. The authors begin, rightly, by pointing out that teachers learning something new need to first admit themselves as not knowing, an admittedly frightening prospect for many teachers--particularly those used to being the arbiters of knowledge. This ends up being the essay's main purpose, to allow anxious teachers to relate with those testifying in quotes.

The second half of the essay focuses on a particular project asking the student-educators to represent a poem as a website. What's interesting is that many of participants were more adverse to making meaning of the poem than using their newfound tech skills to do so. Evening more interesting is their success. One explained,
"The projects we did challenged me to think about word meaning, sound, color, layout, genre, and rhythm. Knowing how to combine all of these aspects is what makes this type of literacy much more complex than traditional literacy" (p. 28).
The reminds me of research around comics' use in English classrooms--asking students to visually represent works also asks them to make all these same considerations, forcing them to interrogate the text deeply. That in turn, combined with running into the prof from my Comics as Education class this afternoon, reminded me of Zen Pencils' comic version of Taylor Mali's slam poem "What Teachers Make."

A similar exercise was done with his poem "Totally like whatever, you know?" using kinetic type:

These are, of course, different from the exercises described by the authors, but both required the adapters to consider ways of representing Mali's words and what they might mean. As the authors conclude:
"As powerful tools that create and integrate image, sound, and movement to create multimodal text, new technologies, and new literacies, can provide opportunity for teachers, teacher educations, and students to create powerful new interpretations and representations of lived experience and knowledge" (p. 30).
And this should certainly be a goal of teachers of writing.

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?


Steve Romero said...

I can't help but be reminded of Postman's Judgement of Thamus.

Ben Villarreal said...

He gets cited a lot in these articles, too :-)


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