For next, and last time:
In this week’s blog post, Beth questioned how technology can be inserted into the learning process, focusing primarily on the semiotic domains presented in the excerpts from Gee and Tougaw. She called attention to Gee’s emphasis on active, innovative learning that transcends passive, content-centric education. At the same time, Beth suggested that some more practical advice on how to integrate the skills acquired in video games to success in an Intro Comp environment. Similarly, Beth seemed intrigued by the possibilities present in Tougaw’s use of dream blogging, but wondered how his innovations could be made more widely applicable in classes like English 110.
Karen zeroed in on Beth’s concerns about the wider applicability of Tougaw’s dream blogging exercises, and suggested that it is the personal narrative represented in these dream blogs that is the crucial (and replicable) element. She also presented alternative ways of envisioning and implementing blogs, such as using entries to assimilate information after a discussion rather than as a way to prepare for class. Iemanja, in agreeing with Karen, brought up the difficulty of having students engage with one another’s blog posts and called attention to the awkwardness inherent in intra-class comments.
Danica focused on the multimodal nature of the various technologies present in the articles, arguing that composition teachers should address various forms of literacy—learning to perform close readings of images, for example. In reflecting on the advantageous (and somewhat meta) blogging in which our class engages, Mike alluded to his own discomfort in assuming an academic persona via a class blog.
Heather pointed out that blogging allows students to express themselves in ways that are less constrained than the traditional academic essay, giving an example of a student who engaged with a reading in a manner that was personal, yet unorthodox. Finally, Eric suggested that Tougaw’s experiences with dream blogging might apply to his own topic—cultural identity. Eric also returned to Gee’s consideration of the semiotic domain of video games, focusing on their use as a tool for teaching design grammars, which in the context of English 110 might include stitching, key words, and so on. At the same time, he seemed to have some misgivings about the applicability of video games to the domain of Intro Comp.
This week’s readings make persuasive arguments for how technology can be used effectively in writing classrooms. I’m most interested in the way in which digital domains can help students become more adept at critical inquiry. This goal is echoed in the CCCC Position Statement, which encourages courses where students write digitally to both “engage students in the critical evaluation of information” and to “prepare students to be reflective practitioners.”
The Gee excerpt leans firmly in this direction, privileging process over product, addressing how technology, in this case video games, can make content meaningful, relevant and of course, fun, while at the same time, encouraging students to be active participants in learning new skills and solving problems. Gee speaks of moving beyond passive content in an attempt to “learn to innovate in [a] domain – how to produce meanings that . . . are seen as somehow novel or unpredictable (25).” I was interested in his concept of design grammars – how knowing the “underlying principles and patterns that determine what counts and what doesn’t count” (29) allows people to make judgments about things they may never have seen or encountered before. I wish he’d moved beyond a defense of the non-traditional video game domain to explore how some of the skills a “shooter” acquires can be replicated, via technology, in a research-based writing classroom.
The Tougaw article was fascinating on a number of levels. Having students blog about their dreams seems like a wonderful way to engage them in the writing process and to become more interested in the course readings. Dreams, unlike other aspects of life, are by nature mysterious, puzzling and unknown, a natural template for critical inquiry. As Tougaw puts it, “[Dream reports] didn’t read like writing burdened with the daunting task of inventing a university their writers had only just entered. Instead, these writers seemed to be energized by the challenge of inventing their dreams in language (253).” I was also drawn to the idea of “de-mystifying” voice as a way of helping students own and develop their own sense of authorship, to, in effect, “construct a self,” as Elbow says, with language (255). In the footnote, on p. 262, Tougaw gives some suggestions for how blogs can help students become aware of the “writerly choices” they make. These could be adapted to a course blog on just about anything. But I was also wondering how the idea of a dream blog, which is so appealing in so many ways, could be adapted to college writing courses that don’t specifically focus on Creativity or American Dreams.
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