A survey of teachers who instruct American middle and high school students finds that digital technologies are impacting student writing in myriad ways and there are significant advantages from tech-based learning.
Some 78% of the 2,462 advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project say digital tools such as the internet, social media, and cell phones “encourage student creativity and personal expression.”
I don’t think any of us writing and communication instructors would rush to teach another MOOC soon. For now, the technology is lacking for courses in subject areas like writing, which have such strong qualitative evaluation requirements. Too often we found our pedagogical choices hindered by the course-delivery platform we were required to use, when we felt that the platform should serve the pedagogical requirements. Too many decisions about platform functionality seem to be arbitrary, or made by people who may be excellent programmers but, I suspect, have never been teachers. Despite the challenges, we all feel that being part of the early process of testing new pedagogical approaches was instructive and exciting.
The curriculum we use at the University of Central Florida, Writing about Writing, can be intimidating to students because they are expected to read, understand, and enact difficult theoretical concepts in composition and writing studies. Rather than attempting to teach students “how to write,” our curriculum focuses on teaching students transferrable concepts about writing, so they can apply this knowledge outside of the composition classroom. Some of the criticism of this curriculum has centered around the idea that introducing students to theoretical writing concepts by having them read scholarship in the field of rhetoric and composition may be overly complex and may limit the engagement and understanding of first-year writing students. We suggest that incorporating students’ existing digital literacies into the composition classroom may increase the success of writing-concept transfer into students’ future writing situations.
~ Digital Literacies in FYC
Following up on a link I posted recently about the rhetoric of computer programs, I’m intrigued by this description of 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, a new book by Ian Bogost, Nick Montfort, and others:
This book takes a single line of code–the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title–and uses it aa a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text–in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources–that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.
Both students and faculty are passing around links to EssayTyper, a website that opens with the simple prompt: “”Oh no! It’s finals week and I have to finish my [blank] essay immediately.” At first, it looks like an actual paper mill, perhaps a stop for desperate students to finish that last essay. Instead, it’s a “magic” word processor that pulls information straight out of Wikipedia and into a pseudo processor as the user presses any keys at all.