The Role of Digital Literacy in Writing Instruction


Published on

This presentation represents the culmination of many years of research into and experience with incorporating digital literacy into writing instruction. I originally prepared the presentation for my colleagues in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at CU Boulder, but it has also been used by other universities to help introduce writing faculty to the changing nature of literacy.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • More info will be available in longer Strategic Plan, including review of scholarship, comparison of peer institutions sample assignments, help resources, etc.
  • Writing instruction has always been about the teaching of literacy
  • in other words, the core skills of literacy:  research, reading, and writing.  and rhetorical awareness (how to recognize different genres, audiences, and purposes for communication)Also includes knowing what’s going on in the discourses relevant to you academically and professionallyIncludes participating in conversations wherever they occur (formal writing, informal writing, in person)
  • Story: waiting for a conversation to unfold in an academic journal vs. participating in a scholarly email discussion list
  • Consider how technologies for writing changed the nature of writing: Clay tablets, papyrus, scrolls, paper, printing press, typewriters, computers
  • How I stay current in a variety of issues: through checking out what my colleagues across the country are reading, which they share via social media tools
  • For example: Student confusion over validity of sources available via library databases
  • Consider how your own reading habits have changed in response to reading online?
  • Hypertext is well-suited to a “layered” or “networked” reading style
  • Briefly describe the premise of this humor video: to illustrate how we’ve always had to learn to adapt to changes in the technologies for reading and writing (monk has to learn to read a book, which operates differently than a scroll)
  • Social nature of reading: also raises the status of reading among peers
  • Follow this slide with a screen shot of an interface design that represents a “writing problem”? Maybe the Google Docs Create/upload buttons?
  • Example: Students can publish on web sites where their pieces get lots of hits and “favorites” and possibly also comments; generates a lot of enthusiasm on their part“Publishing” includes pieces that are still very much in process and subject to further revision and refinement in response to readers
  • Will address each underlined item in the following slides
  • Students gain insight into rhetorical awareness by studying the the rhetorical rationale for blog layout
  • Diigo is also a social bookmarking tool
  • It’s actually quite hard to get edits to Wikipedia pages to “stick” if the writing doesn’t meet certain standards. Requires rhetorical sensitivity.
  • Also concept of “remediation” – composing the same message in multiple modalities in order to study how each modality impacts the nature of the message.
  • Established goals come from: WPA, NCTE, CCC, and CCHEEnables us to meet the established goals of writing instruction:Composing processesRhetorical knowledgeCritical thinkingDiscourse conventions
  • MY EXPERIENCE“writing as a process” is hard to teach, esp. the value of drafting, getting feedback, and revisingneed for process becomes much clearer with digital media projects (which also involve lots of traditional writing)
  • Again, the concept of enabling students to become producers, not just consumers - reflected in the NCTE goals for teaching writing and many other places- studentslearn the “inside scoop” on how media messages persuadethat’s partly why we teach essay writing: give students the inside scoop on how knowledge is composedcan’t really understand what you can’t compose
  • STORY:Students engaged in digital media composition often “discover” the rhetorical purpose of conventions like transitionsarticle by professor whose students spent 20 minutes debating the rhetorical value of a particular transition in a video project - students often have intuitive understanding of the value of transitions in video projects - when we point out what they’re doing with the video, students then say they finally “get” the point of using transitions in essays
  • “greater awareness of component parts” – for example, structural elements that help guide readersIn their research into the pedagogical benefits of digital storytelling for college students, Oppermann and Coventry (2011) found that:Being asked to communicate in the ‘new language’ of multimedia brings students a greater awareness of the component parts of traditional writing. Digital storytelling helps students develop a stronger voice and helps students more accurately and firmly place themselves in relationship to the arguments of others.
  • Support: I work closely with students on digital projects, and they often confess how little they know -every semester, I have at least one student who didn’t know she could copy text from one app and paste it into another one - most have never done anything more than check Facebook, watch videos on YouTube, send email, and look up a few things on GoogleRegardless of the digital skills they may have learned in high school, by the time they get to my class, as juniors and seniors, they’ve been thoroughly conditioned to the demands of old school print literacyMany know the basics of navigating digital environments, but not how to participate in them
  • Enables students to move from consumers of multimodal content to producers
  • students who make projects for real audiences tend to work on them long after they’re “due”
  • SOURCE:Digital Storytelling Multimedia Archive
  • We owe it to students to help them develop writing skills of the future, not the writing skills of the pastHow will academic writing change in the future?
  • Rhetoric and composition has a long history of paying attention to the ways digital literacy impacts writing instruction
  • (sustainability, service learning, creative non fiction, diversity)
  • The Role of Digital Literacy in Writing Instruction

    1. 1. EXPLORING THE ROLE OF DIGITAL LITERACY IN WRITING INSTRUCTION Amy Goodloe PWR Digital Composition Coordinator Spring 2012 All Rights Reserved © 2012
    2. 2. PRESENTATION OVERVIEW Recommendations & Resources Common Concerns Learning Goals and Benefits Approaches to Teaching Digital Literacy Understanding Digital Literacy
    4. 4. DEFINITION OF LITERACY In the context of writing instruction, literacy can be defined as: the ability to effectively participate in a variety of conversations using current and emerging technologies for research, reading, and writing
    5. 5. “EFFECTIVELY PARTICIPATE” •find the conversations •read them closely and critically •evaluate different perspectives and forms of evidence •enter into the conversation through writing or other means of communication Includes the ability to: in both print and digital environments
    6. 6. “CONVERSATIONS” •Traditionally occurred only in print or face to face venues •Now also occur in digital environments Formal and informal exchanges of ideas among discourse communities, including academic, professional, and civic
    7. 7. “TECHNOLOGIES” Literacy has always required knowing how to use technologies for research, reading, & writing The nature of literacy changes in response to changes in these technologies For most of our lives, the technologies of literacy enabled reading &writing in print formats Now the technologies of literacy enable reading &writing in digital formats as well
    8. 8. WHAT ABOUT “DIGITAL” LITERACY? The nature of literacy has changed to the extent that the digital is implied in today’s definitions of literacy. Here are a few more definitions…
    9. 9. “Literacy includes the ability to read and interpret media (text, sound, images), to reproduce data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply new knowledge gained from digital environments.” Barbara R. Jones-Kavalier and Suzanne L. Flannigan. “Connecting the Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century,” Educause Quarterly.
    10. 10. “Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.” “21st Century Literacies Framework.” National Council of Teachers of English.
    11. 11. THE CHANGING NATURE OF LITERACY Research - Reading - Writing
    12. 12. RESEARCH Writing instruction has always included helping students with the process of searching for, locating, managing, and evaluating information How has the nature of research changed?
    13. 13. RESEARCH: NEW PROCESSES Notable portion of research time is now spent on sorting through vast number of sources Research can become social and collaborative, through social media sharing tools Social media tools allow us to build “personal learning networks” and customized information portals
    14. 14. RESEARCH: NEW OPPORTUNITIES Digital texts offer insight into how knowledge is produced through refinements in thinking, in response to conversations Digital environments give us greater access to populations for primary research
    15. 15. RESEARCH: NEW CHALLENGES Harder to assess credibility •Difficulty identifying concepts like publication, publisher, author, editor •Confusion over who’s “screening” information Sheer volume of available information is overwhelming
    16. 16. READING Writing instruction has always included an emphasis on reading: • Writing often emerges in response to readings • Studying written texts gives insight into the craft • Effective writing must appeal to readers How has the nature of reading changed?
    17. 17. READING: NEW DEFINITIONS Reading now requires the ability to navigate in hypertext environments Reading also requires the ability to interpret new media genres
    18. 18. Every technology for reading was new at some point…
    19. 19. READING: NEW EXPERIENCES Ability to move rapidly between multiple sources Option to customize a “feed” of readings based on interests Ability to easily search readings and carry a large collection with you Availability of multiple tools for sharing what you’re reading
    20. 20. Social Nature of Reading
    21. 21. READING: NEW CHALLENGES Increased opportunities for distraction Temptation to read quickly and shallowly
    22. 22. Typical pattern for reading on the web
    23. 23. WRITING The purpose of writing instruction has always been to help students make effective use of the genres relevant to their rhetorical situations • Includes academic, civic, public, and professional How has the nature of writing changed?
    24. 24. WRITING: NEW DEFINITIONS Writing now includes composing in multiple modalities, including hypertext, images, audio, and video Writing also includes greater attention to rhetorical principles for design and layout
    25. 25. WRITING: NEW OPPORTUNITIES to participate in civic and professional conversations to compose in collaborative, interactive environments to publish writing “in progress”
    26. 26. WRITING: NEW RHETORICAL SITUATIONS Audiences might extend to communities beyond the class Purposes for writing are potentially immediate and practical New genres: blogs, wikis, web sites, email, social media, podcasts, photo essays, videos, animations
    27. 27. APPROACHES TO TEACHING DIGITAL LITERACY In Rhetoric & Composition Classes
    28. 28. APPROACHES - OVERVIEW Digital literacy as a topic • Discuss the changing nature of literacy • Engage in rhetorical analyses of digital compositions Digital literacy as a practice • Experiment with current and emerging technologies for research, reading, and writing • Ask students to compose rhetorically compelling messages in digital environments and/or in digital media formats
    29. 29. EXAMPLES: ENGAGE IN RHETORICAL ANALYSIS • Blogs, wikis, or forums on topics related to the class • Discussions on Wikipedia pages Study the rhetorical practices of an online discourse community • What is the rhetorical purpose of interface design? • How do navigational elements impact readers? Study rhetorical principles for communicating via web and interface design
    30. 30. Understanding the rhetorical purpose of blog layout
    31. 31. EXAMPLES: EXPLORE TECHNOLOGIES OF WRITING Experiment with tools that enhance reading, writing, collaboration, and peer review Experiment with different platforms for web publishing • Social bookmarking • Google Docs • Tools to annotate web pages and PDFs • Blogs • Wikis • Social media • Prezi • Glogster
    32. 32. Google Docs “comment” feature Diigo highlighter and sticky notes
    33. 33. EXAMPLES: COMPOSE IN DIGITAL ENVIRONMENTS Contribute to a public blog or wiki built by the class • Class blog for students across multiple sections • Blog or wiki to showcase research to target audience Contribute to existing blog, wiki, forum, or other digital environment • Posting comments that inspire a response • Editing a Wikipedia entry
    34. 34. Sample class research wiki
    35. 35. Class blog for three sections of my WRTG 3020 in Fall 2011. Students posted a total of 606 entries and 1044 comments.
    36. 36. EXAMPLES: COMPOSE IN DIGITAL MEDIA Compose a project for audiovisual delivery •Personal narrative (audio essay with photo slideshow) •Exploratory essay (“This I Believe” audio essay) •Mini-documentary research video •Prezi with text, images, and video Engage in digital media critique •Strategic remix of digital media content Explore “re-mediation” •Composing the same message in multiple modalities to study how the message changes
    37. 37. Sample mini- documentary Sample audio essay
    38. 38. Sample research project on Prezi
    40. 40. Composing processes Rhetorical knowledge Critical thinking Discourse conventions HELPS US MEET ESTABLISHED GOALS OF WRITING INSTRUCTION Goals established by WPA, NCTE, CCC, and CCHE
    41. 41. GOAL: COMPOSING PROCESSES • Students can more easily view how ideas emerge through a process of conversation and refinement As readers in digital environments: • Response from real world audiences leads to desire to revise • Digital media composition requires a multi-step process • Can’t produce a rhetorically powerful digital composition project the night before! • Requires planning, research, collaboration, problem- solving, drafting, feedback, revision As writers:
    42. 42. GOAL: RHETORICAL KNOWLEDGE • Easy availability of digital environments and genres allows students to study how writers respond to real rhetorical situations and employ rhetorical strategies As readers in digital environments: • Gives students opportunities to compose for real audiences and purposes, using contemporary genres and publishing platforms As writers:
    43. 43. GOAL: CRITICAL THINKING • Allows us to study how arguments work in action: types of evidence, persuasive strategies, impact on readers, nature of dialogue and disagreement As readers in digital environments: • Gain deeper insight into the rhetorical strategies and appeals used in digital formats by composing in them • As composers, students start to recognize subtle strategies for establishing credibility and persuading audiences As writers:
    44. 44. GOAL: DISCOURSE CONVENTIONS • Reading digital texts helps to raise awareness of the role of conventions in both print and digital genres As readers in digital environments: • Gives students practice at adapting conventions based on their target discourse community • Provides insight into the purpose of conventions that students often struggle with in print writing • Structural elements, such as introductions, transitions, “units” of thought, coherent progression of ideas As writers:
    45. 45. ADDITIONAL BENEFITS Reinforces traditional writing skills Improves digital literacy skills Validates multimodal literacies Inspires greater student engagement Prepares students for the future of writing
    46. 46. REINFORCES TRADITIONAL WRITING SKILLS In their research into the pedagogical benefits of digital storytelling for college students, Oppermann and Coventry (2011) found that: Being asked to communicate in the ‘new language’ of multimedia brings students a greater awareness of the component parts of traditional writing. Digital storytelling helps students develop a stronger voice and helps students more accurately and firmly place themselves in relationship to the arguments of others.
    47. 47. IMPROVES DIGITAL LITERACY SKILLS Today’s college students don’t have the digital literacy skills they need to compete against today’s high school students • But many don’t realize it, as they’ve been told they’re “digital natives” Digital composition projects enable students to: • Identify deficiencies in their digital literacy skills • Remedy them while working on a project they find meaningful
    48. 48. VALIDATES MULTIMODAL LITERACY Literacy researchers have long emphasized the value of multiple modalities in human communication (text, sound, visuals) • Age of print: printed text is easiest to produce and distribute (multimedia is for pros only) • Digital age: relatively easy and inexpensive to produce and distribute text, audio, images, and video Assigning multimodal composition projects validates the rhetorical power of multiple modalities
    49. 49. IMPROVES STUDENT ENGAGEMENT Composing for real audiences and purposes inspires greater investment • Students have a genuine interest in conveying a meaningful message Relevance of assignments spurs greater effort • Helps students see writing as having a legitimate purpose beyond “term papers”
    50. 50. Opperman and Coventry (2011) found that digital composition projects allow students to: • work on authentic assignments • develop their personal and academic voice • represent knowledge to a community of learners • receive situated feedback from their peers Due to their affective involvement with this process and the novelty effect of the medium, students are more engaged than in traditional assignments.
    51. 51. PREPARES STUDENTS FOR THE FUTURE OF WRITING Today, elementary school students are producing multimedia research projects • What kind of research projects will they expect to do in college? • What kind of projects will employers expect all college graduates to be capable of producing? What will count as “good communication skills” in the future?
    53. 53. WHAT'S “DIGITAL” ABOUT ACADEMIC WRITING? • The nature of academic writing and research are changing in response to digital tools and environments • Important and relevant academic conversations now take place in digital environments • Consider the push to change the nature of academic publishing to accommodate digital environments and media
    54. 54. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR DIGITAL LITERACY! • Don’t treat digital literacy as an “add on.” Instead, consider: • How might digital literacy activities help you accomplish current learning goals? • How might your existing lesson plans benefit from some attention to digital tools or genres?
    55. 55. I’M NOT DIGITALLY SAVVY ENOUGH • Professionals in nearly every occupation have to constantly adapt to changes in their field • Literacy professionals must also adapt to the changing nature of literacy • Pursue opportunities for professional development • Become familiar with pedagogy and scholarship • Use campus resources to support technology training • Digital literacy is now part of the job description for most positions in rhetoric and composition.
    56. 56. STUDENTS ARE ALREADY DIGITAL NATIVES • Simply growing up in a digital culture does not lead students to become critical and rhetorically aware users of these tools • Most of us grew up in a print culture, but we still had to undergo years of schooling to learn to be “print literate” • Our students are eager for informed guidance through the landscape of digital composition
    58. 58. BASIC PREMISE To remain relevant to our students and to our discipline, we too must change The nature of writing instruction has also changed The nature of literacy is changing as we shift to a digital culture Writing instruction has always been about teaching literacy
    59. 59. RECOMMENDATION - ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The role of digital literacy in writing instruction should be acknowledged throughout the program, in: • Curricular goals • Hiring and reappointment criteria • Mission statement • Relevant committees and initiatives • New course proposals
    60. 60. RECOMMENDATION - SUPPORT Integrating digital literacy should be supported effectively through: • Coordinator positions (if applicable) • Relevant committees • Connections with campus resources • Opportunities for professional development • workshops, peer mentoring, going to conferences
    61. 61. RECOMMENDATION - CLASS ACTIVITIES Provide some exposure to: • Current and emerging technologies for writing • The rhetorical nature of digital composition • (even if only for 30 minutes once during the semester) Offer students the opportunity to compose in a digital genre • Whether on a small scale: class community blog, planning with mind maps, peer review with screencasts, etc. • Or a larger scale: audio narratives, collaborative wikis, digital storytelling, mini-documentary, etc.
    62. 62. RESOURCES For more information as well as help resources for students and faculty, visit: