As disciplinary knowledge of the relations between technologies and the work of our programs (rhetoric, writing, and literacy instruction) has evolved, so must our ability to affect change over technology initiatives in our programsidentify the local practices that have become a part of our programs, determine whether change is necessary, problem-solve responsive reform
So this presentation is really about mapping networks of relationships that support unsustainable or problematic practices. While we used several methods to map these practices in our program, I’m only going to share with you a map of practices that we constructed from my first-hand observations as TSS. Sharing this map and this method with you because everything grew out of it; we’ve since spent two years developing a more comprehensive map in our program but too much for this presentation.Faculty struggled to perform basic tasks over and over again, despite formal and informal training (functional literacy). Noticed accompanying “technology paralysis”: publically displayed narratives of discomfort and self-deprivation (attitudes/beliefs)Students and faculty could not effectively use CMS to facilitate learning about information literacy (functional/critical literacy). Led me to critique institutional relationship with IT. We authorized a relation with IT when adopted Bb as CMS. From that relation, the practice of “administrative privilege” emerged—IT maintained control over Bb and the automated population system. Frequent glitches in the system led to failure of enrollment and flurries of emails between me, faculty, students, and IT that suggested frustration and eventually anger. Interestingly, although we initially authorized IT relation, led to practice of relinquishing admin privilege, which constrained agency over literacy development in our program.In light of discussions about agency and practice, I could no longer overlook my own position as TSS in the network of support. Our practice of technology support co-authorized the social, political, and institutional relationships that enabled and constrained literacies, pedagogies, and attitudes. Our faculty’s expectations of my position as technology support, and my willingness to fulfill those expectations, sent contradictory messages about who was responsible for technologies and the development of technological practice. That is, we seem to encourage a collective responsibility for technologies: they pervade our computer-mediated and “smart” classrooms and occupy a place in our curricular outcomes. In this sense, technologies are an integral part of our program and writing instruction. Undermining this supposed collective responsibility, though, is our model of technology support, which suggests technologies are the responsibility of an individual (TSS) and the greater campus—the IT Department. Consequently, agency over our technological practices is not imagined and empowerment is dormant. By spring 2010, contrary to how I perceived my position when I was hired—as someone supporting our faculty practices—I was implicated in the network supporting our unsustainable conditions. My position as TSS was yet another unsustainable practice in a problematic network of interactions, as it co-authorized relations with IT, which partially contributed to unsustainable functional literacy practices, problematic attitudes and beliefs about self-efficacy, and unnecessary frustration among local stakeholders.
Open here:As I have suggested, theories of technology reform should enable WPAs to systematically map the current “state” of a program’s technology practices to ultimately problem-solve responsive measures for change. Furthermore, the heuristics and methods we employ to map practices and problem-solve reform, must robustly theorize the network of relationships and the mutual, multiple, and contingent factors that support problematic practices. Through theories of networked practices, we can illuminate system of relations supporting unsustainable local practices (literacies, pedagogies, and atts/bels). We can do this in way that, to quote Selber,To close I will call on an idea from Michael Day accounts for the vast complex of interrelated factors that might aid or impede the process of change.
What’s Reform Got to Do With It? Mapping Unsustainable Technology Practices to Plan Responsive Reform
Issue-At-Hand• Technology integration in medias res (McAllister and Selfe, 2003)— has been occurring in many programs for several years or longer to varying degrees• Consequently, technology practices—ways of doing and knowing technologies—have emerged, become socially sanctioned ways of engaging with technologies, and are perhaps unsustainable• Thus, need ways to assess what exists—the current “state” of practices—and plan responsive reform• Proposal: Heuristic that enables us to assess practices and understand system that supports these practices
(Networked) Practices as Sites for AssessmentLocal stakeholders’ (faculty and students) technology practices are most important for assessing the sustainability of existing conditions: – Technological literacies (functional, critical, rhetorical), – Technology pedagogies, and – Attitudes and beliefs about technologiesThese practices are networked—interacting and emergent
Mapping Practices and the Network of Support• Faculty struggled to use CMS features and word processing software – Indicative of functional literacies& attitudes/beliefs• Faculty and students struggled to use CMS in the classroom – Indicative of functional literacies& attitudes/beliefs• Later traced network to practices of technology support and professional development
Planning Responsive Reform• Reform needed to account for existing unsustainable practices, beginning to A) amend and refine faculty attitudes and feelings about technologies B) instate faculty agency and empowerment over development of technological literacies and attitudes/beliefs C) establish more critical discussions about and implementation of technologies in our program• Reform needed to occur in the form of distinct yet networked initiatives aimed at re-forming problematic relations and reforming practices
Reform in Three Parts• Proposed, debated, and adopted new CMS to account for existing literacies and attitudes/beliefs and relations with IT, administrative privilege, etc.• Formed voluntary cohort to integrate technology “unit” in first-year reader to establish stronger presence for technologies in first-year curriculum and elucidate critical relations between technologies and rhetoric and writing theory/practice• Decided to foreground “technology development” in our monthly professional development meetings
Summary and Conclusions• Heuristic that foregrounds networked practices can illuminate system of relationships that support unsustainable local practices (literacies, pedagogies, attitudes/beliefs) and prepare WPAs and faculty for responsive reform• Additional value of networked practice heuristic: – Grants agency over technology assessment and reform (internally-initiated) – Enables us to define discourse of technology assessment and reform
Questions for You• What are the challenges of using the proposed heuristic to assess practices in your programs?• How else might we imagine and/or assess technology practices in our programs?• In what ways can we begin thinking more systematically about existing conditions and possibilities for reform?