As part of the workshop on information literacy this week here at JMU, we are preparing a presentation for fellow attendees about our plans to teach information literacy as a part of a class assignment. Below is my work in progress, as of Thursday, May 8, 2008.
I am presenting, again, on the educational uses of blogs and wikis. This time, the audience consists of the members of JMU's summer institute for online teaching. This presentation is supposed to be an introduction to the uses of blogs and wikis in teaching. Perhaps unexpectedly, over the last couple of years, I have become the "resident expert" teaching with blogs and wikis here at JMU and I get invited to talk about them to various audience regularly now. Not to say that separate faculty members on our campus, besides myself, are not using those tools, but, institutionally, JMU still does not support a blog or a wiki platform, so to a lot of administrators, these tools are very new.
On April 24, I delivered a presentation about wikis to the JMU library faculty and staff. pdf of the slides is attached.
After over two years of sometimes-intense work, the book is finally out. At almost 800 pages, it is my biggest yet. Sometimes I think it is too big. A huge "Thank You!" to Kirk St.Amant, to the almost 100 contributors and everyone at IGI-Global who made this possible.
Buy in on Amazon
Buy it on Barnes and Noble
Last week, a colleague invited me to speak to her students about something that we call "alternative literacies." She teaches a class in literacy studies and has invited her students to read, discuss, and write about literacies other than the traditional academic essay and academic way of doing things and acquiring knowledge. They read an essay by Anne Wysocki and Johndan Johnson-Eilola and then she offered them the opportunity to write their last project in an "alternative" format, i.e. visual, multimedia, web, and so on.
The article was not easy and they struggled with it, but that was not the most interesting thing about being there for me. Instead, I got a sense that at least some of the students were sort of suspicious of their teacher asking them to work in a format different from the traditional academic essay. It's not that they do not have expertise with technology: some of them are media arts and design majors who can design websites and Flash presentations that put my web design efforts to shame. I think it is just that they think that their teacher is "out to get them" somehow by asking them to do these things.
Of course, this should not be too surprising: through years of institutionalized schooling, we get our students used to the idea that the linear academic essay is the only genre that counts. The problem with that is that the world is moving on. Just take a look at the presentation below.
So, what do we do to break that habit?
I see a couple of possible solutions which we as writing teacher can begin implementing right away:
- bring to our students' attention the best examples of other academics' and professionals' use of alternative literacy approaches and multimedia in theior work. Just browse everyone's favorite, Youtube, and you will see plenty of examples
- have them writing in multiple formats, genres, and media from day one.
Luke over at cac.ophony. quotes the following:
To change the profession: be the academic discourse you
want to see in the world. You want historiography to move quickly, have
relevance, be sharper? You can’t make it that way book review by book
review: but you can if you blog.
This weekend, I am attending Codework.
I am not on the list of the participants, but the organizer, Sandy Baldwin has graciously invited me to sit in on the sessions. Thank you, Sandy.
The highlight of the event for me was Ted Nelson' talk on Thursday called "Beyond Paper," in which he discussed the idea that computers have been replicating the paper office by making online writing look like paper writing.
The months of April and May promise to be very busy. In addition to the usual duties of teaching, reading student papers, and serving on committees, I have been invited to conduct the following workshops in presentations. I am glad I can help out colleagues some of the things I do in my teaching in research, but my goals also go somewhat beyond that. One of my (indirect) goals during the blog and wiki-related talks will be to continue persuading JMU to consider providing university-based and supported blogging and wiki platforms. We are a very wired campus, but these two elements are missing. Faculty who want to work in those media have to go off site which creates a host of issues.
- A presentation on Blogs and Wikis to the Library and Ed. Tech faculty at JMU. April 24
- A workshop on issues in Writing Across the Curriculum delivered to the JMu faculty via the Center for Faculty Innovation. I will deliver this together with Tim Thomas of the JMU College of Education. April 25.
- A presentation on ways to encourage and facilitate student interaction in online courses. Summer Institute for Online Teaching. JMU, First week of May
- A presentation on blogs and wikis for the same institute and during the same week.
Below is the publisher-produced flier for my forthcoming book, which I co-edited with Kirk St. Amant. The remarkable thing about this collection is not only its size (51 chapters and almost 800 pages), but also the range of topics. And everywhere I look, from research on the use of workplace e-mail to setting up an online management course, I see one thing--rhetoric.
Oh, and the flier below is posted in iPaper, which, I think is pretty cool. Beats posting attachments
Earlier this month, I blogged about being tasked with the creation of a "science rhetoric" oriented course for freshmen. I am currently sifting through the myriad of resources and approaches available to me, trying to develop a framework for the class, before designing specific assignments and tasks.