“Twitter Pedagogy: An Educator Down the Twitter Rabbit Hole” by Kelsey Schmitz

I recently read this article, “Twitter Pedagogy: An Educator Down the Twitter Rabbit Hole,” by Kelsey Schmitz in the Hybrid Pedagogy journal online, and I find Schmitz brings up a big issue that we might not always consider: reflection when incorporating Twitter in the classroom. Sure, we’re all for experimenting and trying out new things in the class, but even Twitter has a set of best practices, as Schmitz explains, which, arguably, is the whole reason it should be incorporated in the classroom in the first place. Our job as educators is to, as Yancey put it in her 2004 CCCC address, prepare students to be part of a writing public. Learning successful composing techniques for a popular online network is part of that job.

Regardless, give this article a read. Schmitz touches upon interesting ideas for incorporating Twitter in the classroom. From my own experience, its either been a hit or miss in the classroom, so her suggestion for active reflection as we experiment with new technologies is not only well-founded, but necessary if we want to effectively incorporate new media in the classroom.

Digitizing Theory

Jason Palmeri’s Remixing composition: A history of multimodal writing pedagogy (2012) proved a useful text for more than one reason. As a doctoral student nearing comprehensive exams, he provided an interesting read on the history of composition and rhetoric scholarship. As an educator, his suggestions, admittedly not foolproof or the end-all-be-all, will break the boundaries of the composition classroom that many of us still struggle with. For my purposes here, I will focus on his read of the literature, although many (if not, all) his suggestions will be making their way into my classroom.

Palmeri’s (2012) title suggests a focused look at multimodal pedagogy–preparing the reader for a look at fairly recent scholarship on the benefits and pitfalls of multimodal composing in the classroom. His history, however, took a look at staple pieces of theoretical scholarship, from all three major threads (expressivist, cognitive, social-epistemic), and fore-fronted the inherent multimodal aspect found in the history of composition and rhetoric. What I want to stress through Palmeri’s read of composition and rhetoric literature is the underlying relevance of all three strands of theoretical scholarship. No one scholar got it right, and no one scholar (myself included) will get it right. But by taking the advantageous aspects from each theorist, we stand a better chance of forming our composition theory into something that works as the landscape of composition continues to change. As Palmeri shows, digital technology has altered the way we compose and think, and how our students compose and move through the process of producing text. Multimodality has become a greater component of our compositions, and with new software (and social networking sites and online composing forums), it is now essential. The pages of these articles, from Emig to Elbow, have been read and marked by all of us, but due to the relevance and necessity of multimodality in composition, Palmeri noticed what was always there. Which brings me to my point on theory (both in this post and in my exams): composition theory should never be thrown out (as I’m sure everyone would agree). But while these theorists made their arguments privileging alphabetic text, as it was (and is) the main goal of the composition classroom, we can take what works and apply it to the changing nature of composition–to the increase of the digital and multimodal. Palmeri remixes composition, remixing the theory into a multimodal history. I say we mash-up the theory–take the best of the best, take what works and get rid of the excess, and apply it to a digital, multimodal, mashed-up composing world.

Reference

Palmeri, J. (2012). Remixing composition: A history of multimodal writing pedagogy. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

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Composing Modes

composing(media) = composing(embodiment), edited by Kristin L. Arola and Anne Frances Wysocki, brings together a fantastic array of articles on media production and consumption and how that manifests in our interactions with the world. For the purposes of this post, however, I will focus on two of the articles found in this compilation: Wysocki’s Drawn together: Possibilities for bodies in words and pictures (2012) and Kristin Prins’s Crafting new approaches to composition (2012).

Wysocki (2012) illustrated (quite literally at times) the power and potential behind compositions and different modalities therein. Many scholars have made the claim that compositions are used to create identity, but Wysocki described how compositions also reflect components of an individual’s identity, including through the decision of what mode the composer uses to compose. Different modes hold meaning within them and are, thus, a reflection of the composer’s class, economy, history, etc. This meaning cannot be removed, but, as Wysocki argued, it can be used to help the continued formation of the composer’s identity.

Building on this thought laid out by Wysocki (2012), Prins (2012) stressed the importance of incorporating multimodality into the First Year Composition classroom. She introduced composing as a craft that uses different modes and is necessary for communication through digital technologies. In line with Wysocki and many others, Prins agreed that composers are transformed through their craft, but multimodal composing has yet to be used in the craft of the academe. She called for students and teachers to learn this craft together by testing out new technologies and provided potential options for doing so.

What we see here, and why I chose these two articles from this collection in particular, is the importance of multimodal composing. I’m hardly the first scholar to plead for the incorporation of multimodal composing in the composition classroom (obviously), and I am most definitely not the last, but the key here is that modes bring with them a meaning all their own—one the composer might not have considered in the first place, or even thought to consider. Take this post for example. I read a few articles, had a few thoughts, and thought to share them with my colleagues. My focus is on my meaning and what these words are conveying—but I made a conscious choice to use words. The written word holds a certain level of “prestige” (although, that isn’t why I chose this mode). They show my status as an academic. My inclusion in a group of elite. This meaning is attached only to my mode, not to my message, yet it influences my message immensely.

Why I chose to use only words in this post, though, is to show how my lack of different modes bears a direct influence on my message in other ways, too. Yes, a meaning all its own is attached to each mode, as Wysocki (2012) argued, yet I would say that meaning might not always be the main point taken away from a composition. The written word might reflect my membership in a group of elites, yet notice how here I argue for multimodality in composition and the academe, but I fail to incorporate it in the very argument itself. My mode might be one of prestige, but in this case, it destroys my argument by showing hypocrisy (and tearing down my credibility). Wysocki, herself, made a point of using the blank space of her article and incorporating illustrations and comics in connection with her written argument.

Many (dare I say, most) articles on multimodality steer clear of using it themselves. While that is a thought to ponder over, what I mean to show here is the relevance of Prins’s (2012) point. Multimodality has a lot to offer, especially in a digital environment (for instance, the inclusion of links in this post), and as the meaning of each mode may not be able to be removed (Wysocki, 2012), there might be meanings that ‘trump’ them that are also conveyed through mode, not message. All this further shows the absolute need of incorporating multimodality in the composition classroom—through the points made by Wysocki (2012) and Prins, but also through this post. Multiple modes bear a lot of influence on a message—to further it and/or to break it down. Our students, entering into a composition classroom to learn composing, deserve to be given effective tools to communicate through multiple modes, as well as in a digital environment.

References

Prins, K. (2012). Crafting new approaches to composition. In K. L. Arola & A. F. Wysocki (Eds.), composing(media) = composing(embodiment) (pp. 145-161). Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Wysocki, A. F. (2012). Drawn together: Possibilities for bodies in words and pictures. In K. L. Arola & A. F. Wysocki (Eds.), composing(media) = composing(embodiment) (pp. 25-42). Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

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Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology

Hybrid Pedagogy is an online, peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles on critical and digital pedagogy. This journal is an amazing resource for different teaching methods, implementing technology in the classroom, best practices, and various other aspects of the field and teaching. It is an open forum, where readers can comment and ask questions of the writer, opening the journal up to active dialogue.

Follow the journal on Twitter: @hybridped

“The Great Works of Software” by Paul Ford

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Compliments of DigitalHumanitiesNow (@dhnow) on Twitter, I found this fascinating article by Paul Ford: “The Great Works of Software.” In addition to being this wonderfully designed article, where Ford utilized many different means of composing in order to present his argument, the article was really interactive. It was great reading other readers’ comments along the way and seeing collaboration at work (plus having the option to make a contribution, myself). It’s kind of powerful, as a reader, seeing the option “Leave a note for Paul Ford” on the screen as you read his piece about seeing software as an organic thing that is not only conducive to human interaction, but enhances it.

“Learning to Let Go: Listening to Students in Discussion” by Chris Friend

I read “Learning to Let Go: Listening to Students in Discussion” today and thought I would share it. I have to say, I’m guilty of leading discussion to where I think it needs to go and trying to make my different course sections line up. Friend really puts forth some great arguments about the harm in “planning,” designing classes to be best for student learning/engagement, and the role of the educator.