Remediating Social Technologies

In session B 21, Dawn Armfield, Daisy Pignetti-Cochran, and KImberly Schultz presented on the more mobile, portable technologies from cells to Twitter to other social networks. Yes, like many others thought they would have a video projector and did not end up with one. No transparencies either, but they did an able job all the same.

Dawn Armfield began the session with “On the Go: Mobile Technologies and Literacies.” Student engagement, iPhone apps–great variety and mostly free. Minimal cost when not free, including the new iPhone Kindle app, which allows the Kindle library to be read on iPhone. Result: lots of books, little, cost, and oh so mobile. engagement–multiple users, Besides text and texting mobile devices allow multimodal compositions –think of YouTube. Armfield’s view is that there are so many ways to use these things that it would be a shame no to use them to teach composition. Of course, the other side sees mobile devices and the media they bring into the classroom as competing with the classroom. However, using these student literacies can increase their motivation and their affinity for writing. Engage them with that writing and there is more likely to be crossover benefits for other writings including academic genres. Results with Armfield’s multimedia projects–amazing. No lack of engagement for those students. The projects also were a great chance to have those needed discussions on audience and mobile tech/ social networks since students are  not necessarily thinking critically about these spaces. Classroom use give a perfect context for that discussion.

In the middle was Daisy Pignetti-Cochran with “What are you doing? Teaching with Twitter?,” a presentation I felt I should twitter for the symmetry of it, but did not, aiming for longer than 140 character bites. Also, the reception in the Hilton was bad enough that I couldn’t use Twitterific on my iPhone, a first for me. Pignetti begins with a campus lockdown story and how Twitter gave her immediate support and news when more traditional outlets were either not available or too slow to be useful. Now that she’s on a laptop campus, classroom use of Twitter is much easier. The goals is moving from informal writing to formal writing while stressing the differences between genres.

Connected to Pignetti’s practical use of Twitter in her online class, she pulld in a discussion of digital natives,defined as all born after 1980 (from the book Born Digital). However, assuming tech savviness defined by age doesn’t always follow. Many of her students needed Twitter instruction. (Good handouts, BTW.) She found Twitter especially apt for teaching online. It gave all concerned a face and a voice, a good goal when teaching online, but not always easy to do.  It was also great for asking quick questions since the answers become public to all in the twitterstream. At times the students answered questions peer to peer, making it a far more student-centered classroom space. Finally, the student eval comments were overwhelmingly positive about the twitter use for the class. Among the few negatives: dont’ have the time…why another technology…the usual “Do I have to?” comments that new tech tends to get to some degree.

To round out the panel, Kimberly Schultz with Laura Gurak presented “Social Presence in the Online Writing Classroom: Community Building through Social Networking Technology.” She proposed using Facebook as real community building  in writing classes as opposed to faux community building in Blackboard. her reasoning was that students are already on multiple other social online networks. So, she created a common classroom space in Moodle where they could tell their other spaces and names. However, Schultz found that few were very active and they did not embrace the space, so to speak. On the Horizon at her university is increased use of  iTunes U (Laura Gurak), Gurak adapted her Tinkertoy instructions  assignment to three different levels of multimodal engagement from text only to video. The most successful was the video, which her students found easy to do and had great results. The podcasts were good too. iTunes U is mostly top down–professor to student, but Gurak published her student’s work. I will update this entry with the link later.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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