How has technology (re)shaped your teaching?

Video created by Elizabeth Uva Employee on Oct 23, 2015

    Palmquist: I think the standard, the mantra almost, was--and still, I think, continues to be--technology should support your teaching goals, and I no longer buy that.  I think yes, that's true, but it's only part of the situation.  The thing that I find most interesting is that as the technological landscape has changed, so have our teaching goals.  I mean, it's pretty obvious that now some of our teaching goals are to create Web pages, and that was certainly not a goal a few years ago, or some of our goals as teachers are to engage our students in conversations with members of a professional discipline through a listserv or a Web-based discussion forum or through blogging.  But for me what's really interesting is the notion that technology not only can be used to support our teaching goals but makes possible new goals, and it's a continuing cycle.


    Lunsford: So the last six years, I have concentrated on building some classrooms specifically designed to teach writing with technology.  And that has been an incredible experience for me, and it's changed the way I define writing, so that I now think of writing as a much more complicated set of activities that combines visual, aural, verbal, vocal materials in a way that would have been inconceivable to me 20 years ago.  So technology is, in a way, has pervaded everything that I do.


    C. McQuade: I think most students just have a lot of baggage about writing.  There it is.  It's never been fun, it feels like a foreign language.  And I think that being able to look at composition and composing across different media kind of loosens that weight a little bit and allows, at least, allows it in my classroom, we talk about, what are the skills of composing across these media, and how can you then use them in whatever medium you'd like to compose in.


    Ball: One of the things I did recently was look at the WPA outcomes statement for first year writing, and I tweaked it for what happens if those list of four outcomes for writing classes were applied not just to written texts but to new media or multimodal texts.  And they kind of shift pretty easily into that, and they could currently accommodate different kinds of communication besides written alphabetic texts.  Small changes that I see happening between a WPA writing outcomes statement and a new media outcome would be changing the word "writing" to "composition."  General things and easy things like that that we can do to shift.  Now, how that plays out in the classroom is, instead of having students be able to, say, write a research paper that is going to follow the form and the conventions and the genres and all of those things that we tend to associate the [something] way of writing, that changes when we work with new media texts.  That students are still learning the rhetorical literacies and the critical literacies, but they're learning them across a whole range of texts, a whole ranges of modes, instead of just linguistic-based writing.


    Lunsford: Something that concerns me, that I think we are going to have to face, is the tension between the teaching of traditional writing, which means not five-paragraph essays but reasoned, carefully structured, logically organized pieces of discourses--balancing the need and the demand on the part of the public and our university officials to teach that sort of writing, and what I said just a few minutes ago about allowing students an opportunity to experience the most exciting discursive modalities of their own time.  Those are competing interests, and I don't think we have found a way as writing teachers to hit that balance just right, and our students are demanding both as well, and they're unhappy when they don't get a chance to do both.  In a writing and required writing program or writing course, or even an elective advanced course, if you're teaching on the quarter system in ten weeks, or even in the luxury of a fifteen-week semester, that is very little time to do both, to master both of those ways of writing, and I don't think that we want to give either one up.  So that's what I think we're going to be struggling really hard with in our profession over the next few years, is not only how to answer that question for ourselves but how to articulate that answer to a larger public because it's not going to be easy.