Slow Teaching

Those who know my work with digital media may be surprised to read that I largely support this remark by Mark Bauerlein in his article Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind: Slow reading counterbalances Web skimming in the Chronicle of Higher Education (19 Sept 08):

—given the tidal wave of technology in young people's lives, let's frame a number of classrooms and courses as slow-reading (and slow-writing) spaces. Digital technology has become an imperial force, and it should meet more antagonists. Educators must keep a portion of the undergraduate experience disconnected, unplugged, and logged off. Pencils, blackboards, and books are no longer the primary instruments of learning, true, but they still play a critical role in the formation of intelligence, as countermeasures to information-age mores. That is a new mission for educators parallel to the mad rush to digitize learning, one that may seem reactionary and retrograde, but in fact strives to keep students' minds open and literacy broad. Students need to decelerate, and they can't do it by themselves, especially if every inch of the campus is on the grid.

I don't agree with restraining the digitizing of classrooms, which Bauerlein also calls for, but I do agree with ensuring there's a mix of learning spaces available. I also think that teachers should have the imagination to sometimes teach outside of the classroom altogether. In my own case, I teach mostly online and am constantly struggling with ways to bring that slower and more physical engagement into the learning experience.

Most of Bauerlain's approach is the same-old same-old but I do think we must pay attention to the need for slow spaces both in teaching and in life. Slowness is certainly a vital element of transliteracy.

Thanks to Mez at Facebook for the link to Bauerlain's article.

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Can’t Read Can’t Write – Channel 4

Can't Read Can't Write is a fascinating and very moving TV series about a group of UK adults ranging from 100% illiterate to a little more literate than that. I simply can't imagine operating in our text-bound world where I cannot read anything at all, as in the experience of one of the participants who is roughly the same age as me and who left a shop in tears because she could not find the word 'ham' on any of the products. Of course, this was slightly exaggerated because presumably she has been buying ham for 50 years just from looking at the contents of the pack, but it was still very provocative to imagine her plight. Last night was the first of the series, and you can watch again here.
Disclosure: My daughter Erin Thomas Wong was Production Manager for this series.

Emerge(ing) Transliteracy

How the web saves me work.
This week I went to an event organised by Emerge where I have the enjoyable role of Steering Group member. Emerge is the support project for the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Users and Innovation Programme. Find out more here.
It was quite exhilerating to meet around 80 UK educators all looking for ways to use new technologies for collaboration and innovation. Furthermore, the nosy anthropologist in me could watch networking happening live and in the raw!
I did participate in a small way, at the Unconference organised by Brian Kelly and Graham Atwell, but just as I sat down this morning to write this post about our conversation on transliteracy, Google Alerts popped into my inbox to let me know that Brian had beaten me to it. So, thanks for saving me the work Brian (and Google) ! Here's Brian's post….

Multimodal Narratives Conference 27-28 April 2007

xposted at musings
Saturday marked the second and final day of the Narrative and Multimodality conference organised by Dr. Ruth Page and held at UCE.

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Mike Wesch – how an academic became Top of the Pops at YouTube

Here's a nice story to cheer us up after the Atwood disappointment. Yesterday at Web2expo I heard anthropologist Mike Wesch talk about his now ubiquitous video The Machine is Us/ing Us, discussed by Bruce Mason elsewhere on this blog. . It was enjoyable because Wesch, who said to me at the start 'it's great to meet another academic here', is a very unassuming guy who spends most of his time teaching at Kansas State University and the rest of his time studying a tribe in Papua, New Guinea, who have recently been introduced to reading and writing and whose experiences have greatly informed his approach to what we would call transliterate practice.

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The Digitally Literate Classroom: Reading Inanimate Alice

xposted at Frontline Books
Katherine Gallagher notes that "teachers…cannot ignore the new media, at any cost" and Rita Raley explains "the critical discourse on new media writing (in different accounts "cybertext" and "electronic literature") asserts an intricate and necessary connection between the text and the medium."

I too cannot ignore new media (I don't think anyone can) and it's role in education. On a pedagogical front it is most important that students are encouraged to be and do become digitally literate and transliterate (for example) in order to take into account both the story and the medium in which it is represented. What follows is my attempt to bring a digital fiction into the classroom.

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