Teaching Composition with Interactive Fiction, Part Two

In an earlier post, I explained why I think interactive fiction (IF) computer games can drive valuable experiments in the multimodal composition classroom.  You can check out Part One for an overview of what IF is and what I think it can do for students.  In the present post, I’ll… Continue reading

Notes from DragonCon: Teaching Multimodal Literacy with Comics

This weekend I participated in a panel on “Teaching Multimodal Literacy with Comics” at DragonCon here in Atlanta. The panel was part of the Comics and Popular Culture Conference which is held concurrently with DragonCon. Other panelists included my Brittain Fellow colleague Noah Mass and Andy Runton, an Eisner Award-winning… Continue reading

Teaching Composition with Interactive Fiction

Regular readers of TECHStyle may remember my mentioning, back in September, my plans to use interactive fiction (“IF”) computer games in my multimodal composition classes.  After two semesters of teaching students to read, play, and write IF games, I can say that the experiment was mostly a success.  While we… Continue reading

Paulo Freire is Not a Mildly Spicy Casserole (Another Tech No, to Tech, Yes column)

I recently read Cathy Davidson’s “Let’s Talk about MOOC (online) Education–And Also About Massively Outdated Traditional Education (MOTEs)” on the HASTAC [the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory] blog.  I agree with her argument that talking heads do not a MOOC make (nor do they help digital pedagogy in… Continue reading

Infinite 1102: A Collective Romp Through Infinite Jest, Part I

  1079 pages. 388 footnotes.  2 lbs 10 oz (and that’s the paperback). David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is nothing if not formidable. It languishes on many a “to-read” shelf alongside Joyce’s Ulysses and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Despite its intimidation factor, Infinite Jest can be a pretty accessible read, and it is absolutely… Continue reading

Tech, No to Tech, Yes: How a Former Technophobe Becomes a Digital Teaching Fellow, Part 2

Happy New Year and New Semester! My fellow teachers won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t get a chance to finish another post last semester. But that delay turned into an opportunity to reflect at the end of my first semester teaching in a highly digital environment. What follows… Continue reading

D-Ped For Wednesday, 10/31

  Hi D-Ped folks, this Wednesday, we’ll be discussing using digital and other pedagogical methods to work with ELL students and otherwise defined “at-risk” students in our classes.  We’ve provided some very short readings we’d like you to read before Wednesday.   Fair warning: we’d prefer that everyone be “devices down,” or… Continue reading

D-Ped 10/17: Multimodal Portfolios

On Wednesday, Drs. Mollie Barnes, Joy Bracewell, Leah Haught, and Jon Kotchian will present on designing, incorporating, and assessing multimodal portfolios in our courses. As you recall, the portfolio assignment allows our students to demonstrate certain competencies: With these outcomes in mind, our presentation will consider how student portfolios can… Continue reading

Once more unto the breach …

Or, Why Teach Shakespeare to Georgia Tech Undergraduates? This is the third term I’ve used early moden drama as the theme for my 1102 classes. In fall 2011 I taught a course on London City Comedy (The Shoemaker’s Holiday, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Bartholmew Fair); last spring I… Continue reading

Working Toward Definitions

One thing that stands out in our conversations these past weeks is just how amorphous the term “hybrid” actually is, both pedagogically and methodologically. In the past few weeks we’ve talked about tools and platforms, shared successes and failures in our own intentional and un-intentional forays into hybrid pedagogy (however… Continue reading

Myth in the Classroom (or the column formerly known as such)

After a longer-than-anticipated hiatus, I return to discuss something relatively far afield from myth. Instead, I want to share an assignment that my students recently completed, because it was relatively painless for me to teach and grade and relatively productive at getting students to learn the difficult skill of close reading.

I often tell (read: nag; cajole; harangue) my students to pay attention to all of the little details of language, to notice how the most seemingly insignificant choices that the author makes have significant effects on the text’s meaning. I’ve found in the past that teaching close reading with poetry is often the best approach, since poetry (at least good poetry) is able to jam as much meaning as possible into the smallest amount of space. So I often begin my courses with poetry and a discussion of close reading: what it is, why it’s beneficial—even to aspiring engineers. (Being able to discern the tone that their email is conveying if they write it in ALL CAPS, for example, is a useful skill for them to have.) Continue reading

Hybrid Pedagogies: Epistemology and Empiricism

This week’s seminar picked up where we left off, revisiting the usage of Twitter in a classroom setting with two instructor demonstrations of Twitter backchannels, including one for an in-class film screening. Another instructor demonstrated how the Piazza platform had stimulated classroom discussion in similar ways to Twitter, which led to the first of two main questions of the night: What we want from using a hybrid pedagogy? Possibilities included more student engagement, or a better quality of student work and responsiveness, but we also voiced the desire to create a classroom space that had a different sense of community that is somehow different from that created by face-to-face interaction. Once our goals were articulated, we were faced with the more difficult question of how we can assess to what extent we get what we want. It is this second question that this blog post will focus on.

While discussion mainly centered on practical and logistical questions, as well as anecdotal successes and failures, the underlying assumptions that shaped our inquiries are both methodological and epistemological. Epistemology and methodology are inextricably linked. The purpose of this post is to review the reasons why epistemology and methodology are so contentious among researchers in composition theory and technical writing, as well as create a space for further discussion. Continue reading

Hybrid Pedagogies: Platforms and Tools for Virtual Learning

This week, in our weekly Brittain Fellow Research Methodology seminar on Hybrid Pedagogy, we discussed using Twitter as a tool for creating a “back-channel” of conversation at conferences, lectures, and in the classroom. Our conversation constituted the “face-to-face” component of our own hybrid classroom; our session technically began last week when we all attended the Emory DISC lecture “Seeing Time” by Edward L. Ayers during which we used a twitter back-channel (#discayers) to have a synchronous discussion about the talk. We then continued our conversation asynchronously on TECHStyle by commenting on Robin Wharton’s write up of the event “What Should a Hybrid Classroom Look like?” during the week leading up to our Wednesday evening Research Methodology seminar.

In our “face-to-face” discussion, we shared our experience using the Twitter back-channel during the talk, and many of us expressed feeling distracted by the effort to listen to the speaker … Continue reading

What Should A Hybrid “Classroom” Look Like?

Well, last night our hybrid classroom looked very much like the Jones Room and the new Research Commons at Emory’s Woodruff Library. Every spring, a number of Brittain Fellows choose to participate in an optional postdoctoral seminar on research methodologies. This semester, because the Writing and Communication Program is piloting hybrid pedagogy in our first-year composition and technical communication classes, we are using the design and assessment of hybrid pedagogies as a lens through which our examination of method is focused.

For those of you who may be wondering, hybrid pedagogy (also known as blended learning) combines face-to-face and distance or virtual learning strategies. Some thought-provoking recent studies have suggested hybrid instruction may–at least in some situations, for some students–create a more optimal learning environment than either traditional or wholly-online classes. Continue reading

Course Blogs: Commenting Privately on a Student’s Post

Rebecca Burnett and I had a conversation about the nature of commenting on student blog posts. As instructors, should we have the option of making a private comment – viewable only to the student author, or should all comments be viewable to all students? There is an argument to be… Continue reading

Remix (D-Ped 11/30)

Welcome to Remix Culture Week! Readings/Videos Larry Lessig’s TED talk on Copyright Law Remix Theory’s definition of Remix  An excerpt from David Shields’ Reality Hunger Questions to Consider How might remix challenge traditional the structure of rhetoric?  Or is is not so much a challenge as another piece of the… Continue reading

Notes from National Women’s Studies Association

Normally, I would sit down to write a blog of this sort saying I’d “just returned” from a particular conference.  However, that language doesn’t really work this year as I was lucky enough to move to Atlanta just before this year’s National Women’s Studies Association annual conference.  This year it… Continue reading

Material Studies

(Seminar by Sipai Klein, Julia Munro, Michael Tondre) 1. The meaning-making process writers face has been historically determined by the “technology” of paper. The integration of electronic communication has arguably changed writers’ meaning-making processes and the discourse produced by writers. In other words, the material contexts of writing have influenced… Continue reading

Putting Students to Work: Guest hosting a “best blog” round-up

I had an “a-ha” moment in first-year composition class last week. I was preparing for a conference, writing job letters, preparing my classes, and trying to keep up with grading. In short, something had to give. But what? And then it hit me – Blog Post of the Week! Every… Continue reading

Myth in the Classroom – A monthly column about challenging stereotypes while teaching literature, communication, and the oral tradition

This is the first installment of what I’m hoping will be a recurring discussion about breaking students of a nasty habit: the tendency to rely on harmful preconceptions when engaging with literatures, cultures, and traditions that they aren’t very familiar with. In the title of my column, I’m using “myth” in two (of the many) meanings of the term: as stereotype (a widely circulated falsehood); and as culturally significant narrative (a local, communal, or national “true” story). My research explores the way twentieth-century US writers of color incorporate culturally specific mythic narratives in their literature. When I bring aspects of this research into the literature and communication classrooms, I inevitably come up against significant hurdles… Continue reading