changelog @ tengrrl.com: CCCC: Day Four
Saturday, March 25, 2006
It's the last day, so that means that the first thing I had to do today was get down to the Exhibit Hall to snatch up the goodies that the publishers are now happily giving away. I got a copy of several professional books from Bedford, all of which included some info on writing assignments (given that I'm supposed to be writing a book on that topic and all). Got a copy of a Longman book, Envision: Persuasive Writing in a Visual World
, and ordered a copy of Anne and Dennis's Compose, Design, Advocate
. Also ordered a Bedford/St. Martin's book, Everything's an Argument
, a revision that has some cool visual argument info in it.
I could have wandered around a bit more, but I ran into Will and Martha, who updated me on the morning's business meeting. Their sense-of-the-house motion passed without any difficulty :) After some chatting and planning, I had to get hugs goodbye and head off to a session, L.04: New Media, New Curricula:
Anne Wysocki, the chair, introduced Scott DeWitt, Aaron McKain, Jason Palmeri, and Cormac Slevin, who shared details on digital media activities as part of the Ohio State first-year composition classes. The findings of their analysis of student course evaluations was most interesting: students spoke of rhetorical technique learned in their evaluations in ways that they never spoke of such things in non-digital sections of the course. It sounds like a perfectly marvelous program they have created.
As they were talking about how digital (and nondigital) components were included in their courses, I realized that the language we use to talk about digital resources in our classrooms is (or could be) the same language that we use when we discuss curriculum transformation. The whole issue bubbled up in my head because of the Multicultural Multilingual research on the MarcoPolo sites (remember that conference call where I had the phone tied to my head?). So I began wondering which assignments we were completing where digital resources were additive, when they were blended, and when they went beyond those basic levels to deeper conceptual interrelations. I'm sure there's another evaluation of the ReadWriteThink site that I need to complete as a result.
Other odds and ends from the session include these:
- My favorite misspoken comment, from their instructor videos: Lisa Ann referring to "ethos, pathos, and legos"
- One of their assignments shifted issues of fair use and copyright to a critical issue for the course, rather than a simple presentational one, by asking students to prove permission for every resource that they used. Truthfully, we should be asking for that sort of focus on every activity that we complete.
- Dene, in the audience, commented that she sees "new media as a bridge between literature and rhetoric." I nodded and wrote it down at the time, though now I'm less certain that I agree. I assume that Dene meant institional definitions of lit and rhet (e.g., those are the literature faculty and these folks are the rhet/comp folks). After all, literature uses rhetorical technique. I wish I had more context written down. Originally I thought she meant that new media created some space communicative space between literary discourse and what I'll call rhetorical discourse (e.g., persuastion). But new media describes a medium for me, which is part of the reason that I've always found the name problematic. I'm hoping now that what she meant was that new media provided a method to bring different faculties together. Maybe someone else will remember and explain more here.
- As they were talking about the activities that students completed, one of the presenters mentioned that students complete accompanying artists' statements that explain the how and why behind their work. I was hoping to hear something like this, as that's the way that I have tended to complete such activities. Students don't just complete the multimodal activity but also complete some sort of accompany letter or statement that explains the intentionality behind their work. Frankly, I like these kinds of accompanying letters with regular old essays too (something like Draft Letters).
- "It's okay if it doesn't work, but talk about why"—in the context of those artists' statements and letters, one of the presenters talked about what happens when students' efforts don't work out. It's an important enough point for it's own bullet point. The focus of all rhetorical work should be less on the final product and more on the analytical process that went into the work. Now, I'm the last person to start handing out grades willy-nilly for effort only; so I want to emphasize that that's not what this is about. One of the examples that the presenters shared was about a student whose audio recording work wasn't meeting his expectations. Yet that student understood it wasn't working, knew reasons why it wasn't working, and wanted to try to communicate the message in another medium. THAT is the kind of learning that we need to target.
- Analysis after production in similar media deepens engagement for students. The point seems so obvious, yet I'm not sure that we have anything on the ReadWriteThink site that goes about things this way. The idea is that once students have designed their own work in a media, they understand how that media works in new ways. For instance, students often laugh off deep analysis of the visual argument behind advertisements or PSA posters when first introduced to the ideas. They accuse us of overanalyzing everything. Have students create their own PSA posters or visual arguments. Ask them to think about and explain their decisions in detail. At the end of the process, they are far more willing to accept and, in fact, to embrace the idea that nothing happens in these media as an accident. Everything has a purpose of some kind, and it is our job as critical consumers to unearth that hidden meaning and purpose.
Next session for me was M.20: Info-Ecology, Info-Architecture: Growing and Designing Rhetoric for Critical Technography.
Mark Crane described the session as a cage match between Dickie, representing info-ecologists, and Salvo, representing the info-architects; and with Pat Sullivan (both are right) and Marilyn Cooper (neither is right) responding and expanding on the two positions. As seems to often be the case when we wonder into Theoryland, I didn't completely grasp any of it; but, importantly, there were moments when I thought I almost understood. We have to consider that some kind of progress.
I'm not about to try to explain my understanding, since I'm sure it's wrong in places; but overall, it seemed to me that this was all arguing over seeing or naming or constructing interactions with technology. Marilyn noticed that in all of the papers there was a focus on agency—loss of agency in ecologies, the control of agencies through architecture, anxiety over agency in Pat's narratives. Basically, it seemed to come down to the human place in the interaction with technologies. At times, I felt that with very little change in the sentences being used, we could just as easily have been discussing scientific determinism versus organic evolution. What seemed to make sense to me, regardless of the confusion of what or how we name all this, was Dickie's observation that "we need a citizenry that understands the best way to live" in the context of these varying technologies. As teachers, it's our job to try to foster the critical thinking that will yield and inform that citizenry.
The big surprise of the session for me was unrelated to any of that. At a point when I was lost, I was doodling and freewriting about on my pad on my Computers and Writing topic. Suddenly, Pat was sharing an Ong quotation about an elephant, which sadly I only got part of, but which I want to find out more about so that I can see if it will fit in with my paper. That would just be too wonderful :) I think it was on metaphor, so it would, indeed, be relevant. I need to get in contact with John Walter to see if he can help me with it.
Finally, I attended the Intelletual Property Caucus meeting, which was operating under the guise of a workshop, SW.04: Intellectual Property in Composition Studies. I primarily joined to see what they had to say about digital IP rights, but since it was more of a working meeting where they shared business from the caucus and the CCCC-IP committee, I found myself freewriting more on that silly Computers and Writing presentation. Freewriting and daydreaming really. I'm not sure that I'll be going to Lubbock, so I need a presentation that can take place without me. I'm thinking of some kind of Flash or video presentation, so while they talked about EULAs and companies trying to control students' papers, I was sketching out imagistic phrases and trying to guess how I could illustrate and present them. The challenge, of course, was that I was doing all this without the Lakoff book. Still I got some good notes during the more business-oriented first half of the session. The second half focused on action groups, on specific topics. I joined the Barclay Barrios group, which was subtitled EULAs and Implications for Researchers and WPAs. Karen Lunsford, Charlie Lowe, Barclay, and I were supposed to solve the problems of the world on the topic; but before we got there, Karen asked some questions about NCTE copyright and online repositories. I did my best to answer them, and then wandered into the hallway to acquire little jars of honey, which were out on the table open access. It's not stealing if it's open access after all :)
And that was the end of the conference for me essentially. I came back up here to the room, have been packing in a leisurely manner, writing up more blog entries, watching DVDs, and eating elegantly pricey room service food. I just need to manage to go to bed early enough that I can get checked out before they start charging extra money. My stuff is mostly packed at this point, so I may actually get out of here on time.
YA lit authors