“With word processing, software, however, revision was easy. Words, sentences, and chunks could easily be moved around, reorganized, rearranged, reintegrated, and the whole text would flow forward as a result”
Chapter 2 of Digital Writing Matters provides us with a few anecdotal accounts of successful technology implementation in the classroom, as well as multiple strategies and examples of how digital tools have and can enhance the traditional writing process. By breaking down the traditional writing process on pages 50-53, and synchronizing each step with examples of digital tools to consider, such as Wordle.net or VoiceThread, DeVoss not only gives us concrete examples that we can use in our own classrooms, but provides us with the insight needed to embrace this technology. Therefore, this chapter is really building off some of the things we discussed last week. Throughout our discussion, I noticed that the general consensus, something that was introduced at the beginning of this text, is that one of the most crucial things to keep in mind when teaching with technology is that it’s not the tools that matter most, but how we use them to enhance our student’s abilities to read and write. The quote above, found on page 47, sort of sums up the main things I took away after reading this chapter. In order to successfully teach with technology, we have to reorganize our student’s research habits, rearrange the way we think about revision and reintegrate this new methodology in the classroom.
DeVoss & co. note that “few elements of writing practice have been affected as deeply by new digital tools as the process of inquiry, research, and content development” (53). The endless access to information is something we should embrace. As we discussed last week, it gives us more time to focus on the content of our writing, but it also poses one of the biggest potential threats when it comes to our student’s writing. For this reason, I think emphasis on how to how to use search engines and find credible websites is crucial. So, how do we do this? Joyce Valenza gives us a few examples of websites on page 54 of Digital Writing Matters, but how do we ensure that they are developing efficient search habits when they’re researching an assignment online? I realize this is sort of a loaded question, but we’ll never be able to fully monitor our student’s search engines, and the sources they cite in bibliographies are probably not the only ones that they've consulted. As an aspiring teacher, it would be helpful to hear from those who are currently trying to answer this question.
This chapter touched a lot upon our process of revision, and after reading it, I started to feel a little more hopeful that this is one area where the technology is really beneficial to our writing. As the text discusses, things like spell check, citation generators, and word processors themselves enable the process of revision to be less grammar-orientated, and more focused on “what matters as a writer: communicating with your audience” (57). For too long, peer-review has been equated with copy-editing. I can still remember all the red mark-up’s that I would get back on drafts I wrote in high school, highlighting places I should add a comma, sentences that sound too awkward, and other technical aspects of my writing that though important, don’t help us evolve our writing through revision, but instead edit it. Editing will always be necessary, but thirty years ago, much of the drafting process was done before it was typed. This is no longer the case, and as the text points out, it’s important that we encourage our students to regard their writing as “living documents,” a process made even easier through the use of collaborative word processors, wikis, and other digital writing tools” (53).
As the chapter of the text declares, in order to successfully integrate technology into our classrooms, we really have to consider how the writing process itself has been revised by the digital world. I think we can all pretty much agree with the claim that “a lot of these kids will grow up not really writing [in a traditional sense], but having to learn to communicate in modalities that weren't available to us when we were kids” (DeVoss 49). We read about new media, a concept I wasn't entirely familiar with, in “New Media from Borges to HTML” by Lev Manovich. The article not only helped clarify what new media is, but also introduced this idea that computer scientist and developers of these technologies are “important artists of our time, maybe the only artists who are truly important and who will be remember from this historical period” (14). I can’t pretend to know much about art, not nearly enough to decide if I agree or disagree with the Manovich’s assertion, (what do you guys think?) but this article highlights a few of the ways that composition has drastically changed with the expansion of new media. Students now have more options, and sometimes more of a need to improve the visual design of their text than they ever have had before. Stories and other forms of writing that were once conveyed strictly through text can now be enhanced digitally with media collages, music, and other “mash-ups” that arguably allow students more freedom, and more creativity in their writing. Obviously, this will not be the case for every assignment, but should we allow our students to experiment with different forms of media in their writing? I don’t think anyone would argue that we should or could do this for every assignment, but how can we revise our own understanding of the writing process to include new media technologies that may appeal to students who don’t benefit from the traditional writing process? For those of us who aren't exactly enthusiastic about graphic design and multi-media (raises hand) this can seem like a daunting task. I agree that baby-steps are key here, and I think that we also have to let go of some control, and allow for a little room to explore. If we “provide writers with a wide range of playful, low-stakes opportunities to brainstorm, freewrite, draft, compose, and edit (with text, graphics, sound and still and moving images) using computers, digital tools, communication technologies, and network spaces” we may help shift the emphasis from achieving the perfect final piece, to an appreciation of the writing process, and a better understanding of what it entails.
Hopefully I've helped outline some of the main points in the readings for this week. It’s difficult to make assumptions about what works in the classroom when I don’t have experience teaching, and I realize some of the questions that I’ve posed require much more space and time to fully consider, but any feedback would be much appreciated!