I am curious about writing environments. How does having access to multimedia on our computers influence our writing method? Do you play music in iTunes? Do you feel compelled to shut off wifi so you’re not easily distracted while writing? I’ll need to find more on this. There must be studies out there.
As you already know, I’m a advocate for multimodal learning. The wonderful thing about computers is that they are not tied to any specific medium. They are spaces for us to read and write, as well as consumer audio/visual content. The versatility of these machines enables us to implement them in the classroom in any number of ways. I am particularly fascinated with how computers have changed the meaning of “writing.” There is the traditional composition, of course. But what does writing mean today? All of our gadgets allow us to write. We can text message and post to Twitter on our phones. We can embed images and videos in our blogs (and even in Word). We can hyperlink to tangential resources and material, something that used to be the job of footnotes and works cited pages. We can even interact with one another while we write. One of the most revelatory moments in my classes was the first time students reacted to seeing edits made in real time on a Google Doc. This is probably the most open-ended question I’ve posed, but I am curious to flesh out what writing means today.
This is something that I did not really consider when constructing my list, but will certainly show up in my dissertation: I would like to explore how games and game theory could influence course design. I’m playing around with some ideas about assignments and assessment that I think would give students more agency over their education. I don’t think this is a particularly new idea, but I’m interested in student-crafted assignments and a scoring systems that, much like in a game, would reward students for accomplishing certain tasks. For example, if I’m teaching a composition course and one of the outcomes is to have students write a personal narrative, students may accomplish this goal either by choosing from a list of genre-related assignments or by making up their own assignment guidelines that must be approved by the instructor. I have also considered having more assignments in a semester and allowing students to pick and choose the ones that appeal to them. These are ideas in their infancy. I would need to do a little more research to flesh them out. I’m sure that are some books and articles out there that would fit nicely with these theories. There’s probably a question in here someplace. I’m not sure if I arrived at one or not.
I will post more about Remediation: Understanding New Media once I upload all of my reading notes, but I wanted to get one idea out there for others to consider. In the introduction, Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin point out that how we consume media dictates our interpretation. I have long wondered if my understanding of some literature and critical work has been “guided” by the medium I used to read. I tend to read a lot on my computer, but how might my interpretation be influenced by being able to click links or search for keywords? I suppose it has made my reading focused to a certain extent. If I come to a text looking for specific information, and that text happens to be digital, I may streamline the process by hitting Command + F to type in exactly what I’m looking for. Bolter and Grusin go into a great deal more in their book, but I thought I would start by asking the most basic of questions: how do you read? Is it situational? Do you approach digital texts differently when it’s for pleasure as opposed to research?
Clearly, the title of this post is borrowed from Katherine Hayles, but I really wanted to comment on the outdated notion of writing-dedicated devices.
I would actually like to find a study that breaks down usage on modern gadgets. Between text messaging, posting to Twitter & Facebook, blogging, etc., I’m willing to bet a great deal of our time spent on these devices is still eaten up by writing. Typewriters and word processors may be defunct, and writing duties have been enveloped by computers and mobile devices, but I wonder how these multi-task, multi-use machines have changed the way we approach writing.
I’ll return to this idea shortly. I’m going to pull on some strings to see where they lead.