Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Technology in the English Languge Arts Classroom

So this semester I will be teaching one methods course called Writing for Non-Print Media.  I am very much looking forward to this course for several reasons. First of all, I have a passion for non-traditional assessments.  So much of what we do in schools is print or language-based.  We read, we write, we speak. We regurgitate.

However, we live in a world that extends beyond words.  For instance, my g-mail updated to a new version a few weeks ago and when I wanted to delete an e-mail it took me a bit of time to find out that the word "delete" is no longer an option.  Eventually I found and icon of a garbage can.  Duh!  I'm not saying that I am for or against a semiotic world, but just want to point out that we use symbols, signs and images a lot...and that we need to teach our students how to view, understand, analyze and comprehend these.

So back to my point about assessments....I have always favored assessments that enabled me to do some sort of visualization.  Whether it was a video or a power point, or even a collage...I thrived on these and went WAY above and beyond what I needed to do for the assignment because I could use spatial...my strongest "intelligence."  (See Gardner's Multiple Intelligences if you are interested in leaning about a variety of ways in which we learn.  It's cool.)  

So as an educator, I have always been sensitive to alternative assessments that value multiple intelligences and extend beyond simply writing or responding to a prompt.  Now, that doesn't mean that I don't value writing and LANGUAGE....of course I do.  But I just feel that there are occasions when we as educators can extend BEYOND THE SINGLE MODE OF LANGUAGE to offer more MULTIMODAL opportunities for student learning.

Another reason I look forward to teaching the course is because I learn alongside with the students.  There is a plethora of technology out there.  And rather than using technology for the sake of using technology...I like to give my students opportunities to research and consider these types of technologies and find meaningful ways to use (or not use) them.

For instance....I wanted to use Tumblr a, very, very simple blogging tool for this course.  However, after spending some time on the site, I realized that while it is a very good tool for blogging, it is mostly used for re-posting content.  Yes, you can write posts....but it looks like it's more used with mobile devices and I even saw the word "microblogging" on the Tumblr page.  While that is a nice tool...I need something a little more traditional in the way of blogging for this course.

My point is...the students (and I) can sift through this technology throughout the semester....and discuss both in class and in blogs WHAT is out there...and HOW it MIGHT (or might NOT) be used in the classroom.  Afterall, there is an abundance of information out there....so why not work together to learn about it.  Right?

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