The Dangerous Blog for Grad Students

A How-To Tale

“Writing with Video: What Happens When Composition Comes Off the Page” Response November 4, 2008

Filed under: Response — deduvick @ 3:52 pm
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lovett-et-al-writingThis sounds like a fabulous class!  Not only are students learning about writing, researching and creating a text – but they are actually putting together a piece that has some relevance outside of the typical classroom.  It really seems like a great way to make students actively participate and, may I even suggest, enjoy what they are working on in class.  It is something that they can upload to YouTube, show their friends and families or even have used by the university, like Erin’s No Child Left Behind video.  

Since it really is an interdisciplinary class, students campus-wide can take it – from the art, communications, film studies, etc.  I think that that is one of the problems here at Illinois State.  It is impossible to be able to take some classes in other departments, even when it is relevant to your area of study.  For example, there is no photography class that English students can take, even if they are interested in working with magazines or journals after graduation.  But with something like Writing with Video, all different kinds of students can take it and bring their ideas together, helping everyone to learn not only from their teachers, but also from the classmates.  And speaking of the teachers, the fact that they themselves come from different departments and train grad students to teach as well just goes to increase everyone’s knowledge of the technologies being used.

I understand that there are a lot of issues to be faced with a project like this, such as funding for technology and teacher training, but I feel that this would be an excellent addition to any university and a boon to students to better enable them to communicate in a very current multimodal way.


“Prologue” and “Opening” Precis

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 5:48 am
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palmeri-prologueJason Palmeri

There are several problems in getting multimodal studies recognized as a legitimate direction to take current freshman compositions classes:  1) Why is it even desirable to teach students to use not only text, but also images, sound, etc.?  2)  Why should we as composition teachers teach these modalities, instead of leaving it to those who know it best, ie. the art, communications, music or design departments?  3)  Does learning multimodalities add to or detract from the learning of alphabetic writing?  How so?  Yet it is very important that the study of multimodal composition be studied because students nowadays were be increasingly using these skills in the work-force after college and they are coming to school already literate to the multimodalities surrounding them.

Students need to learn to use multimodalities partially because it is so relevant to their lives, but this is not to say that this is something new.  There has always been other modalities involved even when working with “just text” – in formating, fonts and colors, even without illustrations, diagrams or graphs factored in.  Rather, what is newer is the digital communication technologies, the unbelievable access that students have to these programs and the ease which with they can be learned.  And so, with not having to have extensive training in programs such as Photoshop and Indesign (and other such programs), our composition teachers can – and should – be the ones to teach the students.  Not only can the ideas of rhetoric be applied to learning multimodalities, but we can also help students to look at their works critically and in social and ethical spheres.  And lastly, multimodal composition does add to the learning of alphabetic writing in the same way it always has – it provides an outlet to sketch out ideas or connect meanings that can only help when they are again writing in alphabetic ways.  

Multimodal composition should play as much a factor in our composition classes as any other pedagogy.  It certainly has a past and also a very real future.  There’s no real way to argue with that, is there?


“Multimodality” Precis November 3, 2008

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 10:52 pm
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Gunther Kress

Text and writing has always been multimodal.  To read such, it requires both sight and hearing – seeing the marks (letters) arranged on a page and understanding the sounds that each represents and so interpreting what the text is saying.  Naturally, one aspect is  trumping the others – in this case seeing over hearing (in the instance of listening to a speech, hearing would win).  But still it is multimodal.

In the same way, everything around us can be interpreted as multimodal.  Even purchasing something as simple as a bottle of mineral water requires sight and hearing (as shown above) along with touch and taste, in combination with certain ideologies that we bring to our water-buying.  Even an object that has no language contained within it can communicate by its presence – we can understand what it is/was used for by sight, hearing, touch and the idea that it must have been created for something.  

We need to understand that multi-modal “texts” are not just to be read – they are to be used.  And, so students need to be taught how to use these texts.  It is amazing how far we have come, with pictures being used in books and textbooks, not as a mere compliment to the words, but to describe in their own right.  There is so much to be gotten out a picture that would never need to be explained in words.  And pictures (along with other multi-modal options) communicate – bringing knowledge and understanding that cannot at times be gained from reading words on a page. 


“NCTE Guideline on Multimodal Literacies” Precis

Filed under: Precis — deduvick @ 6:02 am
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Multimodal literacy should be especially encouraged in the classroom.  Many kids grow up with it – it comes to them like second nature – but there is a select underprivileged group who do not grow up in a very literate culture.  Nevertheless, students should be be able to practice blending text, speech, images, videos and the like to a very real approximation of what they will be doing in the “real world.”  It may seem unlike a traditional classroom, but it applicability of the projects will make the work seem more relevant to the students.  

However, it is important to keep in mind both that not everyone learns at the same pace, nor do they all begin at the same place.  Some students may have easier access to certain computer programs that allow them to combine medias, others have had much previous experience with concepts, either through a job or just from playing around and others will be completely new to the whole idea.  Regardless, the teacher will need to personally learn something to be able to pass on to the students, and then it is possible to let them go and see where it takes them.

Undoubtably, there are obstacles, such as non-tech-savvy teachers (or students), the difficulty in measuring the outcome of students attempts (both in quality and quantity) and the variances in the abilities of the students.  But, given adequate planning time to clearly delineate goals and criteria, educate students on critically looking at media so that they can bring that knowledge to their own work and finding current and necessary projects, students can become more literate about multimodal texts and better able to compete in and consider the world at large.