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CCCC 2004: Review

Review: E 5 Teaching with Technology: Designing, Using, Accessing, and Revising Technological Literacy Modules to Enhance Student Learning in the Writing Classroom
Reviewed by: Will Hochman, hochmanw1@southernct.edu
Posted on: April 7, 2004

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Chair Sibylle Gruber

As Sybylle Gruber presented “Assessing the Value of Technological Literacy: Changing Perspectives,” I wondered how writing programs will help to prepare students for twenty first century literacy?  Gruber began with the CCCC position statement (“grand goals”) and how this position fits into the one, 4credit Critical Reading and Writing in the University Community class (English 105) the presenters teach at the University of Northern Arizona. In addition to the traditional goals, functional technological literacy is an integral goal of the course. Word processing, email, collaborative online discussion web research, multi media presentation and development of a class web site were specific elements of the goals of technological literacy in English 105. There was a complete curriculum revision that included large scale, program wide uses of technology and student self assessment of technology skills. Self-assessment did not provide notable change between incoming expectations and outgoing impressions. Teacher surveys, student surveys, training workshops, teacher reflection, and computer module development were used for program-wide assessment. In the second year the focus moved to how teaching of technological skills works moves from functional to critical thinking. Self paced modules from getting started with computers to PowerPoint and Web Page development. Gruber made it clear that the class was a starting point in developing literacy skills. Her work is impressive, though nascent. It was clear that the course is not yet achieving thorough technological and traditional literacy competency, but what FY course in the world would make that claim? Gruber’s work is a solid, early step toward changing FY courses so that they help college writers use technology more intelligently.

Nancy Barron presented “Advocating Technological Literacy in Writing Courses: Institutional Support.” She discussed English 305w Writing in Disciplinary Communities (w=writing intensive) which is intended as WAC course at the University of Northern Arizona. The course if offered online in WebCT in 10weeks, and for on campus students in 15 weeks. Although it’s the same course, as a teacher, Barron said she teaches two different courses. The technology goals are the same as English 105, but the student population online tends to be older, returning students, and the on campus course has a younger student population. Reading and comprehension of text, grammar/sentence structure (“sentence control”) and document design are the three layers of the course instruction. The course’s learning outcomes address two audiences—disciplinary and non-disciplinary. Barron found that students will self evaluate highly and she also noted that the younger the student, the higher the evaluation. Online, older students tend to self-evaluate more conservatively, but Barron is finding that her survey differences may vary according to age and context of the class. Though she did not address varying levels of tech support at different institutions, Barron advised teachers to not get involved with the technical aspects of the course online because her students are supported with an 800 help line. Barron advocated for the use of written lectures online in addition to online discussion (writing seems to improve with the number of lengthy posts).

As our FY courses develop to further meet the needs of students, it’s inevitable that we will find ways to integrate technology instruction into writing instruction. Both Gruber and Baron are blazing a trail that many of us will follow.

Peter Wagner (also a colleague at Northern Arizona University did not present “Implementing Technological Literacy: From Functional to Critical” but his work was recognized as part of the presentations by Gruber and Barron.


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