CCCC 2001 in Review: G.26 Intersections of Teacher Training and Technology: Empowering Teachers as Critical Agents in the Composition Classroom

Chair: David Blakesley

Amy Kimme Hea presented "Technology Programs or the Technologically Programmed? Hopes of Ending Decontextualized Techno Training for Composition Teachers."

Hea began citing Cynthia Selfe and posing her teacher instruction as a way to make teachers "critical agents." She talked about an instructor who asked his students to analyze power relations of the World Wide Web because he considers it a window of culture for cultural analysis. She looked at the way the instructor's students see the Internet as "the Global Village" while analyzing a practical/theoretical split of wrangling with cultural issues of net while using computers. Hea's analysis of instructors and students was centered on their ability to critically think through and about the web. The presenter looked at cultural narratives of using the web as ways to avoid "the norming of the web" and as a way to contextualize the technology with better web based teaching. She proposed three solutions: sustained historical inquiry into their own use to map and demystify their residence in the global village, ideological inquiry, and "resistant material and insubstantiation" to make objections known and understood. Hea concluded that working within and against the structures of the system is the greatest challenge of teaching with computers.

Melinda Turnley presented "Exploring the Multiplicity of Media: Critical Connections among Technology Training, Teacher Definitions of Media, and the Composition Classroom."

Turnley framed her work abound our critical and rhetorical agency with technologies and asked us to reflect and unpack the assumptions we have about technology to better understand our roles as teachers. She used a survey about practices and assumptions based on her understanding of field assumptions about technology. The first assumption she discussed was our "commitment to print-based media" as a bundle of assumptions between writing and truth and writing and the self. Turnley asserted that we take for granted the powerful technology of print way of life. She is not suggesting that we spring forward into our digital destiny so much as asking us to consider the nexus of print and web more critically. She looked at Neil Postman and Marshall McCluan's analysis of print as a rational view of the world while noting that Postman praises print and McCluan critically questions the power of print. Turnley criticized the limits of this thinking as asking us to either accept or reject our relations to media technology. Turnley's survey revealed that the instructors at Purdue had a vague sense of what they consider media but did see newer technologies as making instructors undervalue their use of traditional media so much as making instructors undervalue their backgrounds to use new, sophisticated media. She quoted one instructor as saying "I see my fear of technology as an impediment." Technology of new media seems to create literacy as a range of skills that students possess beyond that of their instructors. Students may have more expertise and comfort in the new learning spaces created by new technology. Turnley concludes that no medium, including print can be completely mastered. Therefore, the processes of reflection and adaptability ask us to consider redefining our texts as print in conversation with other forms of media. Turnley called for better training to develop critical frameworks to re-articulate what we know in new contexts.

Teena A. M. Carnegie presented "Issues in University Training for Composition Faculty."

What exactly enables teachers to integrate technology into the classroom? Faculty and their comfort zones may be the inhibitors, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Lynch. Carnegie pointed out that Lynch's rhetoric ignores pedagogical issues while attempting to provoke faculty to action. Carnegie analyzed a call for faculty technological literacy because students (as consumers) expect to use computers to learn. She questioned linking levels of technology use to levels of institutional quality while omitting such factors as faculty training and how computers are used in classes. Carnegie went on to show how calls to use technology may actually reflect an underlying attitude of cost saving (decreasing the number of faculty) and this requires shifting notions of learning quality. According to Carnegie, content is not a primary factor in education whether obtaining information online or in books, rather it is thinking about how technology adds value to teaching practices that matters. She believes a formalized apprenticeship in the use of technology should be part of teacher training. Carnegie then reiterated Cynthia Selfe's call to critically pay attention to the uses of technology and to take responsibility for technology in education. Carnegie called for "proper training and resources" for faculty.

It's interesting to note that none of the session's presenters discussed the role of students in faculty development with computers and learning, nor could they say that students have much of a role in guiding teachers to use technology in a follow up question. [WH]

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