Tuesday, December 16, 2014

START HERE!!! for the electronic portfolio of Ivan Lerner

Greetings and welcome to the Electronic Portfolio of Ivan Lerner, for the Digital Literacies class at CCNY, Fall 2014.

This is my “cover letter” or introduction to the work that I have completed for this class.

Digital Literacies gives us the theoretical backing to do what it takes in regards to encouraging writing. And the ends justify the means: If little Johnny or Susie is writing, who cares how they are doing it, and how they got to that point?

It boils down to this: Who do you believe in? The students? Or the system?

[In case you’re wondering, the illustrations/photos all represent the future—where Digital Literacies will be accepted and part of all curriculums.]

Let us start by describing the “system.” In this case, it is the alphabetic, words-on-a-paper-page, APA- or MLA-style essay or research paper almost identical to what your great-grandparents might have had to turn in ages ago. Not that this method is not still valid, but it needs to be realized that it is no longer the only way writing can be done.

Today, humans are writing more than ever—but this “new” writing is largely ignored, if not vilified, by many of the Pedagogical Gatekeepers. Texting, tweeting and Facebook status updates are not considered “proper” writing. While a term paper for a history class should probably not be tweeted—although it would be fantastic to witness the attempt at tweeting a term paper on, say, Napoleon at Waterloo—the contemporary explosion of epistolary dialogs greatly exceed in volume any previous period’s letter-writing, as well as crossing all class lines, unlike the postal correspondences of the Victorian Era, for example.

These writers are our potential students.

I take the idea of “composition” to include the process of getting your thoughts in a coherent order—being able to “compose” what you want to communicate—even when the student in question is not using the written word, but perhaps only talking.

In a nutshell, through this intense course, we were “investigating composition in the digital age,” according to the syllabus. While we were forced to learn, experiment and communicate with all sorts of weird new machines, we also investigated the almost schizophrenic state of digital literacy in the U.S. (if not the world).

Because everybody is using some sort of digital literary device these days—whether simple texts or tweets to wild, multimodal personalized web pages—the interface between humans, their computers (or other devices) and digital recontextualization of the universe (isn’t that what you do when you take a selfie?) is blurring and blending.

In 1983, David Cronenberg released his brilliant and prophetic film, Videodrome, and in it, one major character says, “The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”

But had Cronenberg known how television would have been engulfed, devoured and mutated by the Internet/computers/on-line life, he might have written, “The device’s screen is the retina of the mind's eye.”

There is so much that can be done with composition and rhetoric with the tools offered by technology—and not only are these tools changing every day (especially when compared to the glacial pace that technological transformation took before), but people are already using them. But ostrich-like, many advocates of compositional pedagogy do not see the value in a non-alphabetic, unprinted, non-paper text. Heck, they don’t even consider it text. (While I personally prefer In Cold Blood, I am reminded of Truman Capote’s jealous comment about Kerouac’s On the Road: “It isn’t writing, it’s typing.”)

But I believe that Digital Literacies is especially needed in situations like Adult Education. As the New London Group point out, there is a limit to what schools can do, but from my experience with the middle and high schools in New York City, many educators—or their supervisors and administrators—do not take into account the toxic poverty some of their kids struggle with daily. These so-called educators refuse to realize that “a student’s experiences outside the formal education setting…play a significant role in defining the purpose of the educational enterprise.” (T&Selfe p5) We may wish that the out of school experience be a positive one, “securing the active cooperation of the pupil” (John Dewey quoted in T&S), but if anything the writings of danah boyd have shown is that parents are scared of everything, and essentially do not trust their own children.

Since these students are denied the learning experiences they deserve as children, they will become the future clients of Adult Education.

I am currently using the blog I created for class, L&L&L Amalgamated, as the digital table for my posts for the class.
I think it is appropriate and somewhat meta- to use L&L&L since I created it as a remediation for the Prezi.
Built for one thing it has become something greater—sort of like Queequeg’s coffin…

Because this is my first semester in grad school, I probably won’t change much of this for a job application, say. By then I’ll have more literary pedagogy under my belt, and I will have an ePortfolio more appropriate.
In two years, that “appropriate” may be something that I have not even considered yet…
One thing that I have learned, and something that I am really happy about, is that I taught high school and middle school before taking this course—several theories/ideas/etc. that we have covered, I can see how they apply to my experience. If I had read these before teaching, it might have been useless (or harmful?).

I am here to gain better knowledge to aid adults in their writing: my educational theory is very much in line with what I call “backward-ated available design”—I want to assist students learn to improve their communication and expression skills (via writing and composition) whether computers are available or not.

I don’t know how yet, but I want to introduce to them the fearlessness to express themselves thoughtfully.
Available tools are available tools: whatever is available! The man writing a message in a bottle does not turn his nose up at the available paper and writing utensils; we must “use what we have,” according to Sirc.

THANK YOU, and please explore the rest of this site!

All of the work for the class was completed and posted on the CUNY Blackboard Learning System. There would be no way for a non-student to access these posts, so they have been reproduced on the L&L&L Amalgamated site; see below…

THE CLASS READING SCHEDULE & links to reposted Blog entries…

danah boyd, It’s Complicated Chapter 3: “Addiction: What Makes Teens Obsessed with Social Media?”

Craig Stroupe, “Visualizing English.”

Richard Lanham, The Electronic Word Chapter 2: “Digital Rhetoric and the Digital Arts”

New London Group, “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies”

Dan Anderson, “Prosumer Approaches to New Media Composition: Production and Consumption in Continuum.”

James Porter, "A Cyberwriter's Tale."

Blog Post 2 [URL] (actually, this was a PREZI, and it can be found HERE) (But it's more fun if you visit both...)

NO CLASS [Insert unhappy face :( ]

danah boyd, It's Complicated Chapter 7: "Literacy: Are Today's Youth Digital Natives?"

Mary Hocks, “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments.”

Diana George, “From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing.”

Blog Post 3 [URL] (Another PREZI...I think I will miss this unique system of presentation, and I hope that I remember to use it for other classes going forward...)

Anne Wysocki, “awaywithwords: On the Possibilities in Unavailable Designs.”

Jeff Bezemer and Gunther Kress, “Writing in Multimodal Texts: A Social Semiotic Account of Designs for Learning.”

Cindy Selfe, “Students Who Teach Us: A Case Study of a New Media Text Designer.”

Geoffrey Sirc, “Box Logic.”

Johndan Johnson-Eilola, “The Database and the Essay: Understanding Composition as Articulation.”


Jody Shipka, “A Multimodal Task-Based Framework for Composing.”

Pamela Takayoshi and Cindy Selfe, “Thinking About Multimodality.”

James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds, “Introduction.”

Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, Chapter 1: “Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus.”

Cathy Davidson, Now You See It Part One: “Introduction,” “Learning from the Distraction Experts,” “Learning Ourselves.”

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy Introduction and Part 1: Cultures (1-116).

Kathy Yancey, “Electronic Portfolios a Decade into the Twenty-First Century: What We Know, What We Need to Know.”

Marisa Klages and Elizabeth Clark, “New Worlds of Errors and Expectations: Basic Writers and Digital Assumptions.”

And as one of our class' final projects: THE VIDEO REMIX!!!!

 thank you for visiting!
--Ivan Figueroa Lerner (12/15/14)

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