An Explosion of Ideas (and Titles)

Almost Titled: I Have a Complicated Relationship with New Media

Also Almost Titled: New Media and its Vibrant Verbs

Really Almost Titled: “Add technology and stir” (180)

However, I remain with my initial title: “An Explosion of Ideas”

Collin Gifford Brooke’s “New Media Pedagogy” chapter begins with a rationale of why one should even consider using new media in classroom, transitions to challenges faced, and ends with a look to the future.

After reading the chapter, I am reminded anew of my complicated relationship with new media. On one hand, I am enthralled with all the possibilities. Gifford Brooke uses (quite frequently) some of my favorite words: explore, experiment, investigate, energy, responsibility.

The tone of the writing makes me want to play around with possibilities, but it is that last word in my word list that really makes me pause: responsibility.

Gifford Brooke refers to Charles Moran in discussing responsibility: “It is our responsibility as writing teachers, he [Moran] says, to understand the scenes where our students write, the tools they will be using to write, and the often uneven attitudes (and access) that our students may have with respect to these technologies” (177).

Our students are on the writing “scene” already. Engaging students to activate their already existing knowledge and challenging them to go beyond what they know with new media is the task. Gifford Brooke acknowledges that this means a shift in teachers’ view of themselves: “Teachers must abandon the notion that all expertise must flow from the front of the classroom, particularly when it comes to technology” (182).

While this shift has been acknowledged before (the post-process idea of teacher as co-worker comes to mind), I believe that new media brings this shift into the classroom in a real and practical way. The shift allows room for students’ expertise and acknowledges their previous experience with writing.

However, the teacher must still create space for a reflective space as Gifford Brooke acknowledges. The teacher as a leader remains, even if one gives up more control with using new media.

Reflection is a key element to using new media, and this comes back to the responsibility piece as well. I have a complicated relationship with new media in the fact that I have a lot of privacy concerns (and image vs. reality concerns), but at the same time thoroughly enjoy how it can connect people who would otherwise not be connected. Too often, it is easy to use new media without reflecting on its full ramifications. Thus, entering it into the classroom requires a lot of reflection on both the part of the teacher and the students.

The exciting possibilities that new media brings can breathe life into classrooms, but one must be careful to not ““Add technology and stir” (180) as Gifford Brooke’s warns us.

The “add-and-stir” method is sometimes tempting, especially in the ever-changing world of new media where research cannot keep up. This is again an argument for reflective play and practice and responsibility.

And I am left with a set of responsible questions: What is the balance between responsibly meeting students where they are at and responsibly taking them to a different writing place? Where is the writing that they are going to be doing? What is my responsibility as a writing instructor?

Q1: Each of the readings for Thursday had some mention of time, specifically with how everything is speeding up. How do you see the speed of communication affecting writing? Affecting your classroom?

Q2: Gifford Brooke’s mentions new media as having formative assessment value (182). Do you use new media as a formative assessment? Or more summative? If so, how?

Q3: Do you use Zotero (as showcased on page 182)? It is pretty fantastic for organizing one’s academic library.


2 thoughts on “An Explosion of Ideas (and Titles)

  1. Erika,

    I’m struck, as I read your response and others today, by some connections I wasn’t thinking about before between community-engaged pedagogies and new media pedagogies. The primary connection has to do with reflection. Why do these two pedagogies in particular seem so essentially supported by metacognitive reflection? I suspect it is something about the “foreignness” factor. That is, when we use new media, we sometimes are so immersed in it that it’s like the air we breathe, but perhaps more often the “new” in new media means we struggle, we grope around as we might in a new city; similarly, when we enter a new discourse community with real occupants who are relatively “strange” to us (strangers), we grope to figure out the rules of the game. Perhaps reflection is nearly equally important in acquiring literacy regardless of the kind of literacy and the context for acquiring it, but I don’t see all theorists/pedagogues talking about reflection with quite the intensity of these two subfields.

    I also think there’s a parallel between the cautions we hear in community engagement to not just add service and stir and the cautions to not just add media and stir (though Brooke seems to allow for a little more of that in new media teaching because experimentation is a watchword).


    • Both community engagement and new media have such tangible connections beyond the classroom. We (at least I hope I can use such an inclusive term for all teachers) always want/desire there to be transfer of the skills taught/practiced in the classroom to “real world” (whatever that means) situations that go beyond the classroom. Within new media and community engaged pedagogies, that “beyond” is intrinsically “within” in the classroom. Reflection should be a part of all classrooms, but perhaps the demands of skills/concepts/genres to be taught seems to be a more pressing need, and reflection is taken for granted because it doesn’t have that “foreignness” as you pointed out.


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