Issues of access still exist

Issues of access are highlighted in Brooke’s article when using or thinking of using New Media pedagogy. I agree with Brooke that students may not have access to computers or Wi-Fi or any technology the instructor may want to use. I can think of two main situations where the issues of access would surface the most and affect teachers’ motivation for innovation:

Outside the U.S. It is clear that English teaching practices change as the context changes but how New Media pedagogy change? Brooke mention states that “New Media carry with them social, cultural, and economic implications.” Technologies carry with them the culture they were created in. For example, Facebook is for sharing thoughts, pictures, videos as moments of your life with the people that care about you and that you care about. That is in the context of the U.S. or of Western thought. Because it is not a cultural taboo to share so much about yourself publicly while it can be in many cultures in the world. Asking students to create a Facebook group to work with each other and with the instructor would probably not work so well.

If the instructor adapts assignments to the context in which they are teaching they may have a rate of success. However, I would still worry about attitudes of students towards the technology to use. Students write in these New Media across the world, but they don’t all write in English so the principle that functions in the U.S. well about the classroom going to spaces where students wire, does not apply anymore. Many new challenges surface, when thinking of different contexts, that the scholarship can gear towards in the continued search for implementation of New Media Pedagogy.

Class divide in the U.S. It is not fair to assume that all students will bring in the same awareness of technology use or own technological devices. It cannot be assumed that all students will be middle to upper level classes. So what would the instructor do when he/she has a student or a couple students that cannot do the work? Will the instructor create new assignments for this student or will they fail on something they have no capacity over and continue being marginalized in society? Some schools will have less available resources and funding that goes to technologies than others ad that would affect how they think of New Media. Therefore, class is a factor to consider by teachers as they create their syllabus.

After considering international contexts and class divide in the U.S. we come to realize that there are more complexities with New Media Implementation, as we know it has its benefits. The more teachers try different pedagogical practices and the more research about this topic the more questions will be answered. If no questions are answered, then maybe we get to better questions.

Q1: What can we do as scholars and writing teachers to make sure our assignments are not outside our students’ reach?

Q2: What definition of New Media and Technology serves the composition instructor better?

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2 thoughts on “Issues of access still exist

  1. “Q- What can we do as scholars and writing teachers to make sure our assignments are not outside our students’ reach?”

    Ibtissem, I recently had a discussion with a subject matter expert developing an online Art course for the college where I work about this exact topic. She wanted to incorporate an assignment that required students to take a picture of architecture in their hometown, analyze its components, and write a reflection about why it appealed to them. Her underlying assumption with this assignment was that all students had access to 1) a digital camera or smart phone with a built in camera and 2) some method of transferring an image from the camera or phone to a JPEG file to submit for credit. When asked what would happen if a student didn’t have these technological tools, she initially responded that they could borrow them. Of course, there was no malice or conscious effort to exclude in her approach. It just hadn’t occurred to her in this technologically advanced age that some people might not have the means to produce the artifacts required of this assignment. The course is, after all, online–an easy justification for leveraging any and all media in virtual classes. I share this because I think it is important to pause, reflect on the possible outcomes, positive and negative, of the assignments we create for students, regardless of modality. I’m happy to share that she altered the assignment to be more accepting of alternative approaches. Perhaps that’s the key to constructing accessible assignments – providing options and alternatives.

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  2. Thank you for commenting on access. This is something I touched on briefly in my post as well. I agree with Rob–diverse options and alternatives are helpful. One thing I’ve tried to do for students who lack access to specific classroom-related technology is allowing for extended deadlines if necessary and also allowing for writing to happen in the classroom by booking drafting/revising days in the computer lab so that everyone has access during class.

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