General Reflections on Digital Writing Instructional Technologies

I believe in imperfect teaching–that as an instructor I should embrace experimentation and risk. As a writing teacher it is necessary to acknowledge that audiences, rhetorical situations, and writing practices and technologies are constantly evolving. Traditional models representing the circulation and reception of print documents within a relatively limited communications environment are increasingly out of touch with networked social and global audiences. Twenty-first century texts integrate and dismiss emerging technologies at an alarming rate. Platforms and available media are constantly changing. As such, in order to maintain a sensitivity to the challenges and opportunities our students face everyday, it is important that I foreground the limitations of my own experiences as they relate to student writing practices. As much as I can, I follow emerging technologies, experiment with them, and attempt to evaluate their pedagogical potential. I maintain some sort of active presence on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others. I produce my own personal and professional texts using the most up-to-date tools for blogging, audio/video editing and sharing, and dedicated writing tools. I work to develop writing assignments that explore the potential for these software, hardware, and social platforms. Sometimes students get excited about the opportunity to investigate and reflect on these writing technologies. And other times, I fall miserably short in my estimation of what might “challenge” students within the scope of these tools. Sometimes I underestimate the workload or complexity of assignment working within these context. And in other instances, my students make it clear that I hadn’t challenged them nearly enough in putting these writing tools to use. But rather than see these mistakes as failures or shortcomings, I work to foreground them for my students as a practice of experimentation. As an instance where I can learn as much from them as they are learning from me. It’s not a zero-sum game. The more I learn from them, and the more they see what they have to offer my own growth as a teacher and writer, the more willing they are to join me in that spirit of experimentation, risk, and reflection.

(Note: I recently completed a set of materials for an award nomination packet. This post is part of those materials. Prompt Question: “How do you integrate instructional technology into your teaching? If you do not, please explain why not.”)

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