Collaboration, Reflection, Academic Research, and Writing

I am participating today and tomorrow in what is being called an “unconference” regarding Digital Media Literacy and how to effectively utilize digital media in classrooms to help better teach students about the flexibility and necessity of writing even today in the Twitter and Facebook Age (though these are certainly also important outlets for certain types of writing).

Here are some of the questions that have been brought up so far (the bold ones are those specifically raised by me to our larger group — meaning also that all of these others were raised by my colleagues):

  • How is digital media being used to encourage collaboration in writing?
  • How can I better incorporate writing across media genres into my class (research, documentaries, blogs, etc.)?
  • How can we use digital media to enhance/improve student reflection through writing as well as enhance/improve student collaborative writing?
  • Would the incorporation of multimedia help enhance the applicability/usefulness/necessity of writing for students?
  • How far can we stretch writing when we move into the digital realm? When is it no longer “writing” (if ever)?
  • What would “critical” multimedia “writing” look like?
  • How to effectively analyze lived and archival memories through digital video?
  • How do multimedia projects circulate? What are the constraints of “publishing” that apply (in contests of non-profits, for example)?
  • Is it possible to create IT partnerships along the lines of our librarian partnerships?
  • How to teach students to use technology as well as to think about its use in writing/rhetoric?
  • What is multimedia?
  • How to use film/podcasts/other media to practice writing skills? How to transfer critical thinking issues to these assignments?
  • How can we help students to actually think of writing in multimedia formats as “writing”?
  • How do we help students who are technophobic?
  • How can multimedia writing be used for analytical, exploratory purposes rather than purely for information display?
  • How can visual/audio media be used to express rhetorical objectives?
  • How can we work against issues of elitism and income disparities while encouraging digital exploration in writing?
  • How can we work with digital communications so that it’s less “disposable” and thought about more critically?
  • What resources does GW have/need for students working on digital media projects?
  • What kinds of digital writing assignments would make typical first and second year courses more successful? Which skills (needed for these assignments) should be taught by the UW?
  • Are there ways to get students to read “across” media to realize, for example, that a photograph should be read as critically as a newspaper article – or does each median need to be taught with a unique communicative and critical approach?
  • What do I need to know about intellectual property rights?
  • How could digital media be used to improve the writing of students with little to no experience writing formal English papers?
  • What do digital media enable a teacher to do better rather than just differently?

It struck me that these sorts of questions and critical considerations are deeply important for us authors and readers — especially those of us who also participate in/utilize a variety of digital media already (such as these blogs) — because these questions also have implications for the recent turns in the publishing industry and e-books. What do you think? How does multimedia and these digital changes occurring in much of today’s writing impact how we consider and approach books as writers and as readers? Do our approaches change? What does/would it mean to you as an author to have your book forcibly published as an e-book only or even partially by your publisher versus how you feel about e-books as a reader?

I personally find these changes — though I continue to feel torn — terribly fascinating as well as exciting. After all, does this mean bringing back the serialized novel? Does it mean bringing in a new (golden?) age of collaborative writing?

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