After commenting on a blog post about using technology in the classroom, I realize that I have more questions than answers. I'm looking for ways to incorporate skills of digital literacy and writing into my community college composition classroom. Last semester, I taught the same course and, because it was my first semester at the college, kept it traditional: paper peer reviews, paper copies of essays, paper handouts, minimal time in front of screens. It worked and it didn't work: What worked: students knew what to expect. What didn't work: all that paper!
We read Richard Miller's "Dark Night of the Soul" and watched "This is How We Dream." We talked digital literacy, but we didn't practice it. This was due to time (so much to accomplish in one short semester) but also due to access: some students had smart phones and lap tops, others had limited internet access during the times we were not meeting.
Other constraints: our class met (and will meet this coming semester) once a week for a 3-hour block. Students could only access a printer some of the time, and more than half of the class had difficultly emailing drafts during the week, which put all of us behind schedule. Like I mentioned, we talked digital literacy, and many were not interested in using it, even (especially!) digital natives.
This is something I want to work on next semester, in addition to our usual essays and readings and the required research paper. It may mean booking more time in the computer lab, putting a note on the syllabus about bringing to class a USB drive with their current draft on it, or explaining (and practicing) useful digital skills, like note-taking in Twitter-like fashion, audience-awareness, and showcasing their academic selves online with e-portfolios.
The college is, happily, encouraging instructors to use e-portfolios, and is increasing their curricula of First Year Experience courses. I've proposed a course dedicated solely to digital literacy, as I think its possibilities extend far outside the composition classroom. But in the meantime, I'd love to hear how other instructors have navigated technology usage and digital literacy skills while being sensitive to issues of access and learning curves.