Notes on “Public and Portable Pedagogy: iTunes University and Networked Pedagogies”

Here are some notes from another session at CCCC that focused on the affordances and constraints of using iTunes U to distribute course content. Given the project that I am working on with Dawn right now and her students’ blogging and podcasting, this was a timely session. In particular, I appreciated Reid’s focus on issues of infrastructure. I think that many of us (people in my generation and older) tend to assume that all students know how to find and listen to podcasts — or have the capability to do so — may be false. Even if our students are “digital natives,” that doesn’t make them critical consumers of technology. More on these ideas as I reflect later on the project with Dawn.

For now, a summary of notes from the session. Even if it was more focused on higher ed concerns, the idea that composition and English teachers need to get into the discussions surrounding technology is worth sharing at all grade levels.

Here are some notes:

Alex Reid, Director of Professional writing at SUNY-Cortland – “Public and Portable Pedagogy: iTunes University and Networked Pedagogies”

  • Intro
    • Some numbers: 90 million iPods, 2.17 billion mobile phones, 3G networks
    • Howard Rheinholdt – The mobile internet will allow new things to be done
  • iTunes University
    • Contract with Apple to post files and they can be public or private
    • No wireless/mobile component in the technical sense
    • Yet, the real appeal is that iTunes U works with iPod, laptop, or mobile phone with the appropriate devices and access
  • Launching iTunes U Project
    • DeVoss, Cushman, and Grabill’s infrastructure quote
      • “Too often, because of institutional and disciplinary trends, writing teachers are absent from the histories and development of [technology ] standards… It is no longer possible for us to look at a product of new media withough wondering what kinds of material and social realities make it possible.”
    • We need to move beyond the act of composing itself and into broader frames that embrace disciplinarity, culture, and other larger concepts
  • The End of the Sequesterd Campus
    • Porous Boundaries
    • Communication Flows
    • Formal and Informal discourses
    • Richard Lanah — The Economics of Attention — campuses are no longer the sequestered spaces that we imagine them to be as students are constantly in touch with the outside world
  • Actor-Network Theory (Latour)
    • “Mediators transform, translate, distort, and modify the meaning or the elements they are supposed to carry… No matter how apparently simple a mediator may look, it may become complex; it may lead in multiple directions which will modify all the contradictory accounts attributed to its role.”
    • In other words, there is always something at work in these literacy acts
  • Composing in Media Networks
    • Take, for instance, students workong on a new media project in a computer lab. This scene is taking place in a larger context of the campus community, the infrastructure, market forces, other media, and many other aspects of the event.
    • Lev Manovich — “The Language of New Media” — basically, you are giving up something in the process given the processing speed, the time available, the media itself.
  • Materiality of Networked Composing
    • iTunes U only takes certain kinds of media files and if you don’t compress and save properly, it can make a mess of things
  • Redistributing the Local
    • “What has been designated by the term ‘local interaction’ is the assemblage of all the other local interactions distributed elsewhere in time and space, which have been brought to bear on the secne through the relays of various non-human actors” – Bruno Latour
    • Recognizing how the context (for instance, needing copyright free music) changes in the different composing spaces
  • Networking Disciplinarity
    • “A more complete understanding regarding how information connects in ways traditional English studies does not yet account for — the contradictory, overlapping, open, closed, and fluctuating systems of exchanges that networks create — is a challenge to the disciplinary identity of English as a field and to the identities that teachers and scholars in English embrace and request students to take on in their classrooms” — Jeff Rice
  • Personal Mobile Networks
    • People use these devices to maintain a tight social network of 3-5 people
    • As much as many professors want to keep text messages out of the classroom, students want their MySpace page to be “private,” too. Online identities, however, will be important in a post-graduate career, and so they need to negotiate the information flow in both directions.
  • Conclusions
    • New Information Flows: The professor can’t control the flow of information in and out of the classroom
    • New Authorities: no longer the expert
    • Closed/Secure and Open/Public Networks: what needs to be public, what needs to be private
    • New Habits: we need to create new habits that embrace these new material conditions of composing
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