Notes on “Identity Interface: Rhetorical Analysis, Graphic Design, and Comics”

Notes from another CCCC session that I found engaging. In this session, the presenter spent a good deal of time thinking about design from the standpoint of a writing teacher, and I found her angle on it informative. In particular, I found her categories of balance, unity, gestalt, and hierarchy a more nuanced way of talking about the Robin Williams principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. I hadn’t really thought about using Homestar Runner for a writing assignment, but now I might.

Here are some notes:

Chandra Lewis-Qualls – “Identity Interface: Rhetorical Analysis, Graphic Design, and Comics”

  • Intro
    • How is identity created in online comics, analyzing with graphic design theories
    • Her subject position: I am a feminist rhetorician interested in visual design and communication, deeply immersed in gaming
  • Graphic Design
    • Mildred Friedman — “Graphic design is an art form that depends for its efficacy on the degree to which words and images communicate a coherent message.”
    • You get the effect of the intent based on what isn’t explicitly evident
  • Why Use Graphic Design?
    • By focusing on design strategies, we can discern alternate ways to shape idetity online
    • Graphic design has a longer history that visual rhetoric and insights from the field could prove valuable
    • It opens up conversations between academics and designers
  • 1964 “The First Things First Manifesto”
    • Graphic design has a long history of critique and wanted to point out the fact that design is not neutral and has value; they were pushing against the consumer and material aspects of graphic design and wanted to share their thoughts on it
  • New Media Analysis
    • Cheryl Ball has suggested that we need to analyze “the semiotic elements [of new media]”
    • New Media critics often look at five major design features and ignores the sub-texts of design
  • Graphic Design Components
    • Balance — controlling the negative space, creating visual interest
      • How are the elements arranged?
      • What effect does this have on the composition as a whole?
    • Unity — creating harmony with a color, shape, or typeface
      • What are the elements that create unity in this piece?
    • Gestalt — the combination of elements create an idea or message that isn’t explicit, but is an underlying argument in the design
      • What is the opinion underlying the design
    • Hierarchy — dominant element in the design of various levels of interest
      • How to create interest
  • Branding and Identity
    • Multiple experience with the product
    • Created through advertising, design, and media
    • A symbolic embodiment of the product
    • Creates associations and expectations
    • Includes explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, etc
  • Focus on web comics
    • Try to create an embodied experience for the characters
    • Homestar Runner.com
    • Irreverent surreal humor
    • Strongbad’s identity
    • Types answers to visitors and is very sarcastic
  • Using these concepts in class
    • How do you visually convey your identity online (ethos)
    • Freshmen create a MySpace page
    • Upper level students create a digital portfolio to represent their work

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

Notes from “Negotiating Digital and traditional Literacies in Methods Classes: Preparing Future English Teachers for Teaching Writing”

Wow, March has been like a lion for me all the time. Sorry for the lack of posts.

At any rate, along with seeing New York City, I also saw some interesting sessions at CCCC 2007 last week. I will begin posting my notes and responses here with this session on methods courses.

I thought that the presenters were on the right track with this session, especially given that it was aimed at English Educators who would also be attending CCCC (like, for instance, me). Given that CCCC and the field of composition is generally more amenable to multiple forms of literacy, this type of presentation worked well at this conference. It suffered in attendance from the fact that it was late on Saturday afternoon, but I think that their final answer to my question — “transferability” — made a good deal of sense. So, here are some notes from the session:

Negotiating Digital and traditional Literacies in Methods Classes: Preparing Future English Teachers for Teaching Writing

Chris Denecker, The Univesity of Findlay – “Technology, Identity, and Teacher Prearation in the 21st Century”

  • Background
    • Being an English teacher used to mean onyl reading and writing. Today, teachers must integrate and impart a number of literacies in their classrooms.
    • Studies show that teachers are not as digitally literate as they should be and that pre-service teachers don’t feel confident in their abilities to use digital literacies in the classroom.
    • Technology has added to the conundrum of pedagogy and content, and now must be added into a cumbersome “to do list” for teacher educators.
    • Many teacher prep programs are not sufficiently answering the challenges of this problem according to NCATE, ISTE, and others, both on campus and in field experiences.
    • Educators are taking it upon themselves to implement and model technological pedagogies in their classrooms. How do we use technology and help pre-service teachers use it effectively?
  • Technology and Language Arts
    • ELA teachers often rely on computer teachers in labs. Nancy Deihl sees English teachers position themselves as “techno phobes” when they do Cyber Quests.
      • One of her students said that the Cyber Quest helps lessen the fear about technology.
    • Rising and Pope integrated technology in their ELA prep program pairing students in their teacher prep courses with middle schools students in an “e-pal” peer response group.
      • Pre-service teachers and middle school students enjoyed this.
    • Faculty doing these types of activities show promise and this needs to be more of a part of pre-service programs.
  • Overcoming Obstacles
    • New teachers need to overcome their own fears and maximize the time that they have available. Technology makes demands on teaching staff.
    • If we do this during teacher prep courses, then the pre-service teachers will have models to work from when they entre their own classrooms.
    • Technology can be motivational and help students publish good work and control their own learning.
    • For teachers, it can help store and retrive info and communicate with students and parents. All of this needs to be communicated to teacher educators preparing new teachers.
  • Why?
    • We need to assess the purposes for using technology. If we mirror traditional pedagogies, then it is not useful.
    • What are the goals attached to a digital literacy project? How does it contribute to the “whole” of their digital literacy?
    • Jester (English Education, 2002) – integrating technology into the writing process, focusing on multimedia and hypertextual aspects.
  • Personal experience
    • Use of Blackboard to share drafts, pre-write, revise, etc.
    • Kristine Blair’s “studio review” — have students move from computer to computer and put comments on the documents with Word.
  • Technological Pedagogies
    • Research shows that students do engage with technology
    • Begin with email, digital cameras, and iPods
    • Students can respond to one another through virtual pen pals, snap pictures and then write about details, engage in cyber quests, poetry websites, how-to speeches/videos, create newscasts, research and create PPTs
    • Incorporate place for a class “common place book” as a space for students to document and comment on their evolving relationship to writing (grabbing quotes and other materials to create a discussion starter)

Christine Tulley, The Univesity of Findlay

      • Background
        • As director of English Education programs, she sees many people: non-English majors seeking certification, second-career seekers, teachers wanting to move to community college, and graduate students seeking a certificate and degree all at once
      • Looming Problems with this kind of class
        • Writing Theory
          • These students do not have a writing theory course in their background (process vs product) for instance
        • Technology
          • They come to the program with a variety of program experiences and uses of the internet; skills from the workplace without direct connection to pedagogy
        • Training College Teachers (Methods)
          • Trying to meet the needs of those who want to become English Educators
      • Solutions
        • Writing Theory
          • Doing something with students each week with a practical applciation of a writing technology.
        • Technology
          • Use the technologies that they already know so they are comfortable with it and can think about it in different ways (comments and tracking changes in Word) and then they give feedback to students in her first year composition courses
          • Use traditional things that everyone has access to and do them in a different way. For instance, use PPT to express creative writing with graffiti writing and flash poetry
      • NCTE and alternative licensure
        • NCTE does recommends doing this by integrating technology into the coursework as well

      Emily Kemp, Groveport Madison High School

      • What do you wish you learned in your writing methods class in college?
        • I still struggle with revising and editing, trying to help students figure out how and why to change what they have written. They are concerned with how long it needs to be and what they need to do, and they are not concerned with making the writing better. I have to go back to the basics and use lots of form writing although I am trying to challenge them to get into creating digital texts.
      • What would you say technology is affecting you?
        • Using wifi laptops to have students compose PPTs and bring in United Streaming materials to show videos.
      • What was taught well in your methods classes that you think we should still do?
        • In doing a research paper, I enjoy showing students drafts of early and poor work so that they can learn from the models. Kids see other people’s writing and are better able to understand what it is that they are supposed to do. I have students use the rubrics from my college comp classes and write reflections on what they have done when they create a paper.

      Conclusion

      Teachers need to be digitally literate do that they can have timely, student-centered approaches to instruction. Also, teachers need to be confident with technological practices so that they can encourage students to be digitally literate, too.

      My Question for Them with Their Responses

      So, the tension lies between the types of writing that are assessed (generally formulaic) and emerging genres in writing (multimedia and hypertext), what do you suggest as a balance of assignments in a writing methods course?

      • Have them create a problem/solution paper based on a topic in writing (for instance, how to get students revised or motivating a reluctant student).
      • Skills that they learn need to be transferable from one context/platform to another. So, talk about the literacy skills embedded in the technology, not just the technology in particular.