In chapter 8 of Multimodal Composing on Classrooms, students Paige and Nicole use the internet to look up archives and photographs of the Jim Crow era to create an educational video. It is noted, however, that the online resources available to them are not available in all school systems that can only afford printed texts. How do you think the internet research they found enhanced their learning experience, compared to simply using textbooks for information? Does the internet improve on the textbook experience by making learning more interactive? Have you noticed a difference in your classrooms between using internet sources or textbook sources only, or combining the use of both?
In thinking about the ways in which we can enhance learning through use of internet sources, I think this case in point IS definitely a good example of how and why we should use the sources available to us, even electronic ones. I didn't read this chapter, but my first thought is this: Textbooks are general information, and generally are told from the point of view of the "national culture" meaning that textbooks often don't tell the stories of those who are left voiceless in history (Think colonialism/postcolonialism here). Giving the students the opportunity to access an archive will give them a larger pool of information from which to work, and in the end (hopefully) that pool of information will contain more voices than that of the textbook. The downfall of relying on school issued texts for understanding something is that students are only exposed to the 'side' deemed 'suitable' for student consumption - I think this would also be the same problem if students were to use their school library for research, as they would only have access to those texts which were chosen to be included in the library's collection. By allowing students to use the internet for research, this teacher is giving students the ability to research and make their own critical judgments about what happened in the Jim Crow era, and has avoided assuming that students should come to the same conclusions as presented in their textbooks.
In rereading the question, though, I would like to know if these archives are supported by the textbook - rather than finding archival information located 'out there.' While, of course, any archival materials will have been collected with some bias or meaning behind them (a story to tell), an archive controlled by the same people who control the information within the textbooks may not act in the same ways I talked about in the above paragraph.
I think you bring up a great point about the bias of textbook, and even archives. Sometimes I think that this can be missed, even by the most aware teachers, and that using the Internet to look at the same topic from multiple perspectives is very important. Simply having students research the biases of the textbook would be a great lesson unto itself. Now I really want to try this and to see what the students find.
I think the learning experience is almost easier for students when they are allowed to use digital tools. They may not still WANT to do the work, but it could be a lot more accessible for them when given the opportunity to complete projects through more comfortable pathways.
The students I have had in previous teaching experiences have responded better to videos and audio rather than plain text, but the inability to always have access to the internet hindered both of our experiences. I felt discouraged and they were bored. I think I lacked the ability to think on the fly and come up with alternative creative lessons. This is something I think most new teachers experience, so I wonder what other teachers have done in the past with unreliable digital tools.
All this being said, all students are different and I think having a combination of digital and traditional is necessary to keep most students appeased.
Is it worth bringing up some of the research of kids and too much screen time? Is it worth attempting to utilize both kinds of tools (if possible) to cater to a variety of learning abilities?
In the simplest answer, absolutely. I think we definitely need to have the utilization of both tools because like Kathleen mentions below-- we are living in a time where both exist and both are still being used. We want our students to be successful and well-rounded individuals.
As far as research goes on "too much screen time," I am not well informed with the evidence that research has presented. Do you have any articles that pertain to this?
I usually have all my work in Onenote, but then I make paper copies for one class. That class usually prefers to work on a hard copy. I am trying to persuade them into going digital, but it has been a hard sell. Last year, the internet in my room was unreliable, so I had alternative lessons ready. This was very hard even for a veteran teacher. As a new teacher I never had enough energy or time for double lesson planning. PSD expects you to use technology in all classes, but then you are not always provided with the tools you need.
I find it so interesting that it is your students that push back so much against technology. Any ideas as to why that is?
Devyn, well, even back in days of yore when technology consisted of projectors, turntables, overheads, ditto machines, typewriters, and slide projectors, unreliable technology was a factor. If ink for the ditto machine ran out or the bulb on your overhead project bit the dust, it could wreck your lesson plan. But we did what all teachers do and probably have done over time, I think, we reached for another tool, even though it might have seemed more primitive, like (gasp!) a pencil or a piece of chalk. At some point, someone probably drew in the sand or scratched on a slate, or let students "practice their listening skills" by dictating the discussion, etc. I think maybe tools always exist. We just have to swap them out when necessary.
This doesn't mitigate or dismiss the very real problem of access. We all have to keep fighting for it in our local contexts and make do in the meantime.
At this point in time, I think that both forms are completely necessary. In my opinion, it seems as if our society is in a transitional phase from books and digital tools to solely using digital tools. It’s hard to say whether or not books will continue to be in our society 50 to 100 years from now (although I hope they are!). But since students are having to interact with paper-based content on a daily basis, in addition to a digital way of life, then they need both of those skills in order to be able to be literate in our society. So I think using either one solely, probably does not help the student in the long run. However, if the school does not have the capability to do so, then obviously that limits what one can do. That being said, providing students with resources that they could use on their phones outside of class is a way for them to know of reliable sources that could help when questions arise.
Kathleen, I agree--LONG LIVE THE BOOK! I also found Jenkins et al's starting proposition to be valuable that print AND multiple modes and digital literacies are needed. I've also always found it curious that people sometimes don't speak of digital texts as print-based...since I'm typing in print at this very moment. Maybe we should be speaking in terms of print+ when we consider digital and multimodal texts. What do you think?
I totally agree with both you and Sarah. I think a combination of both does a lot of good things for your classroom and your students: 1) It allows students to "read" a variety of different kinds of sources and that will help you appeal to the different learning styles in your classroom. 2) Each medium offers unique experiences for our students. Reading physical books (or magazines, journals, articles, etc.) Allows for a kind of linear reading that also encourages more reader participation. Instead of clicking hyperlinks that take you to other resources (which are great), you are made to interact with the text as you read it: asking questions, commenting, highlighting, underlining, etc. This sets up an active reading process (provided your students do that, which you hope that they do). Digital tools offer a different experience: they are often linked to other resources (through hyperlinks), they can have audio and video, and they are in general more readily able to provide different kinds of interactions with the text. I think in order to be balanced in your classroom, it is more beneficial to use both mediums.
Side note: I agree, Kathleen, I hope that books will continue to be in our society 50 to 100 years from now, and many more years after that.
I see internet dialogue as being helpful for quieter, introverted students uncomfortable with speaking in front of groups. On the other hand, I participated in a discussion via Google docs in an earlier class today and found it so frustrating (then again, Google docs is new to me). I wondered why we couldn't just have the conversation verbally since we were all in one place, and the idea of typing in responses rather than speaking them was like two friends texting each other in the same room.
Do you think the physical book will live on forever? I always imagine them collecting dust in a giant warehouse or library. I think about all the books in Morgan Library that have become pieces of decoration in the basement. These are resources that are gathering dust. Perhaps genre plays a role in physical book form and digital. Research is far more accessible through online databases, yet there is something magical about holding a fictional piece of writing in our hands, turning the pages, and letting our imaginations run wild.
Long live books of fiction?
Dear God I hope they do!
It's interesting that you say that because I'm probably one of the few that still goes down to the basement of Morgan Library to look for books that I use for research projects (!). They're the most useful decorative pieces I've ever seen. But I do agree with you!
I think you bring up a good observation about how we are in a transitional phase between print based sources and digital sources. It definitely seems that we are moving more and more each day to digital only. But you are right, we do need both at this time. There are still so many print based texts out there that using both digital alongside print base will allow students the ability to work with and comprehend both.
I also think that your idea to overcome some of these technological barriers in the class by using personal cell phones is a good plan B for when school technology doesn't always work out for us in the classroom. I think there are very few students these days that does not have a cell phone/smart phone, and if they don't have one, well then this could be another great moment to do collaborative work together.
As a social studies and English teacher, I cannot imagine my classroom without the resources that the internet affords. As a digital immigrant, I grew up in a world without the internet. As a teacher, I have always had access to the wealth of the internet. Teaching English as a foreign language in West Africa was the only time I have used a textbook.Currently, I use both prose and poetry in combination with the internet. This combination creates an optimum classroom scenario. I can not extoll enough the benefits of having access to the internet in class, and, yes, there is a tremendous amount of technology inequity in this country which affects how teachers can prepare students for the 21 century.
Jane, I agree. It's hard to imagine going back now. Even though I've always tried to use multiple modes and genres, the internet provides so much broader access even to things that were originally print-based. I love the digital archives and teaching resources on the Library of Congress website, for instance. We live in a wonderful time!
One obvious drawback of using strictly print-based text is the limitations that creates in current information. As the process of print involves publication, a lot is lost (especially in current events unfolding) from when the piece is composed v. sent to press. The internet offers students the ability to find the most up to date information about topics, however, using either print or digital texts in isolation is limiting also. Finding a balanced synergy of using print based texts supported by digitally based reference material is the optimum learning experience for students. This gives a researched, printed basis for understanding with supplementary support from the most recent reserachers sharing information online.