Brian Lamb neatly connected my (and I’m not the only one to have said this of course) insistance that students need to learn network literacy, that is, how to write and think and work in the distributed, collective environment of the web, to Gardner Campbell’s connection of the literacies of film studies to podcasting:

The NYT piece says nothing about blogging, podcasts, RSS, or even the Internet per se. Instead, itís about a deeper kind of media literacy, one that not only trains students to sit back and dissect the rhetoric of, say, television commercials, but provides the deeper training in expressiveness within these media that we in the academy have long taken for granted in the realm of English composition. Dating back to the humanist revolution in education that occurred in the European Renaissance, the idea here is that merely reading isnít enough. Deep skill in reading cannot be attained without deep skill in writing. Thus we teach not only attention to othersí words, but adaptive skills and strategies in creating those words ourselves. Now, students are going to film school not simply to land a job in the film industry, but to master the skills and strategies of sophisticated visual and aural communications. Moviemaking 101 sits right alongside English Comp.

What strikes me this morning is how closely Udell and the NYT piece agree on the fundamental importance of acquiring these skills and strategies for the new era of rich media on the World Wide Web. Udell points out that we no longer have people type for us. Instead, the word processor means that we all have to learn typing. The gain is that we are more productive. Similar new skills and new literaciesñin modes of multimedia writing, not simply in readingñwill be essential to success in this century.

Yes. The practice is important. The practice isn’t just about technique, either. I have students telling me that they have no trouble setting up the databases and the php and the HTML and CSS, but they don’t really know what to do with it. What about the content?

We need to be teaching students a combination of theory, technical skills and curiosity, daring, a willingness to try and see.

It’s a tough order.

1 Comment

  1. tormodh

    Yes, I really can identify with those students of yours. I feel that the ‘technique’ part is easy enough – I can set up and use the software, write pages that follows standards, and look mostly ok. What I lack is the ‘what now’. The content. What do I write about. If I follow up on someone elses content, it feels like hijacking or criticism. Is this important enough to write about? (maybe) Do I know enough about it to debate my side/viewpoint? (no) Have I the time to read up on it? (no) Do I just wing it and hope noone reads this? (maybe) But then, what is the point of writing? To learn more, of course. But can I tell the world that I write about stuff I know little or nothing about? (evidently). *sigh*

    I should have written this up as a post. Thought some more and posted it.

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