Teaching Philosophy (Draft)

June 25, 2018

Note: Images from blog post: https://multimodalwritingworkshop.com/2018/06/20/teaching-philosophy-notes/ are not included here.

Note: “Teaching With Technology” section (552 words) meets assignment requirement (500-600 words).

Note: No citations are included in this draft. Much of what I have written here draws from personal teaching experience (see “Teaching Experience” section below) and from my computer background discussed briefly in the blog post: https://multimodalwritingworkshop.com/2018/06/19/about-me/. I expect most citations will come from readings in the very practical guide, Writer/Designer, given my teaching philosophy and objectives. But, maybe not. We’ll see by June 29.

Teaching Experience

1996-1998

Community educator on contract to five school districts, three in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire, one in Florida. Taught 14 computer classes of my own design in community and adult education programs. Students ranged from 12 – 80 years old in mixed-age classes. All were non-professional early adopters of Internet technology with little or no prior computer experience.

1998-1999

Community educator in Massachusetts. Wrote, produced, and directed a community television series, “Family Computer Profiles,” and facilitated a summer video production workshop for middle-school aged students.

2005-2007

Community educator in Florida. Facilitated writing workshops for older adults interested in short story and memoir writing.

2017 – present

Community educator in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Georgia. Facilitating memoir writing workshops, and assisting older adults, most in their late 80’s and 90’s, in gathering their writings, photos, and other materials to create memoirs suitable for publishing on Amazon’s Createspace platform. Writing, producing, and directing new programming for the CCRC’s community’s television station.

Philosophy

“Never forget the beginner’s mind.” – Zeami

As a writing coach in a Continuing Care and Retirement Community, I strive to be 100% inclusive, which means learning each adult’s writing objectives, building personalized “writer’s toolkits,” working together one-to-one, in person and through email, and doing whatever else is needed, so that every writer, regardless of age or disability, has a way to write their story. But, because many of these writers have old computers – some even hand-me-downs from children or grandchildren – and because most have mobility, vision, or other challenges that make using computers difficult, the idea of introducing concepts of multimodal writing in workshops, and creating multimodal texts for writers in demonstrations, using their alphabetic texts, photos, sound recordings, and videos as input, is intriguing. These workshops, designed for an audience of memoirists, could be dynamic, innovative, stimulating, and best of all, FUN for all. No more sitting in front of old computers, typing into ancient word processors, for them. And, no more tedious file translations and endless reformatting for me.

Teaching with Technology

How can we use today’s technology to teach alphabetic text composition and digital multimodal writing?

Technology provides countless ways to for us to focus off the traditional approach to writing alphabetic texts. But, composing multimodal texts is more complex than writing alphabetic texts.

As humans, we use our senses to capture information and store it in memory.

As writers, we use words (alphabetic characters) and punctuation (special symbols), sense memory, and imagination to compose alphabetic texts.

Alphabetic texts follow rules of human language syntax and semantics.

As multimodal writers, we use digital devices to capture moments in time, as our senses would, and store those moments in digital files in digital memory.

As multimodal writers, we use elements of alphabetic texts and digitally captured sense memories to compose multimodal texts.

As multimodal writers, we use software applications to construct multimodal texts, guided by each application’s graphical user interface, the artificial language built into the application.

Our multimodal vocabulary grows larger each time we capture and store digital moments.

The number of artificial languages we can use to communicate increases every time we learn a new software application.

How can we choose assignments that challenge without intimidating?

 

First, get everyone on the same page, so to speak.

(1) Present a brief history of each medium used in multimodal text composition today, with emphasis on what each technology used to create and process that medium was called, and how it fit into people’s lives in the past. Stay in the past. No anachronisms.

(2) Moving forward in time, introduce vocabularies associated with each technology today. Use general, not vendor-specific, terms.

Note: Do not use different words to describe the same thing. In artificial languages, one word or symbol represents one thing. For humans to communicate with machines efficiently, they need to use precise language. The same holds true when humans communicate with other humans about machines.

(3) In your presentations, show examples of each technology as it existed before the digital age. After everyone understands the past, they can move forward into the present, together.

(4) Introduce one hardware-software platform the class will use to compose their multimodal texts.

(5) Give an overview presentation to introduce the user interface of the one software application students will use to compose their multimodal texts.

(6) Meet with each student outside the classroom to determine which tools s/he has available to create digital text files, images, motion pictures, sound recordings, and so on.

(7) With every student’s resources in mind, give an assignment that all students have the resources to complete.

(8) Assist every student as needed to ensure the success of all.

(9) Have all students create multimodal components, one technology at a time, using the software of their choice.

(10) Assist as needed.

(11) After all students have produced input for their multimodal compositions, review the software interface of the tool they will be using to compose their multimodal texts.

(12) Assist as needed.

(13) Have each student present a design walkthrough to the class, explaining how the finished text will look to its user.

(14) Assist as needed.

(15) Assign a deadline for completing the digital multimodal texts.

(16) Assist as needed.

(17) Schedule student presentations.

(18) Do one-to-one critiques of the texts outside the classroom.

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