“Never forget the beginner’s mind.”
Zeami Motokijo (c. 1363 – c. 1443)
1996-1998 Community educator in five school districts, three in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire, one in Florida. Taught 14 computer courses in community and adult education programs. Students ranged from 12 to 80 years old. All had little or no prior computer experience.
As a community educator teaching computer applications and their uses in mixed-age classes, I simplified the learning process by presenting a design overview of the hardware-software platform we were using and the vocabulary of the particular software application. When everyone could speak the same language, the computer’s language, we moved forward together with ease. My goal was to bring students to technology; not vice versa.
My philosophy: Each computer application is built for a purpose. It is a tool. After students learn a tool’s capabilities, they may choose to use it. Or not. If students like how a tool works, they can add it to their personal toolkit. If not, they can take another course and learn another tool. Computers are personal communication devices. Each of us uses them differently.
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 to publish on Amazon’s Createspace on-demand printing platform.
As a community educator in a CCRC, coming from a technology background, I strive to be 100% inclusive, which means learning each writer’s capabilities and objectives, building their personalized “technology 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, feels comfortable using a computer. But, this approach has not worked well. Many have older computers – even hand-me-downs from children or grandchildren – and some of have mobility, vision, or other physical impairments. My earlier philosophy of bringing students to technology does not work for these writers. I need a way to bring technology to them. That is why I am taking, “Teaching Multimodal Writing in a Digital Age.” I’m trying to flip my machine-centric teaching philosophy to a people-centric one. Here’s where I am on that:
“Meet the Machine. It was made by people like you. Think of it is a huge, ever-changing digital toolbox. Do you see a tool that might be useful in your life? Pick one. I can teach you to use it. Are there other tools you might find useful? Choose another. You can use more than one tool to communicate with family, friends, and other people around the world. Who is your audience? What is your message? Which tools might help you express your message most effectively? Think of the computer screen as a frame for your message. What tools will you use to define the boundaries of your frame? Is your message best expressed in parts? You can define modules of meaning within a frame. Think of these modules as frames within frames. Here’s a list of tools. Which ones would you like to put into your personal toolkit? Let’s use them to design your message!”
There’s a lot of Kress in this. His work seems to be the easiest for me to translate and apply.
Gunther Kress lectures and interviews on YouTube:
“The Future of Languages”
“Making Meaning: The Role of Semiotics and Education”
“How do people choose between modes?”
“Why adopt a multimodal approach?”
“Gunther Kress Lecture (1 of 11)”
“What is a mode?”
“Prof. Gunther Kress – Recognition Without Proper Lenses” on Vimeo
“What is multimodality?”
Still working . . .