I'M THINKING ABOUT promoting literacy in the classroom because it's a topic we're discussing in an hour-long #edchatie on Twitter at 2030 tonight in Ireland. I'm very much caught up in the technological dimension of literacy because I teach creative multimedia and the assumption is that our graduates will produce electronic media that is viewable on a screen. A lot of those screens depend on over-the-air connectivity and that means to test the concept, I look at student-produced content through a 4.3" screen connected to the internet via wifi. I also have several practical sessions devised where students produce content in the classroom. These production sessions are synonymous with third level literacy. During these session, students update a group blog, interact with our virtual classroom, make short video clips, produce one-pass audio and follow hashtagged conversation. Because I need to remove all choke points from the production process, I try to create and validate practical touchpoints that fit into your pockets and purses. Convergent devices, like the Nokia E7 that I use, become essential parts of the student experience. But besides essential technological equipment, I've pedagogical imperatives as well.
Provide Quick Textual Feedback. Text feedback is the fastest feedback. I often ask that students tweet a specific string of text followed by a hashtag. When they tweet, it means they have also sent content for evaluation into Moodle, our virtual learning environment, and completed a related public-facing task online. I have discovered my text-based instructor feedback is faster than having to write an e-mail acknowledgement. Students using smartphones can see both the Twitter and e-mail comments quickly on their phones. I have a data plan that allows me to text students for free and I'll use that mode if I know a student wants plain SMS feedback.
Today's phones can capture and share media objects directly. In our creative multimedia classroom, most students have Android, iOS or Symbian devices. These devices make quick work of creating media objects in response to taskings. These can be as simple as tweeting in response to an overhead tasking, contributing to a circle on Google Plus, recording a Qik video, snapping a Flickr photo or creating an Audioboo. We train students how to do all these things. When I meet students during practical training sessions, I often discover many students know how to do these tasks without my help. Asking a third level student to produce media texts with their own mobile devices usually documents the student is a digital native. But regardless of their own skill sets, they can gain academic credit for contributing to a multimedia content stream. The best content becomes part of a showreel and a soft cover book.
Weakest Skills. In my experience, most students are weak curators and poor archivists. They don't know how to annotate their work with appropriate meta data (i.e., no titles given, incorrect hashtags, vacant linkages). I expect an average student to take up to four years before they become aware of these shortcomings. It is often an exercise in elevating the importance of paying attention to details.
During the fall semester 2011, I will expose samples of how students at the Limerick Institute of Technology approach literacy in the classroom through the use of digital tools. The best work will hang in Pen & Pixel 2012, the annual exhibition at LIT-Clonmel.
Previously -- "When classroom contact fits in your pocket" on InsideView.ie, July 9, 2008.