Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Transmedia Literacy and the Wicked Problem of Tech Integration Part 1

Photography existed for one-hundred years before it was accepted as more than graphic fact, that the eye of the photographer was a worthy perspective to consider.  Today, graphic imagery covers our daily landscape more than at any other time in history, and media creation devices are ubiquitous, yet the level of media literacy in teacher pedagogy is often limited to imagery as cognitive bounce-board for text.  Have we put such a high value on text that we mute the rich forms of sensory media?  Embedded within this problem of limited returns on tech integration initiatives is how we interpret and manipulate our media landscape.

Tech integration and teacher pedagogy have been called a “wicked problem”, the focus of fault is often on how to use the tools, not why our present tools change the structure of our learning environments, and potentially change what we call school.  Our tools connect text, graphics, video, audio into transmedia experiences, and yet the deciphering of these media forms is often left until middle or high school.  Tech integration should start in primary years teaching children to decipher and produce multiple media formats alongside language development.  To think around this “mindshift” or “pedagogical shift” we should consider how multiple points of entry change our metacognition of writing, collaborative apps and platforms accelerate socio-cultural learning factors giving writing a participatory authentic audience, and how sensory media broadens the cognitive architecture accessible both in how content is deciphered and how knowledge is demonstrated.

Google Docs also provides a lens into our relationship between text, sensory symbolic forms, and how we think in and between these spaces.  Parallel chronologies can be drawn, one between the tools - Google Docs, and it’s predecessors of word processing, email, and typewriters - the other, pedagogy and the effects both have on cognitive processing.  New tools enter but pedagogies often fall back on past practices.  The focus here is Docs, but the concepts apply to all current devices, networks, and the imminent virtual reality explosion.  Reflecting on our tools also provides insight into the need for a bridge between Common Core Standards and the new draft of ISTE Student Standards or 21st Century Learning Skills.

What Google Docs Changes

Moving from typewriters and word processors, the live connected document changes how individuals and groups engage in the writing process.  The interactive space facilitates...
  • immediacy of feedback
  • multiple entry points through synchronous and asynchronous work
  • a new metacognitive lens to writing process
  • accelerated socio-cultural aspects to writing
  • the ability to crowdsource editing and revising
  • collective intelligence creation
  • dispersed learning environment  
see part II of this post
see part III
see part IV

How much of this was intended when Google bought Upstartle is unclear but most likely, just as Mojang did not have any idea that he would be teaching children how to read in the affinity spaces around Mindcraft, they could be user appropriated.  This shows the complexity of developing educational technology, and the need to leave the walls wide enough and the ceiling high enough for users to appropriate the tool for their needs.  For example, Book Creator was not originally designed for teachers and Explain Everything was originally a teacher screencast tool for flipping lessons before Reshan Richards saw his students’ spike in motivation and metacognition through making their own screencasts.  For Reshan, this mirrored a cultural phenomenon of rapid prototype-reflection loops our devices were affording in other areas - the perfect selfie, the “event planning” of documenting extreme sports, the carefully crafted public personas - pushing a questioning of what Wesch identified as our online authenticity, but also providing instant access to our cognitive processing and production.  Google Docs fits this category as it incorporates elements of asynchronous social media.


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